SRAM to officially license its X-Sync Single Ring Technology

XGlide Ring

Just a few riding seasons ago, SRAM drastically changed the mountain bike scene with the introduction of it’s XX1 gruppo. The 1x specific drivetrain featured a mix of old and new technology that single-handedly eradicated the chain guide and front derailleur from the modern trail bike. We’ve tested the XX1, Xo1, and competitors narrow-wide offerings, and they all seem to offer the same chain grabbing performance. After a number of competitors have all thrown their hat into the narrow-wide chain ring, SRAM has announced that they are licensing the technology to other companies like the Accell Group, and Chromag Bikes. Both companies will be making their own versions of officially licensed SRAM X-SYNC rings.

As for the other companies making their own anti-drop chainrings? SRAM hasn’t said that they won’t be able to make them, but they do mention that “SRAM reserves the right to enforce its intellectual property in all matters relating to X-SYNC.” That makes it seem like the real issue would be infringing on the X-SYNC patents rather than just manufacturing narrow-wide rings.

More after the break.

XGlide Ring 2

From SRAM:

Since its successful and celebrated introduction 2 years ago, SRAM’s popular single-ring 1X™ Drivetrains featuring X-SYNC chainrings continue to gain popularity. In an effort to provide consumers more choice – SRAM has licensed this valuable, precision-based technology to two industry partners.

This December we formally signed two license agreements for the technology, one with Canadian-based Chromag, the other with the Accell Group. Both of these top-tier industry suppliers will be manufacturing their own versions of SRAM’s X-SYNC rings, to be distributed through their own networks. Both suppliers will continue to use and support all SRAM 1X™ Drivetrain components in addition to this license.

This narrow-wide design (also referred to as thick-thin) is an original SRAM technology, designed and engineered to be paired with matching SRAM components to ensure proper function. Imitation rings not manufactured to proper SRAM specifications may result in rapid wear and poor mud clearance, both of which may result in dropped chains.

SRAM has filed numerous patent applications on narrow-wide / thick-thin tooth geometry. Our German engineering teams invented narrow-wide / thick-thin chain retention for bicycles and we continue to improve on it. We strongly believe consumers deserve both choice and design integrity in the products they purchase. SRAM reserves the right to enforce its intellectual property in all matters relating to X-SYNC.

About Accell: Accell Group N.V. (“Accell Group”) focuses internationally on the mid-range and higher segments of the market for bicycles, bicycle parts and accessories and fitness equipment. Accell has leading positions in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy, France, Finland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. Accell Group’s best known brands are Batavus (NL), Sparta (NL), Loekie (NL), Ghost (DE), Haibike (DE), Hercules (DE), Winora (DE), Raleigh and Diamondback (UK, US, CA), Lapierre (FR), Tunturi (FI), Atala (IT), Redline (US) and XLC (international). For more information visit: http://www.accell-group.com/uk/accell-group.asp

About Chromag Bikes: Chromag is a manufacturer of high end machined bicycle components based in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada.  In addition to a full range of quality components, Chromag also manufactures an extensive line of steel hardtails. Being a smaller company gives Chromag the ability to move quickly and bring the most relevant components to market with a heightened sense of detail and creativity. For more information visit: http://www.chromagbikes.com

SRAM X-SYNC 1X™ Chainrings provide the highest level of chain management, performance and durability. SRAM’s X-SYNC tall rectangular tooth edges engage the chain earlier than traditional triangular-shaped teeth. The sharp and narrow tooth profiles, as well as rounded chamfers, help manage a deflecting chain. To provide the best possible performance in muddy conditions, the X-SYNC chainring provides mud-clearing recesses for the chain links and rollers. Designed in Germany, X-SYNC rings are an integral part of the SRAM 1X™ drivetrain.

Comments

Quickie - 01/07/14 - 3:44pm

SRAM’s legal department should have taken a lesson from Specialized and sued anybody that even looked at a n/w chainring. There are way too many people making them to start enforcing what their “German engineering teams invented.”

Eddy - 01/07/14 - 3:50pm

So how does this affect RaceFace, Wolf Tooth, and other making NW chain rings?

Ben - 01/07/14 - 4:03pm

All for business, but wouldn’t want to touch the PR side of this one…

choo-choo - 01/07/14 - 4:10pm

Started reading through a few of SRAMs patents on this. looks like they are patenting every last detail about the geometry of the tooth shape (thickness, angle, etc) along with its use in a 1x drive train.

Guess that’s how they got around being able to patent a ‘narrow wide’ ring whereas it was already patented in 1979 by an industrial machinery company (gehl)?

Also guess that’s why shimano is not pushing a 1x drivetrain? (speculating)

DP - 01/07/14 - 4:12pm

Narrow-Wide is actually really old (even SRAM said this when it came out). They must be basing this off of some other BS detail to have a patent. The curvature of the tooth and how it interfaces with the chain blah blah blah.

Robo - 01/07/14 - 4:20pm

I would assume they’re either gearing up to go after those brands, or they’ve already had their legal team determine they’re too different to infringe on any patents they hold. If they ARE going to go after them, I would assume with this announcement, that rather than a C&D, they’d just try and force a licensing fee out of them.

Colin - 01/07/14 - 4:26pm

if you look at the teeth on the RaceFace and the Sram, the wide teeth are actually very different. is the sram is flat on the end and the RaceFace is pointy. I would guess that the others that are making a w/n ring are similar (i only have those 2 rings in stock) and I would venture a guess that what they patented is the squared off shape on the wide ring.

Smokestack - 01/07/14 - 4:30pm

Soon to be found in the dumpster of lawsuit history. See also: Stan’s bead seat patent.

Jak0zilla - 01/07/14 - 4:32pm

Perhaps someone will make a 5-arm 110mm bcd thick-thin ring. I’d kind of like one of those.

Mattbyke - 01/07/14 - 5:16pm

Narrow wide tech has been around at least a century , on agriculture equipment. Why even put a profile on the teeth ? It’s a single speed ring. Oh wait….

Zach D - 01/07/14 - 6:03pm

@JakOzilla Raceface is about to have 110 and 130 BCD NW chainrings available.

1speedlos - 01/07/14 - 6:12pm

@Zach D and @Jack0zilla- Wolftooth already does. http://www.wolftoothcycling.com/collections/chainrings/products/110-bcd-cyclocross-chainrings
Unfortunately, if you’re looking for 110 MTB gearing, they only go down to 36t. Perhaps if there’s interest, they might make a 34t….

El Salt - 01/07/14 - 6:21pm

I’m going to “license” round bicycle wheels – I’ll be RICH!

patrik - 01/07/14 - 6:46pm

“SRAM reserves the right to enforce its intellectual property in all matters relating to X-SYNC.”

Calling all Specialized haters!

“But it’s a just metal ring with teeth on it! How can you patent that?!” says the broke-ass bike consumer.

MB - 01/07/14 - 6:56pm

Robo is spot on above. The other manufacturers have also done their homework on what would be allowed and liable for litigation. I’m not owrried about any of them. Now, the NEXT 10 guys that can’t really change the tooth profile enough to differentiate will have some issues OR they’ll pay for licensing.

Andy S - 01/07/14 - 7:17pm

@Jak0zilla Wolftooth Components makes 5 arm 110bcd and 130bcd thick/thin, narrow/wide, obese/emaciated, big-boned/frail rings. I have one on my cross bike. Super high quality product and the company has been amazing to deal with. Highly recommended!

http://www.wolftoothcycling.com/products/110-bcd-cyclocross-chainrings

Zen - 01/07/14 - 9:10pm

SRAM,…will you license it to Shimano?

Hmmm - 01/08/14 - 12:01am

How else is Sram going to make up their loss with the road hydros that they recalled recently?? They could have announced this over a year ago…why all of a sudden?

Argh - 01/08/14 - 4:40am

@Hmmm Shimano riders needs 3x drivetrain :D

Psi Squared - 01/08/14 - 4:42am

@Hmmm: So, SRAM could have announced a year ago a license agreement that was only formalized last month? Granted Einstein’s Special Relativity Theory does allow a form of time travel to the future, it does not allow you to use said time travel for communication of information from said future, especially when that communication would violate causality.

Joey B - 01/08/14 - 6:57am

Maybe they (Sram) aren’t worried about the smaller guys, just wanted to block Shimano from using the technology.

BillyDaBlues - 01/08/14 - 8:30am

Have any of you tested xx1? Guess what? The chain drops. Look at the pros… They all run chainguides. And look well because they are hidden. good job to SRAM marketing team. Consumers love xx1, users don’t. Go figure the difference.

dogboy - 01/08/14 - 9:37am

@BillyDaBlues

I’ve been on XX1 for about a year and 2K miles, so I am a USER. I’ve not dropped the chain once and have no chain device whatsoever. That said I can see why athletes at the highest level of competition would want the added security of a chain guide and it’s hard to fault them when their results pay the bills. How much time do you have on the group?

mike - 01/08/14 - 10:59am

@billy, thanks for asking, I have tested a no drop ring. A full season of cyclocross racing on a custom made 5×110 ring that has much shorter teeth than xx1. I have yet to drop a chain. Doesn’t seem like it would work. turning the pedals by hand you can make the chain derail, but it hasn’t happened while riding.

Padrote - 01/08/14 - 11:39am

most people using XX1 won’t experience chain drops. If you are super shreddy you might have a problem with it, but you can buy a $50 top guide to prevent it. I don’t see what the big deal is. it’s still going to be quieter and shift better than any drivetrain setup on the market.

tehan - 01/08/14 - 11:55am

Absoluteblack also make 110/130 narrow-wide chainrings… and they perfectly retain the chain in the mud! look to the link)
http://crossjunkie.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/absoluteblack-single-ring-set-up.html

http://absoluteblack.cc/cx-rings.html

Greg - 01/08/14 - 12:13pm

To date SRAM has no granted patents, only applications. So they can license their designs and trademarks, but as far as patents are concerned “there is no there there.”

bin judgin - 01/08/14 - 12:41pm

Haven’t dropped my chain on xx1. I am slow compared to racers but ride haggard sh*t and bounce all over the place. And I’m just using a clutch RD & xx1 ring. go sram!

i - 01/09/14 - 11:42am

Sram’s got to know that any lawsuit would trigger a patent review, and the meat of their patents is a century-old idea, so probably a review would find that the patent shouldn’t have been granted in the first place. It’s not like Race Face is a one-man shop working out of a garage that they could bully. Most of Specialized’s misdeeds were trademark related so no direct comparison.

Remember the guy that successfully patented fire? It doesn’t seem like anyone even reads patent applications until they are challenged.

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