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absoluteBLACK Oval 104 BCD Chainring

Average User Rating: (Outstanding)
absoluteBLACK Oval 104 BCD Chainring - Black
 absoluteBLACK Oval 104 BCD Chainring  absoluteBLACK Oval 104 BCD Chainring  absoluteBLACK Oval 104 BCD Chainring  absoluteBLACK Oval 104 BCD Chainring
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Durable and well-made oval chainring

Rating: Featured Member Review
Durable and well-made oval chainring
The Good:
+The ovality seems spot-on
+Nicely machined and nice workmanship
+Durable and good chain retention even with many miles
The Bad:
-Limited teeth options for some setups
-The shape might not suit everyone
Overall Review:

This Absolute Black chainring came into my life around 5 years ago when they were still a young company. I was drawn into the oval chainring cult because of the claimed benefits for the knees. Back when I was riding a 40 pound freeride bike with a slack seat tube angle on any kind of terrain, I would get some knee pain on longer rides. Even if I my saddle was as far forward as possible, the offset seatpost made sure that I couldn't gain any seat tube steepness from anything. That must have been the source of my knee pain, but I was trying to find other solutions. Enter oval chainrings.

Creak-free and trouble-free. Why did we change the 104BCD bolt pattern again ?

I won't get into the ovality ratio calculations or any medical-related claims here, but I will say that I could feel the difference in a good way. First, I didn't need any adaptation for it to feel natural. After a few pedal strokes it was already a natural movement. Looking back at it after trying it on different steeds, I can't say that this was the cure to my knee pain. It's been on a '09 Norco Shore with something like a 67 actual degree seat tube angle, a more recent '18 Marin Rift Zone which had a more modern 74 degree actual seat tube angle, and a Rocky Mountain Reaper hardtail, something in between as far as seat tube angles go. I've done 40km technical rides on the 36 pound Marin and never once I had the same kind of knee pain that I had experienced before. But I think this has to do with the now-steeper seat tube angles more than the oval ring, as I've done the same kind of rides with a round chainring without any pain either.

The 30 tooth chainring I have is apparently equivalent to a 28/32 tooth, and this is something that can be felt on the trail. You need a bit more torque to power up hills, but I could feel some added traction in my pedal stroke when on the ring's flatter section. It's like if it fills up the "in-between" parts of the stroke where we usually can't push to power. I can't say if this was a placebo effect after reading on the oval rings, but I think that some traction gains can be attributed to the more even powerband of each stroke.

After around 1000kms, still no chainguide needed and it keeps the chain on.

Still, I did not feel that much difference going back to a 30 tooth round ring afterwards, and I don't feel like if I'm missing the traction "gains" that i felt with the oval ring. Had they been the same price when assembling my new drivetrain, I might have gone for the oval to try it again, but the 50$ price difference made me choose the cheaper (SLX CRM75) chainring as I didn't feel like it was worth it for now. I'd still be tempted to try one, but there are so many things I'd like to try and I can't afford it all.

Durability-wise, mine has held up great. It's still in great shape after a few seasons, and even the anodizing still looks very good for its age. Absolute Black's rings are very well machined for strength, weight and looks. The attention to detail is awesome and this makes for a nice component to look at. I bought the 104BCD 30 tooth ring, which is nice because many (older) cranksets use this bolt pattern. I was then able to ride it on many bikes and feel the behavior of the oval ring on different kind of suspension systems and bikes. It's been on 10 and 11-speed drivetrains and worked perfectly with both setups with new or used chains. I don't remember dropping a chain either!

Still in use 5 years after, in all kinds of conditions.

There are a few manufacturers making oval rings now, but Absolute Black were pioneers of the "new-wave" and they master their craftsmanship. Although the benefits might have felt small for me, I still liked the feel and they haven't brought any negative impressions over circular rings. I'd say try them and see if it fits you, you might be surprised.


Product absoluteBLACK Oval 104 BCD Chainring
Riding Type Cross Country, Dirt Jump / Slopestyle, Downhill, Enduro / All-Mountain, Freeride / Bike Park, Trail
Chainring Type Narrow/Wide
Speeds 1x
Tooth Count 30 (non-HYPERGLIDE+ only), 32, 34, 36
Hole Pattern 4-hole 104mm BCD
Materials CNC machined 7075 aluminum
Colors Non-HYPERGLIDE+: Black, Cannondale Green, Racing Red
  • 0 lb 1.3 oz (36 g)
  • 0 lb 1.4 oz (41 g)
  • 0 lb 1.6 oz (44 g)
  • 0 lb 1.9 oz (53 g)
Miscellaneous Compatible with: Shimano XT / Zee / Deore / SLX / XTR, Race Face SixC / Ride / Chester / Respond, FSA, e*thirteen and many more; 9, 10, 11 and 12-speed

Chainline: 30 tooth - 48mm; 32 tooth - 48.5mm; 34/36 tooth - 50mm

Ovality: optimized to each size separately; range: 10.2-14.4%; timing: 110.5-116.3° after TDC (Top Dead Center)

HYPERGLIDE+ version works only with 12-speed Shimano HYPERGLIDE+ chains (HG+): CN-M9100, 8100 and 7100

30 tooth version (non-HYPERGLIDE+ only) includes special bolts and spacers
  • $76.95
  • $72.95
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