Absoluteblack Premium Oval Chainrings
MSRP: click here to check the latest price
36T – Tested ($)
52T – Tested ($$)
53T (Coming Soon)
Source: Online, Bicycle Shops
How Obtained: Manufacturers test sample
- Works great (if it matches your personal power curve)
- Looks great
- Lower price than competition
- Shifting quality
- Harder to clean due to cutouts
- Not adjustments like Rotor
- Weight (heavier than Dura Ace rings)
User Review( votes)
Absoluteblack Chainring Set Review
By Jon Draheim (VELOFIX.COM)
The Absoluteblack Premium Oval Chainrings were my first experience on an oval chainring. I found the installation on my Quarq Elsa RS crank very easy and after a quick height adjust on my front derailleur, I was all ready to test them out. I’ll be the first one to say that these rings look awesome on the bike and they will definitely turn heads at the coffee stop.
Most people that I have spoken to that haven’t ridden an oval ring before weren’t sure what to expect (myself included); will I be able to feel the oval shape and/or will my pedal stroke feel completely different? Both concerns were quickly dismissed as soon as I took the first pedal stroke. The Absoluteblack rings felt identical to your traditional chainring.
Unfortunately, I was coming back from a knee injury that had me off the bike for a month, so I was unable to compare power numbers between your traditional ring and the Absoluteblack oval. I can say that I noticed it was easier to hold my tempo power with these rings even though I had not been riding.
There are several minor downsides to the Absoluteblack rings that I must point out. I run Di2 on my bike for several reasons, but the main one is fast crisp shifting. I noticed while riding that shifting from the little ring to the big ring was not as crisp as the stock Dura Ace rings I normally run.
Sometimes it would take several rotations before the chain caught the shift ramps and actually shifted. The second minor downside is that the chainrings do not have adjustable timing like some of the competition. For my pedal stroke this was not an issue, but for a riding buddy that tested out my bike, it was. Lastly, they are slightly heavier than the Shimano Dura-Ace chainrings:
Bike Test Reviews Observations:
1) The Absoluteblack (AB) chainrings are closer in ovality to the Rotor QXL rings than the Rotor Q rings. The photo below shows the Rotor QXL compared to the Absoluteblack. Both are 52T. I usually recommend (as does ROTOR) that you start off with Q-RINGS, then, after one season, move to QXL. So, for most, the Absoluteblack rings might have a little too much ovality to start off with.
2) Direct comparison. First photo shows the Absoluteblack chainring laying on top of the ROTOR QXL. The second photo shows the ROTOR QXL laying on top of the Absoluteblack. Both are 52T.
3) No ‘indexing’ of the chainring to match your specific power profile. ROTOR calls it Optimum Chainring Position (OCP). For the Shimano 110×4, the ROTOR QXL comes with OCP 2, 3, 4 options. The Absoluteblack is fixed at about a ROTOR 2.9. Now, having performed bike fits for hundreds of cyclists, what I have noticed is that about 1% need OCP 2, 80% need OCP 3, and 19% need OCP 4.
I’m at OCP 4 and when using the Absoluteblack chainrings, towards the bottom of the pedal stroke, it feels as if my feet are falling out the bottom of the stroke. Meaning, at about position 4:30, all resistance has gone to zero. They should work for 80% of cyclists, but just not for me and the other almost 20%.
4) Bolt covers. I am happy to report that Absoluteblack is now producing a premium bolt cover set. A textured finish and 3 different colors (red, silver, dark gray) available. These match the machining of the chainrings and really look nice.
5) But, there is no chain keeper, nor is there a hole drilled in the chainring to accept a chain keeper. This piece keeps the chain from wedging itself between the crankarm and the chainring if the chain over-shifts and drops off the outside of the big chainring. Again, I called Absoluteblack and they said “we won’t be modifying this part, it’s not needed.” Well, I disagree, it’s better to be safe than sorry. ROTOR has it, SHIMANO has it as do most other crank manufacturers.
6) Shift pins, Shift ramps. The Absoluteblack has 5 shift ramps, 5 recesses and 0 shift pins where the ROTOR has 5 shift pins, 5 shift ramps and 5 recesses. A standard Shimano 110x4x52T has 4 shift pins and numerous recesses and ramps. Oval chainrings need all the help they can get to shift decently and the bottom line is that the Absoluteblack chainrings shift slow, very slow. If Absoluteblack added some shift pins to help the chain move up to the big chainring easier, this would really help the shifting.
Jon’s Summary: The Absoluteblack Premium Oval chainrings are a product that will help your riding, whether you are a racer or weekend warrior. The benefits from the rings far outweigh the minor issue that I had. The price is lower than its competitors and looks better in my opinion. Whether you have been on oval rings before or want to try them out for the first time, Absoluteblack would be my choice over the others.
Bike Test Reviews summary: Granted, the pricing is lower than its main competitor, but, the chainrings of its main competitor shift much better than the Absoluteblack. Even though Jon gave the Absoluteblack chainrings a 7/10 rating, for me, there are several showstoppers. These showstoppers stop me from giving these chainrings any higher than a 5/10 rating.
I have always enjoyed bicycling and, through a series of coincidences, became a Bicycle Industry Consultant and Product Tester. I test prototype products for companies and have published only off the shelf production products on biketestreviews.com.