Race Face Single Ring Narrow/Wide chainring review£49.95

Security-enhancing ring

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This will come as a surprise to many folks but SRAM didn't actually invent the chain-security-enhancing alternating tooth thickness concept used on its XX1 chainring. As such, the company doesn't hold a patent and there's a flood of other labels now following suit. Race Face's Narrow/Wide chainring is one of the most recent examples and it's an outstanding choice for 1x riders who want to ditch their chain guide.

The idea behind the Narrow/Wide chainring is the same as SRAM's X-Sync: alternating teeth are made extra-wide to more fully fill the gap between the side plates as the chain passes through. Meanwhile, all of the teeth are also a bit taller than usual to further prevent derailment. It's a gloriously simple concept and best of all, it actually works.

The race face narrow/wide chainring features alternating tooth profiles for surprisingly impressive chain security even without a supplemental chain guide:
The race face narrow/wide chainring features alternating tooth profiles for surprisingly impressive chain security even without a supplemental chain guide:

The Narrow/Wide chainring features alternating tooth profiles for surprisingly impressive chain security even without a supplemental chain guide

We tested the Narrow/Wide chainring on several bikes over a wide range of situations, from general cross-country riding all the way up to six straight hours of lift-assisted downhill runs at Trestle Bike Park in Winter Park, Colorado. Even with no chain guide in place – but with a clutch-equipped rear derailleur – we never suffered a single dropped chain.That being said, we'd still recommend running at least some sort of minimal guide for full-on downhill racing or burlier enduro courses.

This sucker runs whisper-quiet too, with well-shaped teeth that carefully keep the chain on track regardless of what cassette cog you're using, plus no sliders or pulleys from a supplemental chain guide – which also cuts weight – to create any additional racket. Durability has been pretty good, too, with average wear over a couple of months of regular use. 

Graphics are laser etched so the race face narrow/wide chainrings will look good regardless of which side is facing out:
Graphics are laser etched so the race face narrow/wide chainrings will look good regardless of which side is facing out:

Graphics are laser etched so the chainring will look good regardless of which side is facing out

Even better, Race Face offers the Narrow/Wide in a broad collection of sizes from 30 up to 38 teeth, all using a standard 104mm bolt circle diameter (unlike SRAM's proprietary XX1 pattern) and in your choice of four anodized and laser etched colors. The 30-tooth ring is notable, too, for its slight inward offset and integrated female threads so as to clear the chainring tabs.

Weights are fairly average, with a 32-tooth sample coming in at 38g while a 34-tooth chainring is slightly heavier at 43g. Pricing is reasonable compared to similar options, too. Standard rings run from US$43.99 to US$49.99 (£44.95 to £49.95), while the more heavily machined 30T option costs US$59.99 (£49.95).

James Huang

Technical Editor, US
James started as a roadie in 1990 with his high school team but switched to dirt in 1994 and has enjoyed both ever since. Anything that comes through his hands is bound to be taken apart, and those hands still sometimes smell like fork oil even though he retired from shop life in 2007. He prefers manual over automatic, fizzy over still, and the right way over the easy way.
  • Age: 40
  • Height: 173cm / 5'8"
  • Weight: 70kg / 154lb
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: Up in the Colorado high-country where the singletrack is still single, the dirt is still brown, and the aspens are in full bloom. Also, those perfect stretches of pavement where the road snakes across the mountainside like an artist's paintbrush.
  • Beer of Choice: Mexican Coke
  • Location: Boulder, Colorado, USA

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