Oval Chainring question

I find that my power delivery on hills is inconsistent. I try and apply power in a full circle as I pedal, instead of just as the pedal moves downward, however I am still not getting smooth power delivery. To my understand oval chain rings help this, and theoretically I understand. But practically; does it make that much of a difference?

@Ghost runs oval rings and likes them. I’ve never tried one.

Well, not since my Biopace-equipped Nishiki from the early 90s anyway.


I’ve been running oval rings for a number of years now. My knees aren’t great and watched a couple videos and read some articles way back on how the oval rings can help with knee issues. So I can’t speak to power delivery, not that I have any power haha, but I put them on as a preventative measure. I ran a wolf tooth ring originally and it always felt awkward to be so I switched to a oneup ring as it had a different degree of ovality to it. I’ve been on them for so long I forget what round rings are like. The only time I used to notice the oval ring was on pavement or gravel, but now I don’t even know that it is down there.

And I realize I did nothing to answer your question and I have no real information other than I have an oval ring and don’t mind it. I can’t say if it helps my knees or not, but for now I am not going back to round rings to find out.

1 Like

I’ve been running one on my trail bike for a few years now, as well as my fat bike.

It doesn’t make a night and day difference, but it is noticeable and I find it does help improve rear tire traction while climbing by lessening or smoothing out the torque spikes you get while pedaling.

I wouldn’t suggest running out and buying when if you don’t need a new chainring (unless you suffer from severe upgrade-itus like me), but if you need a new chainring then I’d definitely consider an oval one.


I found the same as Jetter, but we’re both experienced riders. @TamBan put one on her bike last year when she was still fairly new, and noticed a huge difference in climbing ability.

I recommend trying it, for sure.


Haha my ADHD is all about impulse buys…

Not looking for a drastic change, as I know a lot of it will be more dependent on technique, rather than components as is the case in most situations. I had thought it may improve the less than linear power delivery. I may order a cheap one just to try it out and see what I think.

I’ve been using them for three or four years now and I think they are beneficial. I think they’re most helpful for technical climbs, but it’s really hard to be certain, since it’s impractical to do back-to-back testing with and without an oval ring. So my anecdotal impression is that they’re worthwhile and, since they don’t cost much (if any) more than a round ring, may as well try one when it’s time to replace.


Fair enough!
I should have added that my intention was to aid specifically in technical climbs, I have lowered my tire pressure as low as I am comfortable with running tubes (18psi). Now that is still low, but knock on wood they have held up fine. Tubeless setup is coming soon, once my parts arrive. I find that my tire slip is due to the lack of a more linear power output. My bike is not designed with uphill pedaling in mind, as larger cassettes didn’t exist back then. With the extremely limited stock on bikes I am going to hold off until likely summer next year to upgrade. So in the meantime this old Kona is being redone to suit my needs better.

Edit: My current Cassette is 11-42, this will be going to 51 in the near future, so that added torque is only going to further exacerbate my issue when climbing and not seated.

I definitely noticed a huge difference. My power delivery was much smoother (less clunky feeling) with an oval. Highly recommend!


Great, they aren’t terribly expensive so perhaps I’ll just give one a go and see for myself.

1 Like

I’ve been using one since last fall and haven’t noticed a difference other than it looking cool.

At least I’m not the only one who feels this way about them.

I used one for a couple years and I’m running a round ring now. Can’t say as I notice much of a difference between the two.

I really am loving the replies here. Both ends of the spectrum has me very curious, ordered a cheap Chinese one so if it makes no difference, I’m out pocket change. If it makes a noticeable difference I’ll pick up a proper one. Guess I need to set a base line now.


I had an Absolute Black 32 tooth oval that I picked up in a trade a couple of years ago. I put it on my hardtail and I’m liking it. When I was still racing XCM I had a 32 oval paired with an 11-42 11 speed cassette, and it worked great for the technical climbs.


Well, ran one at Keppoch and despite running a downhill bike and walking half of the climbs, I definitely felt a difference with the oval chainring. It was like I got pedal power further down the stroke than I normally would making it seem smoother.