Wolf Tooth Elliptical Ring Review

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Wolf Tooth 28T elliptical ring on my Mach 6…

I installed an elliptical Wolf Tooth 28T ring on my Pivot Mach 6. Partially because I was curious about the elliptical benefits, but mostly to cure crappy shifting in the lowest 2 gears due to a poor chainline.

The WT ring is well machined and finished. It looks like a quality product. With a bunch of rides on the new oval ring I thought I would comment on it. The enhanced chainline is appreciated and I will buy rings with as much or more offset to the NDS of the bike going forward.

My riding is typified by steep slow techy climbs followed by hold-on-for-dear-life steep techy downs. I don’t pedal a ton on the downs so my chain stays in the easy gears most of the time hence my small ring and desire for good shifting at the low end of the cassette.

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New left – Old right…

The WT ring is offset towards the NDS a lot more than the stock RF ring. That makes for a better chainline in the low gears. Just doing a backpedal test the chain now stays in place on the 36T, but still drops down one cog in the 42T. That’s better than before. Shifting has been improved, but it’s not 100%. I’ll likely try a ring with even more offset next time around and see what happens.

As far as the ovalness of the ring goes I can definitely say there are no downsides and it only took a moment to get used to pedalling the different shaped ring. That surprised me as the oval ring looks so different to the round ring I am accustomed to.

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Both 28T rings side by side…

I’d love to give you a definitive answer as to whether it’s a significant improvement over the round ring it replaced, but I’m finding the changes too subtle to get much contrast on. If I could setup two identical bikes with both types of rings and swap back and forth I’d be able to tease out the differences, but as it is all I can say is the oval ring works as well as the round ring for sure. If it works better than the round ring it’s subtle enough not to pop out at me.

If you are curious about oval rings I wouldn’t hesitate to try one, but at the same time I don’t think it’s a game changer. At least not for me.

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It’s all about a good chainline in the easy gears…
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7 thoughts on “Wolf Tooth Elliptical Ring Review

  1. A descendant of Shimano Biopace circa 1986 emerges, just as I’m sure Biopace and its ’80s era cohort Suntour Ovaltech were derivative of elliptical chainrings that preceded them. Even though the “computer designed” Biopace chainrings of 30 years ago were quickly ridiculed back then, I always sort of enjoyed the feel of pedaling them. However, like you with the modern variant, I couldn’t really discern any advantage, one way or the other.

    The Wolf Tooth ring looks like a quality product, and I’m glad to see that non-round rings have come back for a new generation to experience. I’ll keep it in mind when I need a new one. In the meantime, I may pull an old 110/74 Biopace crankset from the parts bin for nostalgia, though I don’t have much use for a 28/38/48 triple any more.

    Nice work as always with your thoughtful reviews. I’ve been enjoying your recent pieces about maximizing life and minimizing expenditures.

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    1. Thanks Andy. One key difference between Biopace and this wave of elliptical rings is the squashed part of the ring in each case is rotated 90 degs to the other.

      For the WT ring the easy part of the ring is aligned with the chain ring so you have it easiest when cranks are 12 and 6 o’clock. Biopace was easiest when cranks were level.

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  2. If you decide to try another oval option I would recommend the Absolute Black rings. They seemed to have more effect for me in a back to back test between them and Wolf Tooth.

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  3. @Bob – thanks for the suggestion. My primary goal is to tweak the chainline so next ring I get will have more offset than the WT ring…whether it’s round or oval is less of a concern to me.

    I think the Garbaruk rings fit that bill. I’m probably okay until 2018 now for chainrings so it will be a while before I get to try another.

    http://garbaruk.com/

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