Wolf Tooth Components – XX1 Style Chainring Test
Wolf Tooth Components is a small specialist bicycle company from the USA that produces chainrings. The chainrings they produce are special, as they have adopted the concept similar to SRAM with alternating large and small teeth, meaning the chain when used with a clutch mech no longer jumps off and stays in position without a chain guide.
The new chainrings have CNC machined alternate tooth profiles that helps the chain stay on. In the following video exert it is possible to see how much a chain moves on a smooth trail. So on rough trails and on bikes used for All Mountain/Enduro this system adapted from the SRAM XX1 chainrings is ideal for simple, reliable chain management. This concepts inception is similar to Leonardi Factory that produces the recently tested General Adaptor. Take a main stream product, remake it and adapt it for normal riders that can use the parts they already have with the new advanced product and not be forced into buying a complete new system.
Chain Movement Video Clip
The product as explained by Wolf Tooth Components,
“Wolf Tooth chainrings are machined from 7075-T651 billet aluminum on precision CNC equipment and anodized black.”
A simple product that has some impressive characteristics out on the trail. A variety of sizes are available including a 30T front ring that can be fitted to a normal 104 mm crank arm set, it uses a slightly offset mount to alter the chain line slightly and allow the chain to pass without interfering with the crank arm spider. This chain line change can then be compensated for by changing the bottom bracket spacers.
SRAM developed the original chainring only based chain management concept, but in order to use the SRAM XX1 system properly, as it is 11 speed and has a different chain and freehub body, all drive train components need to be changed, which has a total cost of around €1500. In this case 50 percent of what XX1 offers (simplification and chain management) can be bought for €74.
We mounted the 32T chainring from the Wolf Tooth Components range and rode it down some rough trails. We also tried with a chain guide and also we tried an original non profiled 32T chainring from Shimano to see if there really was a difference.
For this test we used the 32T ring with a TYPE II SRAM X0 10 speed mech and Shimano Zee cranks. First we rode the trail with the Wolf Tooth chainring and a upper chain guide to get a baseline for our test. Then we rode the trail without the chain guide but with the Wolf Tooth chainring. Finally we rode the trail with no chain guide and a Shimano 32T standard chainring.
Results and Video
We were very apprehensive about trying the different setups and were not expecting the claimed advantages of the profiled teeth on the chainring. However after all the runs in the video it was clear, a chain guide helps keep the chain on no matter which chainring you use, our first run showed no chain problems at all. Our second run down the trail was impressive, with no chain guide and a tough line choice over rough rocks with small jumps and plenty of vibrations, including pedalling at difficult moments, despite this the chain stayed on. In fact it felt very safe, and was quieter than we expected, probably quieter than with the chain guide. When we switched to the Shimano non-profiled chainring we lasted 10 seconds before the chain came off the chainring. After the chain came off three times with the Shimano chainring, we gave up riding as we didn’t want to damage anything.
This product works. In fact it works so well we have removed the chain guide permanently and now just have the 32T chaining from Wolf Tooth Components and nothing else. The only negative side to this system is the cost of the chainring which is slightly more expensive than a normal chainring at €74, but the fact that you now don’t need a chainguide, means you actually save money, (around €90 – €160) when having an All Mountain or Enduro 1 x 10 setup drivetrain setup. The chainrings are available in 30T, 32T, 34T, and 36T. In our opinion this system is actually ideal for 90 percent of single chainring riders and unless racing where chain loss risks increases due to speed and heat of the moment mistakes, having a top guide only, might be a good idea. However we think even that is probably not needed and we will be testing further on the Enduro World Series trails in Punta Ala, Tuscany, to see over the long term how it works.
XX1 For the People?
Our setup now is a 40-11T Leonardi Factory rear cassette with a 32T front Wolf Tooth chainring. Used in conjunction with a X9 or X0 Type II or Shimano Clutch Mech we have a modern drive train that cost only €400 as opposed to the total XX1 price of €1500. Our gear changes are good, and our chain management is now simple and also very good. In our opinion this type of setup will be available from the main manufactures in the lower priced groupsets in a few years. Waiting though for the benefits when you can have them now seems nonsense.