It’s been more than four and a half years since we last did a proper review of a set of chainrings from Praxis. While they do get pretty rave reviews from everyone who rides them, we thought it was time to revisit a few sets that we have put several thousand kms on to let you know how they have worked out and how they’ve held up over the long haul. The sets we’ll talk about in detail are the Standard Road 53/39 Clover rings, the all black Compact Road 50/34 rings, and the Cyclocross 46/36 rings.
Come past the break for our thoughts, detailed wear photos, and actual weights…
We’ve told you before about Praxis’ take on chainrings. All of their chainring sets are cold forged in a proprietary One-Shot process where they incorporate most of their tooth shaping and shift features to limit the need for much machining. Summed up, forging aligns the 7075 aluminum’s grain structure making the teeth tougher and the rings stiffer overall when compared to CNCing a similar profile. Praxis actually says that they forge the chainrings, not for the added strength, but because it give them better control over tooth shaping and ramps that ultimately make the rings shift faster and more accurately. They call that shift optimization LevaTime, and it is essentially their synchronized shift pin, ramp, and tooth profile design that is unique for each chainring set gearing combination that they offer.
This is our most worn set of 53/39 standard road rings that have seen 16,500 kms over the past 2 years (thanks Strava for making it easy to keep track of how much parts getting ridden!) That’s two full amateur road race seasons, plus a bit of off-season training. They were initially chosen as a lower cost replacement for a Dura-Ace crankset, as the new 7800 rings then were about 20% more expensive. As you can see they have visible wear and are starting to show a bit of shark-finning, but have lasted through 5 Dura-Ace 7800 chains and 3 cassettes. Up until the end they shifted well and ran quietly, with no dropped chains that our testers can remember. Ultimately, they only got pulled off when the bike got a new 9000 crankset. Dura-Ace forged chainrings had set the standard both for shift quality and long wearing for quite some time, but we can confirm that Praxis matches them on both accounts. Can we say one is better than the other? Not really, but to be fair that is a testament to the excellent performance of both of them. We have truly never ridden another set of road rings that can compare with those two.
So how do you choose between the two? We really like the black aesthetic, and on a chainring who doesn’t like never seeing all that grease and grime? (I mean… no, we never let our drivetrains get dirty.) The Praxis rings are hard anodized black, so the teeth will wear and show the silver of the aluminum after a while, though. If you already have a Shimano 130BCD crankset, the Praxis rings are cheaper, so make a wise replacement when the originals have finally worn out. If you have another brand’s 130BCD crank, your chainrings are inferior to start. Upgrading to Praxis will improve shifting performance right away, and you’ll probably get twice as much use out of them before they wear out. We probably can’t recommend them enough for high mileage road riding.
We’ve only been riding the 50/34 compact road setup for just under 1500 kms so far. We just put them on after cyclocross season this winter, and they have seen mostly dry riding on a mix of asphalt and gravel. The rings have just started to see the anodizing wear off of the teeth, but there is no real noticeable wear at the points where the chain rollers contact the rings. This gives a good look at the difference in wear vs. the standard road chainrings. These rings have been shifting perfectly with a Red 22 setup. We’ve been experimenting using a chain that has been cleaned and waxed with these rings and a new Red cassette, so these chainrings haven’t seen a drop of lube yet. They were definitely the cleanest of these three sets when we pulled them off the bike to toss on the scale. The waxed chain seems to run a bit louder than a normal lubed chain, especially with a Powerdome cassette, but performance has been good and it still feels waxy to the touch after several months. The ring stiffness seems to be an improvement over the stock SRAM chainrings, and we’re happy to throw these back on the bike for a few more weeks until cross season starts up again.
The 46/36 cyclocross rings have gotten the least total distance on them, less than 500km, but they have definitely seen the harshest conditions. We spent the second half of the season riding this setup on Verve’s Infocrank, but when you realize that most cross race days don’t see more than 30km even with a warm-up the distance, it doesn’t really add up even with back-to-back Saturday+Sunday racing. That being said it was a cool, wet winter and looking back at photos from the races the bike with these rings only got raced in one dry race all season.
Wear has been pretty minimal, as you would expect with such limited distances. I’m sure this set of rings can easily serve at least another 2 or 3 cross race seasons, plus some time in-between for training or all-purpose riding. The harsher conditions did wear off the anodizing much more quickly than on the other rings sets that were ridden farther, but this is a mostly cosmetic issue. This happened most on the little ring which packed up more with grass and mud. Being a smaller diameter (fewer teeth) and more closely spaced, the rings appear to be even stiffer than the road versions and shifting was fast and perfect. Through mud, grass, snow, and ice we didn’t get any chain suck and with the road style SRAM chain catcher didn’t have any chain drops. The rings are cleaned up and awaiting their chance to get thrown back on a cross bike for another full season of racing. Outside of switching to a 1x setup we don’t see much reason to pick any other CX rings than these.
Actual Weights and Prices
The Standard Road rings retail for $170, and our set weighed 121g. The Compact Road set sells for $160, with ours coming in at 132g. (A Mid-compact 52/36 for 110 cranks is also available for $170.) Our Cross ring set also sells for $160 and weighed 141g. (They are also available for 130 cranks in a 46/39 for the same price.)
It’s important to note that while a couple sets of these had been provided by Praxis to us for review, three of our European testers have each bought at least one other set of Praxis rings in the meantime, whether to replace another set of worn-out Praxis rings or to upgrade another crankset to get the same shifting performance on another bike. We feel they are that good, and any crankset that fits them, deserves an upgrade.
We’ve been very happy with all of the chainrings we’ve ridden from Praxis. Like any good cycling product they disappear under us, and do their job thanklessly. The bike industry is doing a lot of moving towards 1x drivetrains, but not all of us have always felt the need to switch. With the faster front shifts since the latest generations of Shimano road and mountain derailleurs and longer front derailleur arms and YAW setups (not to mention powerful electronic shifting), combined with switching all of our bikes over to forged chainrings, front shifting has improved so much in the last five years that some of us are now completely happy with 2x drivetrains. Sure there are some good applications for single-ring setups, but the Praxis rings have done a lot to making us content with front shifting, and the wider gear ranges and tighter cog spacing that come with it. We can still comfortably recommend the Praxis forged chainrings as probably the best replacement option available for typical 130 and 110 BCD cranks (no Campy crank compatibility unfortunately) and both road and cross applications.