“One ring to control them all…” Well three rings to control them all actually. Chris Wickliffe, the man behind WickWerks, was kind enough to send me a set of chainrings (MSRP $139.50) to see how his cogs operate compared to my current setup. I was promised great results and right off the bat he said not to baby the shift which naturally piqued my curiosity.
One of the unique things about the WickWerk rings (44, 32, and 22T) is that they are only ramped – 11 ramps on the big ring, 8 on the middle. The teeth on the rings are machined in a series of four, having their profiles adjusted to accommodate shifting. The added stiffing ridge and hogged out sections save weight (3 rings @ 136grams) while keeping strength high (made from 7075 T6 aluminum).
Out of the package the very first thing you need to do is read the installation instructions. WickWerks supplies spacers for 2006+ XTR units but if you’re running a different crank configuration you’ll want to measure the spacing on your older unit beforehand to see if you need the spacers. Once I removed my old rings (which required removing the drive side crank arm), I installed the new WickWerks rings. My crank is a Raceface Deus and I stuggled just a bit with installation since the WickWerks rings are machined to very tight tolerances and fit super tightly. Now may be a good time to consider a new chain and perhaps a new cassette as well, especially if your drive train has many miles on it.
Once installed (about 30min), I hit the trails and noticed a difference right away. On the up shifts my drivetrain took half the amount of time it usually takes to get the chain up and on the next gear. Under power and doing the same shift was faster than my original rings but not quite as fast as it was under lower power. Shifting worked equally well on the down shift and I never encountered a dropped chain or a smashed drop in shifting that can happen with other chainring systems. I also noticed that overall the drivetrain was quieter too – perfect for sneaking up on slower riders. 🙂
For those who are looking to replace their rings or want a higher performance front drivetrain setup I would recommend taking a look at what WickWerks has to offer. At $139.50 for all three these rings aren’t ber expensive – just a few dollars more than RaceFace and Blackspire and way cheaper than Shimano ($117 just for the large ring). WickWerks chain rings offer solid trail performance at a reasonable price.