The great chainring debate: oval or round?

Oval chainring benefits could be long term
Oval or round? The question could be answered by how much climbing you really do (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)

For decades the chainring was a simple component that transferred crank force to your drivetrain. But as racing and the quest for minor performance gains in cycling never end, a small group of engineers started reconsidering chainring shape.

During the last decade, an alternative chainring silhouette has become popular: the oval. From a distance, oval and round chainrings look nearly the same. But if you step closer and view two bikes with each, the difference in the profile is clear.

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Lance Branquinho is a Namibian born media professional, with 15-years of experience in technology and engineering journalism covering anything with wheels. Being from Namibia, he knows a good gravel road when he sees one, and he has raced some of Africa’s best-known mountain bike stage races, such as Wines2Wales and Berg&Bush.