Brace yourself for a wave of stepped-tooth chainrings for 1x drivetrains this year. While SRAM may have popularized the concept with its groundbreaking XX1 group, it’s not patented. Actually, it’s an old design that dates back nearly five decades and Race Face is the latest company to jump on board with its new Narrow-Wide chainrings.
Like SRAM’s version, the new Narrow-Wide chainrings feature alternating wide-and-narrow tooth profiles that lock on to the chain more securely than traditional single-profile chainring designs. In some situations – particularly when paired with one of the new-school clutch-equipped rear derailleurs – chain retention might be improved enough that riders can ditch their traditional chain guides altogether.
Race Face says the new Narrow-Wide rings will work with 9-, 10- or 11-speed chains. Available sizes range from 32-38T (even sizes only) and four anodized colors will be offered: black, red, blue and green. A smaller 30T option is in the works, too, with built-in spacers to clear the 104mm BCD spider tabs.
Pricing will range from US$40-50 depending on size with availability scheduled for some time in May.
In other hard goods news, the carbon fiber Next cross-country and trail handlebars grow to 720mm in width and the long-running Turbine forged-and-machined aluminum 2x cranks get smaller inner chainring options to better suit heavier, longer-travel 29ers.
Race Face continues to build its armor line, too, with a new Flank Core short-sleeved base layer. Rate-sensitive d3o pads are positioned at the shoulder and along the spine for flexible protection that stiffens up upon impact while the chest plate uses a more conventional foam. The shoulder and back pads are also removable either for washing or when wearing a hydration pack.
The same d3o padding is used in the top-end Ambush knee and elbow pads, which are built with perforated neoprene, nylon mesh, and terrycloth liners for comfort and ventilation. Knee pads can also be opened completely so you don’t have to remove your shoes to get them on and off. That feature has been added to the Flank leg armor for 2013, too, which subs in conventional pads in place of the d3o active foam.
Riders looking for minimal protection can instead turn to the Charge elbow and knee pads. Intended more as abrasion guards, the lightweight sleeves are built with barely-there pads but a durable Kevlar-reinforced shell to protect against cuts and scrapes.
Race Face is also developed more enduro-focused armor that will provide good protection but better flexibility. Keep an eye out for those around Interbike time.