Weirdly shaped chainrings appear to be catching on and while the
likes of Campagnolo and Shimano continue with their
experimentation of star, moon and square-shaped proto-types,
Rotor has done its own homework and decided that 'ovalisation'
is still the way to go. However, research has shown that their
original design simply isn’t fast enough and that more extreme
flattening of the ellipse is necessary if riders want to go so fast
they’ll be finishing before they’ve even started.
Of course Nob couldn't wait to get his hands on some to find out if
they’d make him even faster than the ones he tested HERE.
They're called QXL Rings.
Time 04.15-06.45am Mostly Dark
Temp 11-12 degs C
QXL 53/41 rings
Rotor 3D+ 177.5 Cranks
Road – 8km circuit and undulating
Distance covered – 75kms (which meant I covered 9 and a bit laps of my circuit and I'm still 3 kms from home!)
Wind Factor 7km/h from the North West
Anyone who has read my previous reports will be aware that I have been well impressed with Rotor's standard Q-Rings. In my never-ending quest for perfection I was keen to try Rotor’s new QXL rings which are more ovalised than their original offerings and look remarkably the same shape as Osymetric's.
In terms of manufacturing and quality the QXLs win hands down over the Osymetrics! They are extremely well machined with cut outs on the back and have ramp pins to help the chain move from ring to ring unlike the (in my opinion) poorly machined blank Osymetric rings which (in my opinion ... again) proved to flex too much and had poor quality / machining issues.
I had the 53 / 41 130BCD QXL combo set sent direct from Rotor USA who have always proved to be extremely efficient in the dealings I have had with them. They always appear to have everything in stock so there have never been any problems with supply and I've never experienced any delays. The chainrings arrived extremely well packaged and with easy to follow instructions as with all Rotor Products
My current bike is fitted with Campagnolo SR11 Ti UT cranks so I had to purchase some Rotor
3D+ 177.5s along with BSA30 cups with ceramic grade 3 bearings before I could test the rings.
Within 20mins I had taken out the UTs and installed the Rotors. Everything was very straight
forward. Setting up the QXL rings with the front mech is a little more fiddly but eventually I got it
running as I wanted although further adjustments will probably be necessary at a later date. The
QXL comes with a spacer block which will be needed on some frames I’m sure.
Having previously used Q-rings I didn’t expect to notice much difference with the QXLs when on the road but I have to say … there was! I started off in my normal gears of 53 x 20/19 and thought this would be fine but when on the move I found I needed to ‘up’ the gear as I was virtually ‘spinning-out’. I therefore ended up using 53x17 with a normal cadence for the temperatures encountered during the test (11-12 degrees throughout the 2hours I was on the bike). It felt effortless on the bigger gear and very easy to maintain a good smooth cadence.
When out of the saddle I noticed more acceleration and somehow it felt very lively although little effort was being put in. When sprinting I found the acceleration to be better (than ANY other rings I’ve tried) and the difference in accelerating from a steady pace to full out sprinting (in my opinion) seemed a little easier even after going into oxygen-debt after some 150 meters of ‘eyeballs out’ (highly technical term for ‘giving it some’) effort on 53x13. One thing I did notice when I was in 53x11 was that there seemed to be a lot more noise coming from the chain than with other rings I’ve tested. This may be due to the constant up and down motion of the QXL design which raises and lowers the chain at the front end and so varies the angle-of-dangle on the rear sprocket. It did feel like the chain wanted to skip but when I put it onto the 12 sprocket all was fine.
Although I only really needed the inner ring for climbs, I did find 41 x 14/13 to be a nice
warm down gear after any hard efforts. I would suggest that climbing on the QXL ring
(as opposed to the Q-Ring) would have its advantages as (in my opinion) slightly more
power would be put down on the pedals even in the 41x27 set up.
Once off the bike, the legs felt quite fresh which is remarkable for someone as old as
Overall, I am impressed with the QXL rings and I’d definitely recommended them for big
gear work and / or sprints / interval training. Hopefully Rotor will make QXL aero rings in,
say, 54 and 55 teeth at some time in the early future as I feel the extra teeth are needed
for use on fast, flat courses to avoid the 11T sprocket noise ‘problem’ I mentioned earlier.
Will they be making Campagnolo 135 BCD versions? Who knows … but if there’s any
truths in the rumors emanating from Vicenza that triangular shaped chainrings far
out-strip any other available shape for performance, and Rotor firmly backing their claims
that Osymetric were probably right after all, it would appear that we’re still a VERY long
way from arriving at an industry standard (or at the very least something we know for a
fact really works!).
Talking of things that really work … did I ever mention PMP’s ‘L’ shaped cranks?
STOP PRESS: Update
In the time it’s taken (even older than me) Mr Cammish to decode my original report, we’ve been blessed with some decent weather over here and I’ve been able to get in close to 500 kms use of the QXLs since fitting them. Although there are 5 OCPs (Optimum Chainring Positions) I have settled on position 3 and am indeed well impressed with the results.
Overall I have increased the length of my rides without any recovery problems. If anything, I have felt much fresher than when using round rings. I have not changed any routine which involves a gentle massage and shower followed by a couple of buckets of Choc choc chip Haagen Daaz gently washed down with a similar number of Cappuccinos (I’ve found form on the bike improves in direct proportion to the amount of each of these I can consume during the recovery phase).
I’m now regularly riding on 53x17/16 even in the cooler weather as I’ve found I’m able to ride a bigger gear and, at the same time, smooth out the cadence.
I’ve had to adjust the front mech a few times to fine tune the changing and I’ve found that friction type changing is better to carry out the fine-tuning procedure. The Campagnolo Super Record front mech cage width is however quite narrow compared to the Tiso and Shimano front mechs so that process might only be necessary if you’re like me and only use the best ;-)
I found the instructions for setting up the front mech to be very misleading as I needed to allow at least a ¼” gap between teeth and cage otherwise the mech fouled on the rings. Be aware of this if you intend to install them using their destructions.
Since submitting my original report I have been led to believe that Rotor will shortly be producing a 54/44 QXL set which will be an ideal combination for time-trialling. Since I’m so impressed with the set of QXLs I tested, I will of course continue to steal an even greater march over my competitors by acquiring a set!
If anyone asks … they’re all crap and a complete waste of money BUT as I’ve started using them I might as well continue doing so ;-)
Much against my better judgement (as I'm strictly a Campagnolo aficianado) the 'need for speed' had to extend to some new cranks ... right.