Saturday, April 20, 2013

Why Do We Need or Want Aftermarket XX1 Chain Rings?

After publishing this article about the current and coming aftermarket XX1 chain rings, I was asked: "Why!?!"

OK, so maybe it didn't have all the exclamation points, but it's still an important question. Why do we need aftermarket XX1 chain rings?

The simple answer for the manufacturers is that people will buy it, but let's dig a little deeper. Why will people buy them? What problems do they solve that other solutions don't?

One comment put it this way:
SRAM sells the chain rings by itself why not just get the real one?
Price -
We don't know the price of all the coming aftermarket chainrings, but from those that we have seen thus far, their prices aren't out of line compared to the OEM XX1 chainrings from SRAM. An ebay search for new XX1 chain rings shows us a range of prices starting at $90. Reputable and known online cycle component shops like JensonUSA are selling them for $100-$115.

Wolf Tooth Components has offerings starting at $79 for a 104mm BCD chain ring on up to $120 for a custom blue snowflake chain ring. These prices seem to fit nicely into the current pricing hierarchy.

Compatibility -
I think this is the primary reason that these aftermarket XX1 chain rings are being offered. SRAM decided to manufacture the XX1 chain rings and crank sets with a 76mm BCD(bolt circle diameter). This is a new "standard" and these chain rings are not compatible with any crank sets or spiders currently on the market.

Some riders may have bikes with bottom brackets not compatible with SRAM XX1 crankset current offerings. Other riders may have cranksets with power meters that they want to keep. Maybe they just have a crankset that they are happy with and don't want to lay out the money to upgrade. In each of these aforementioned situations, these riders are not able to use the OEM XX1 chainrings without a spider adapter  that adds cost and complexity.

None of the aftermarket rings that we know about so far are made in SRAM's 76mm BCD. They are all being made to retrofit existing cranksets.

Style -
Personally, I like the styling of SRAM's OEM XX1 chainrings, but a quick look at the aftermarket mountain bike component market should tell the obvious tale that mountain bikers have varied and eclectic tastes.

People like to have different options when it comes to design and style. The polished metal look of the OEM chainrings isn't for everyone. Personally, I'm looking forward to the e*thirteen chainrings:
If you are looking for something different in the style department, you should definitely check out the colorful Race Face narrow wide chainrings they showed at the Sea Otter Classic.

What reasons can you see for these aftermarket XX1 chainring offerings?

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