Here they are, proof that aftermarket XX1 compatible chainrings exist other than on paper. As one of the first companies to bring narrow-wide 104 BCD compatible chainrings to market, we’ve talked about the Wolf Tooth Components rings a good bit after we spotted them at NAHBS. The company seems to be progressing at a very quick pace and will soon offer a number of narrow-wide chainrings for quite a few different crank standards but the 104 models are the first to hit the shelves.
We just received a 30 and a 32 tooth ring to test out, and have already bolted up the 30t for some first rides. Did the chain drop? Answer, after the break.
The rise of the narrow-wide chainring phenomena is an interesting one that harkens back to the early days of mountain biking where small companies could really get their name out there with a few well engineered, needed products. The Wolf Tooth Rings are made in Minneapolis and come shipped in simple, yet effective packaging.
While both chainrings are incredibly useful if you want to ditch the front derailleur, the 30t is the real interesting piece since it required some tricks to get a 30t ring to fit on a 104 BCD crank. Essentially, if nothing was done, the end of the spider arm on the crank would interfere with the chain. To counter this the 30t ring is threaded, so you must use 8-10mm long chainring bolts without the nut. Keep in mind that longer chainring bolts are not included with the ring, so you will need to source your own. I’ve amassed a collection over the years, but strangely the first set I picked out wouldn’t thread into the ring as I think they were from an old Truvativ bash guard though any standard chainring bolt the proper length should work fine.
The ring features posts that nest inside the bolt holes on the spider allowing perfect alignment and preventing the threads from supporting the full pedaling force. Make sure to RTFM, and torque the bolts down to 7-8Nm, and use a bashguard if you tend to hit a lot of rocks. The threaded rings are plenty strong, though it’s still threaded aluminum.
The posts then serve to push the ring out far enough from the spider that when the chain is wrapped around the ring, the plates clear the spider. This also pushes the chainline inboard a bit which in the case of my Pugsley that it went on, was actually beneficial.
At 36g for the 30T and 40g for the 32T, the WTC rings are at least as light as most other rings on the market. I measured a 32t single chainring I had that wasn’t narrow-wide, and it too came in at 40g so it’s not like the tooth profile will make a noticeable difference on weight.
As mentioned, the 30t ring was mounted to my Pugsley as I wanted to ditch the front shifter and get the bike as light as possible. I had been running it 1×10 with ghetto chain tensioner I made from some spare parts, but the snow, slush, salt, and mud wasn’t too kind to it. Currently, the bike does not have a Shadow plus derailleur, so this test was with a standard 10 speed Shimano XT M771 drivetrain.
I really expected the chain to drop since it was 10 speed and had a non-clutched rear derailleur – but it didn’t. As all the snow is gone, this was a rather bumpy ride over roots and rocks so it wasn’t smooth sailing over soft snow either. Down steps, over roots, and across creeks the chain held firm. When it comes to my trail bikes I would assume I would need the clutched derailleur, but for fatbikes – at least initially, it seems like it isn’t necessary. If the rest of the test goes as well as the first few rides I’m sold. Not only is the 30×11-36 a great gear range for the fatties, for anyone considering a 1×10/11 conversion these rings are an incredibly simple and (relatively) cheap way to try it out.