I see a lot of riders in my local area riding with these. So I decided to see what is was all the fuzz is about. I bought a Blackspire Snaggletooth Narrow-Wide Oval Chainring (That’s a mouthful!). It was one of the cheaper options available but it seems to be working fine after 2 months of use.
I went from a 30 tooth normal chainring to a 32 tooth oval chainring. I jumped up because I was spinning out on normal roads if I gave it full gas. And I haven’t found many places where gears is the limiting factor in me getting up a climb. It’s mostly technique that gets me on climbs.
At first it feels a little strange to pedal. You will definitely feel a spot where the tension is reduced during your pedal stroke. It’s not really a super big difference and it will become normal within 15 mins of riding and then you’ll stop thinking about it at all.
The one place where you will keep noticing a difference is on steep and loose climbs, I feel it is easier to keep the pedals turning over and keeping the backwheel from slipping. It is not magic and the difference is not massive. But I am getting up some hills that I have problems with normally. On loose uphills it is much easier to keep traction. And I haven’t really found any downsides to using it yet.
Given the fact that oval chainrings are relatively inexpensive and easy for us, less than professional, home mechanics to swap out. I would recommend that you give it a go if you are interested and are already running a 1x setup on your bike.