Poor front shifting can really ruin an otherwise amazing drivetrain setup. Not to mention, it can really put a downer on your rides. I myself have been victim of poor front shifting. My cyclocross bike came set up with amazing Cannondale Hollowgram SI cranks, but used FSA rings. I was never able to get the front shifting to work the way I wanted. So, to improve my front shifting performance I started looking into aftermarket solutions, but nothing was really catching my eye. That is until I started hearing about Praxis Works and their forged chainrings. The hype sounded too good to be true, but nothing else (short of running Shimano Dura-ace chainrings mixed in with my SRAM Red drive train) sounded any better. So, while at Interbike I made a point to stop by their booth and find out just what the Praxis Works chainrings are all about. You can find that post here.
Luckily for me, I left that meeting with a set of both 50/34 compact road rings, and a 48/36 cross set (46/36 is coming). I took the bikes to my mechanic and had the chainrings properly set up, and have since put a decent amount of miles on each now. I have the road rings set up on a complete Shimano Ultegra SL 10sp drive train, and the cross set up is using a SRAM Red front derailleur. Both drive trains are using a Shimano Ultegra 6600 10sp chain. Head on past the jump to see if the hype is real, or if these are just another aftermarket dud.
I am going to get straight to the point. You want these chainrings and you want them right now! These are the only chainrings I have ever ridden that have equal, if not slightly better, front shifting performance as compared to a Shimano Dura-ace set up. And if you ask me, Dura-ace is the gold standard for front shifting.
So what makes the Praxis Works chainrings a better choice than other after market rings? For starters they are forged, not CNC’d. They are made from 7075 T6 aluminum. Praxis uses what they call a “One-Shot” forging process. It allows them to make a longer lasting ring. And, they are able to add in more shifting features compared to a normal CNC processed ring. In their own words, ” Individual tooth profiles, alternating tooth angles, timed ramps and tactically placed shift elevators are all jam packed onto a Praxis ring.”
All these features are dubbed LevaTime by their marking department. And while the term may not mean much, the bits that make it up do. Praxis has spent years in the R & D phase with these rings, and the hard work has really paid off.
There are four main parts to the LevaTime system. The first components are the stainless steel shift elevators (aka pins). These are placed very precisely around the big ring to alleviate missed shifts. Next are the tactical ramps. These ramps are timed with the little ring to grab the chain without hesitation. Third, you have unique tooth profiles to aid in the smoothness of each front shift. And last, Praxis has built scallops into the system to prevent chain suck.
What does all this tech equate to? That’s easy, it delivers perfect front shifting. I find that I never have to pay attention anymore when going up to the big ring. I don’t even have to ease up when up shifting. I can just jam the lever and the chain moves without hesitation. I haven’t had a missed shift on either bike since mounting these chain rings. Downshifts are equally as smooth, and happen without issue.
We get to test a lot of really nice stuff here at BikeRumor. And while we usually end up with positive reviews, usually a product has at least one downside. This time, I have yet to find one. Even the price is decent at $160 for either the compact road or cyclocross version. If you are in the market for new chainrings these should be at the top of your list.