Tech Review by RJ

16 Sep

Today we introduce a new item to our blog posting. A good friend of mine has agreed to write some tech blog stuff. He is a bike wrench and avid rider. He rides a lot of MtBike and some road. He is always fast and he likes the tech side of our toys. He goes by the handle RJ. So with no further ado.

Race Face released their new N/W single rings to their portfolio of bike bling about two months ago. This revelation spawned a vast amount of drool for many in the biking community. Race Face has recently been known to give a biker the ability to color coordinate one’s bike to his or her own style, and their new ring lineup is no exception. Coming in with a variety of sizes and colors, all a rider needs to do is decide which is more aesthetically pleasing for one’s self. However, the question remains to be asked, “Does it really work any better?”
The best answer is dependent on your own riding discipline, but I will dwell on what we have found here in the lab. But first a little history. Not too long ago, SRAM released their XX1 crankring design that featured an alternating thickness and a taller tooth profile. This concept, when match with a clutched rear derailleur, eliminated a need for most riders to ditch their guides and front shifting group. The setup works well, but with a cost resulting in wallet weight loss. To enter the market of a 1x and guideless drivetrain, a few companies starting releasing their N/W single ring profiles.

NarrowWide Ring

Now with the history out of the way, on to the good stuff! Race Face did a wonderful job, as usual, with their new ring lineup. The graphics are laser etched on and look spectacular. If the graphics are not your thing, you can reverse the ring for a simple look. The construction is done in such a weight that the 7075-T6 is not only extremely tough, but also attractive and lightweight. My 34T came in at 43 grams, that is 11 grams lighter than the XT 32T ring from my M780. Their available sizes are evenly spaced from 30T to 38T, if you have the legs of Weir that is. A direct mount ring for RF cranks goes as small as 26T though.
I have to admit; it feels weird to ride without a guide or tensioner in some way. The performance makes up for any awkwardness as soon as you hit the bumps. I have plowed into rock gardens, smashed my way down root-infested ravines, and even some nasty creek washouts without a single drop of the chain. The concept of the narrow and wide tooth profile works well at cinching the chain down. The fun part is that I am not even running a clutched rear mech! The bottom line is that the Narrow/Wide profile rings are a great alternative and Race Face did a wonderful job designing theirs.

Check back in as we have more reviews from The Lab – RJ

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