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Am I late to the party or is this narrow/wide thing the newest, emerging trend?

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Am I late to the party or is this narrow/wide thing the newest, emerging trend?

Old 10-24-14, 12:19 AM
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Am I late to the party or is this narrow/wide thing the newest, emerging trend?

A well-respected friend linked me to well done steel All-City Space Horse build. Clicking through shows a Paul dogtooth installed. I mention the look of dogtooth being an eyesore and he tells me of the latest trend of narrow/wide chainrings being used, mainly, on CX bikes. I am then given a barrage of links showing examples of these chainrings. Example 1, Example 2 and Example 3.

My buddy runs one on a CX frame and another on a commuter. I am told, "so far, no dropped chains."

So, my questions are:
1) is this the latest trend or does this idea have staying power? Has it been done before?
2) Is anyone out there running a 1x setup with a narrow/wide chainring?
3) If narrow/wide works as it seems it may, I could see this benefiting our ilk. I'm curious if there any options for the vintage crowd? The examples above are painfully modern and likely wouldn't work well for our vintage frames.
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Old 10-24-14, 01:57 AM
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They work, and I've never dropped a chain with one on MTB (1x10) or CX (1x11). Two thoughts: they don't work in very muddy situations (RD with a clutch / physical chain keeper required), and I also have never dropped a chain on my 1x7 commuter with an old 144bcd campy chainring, though I don't ride that one off road (as much)
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Old 10-24-14, 07:23 AM
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They solve a problem for people who ride in bouncy terrain and are constantly accelerating and shifting (mtb, cx racing). Not sure that is a problem for most other single ring uses. Remember you are also limited to even ring sizes.
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Old 10-24-14, 07:55 AM
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Looks to me like the biggest factor is the length of the teeth - at least a third "taller" than those on conventional rings.

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Old 10-24-14, 08:03 AM
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I've yet to drop a chain either on my hardtail. I'm running a XT clutch derailleur also. I don't think it's a fad either and will be around for awhile. IMHO.
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Old 10-24-14, 08:39 AM
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They do seem very popular in 1xn setups, but I'd rather use a chain guard on a vintage bike.
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Old 10-24-14, 08:55 AM
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Is there anyone that can give me a tl;dr on how these rings are supposed to work their magic? - I understand taller teeth - but making them at alternative width makes little sense to me.
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Old 10-24-14, 11:39 AM
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The theory is that the narrow and wide teeth on the chainring fill up the narrow and wide spaces between chain link plates and provides a better fit with the chain making it less likely to jump off. I was skeptical at first because it's not like the chainring is a tight fit inside the chain, but I can vouch that it does work. I have a 1x9 mountain bike with a Race Face n/w chainring and I have not dropped the chain once in 1 year of riding some pretty rocky terrain. I recently converted another mountain bike to a 1x8 with a standard non-ramped single speed chainring and I dropped the chain three times on the first ride. I have heard that the newer clutch derailleurs can prevent some of this, but I didn't even need one on my 1x9 with n/w chainring.

Of course, I think these are completely unnecessary for anything other than real off road riding.
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Old 10-24-14, 12:38 PM
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I am using one on my MTB 1x10. Race Face. They are awesome. Never dropped a chain, using a 2014 XTR RD with clutch and one-up RAD cage and 40T one-up big cog cassette mod. I am tempted to use one on my cross/commuter but I think I will stick with a wide range double and smaller range cassette.
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Old 10-25-14, 05:05 AM
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Have never heard of a narrow/wide chain ring, never heard of a clutch RD;
but as I approach building my own gravel/cx bike, I've been looking at 1x11, and it makes sense.
I appreciate the info, even on a C&V site. Possible use on a converted C&V to single-speed commuter.
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Old 10-25-14, 06:01 AM
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Hey guys look what I found!

Recreational Cyclocross and Gravelbiking
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Old 10-25-14, 08:21 AM
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not to derail the thread, but I'm surprised to hear that your conventional 1x setups are not dropping chains--when I tried to convert my former commuter to 1x10, I dropped the chain constantly. Do you have any insight why this might be? (at the time I just assumed that everyone else running 1x10 used a chain keeper. I went to order a chain keeper, saw the price, and put my big ring and Rival FD back on the commuter....)
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Old 10-25-14, 08:41 AM
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For those who do not know how to set up, adjust and shift a triple, ........
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Old 10-25-14, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by cobrabyte
Hey guys look what I found!

Recreational Cyclocross and Gravelbiking
Thanks for the Cyclocross nudge but the reason I put this topic in C&V is a reason still nobody has really touched.

Originally Posted by The Thin Man
3) If narrow/wide works as it seems it may, I could see this benefiting our ilk. I'm curious if there any options for the vintage crowd? The examples above are painfully modern and likely wouldn't work well for our vintage frames.

I'm considering a 1xn city bike setup on an entirely vintage frame. I may want to take advantage of the narrow/wide idea. So, to keep this thread relevant to C&V my question is, has anyone seen any narrow/wide chainrings that would keep with our vintage aesthetic?

Last edited by The Thin Man; 10-25-14 at 09:48 AM.
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Old 10-25-14, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by The Thin Man
Thanks for the Cyclocross nudge but the reason I put this topic in C&V is a reason still nobody has really touched.

I'm considering a 1xn city bike setup on an entirely vintage frame. I may want to take advantage of the narrow/wide idea. So, to keep this thread relevant to C&V my question is, has anyone seen any narrow/wide chainrings that would keep with our vintage aesthetic?
True, it's a valid question. I've set up a 1x5 with all vintage parts, and never dropped the chain. I suppose if you're pushing a 1x8,9, or 10 things can get complicated. New modern chainrings can look gaudy, a nice subtle option would be cool. With the price of some of the new rings though, I would look at a chainkeeper as an option as well.
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Old 10-25-14, 11:58 PM
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Originally Posted by The Thin Man
Thanks for the Cyclocross nudge but the reason I put this topic in C&V is a reason still nobody has really touched.

I'm considering a 1xn city bike setup on an entirely vintage frame. I may want to take advantage of the narrow/wide idea. So, to keep this thread relevant to C&V my question is, has anyone seen any narrow/wide chainrings that would keep with our vintage aesthetic?
But why do you need it if it's a city bike? As lotekmod said it's unnecessary for anything but real off-road riding. Just go ahead and convert it to 1x and use a plain old chainring that isn't ramped or pinned and you'll be fine, assuming you set chain line and chain length correctly.
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Old 10-26-14, 04:54 AM
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thanks, all, for explaining. I think this mod is necessary because of the trend for chainrings to get lower, thinner and more sculpted to accomodate different chains and better front shifting. I've never had any problem with the bikes I converted to 1xX with the old-fashioned chainrings.
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Old 10-26-14, 05:31 AM
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I really only see the benefit of the n/w chainrings on true off road bikes. I had a 1x9 cyclocross bike years ago with a standard non-ramped chainring and I don't remember having problems with dropped chains. That was with riding asphalt, gravel, and smooth single track. The ability for this to work successfully on any given bike is dependent on many factors- chain line, derailleur spring strength, chain ring tooth profile, etc.

edit: Also chain length and derailleur cage length. You want to run as short a chain as possible so the derailleur doesn't have as much room to swing down, and a short cage derailleur if you can get away with it.

When mountain biking on rocky terrain, however, a traditional rear derailleur will start bouncing up and down causing a lot of slack in the chain. This is what causes the chain to drop. The new clutch derailleurs, for those who aren't familiar, adds dampening to the spring mechanism so it is less likely to quickly swing down on a sudden impact. The clutch derailleur combined with the narrow/wide chainring has really created a reliable 1x setup on cross country bikes without having to add inner and outer chain guides which many people felt (including myself) was somewhat negating the idea of a lighter, simpler front end.

It surprises me sometimes how bike technology is progressing through seemingly minor improvements. I will look at my old bikes and new bikes and think how little things seemed to have changed over 40 years but when you get into the small details it can really make a difference.

Last edited by lotekmod; 10-26-14 at 06:19 AM.
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