Absoluteblack is doubling down on their ovalized chainrings with their new option for Race Face’s amazing CINCH cranksets.

There’s no doubt Race Face got it right with their new cranksets, and the Next SL is among the lightest options on the market and gaining a decent bit of OEM spec to go with their aftermarket growth. To capitalize on that, Absoluteblack’s skipped right over the standard round chainring and launched their first CINCH-compatible version in an oval shape.

Until now, AB has offered oval rings for SRAM direct mount and 104 BCD, both of which are fixed at about the same clocking position. These, however, offer multiple clocking positions thanks to the versatile nature of Race Face’s CINCH design…


Since the chainring slides onto evenly shaped nubs on the crankset, you can mount them at any angle you’d like. Of course, there’s an optimal position, and here’s where Marcin’s explanation trumps us trying to paraphrase:

“Why we are talking with such passion about RF oval ring? As this ring as the only one in our line can also offer you chanring position adjustment. Rotor has been offering it for years but it requires special spider and special rings so the package is heavy and very expensive with multiple bolt mounting. (twice as expensive as our ring)

“Optimum Chainring Adjustment (OCA) – Our main/recommended clocking position is a fantastic setup for everyone (same as our other rings in the line). However some more experienced riders may like a bit more aggressive clocking. RaceFace oval chainring allows you to change clocking position by 22deg both ways from initial setup.

RF Cinch mounting pattern is the only one out of all direct mount chainring patterns on the market (like Sram/Hope/E13) that can be rotated by every 22.5º (16 spline design). That coincides with 2 positions that oval users love.

“Our main (signature) position is located around 3.30 o’clock. That means crank arm is located at 3.30 o’clock when major axis of the oval is at 12 oclock (vertical). That gives greatest benefits and excellent feel of the ring.

“Our second position in RF oval rings is located at 4.30 oclock. That is 22deg later than our main position. You need to turn the ring clockwise by one notch on the spline pattern. This position is favored by some experienced riders out there who already rode oval rings for few years from various manufacturers. We do not recommend it for customers who just started the experience with ovals as this position is more pronounced and aggressive. We encourage customers to play with second position only when they have ridden on the main position for minimum 5-6 months.”


The chainring has a mark on the backside that you line up with the center of the crank arm to get it in the right position.

The first batch will ship around February 27th, offered only with 32 teeth, which they say acts like a 34T in the power zone and a 30T in the dead zone. Claimed weight is 62g. Compare that to the 34T Race Face round chainring we are testing and you can drop a few grams while theoretically maintaining the same top end.

The second batch will offer a 30T option and should ship around March 15. Retail is $66 (€57 / £46), available for pre-order now.



  1. Levi on

    Finally, my waiting is over. Looks like a win , win, situation: oval, adjustable, inexpensive, and lighter than the original rings. I just placed an order!

  2. muf on

    The advantage rotor has is.. well.. they ship double-rings not just single rings 😉
    Imagine if absoluteblack had this.. (and working with all the popular cranks unlike rotor)

  3. Veganpotter on

    Great news but I sure hope the middle position is good because NOBODY is going to clock their ring 22degrees differently from the middle selection. Unless said mountain biker rides their 1x setup with a seat slammed forward and TT bars….I’m a fitter, and oval chainring advocate. I’ve only seen one person benefit from Rotor’s OCP 5 position and that was a very forward, slammed tri bike with someone with insanely short femurs…this would roughly be the 22 degree forward position. Nobody I’ve heard of has ever gone backwards 22degrees.
    Absolute black is only using the convenience of the spindle shape to say they’ve got 22degrees of adjustment…pretty darn deceiving. I’m sure this is still a great product for in the centered position though

  4. craigsj on

    “I’m a fitter, and oval chainring advocate. I’ve only seen one person benefit from Rotor’s OCP 5 position and that was a very forward, slammed tri bike with someone with insanely short femurs…”

    Have you ever seen Rotor rings used on a recumbent? It’s somewhat popular with that crowd.

    Not only is AB making this claim out of convenience while providing too granular an adjustment, but AB claimed adjustability was useless until these came along.

    “and working with all the popular cranks unlike rotor”

    muf, how many more cranks does Rotor need to support beyond supporting a wide variety of industry standard bolt spacings? What are “all the popular cranks” that Rotor doesn’t support?

    I realize spiderless single rings are the new craze but they make up a small portion of the market and you can get a single oval ring WITH proper adjustability if you just accept the spider. Just what makes Rotor’s adjustability “heavy”? Oh yeah, the spider whose weight we can no longer afford.

  5. absoluteblack on

    @ Veganpotter. Thanks for the comments. Actually you would be surprised. Some seasoned mtb oval riders were asking for 4.30 oclock position (as our second position). We also think that our main position is the most comfortable you can find, but there were requests for the second position, so we did it.

    We still recommend our main position for all the riders as it benefits everyone with great performance. I also agree one good position is enough and this is why we did not look to offer it with our other chainrings.
    With the RF cinch it was possible to do excellent exercise for people to understand how important is clocking in oval rings.

    We want all the users (most importantly seasoned oval users) to try and play with few positions, so they can fully understand how good is our main position and that more aggressive clocking is not always best. With other rings it was impossible to demonstrate. With RF cinch it is easy, so everyone can try and make their own mind.
    You can even simulate Biopace setting on it, to understand why it was such a bad idea in the past (and not to comment any more that it is same old Biopace:) )

  6. yoshi on

    @absolouteblack – is your shape (ovality etc) a direct copy of rotor’s or did you guys vary it some? Was there a lab study done on your version of the ring shape? When are you gonna have one for the new 9000 XTR single cranks?!

  7. absoluteblack on

    @craigsj – I didn’t see your comment before writing my first one, but actually you got few answers there.
    What Rotor does not support for 1x? Well quite a lot. 64bcd, 104bcd, 80bcd, 120bcd, RF cinch, cannondale hollowgram, Sram bb30 short spindle, E13 and few more.

    We never said Rotor is bad. They are good products. Only trouble is that you need to buy 75gbp spider and 75gbp ring and bolts. That is min 160GBP spend if you want to try oval ring. And this will even not allow you to try it on MOST popular mounting pattern 104bcd.
    In comparison our ring is only 45GBP. It is also 2x as light and made from better material.
    This is why you don’t see many Rotor users.

    Spiderless rings are not minority anymore Craig. With Sram finally moved in our and other companies footsteps with their own direct mount chainring, The Only important company which still do not offer spiderless is Shimano. But our guess is at Eurobike you will see their take on this one as well. Everyone else already offer 1X spiderless crank.

    Our oval shape is different to Rotor in few aspects. We can’t speak about details. The only similar thing is the name oval and quite similar clocking position. Clocking is most important from performance stand point of view. Oval shape is also important but it is more to do with the comfort and the feel of the ring. So the better the shape the more comfortable you feel. I mean the more you do not feel that you pedal an oval shape. With our rings you will not feel it at all.
    Combining then the right shape with correct clocking is the winning formula that takes a lot of time and effort to figure out. This is why some ovals on the market are good and some terrible.
    By now we got a huge following already, so you can read testimonials in most bike forums worldwide in any chosen language.

  8. NG on

    Congrat´s on this new product!

    Looks really great! 😉

    Do you want to sell even more??

    Just change the chainline a little bit (2mm) to be just like the original XX1 system 😉

  9. codyish on

    @Old School – anybody who compares modern ovalized chainrings to Biopace either wasn’t paying attention then or isn’t paying attention now – they’re exactly opposite. Biopace put the crank arm parallel to the long axis – modern rings put it approximately perpendicular.

  10. Tad Dickman on

    I’m with Lars. With the huge fat bike market a 28 would be perfect. 30 in the power and 26 in the dead. Some of us are more like mountain goats than mountain lions. 😉

  11. benb on

    @codyish anybody who compares biopace chainrings to the oval chainrings that appeared twenty years earlier either wasn’t paying attention during ancient bike history or wasn’t paying attention in the 80s.

    Yes, I wrote that correctly. Biopace was opposite of the ovalized chainrings that came before. Modern ovalized chainrings are the same as the previous to biopace generation of ovalized chainrings. Shimano had all sorts of studies and research supporting their take. At least their version was novel. A friend of mine has a copy of the research somewhere, I read it a couple of years ago for giggles.

    Ovalized chainrings of any description are very much not a new development and you can expect them to disappear after riders find that they give no benefit. Again. And you can expect them to be resurrected in 20 years when most bike consumers have never been exposed to them. Again.

  12. Zoso on

    “…32 teeth, which they say acts like a 34T in the power zone and a 30T in the dead zone. Claimed weight is 62g. Compare that to the 34T Race Face round chainring we are testing and you can drop a few grams while theoretically maintaining the same top end.”

    Not true. The total # of teeth dictate how much chain is pulled not the ovality thereof. A 34 tooth ring will have a higher top end than a 32 tooth, plain and simple.

    That said, I love my AB 32 tooth oval as I tend to me a masher. I don’t personally see them being very effective for spinners though.


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