First Impressions: Absolute Black’s SRAM Direct Mount Spiderless Chainrings

Absolute Black SRAM Direct Mount spider less chainrings mini review

Absolute Black’s been teasing us with quite a few gorgeous CNC machined parts, from pedals to brake rotors (CenterLock and 6-bolt) to chainrings. Now, we’ve got hands (and chain) on the rings for some actual weights and first impressions.

The differentiating point for AB’s rings is the tooth profile. It’s taller than regular chainrings, and the actual shaping is unique. The idea is that it precisely fits between the chain’s pins and takes up any slack, reducing the likelihood the chain will fall off. Combined with a clutch-style rear derailleur, AB founder Marcin says they’ll keep the chain on just fine while saving a ton of weight compared to a standard spider-plus-chainring setup.

Do the claims hold up? So far, pretty well. They’re light and keep the chain on for aggressive XC riding. Read on for actual weights, comparisons and plenty more…

WEIGHTS & DETAILS

absolute-black-new-tooth-profile

The tooth profile is designed to basically capture the chain and hold it securely as it moves around, then release freely upon exit. Marcin sent this image of just four links worth of contact holding onto the chain enough to carry the weight of a water bottle:

absoluteblack-chainring-3

At first, we thought this might induce chainsuck or add “drag” to pedaling effort, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. It works as advertised.

Absolute Black SRAM Direct Mount spider less chainrings mini review and actual weights

Our 34t chainring came in at just 67g.

Absolute Black SRAM Direct Mount spider less chainrings mini review and actual weights

For comparison, if you were running a standard X0 2×10 setup and switched to this, the end result would be a GXP crank plus ring weight of about 350g, a savings of 123g…not to mention the loss of the front derailleur, shifter, cable and housing. It adds up quick.

The chainrings are CNC’d from 7075 TXXX alloy, then hard anodized to 30um. Marcin says this makes them extremely hard, and then they’re colored. They’re available in 28/30/32/34 tooth counts (36 coming), create a 49mm chainline and are offered in blue, red and black. Green and gold may come soon. US retail is $60 each. They do recommend a chainguide for more aggressive or gravity riding.

RIDE REVIEW

Absolute Black SRAM Direct Mount spider less chainrings mini review

AB says they’ll work with any SRAM direct-mount crankset that’s GXP or the longer BB30 spindle. I’ve mounted them to both with no problems, but they warn that the shorter BB30 spindles (which use a 10mm spacer on the driveside rather than 16mm) can create a chainline that won’t work well with chain guides.

Absolute Black SRAM Direct Mount spider less chainrings mini review

The machining is both extensive and exquisite.

Absolute Black SRAM Direct Mount spider less chainrings mini review

Marcin’s working on a wide/narrow XX1 style chainring for 104BCD spiders, too, but his original design has worked pretty well for us so far and results in a lighter overall system weight than spider+chainring. This one’s mounted on an XX1 BB30 crankset using XX1 rear derailleur. Racing around our local trails, which are full of roots and small drops and jumps, I haven’t dropped the chain yet. Well, once during a wipeout, but that happened with the XX1 chainring also.

Absolute Black SRAM Direct Mount spider less chainrings mini review

On the bike, you can see the tops of the teeth poking through the chain. They’re supposed to work with 9/10/11 speed chains, and we’ve tested with 10 and 11 so far.

Absolute Black SRAM Direct Mount spider less chainrings mini review

At first, there’s a bit of noise from the ring/chain interaction. It’s like a muted version of the sound your chain makes when it’s so dry or crummed up that it’s about to suffer chainsuck. Except that it doesn’t chainsuck. That noise is dying down a bit as we put more miles on it, and Marcin says the latest production batch eliminates it altogether.

Stay tuned for the long term review later in the year.

PROTOTYPE VERSION

Absolute Black SRAM Direct Mount spider less chainrings mini review

Just for fun, Marcin also sent along this custom one originally made for a pro racer. It’s 0.3mm thinner and comes in ridiculously light:

Absolute Black SRAM Direct Mount spider less chainrings mini review and actual weights

46g for a 32t, which is 5g lighter than standard.

Absolute Black SRAM Direct Mount spider less chainrings mini review

We haven’t had as much success keeping the chain on with this one, and can see just a bit of flex when we’re hammering. Under hard efforts, it has sent the chain off the outside six or seven times over several rides. With a chainguide, it shouldn’t be an issue, but it’s a non-production part anyway…we just thought it’d be fun to share.

Check them out at AbsoluteBlack.cc.

Comments

rico - 07/18/13 - 3:45pm

Sweet progress! Geez the single ring setups have made a lot of progress in the past two or three years. I still have a mrp guide and an old style X0 rear der. on mine. I’d love to try this ring with no guide and one of these new tight sprung derailleurs. Rock on.

Dude - 07/18/13 - 4:30pm

looks like the string is around the chain and the chainring holding the water bottle up, looks a little fishy.

Devin - 07/18/13 - 4:52pm

Wait, hard anodized and THEN colored? Are they doing a type 2 ano over the hard anodizing (type 3)?

Jimbrowski - 07/18/13 - 5:22pm

Nothing new, Profile Racing did this 3 years ago with there BMX cranks….A lot of “innovation” for road bikes are a direct result from BMX design…think about it

greg - 07/18/13 - 5:35pm

the orange one clearly shows a traditional tooth shape, unlike the blue one.
the hanging assembly looks to be a string tied to the middle link, with the links to each side gripping the chainring. neat, but i just wonder if a standard track or bmx chainring could be made to do the same thing.

Dr. Monkeypants - 07/18/13 - 5:50pm

Great price for a sexy and functional piece of billet? Bravo.

Not a fan of the blue though.

ccolagio - 07/18/13 - 6:03pm

wait wait wait. so theyve re-invented the re-invented wheel? they are making a single ring chainring thats supposed to hold onto the chain better…and they put it on xx1 cranks…and they didnt use the narrow/wide profile?

i fail to see the value of this tooth profile.

matt - 07/18/13 - 6:10pm

compare the prices of that one and original xx1 ring or Wolf and you will understand.

ccolagio - 07/18/13 - 7:10pm

right. 22 grams lighter than wolf (32 vs 32) and $18 less. but does it work like a narrow/wide?

Jim - 07/18/13 - 8:30pm

WRT to holdling the chain, it would appear not…
http://singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/wolf-tooth-components-xx1-type-chainring/page/6

dcluley - 07/18/13 - 11:24pm

It’s not on XX cranks either, it’s a spiderless setup that works on old x7, x9, truvativ AKA, and XO carbon arms. . . different niche than xx and xx1 rings for us workin’ men.

CDG - 07/18/13 - 11:44pm

@Dude…if you zoom in, it actually looks like the loose string on the other side of the knot. I think the pic is legit.

Tyler (Editor) - 07/19/13 - 10:41am

All – these will fit any SRAM crankset that uses the bolt on spider, so X7 through X0, XX1 and some S-series stuff, but not XX.

CDG – you’re right, and we’ve got larger, higher res versions of that image and it’s only tied to the chain at the top. We just had to down rez a bit for the web. Bandwidth ain’t cheap!

K11 - 07/22/13 - 3:54pm

the tester mentions the idea of no chain suck effect, but would that be the case in extremely muddy cyclocross application?

I know these are for mtb, but i would wonder how they would act when really muddy, sandy, and grassy. Those conditions would have been a great test.

maettu99 - 10/30/13 - 3:11am

How do I find out which SRAM BB30 crank has a long and which has a short spindle?
I thought that there is only one spindle length available???

Are there any part numbers available?

I’m confused…

maettu9 - 10/30/13 - 3:22am

Can you explain more about this BB30 long spindle?
I have an X0 BB30 crankset and I thought that BB30 has always the same spindle length??? I’m confused…

Bill - 01/04/14 - 2:02pm

So this is not a narrow /wide chainring?
Will it work on a PF30 bottom bracket?

Felipe - 02/26/14 - 8:28am

What is a clutch-style rear derailleur? In the official website says “Please use short/medium clutch mech”; Is it so important? or will it work well with a long cage rear derailleur?

Tyler Benedict - 02/26/14 - 2:30pm

Felipe – SRAM’s new derailleurs have a clutch on them for X7 through X0 I believe. Shimano also has one on at least the top three groups, using an on/off switch to make wheel changes easier. The benefit is stronger chain tension with minimal increase in shift lever effort. The benefit is less chain slap and, with single ring drivetrains, less chance that the chain can fly off the chainring.

Post a comment:

Comment sections can be a beautiful source of knowledge, conversation and comedy. They can also get pretty ugly, which is why we've updated our Comments Policy. If your comment isn't showing up or suddenly disappears, you might want to check it out.