We’ve had Blackspire’s 1x offerings on test for tens of thousands of feet of climbing and descending – check out what we reckon.
Front mechs are dead. You don’t need them anymore. Between the wallet destroying 11 speed options and pocket friendly range-stretching sprokets, you no longer need a front mech or more than one chainring up front. With only one ring and no need to shift on and off the teeth can be modified and extended to increase their grip on the chain.This in turns means you can ditch the chain device as well. Industrial applications have been using this technology for a long time in all sorts of places – my personal favourite is in hay-bailers!
Mono Veloce Chainring
The Mono Veloce chainring is one of an ever growing market of the so-called “Wide-Narrow” chainrings. Blackspire machine these from 7075 aluminium in Canada. The finish on them is superb, and despite the hard and abrasive life the ring has held it’s anodising well. The ring is available in 104mm BCD(“normal”) with 30, 32, 34, and 36T options, as well as 80 and 94mm options in smaller sizes. We are running the 104mm/34T option on our test bike. Fitting and getting a good chainline was as easy as slapping it on, built in shaping around the bolts meaning that their were no snags on the spider.
After successful initial testing using a brand-new SRAM chain, we had a rummage in the back of the shed and found the oldest and most stretched Shimano chain we had, blew the dust off, and fitted that to see if we could trick the chain into dropping. Despite riding flat out through all sorts of terrain the chain steadfastly hung on with no issue at all. We tried all the combinations we could think of – SRAM, Shimano and Clarks chains, Clutch and non-clutch mechs, and overly muddy. The only time we coaxed the chain into dropping was by back pedalling through a rock garden, which is pretty impressive really. After early rides where we were worried about the chain dropping, we have become so used to the idea that the chain is staying put that it’s not even a consideration any more. For the full-on enduro racer where dropping the chain is more than an inconvenience, pairing this with a small top-guide would make a powerful combination.
RRP – £31.00 to £52.00
Weight (104/34) – 52g
Once you’ve taken off your mech, chain device and shifter, you leave your shiny new ring rather exposed to rock strikes. The Bruiser is a taco style bash guard designed to work with wide-narrow rings. It’s available for ISCG05, ISCG and BB mountings, and in two sizes 26-32T and 32-38T. We are running the larger size in conjuction with our 34T ring, and it doesn’t protrude overly. Fitting is as easy as you would expect with no parts to align with chains. It has shrugged off some big impacts, the 6061 alloy backplate and polycarbonate taco both staying straight and true. Aesthetically it looks cleaner than many other options, and protects the ring regardless of the crank position. At 83g it’s a pretty light addition to the bike, and if you ride rocky trails, a worthy addition.
RRP – £40.00
Weight (32-38T) – 83g
NB – We are sick of the term “Wide-Narrow” and have been desperately searching for a better option (Chainring would do!!) until we discovered that the new version of the ring from Blackspire is the “Snaggletooth” – Definitely no better name for a product! Lemmy would be proud.