I’ve gone through various 1X drivetrain configurations on my mountain bikes over the years and during that time, I’ve had a chance to try a number of different chainrings. Recently I picked up an alloy chainring from Wolf Tooth Components, and it’s been one of the best I’ve used.
Wolf Tooth offers a wide selection of 104 BCD chainrings ranging from 30T to 38T (where 30T means 30 teeth) in a variety of colors. The chainring is machined right here in the USA from 7075-T6 aluminum alloy and features Wolf Tooth’s patent pending Drop-Stop narrow-wide tooth design. For those who aren’t familiar, narrow-wide refers to the width of the teeth, which alternate from narrow to wide, which results in improved chain retention. Chain retention becomes important when you’re running a 1X drivetrain, since there is no front derailleur to keep the chain in place through rough terrain.
Installation on my 9spd hardtail was a breeze, and I didn’t even need to take my cranks off. I used a set of Wolf Tooth 1X chainring bolts (sold separately), and they went on smooth as butter. I’m running the 34T version, which weighs 56g (bolts add another 8g).
Wolf Tooth provides a number of recommendations to optimize chain retention out on the trail, but I pretty much ignored each one.
- With 9spd drivetrains, Wolf Tooth recommends running a 10spd chain for better retention. I stuck with my well-worn 9spd chain anyway.
- Wolf Tooth recommends using this chainring in conjunction with a clutch-style derailleur. I’m a big fan of clutch-style derailleurs but as far as I know, no one makes a 9spd version, so I’m running a plain old slappy one. My derailleur is a short cage version, which probably doesn’t hurt.
- Finally, Wolf Tooth says running a chain guide or chain keeper is a good idea if the bike is being ridden in muddy conditions. Boy, did I ride this bike in some muddy conditions! But alas, no chain guide or chain keeper.
Despite ignoring all of these rules, I haven’t had a single dropped chain over months of riding. Not only that, I haven’t experienced chain suck either, even through muddy conditions. Drop-Stop does what it advertises, and apparently doesn’t need to be babysat along the way.
Wolf Tooth produces an excellent chainring that performs even better than claimed and not only that, it looks great doing the job. The 104 BCD alloy chainrings start at $59.95 (tested) and a set of 4 bolts is $19.95.
Thanks to Wolf Tooth for providing the chainring and bolts for review.