Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Chapel Hill
Bikes: Canfield Yelli Screamy, Pivot Mach5, Specialized Roubaix, '65 Hercules, '79 Schwinn Stingray Lil Chic, '68 Schwinn Stingray Fastback, '89 Specialized Allez Epic, '86 Battaglin World Champion
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$50 is do-able, if you can go with a 36t ramped chainring -- not the 38, but much more common and cheaper.
I just measured my 34t Salsa SS ring and a 36t Shimano xt level ramped ring. The difference is not in the thickness of the teeth, but the depth. The teeth on both rings are 2mm all the way around. The depth of the Salsa ring is 6.50mm all the way around -- the depth of the Shimano ranges from 4.50mm to 5mm. The taller teeth of SS rings would be prohibitive to good shifting. I have never tried it before, so I can't fully say one way or the other. You might be saving more money in the long run by getting the ramped rings.