I’ve been riding my hardtail mountain bike, aka MuddyGoose, with a single chainring since the summer of 2013. I made the change to simplify things and get rid of the front mech that was often gunked up with mud anyway. I switched initially to a simple DH chainring from FSA with 34 teeth because it was much more cost effective than the narrow/wide rings made by raceface.
Of course nothing ever stands still in bike tech and it wasn’t long before Superstar Components brought out their own narrow/wide ring and of course, as is the way with Superstar, it came with a much more reasonable price tag. It is possible to run a hardtail mountain bike with a standard DH ring and not experience continual chain drops but you do have to keep on top of your chain wear and if riding particularly rough stuff you might still drop the chain on occasion. So a narrow wide ring is now the best option and at £25 there’s no reason not too; you won’t get a standard ring any more for much less.
So on to the ring itself, this is the Superstar Components IO chainring; it comes in lots of colour options and the usual size options from 30T up to 38T. As is the case with all narrow/wide rings, you get alternating narrow and wide teeth, so the chain has to be lined up with the wide teeth between a pair of the chains outer plates and the narrow teeth in between inner plates. If you take a moment to consider this you’ll realise the obvious reason that they don’t sell odd numbered tooth rings; like 33T or 35T etc. When I say ‘narrow’ and ‘wide’ I am referring to the thickness of the metal not the profile of the tooth, if that makes things any clearer? Another feature that helps ensure that your chain is retained is the longer profile teeth, they stick up through the chain links further, quite noticeably so in fact.
Keep in mind that the longer teeth will give you less clearance to play with in regard to your frames chainstay, so the largest chainring size that’ll fit may be smaller with an IO ring. As I mentioned earlier, I got the 32T; I got it with my 3 day North York Moors trek in mind and so decided that a small ring would be plenty for my needs. I’m tempted to invest in at least one more size too though and if it’ll fit I think a 38T may well be in order; in fact I should pop an email off to Superstar and see if they can send measurements!
I’m extremely pleased with my IO chainring and it makes a really good combination with my SRAM X0 cranks. Simple, smooth, reliable and looking the part; what more could I ask?