Review: WickWerks Performance Chainrings

Components
Performance Chainrings, Faster Shifting

WickWerks is a small company based in Ogden, Utah that makes innovative chainrings for mountain, cross and road bikes. What sets their chainrings apart from other rings is their patented B.R.I.D.G.E. technology, which uses ‘bridges’ instead of pins on the rings to move the chain. Their rings are made out of CNC 7075-T6 aluminum and made in the USA. The company promotes their chainrings as being faster than conventional chainrings. We received a set of 2×10 chainrings in 38/24 teeth size that replaced the same size on our SRAM X7 equipped test bike. We found the WickWerks chainrings to be a worthy upgrade.

WickWerks on the trail, close-up.

First Impression

Upon first receipt of the chainrings, we noticed two things. They felt significantly lighter than normal rings and the CNC machining and anodizing (“MIL Type 3 True Hard Anodize”, according to WickWerks) make for a visually appealing product. Many might not care how the rings look, but as long as you are going to upgrade, why not get something that adds a little flair?

It is also nice to see a small company like WickWerks endorse a big name racer in one Katie Compton (USA Cycling Cyclocross National Champion many times over). They are also a sponsor of the Kenda/Felt Mountain Bike team as well as a few other cross and track racers. They have also run product sweepstakes right here on Mtbr.com and via their Facebook page.

The WickWerks chainrings are available for a multitude of mountain bike, road bike and cross bike drivetrains including 2×10, mountain triple, mountain double, road compact and standard and about 6 variations for cross bikes. They have bash guard ready models, too. Prices range from $95.50 to $159.50. The 2×10 38/24 we tested sells for $132.50. Currently, WickWerks products are sold manufacturer direct only via their website.

Install Process

Left: WickWerks install outer view. Right: WickWerks install inner view.

The install was very simple and the hardest part of the whole process is unrelated to the WickWerks chainrings themselves. Depending on who built your bike, removing the cranks can be a bit difficult since they require a lot of torque when installed. On my Airborne Hobgoblin test bike, I had to use a breaker bar on my 8mm Park Tool Allen wrench to get enough leverage. Once the cranks are off, unbolting the stock X7 Truvativ rings was easy enough (5 and 6mm Allens required).

When bolting on your new WickWerks rings, be sure to properly align the big ring, placing the triangle indicator in the same direction as the crank. This is the same position where the crank protector pin is located on the stock big ring. (If you match up the teeth pattern on the big ring, it is also the same as the stock ring.) After you install the big ring, install the small ring and re-install the cranks. The types and sizes of tools you need will vary depending on what brand and model of cranks you have. Also, be sure to torque the cranks back on with the manufacturer recommended torque specs. You don’t want to have your crank fall off mid-ride!

WickWerks recommends replacing your chain when installing your new rings, but our Airborne did not yet have a ton of miles on it when I did the WickWerks install so the chain was still fairly new. It has not been a problem during my testing. Once on the bike, I did have to do some barrel adjustment to the shifter cable even though the new rings are the same size as the old, but just a touch.

Continue to page 2 for WickWerks Technology, Performance, Bottom Line and full photo gallery.

About the author: Gregg Kato

Gregg Kato studied journalism and broadcasting in college while working many different jobs including deejaying, driving a forklift and building web sites (not all at the same time). Kato has been the Site Manager of Mtbr.com for over 12 years and enjoys riding local Santa Cruz trails. Besides being an avid mountain biker, he is also a motorcycle fanatic. Two wheels, one Passion.


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  • Finch Platte says:

    Hey!

    I’ve heard about rings that let you ride without a chain guide, that it keeps the chain on all by itself. Are these the same ones? This wasn’t mentioned in your review, so I’m wondering if I have the WickWerks confused with another brand.

    Thanks, Greggg!

    Ggary

    • Hammil says:

      You are thinking of either the wolftooth brand chain ring or the raceface brand.
      I have seen the raceface in action with a shimano rear derailleur with a clutch and it works great, no chain guide required.
      Just purchased the setup.

  • Gregg Kato says:

    Hey Ggary! I think you are referring to different ones. I’m not sure which brand you are referring to, but WickWerks is mainly for faster, crisper shifts, not necessarily built-in chain retention. Interesting idea, though! If you remember the name of that brand, let me know!

  • whatevs says:

    Finch, you’re referencing thick/thin tooth profiles available from SRAM XXn, Wolftooth or Raceface. Importantly, those ring designs are ONLY for single chainring setups. So really an apples/oranges comparison to these Wickwerks rings.
    The reason that thick/thin only works on single rings is multi-ring setups can’t predict/control which chain link will land on which ring tooth. You also cannot have odd numbers of teeth on a thick/thin design.

  • jim says:

    xtr m970 24×38 double conversion, -tempting!

  • Rex says:

    How would you rate these rings in comparison to the shifting action of a SRAM X0 or X9 level chainring?

  • Learux says:

    How is the longevity of those? if they hold up, I will score a pair.

  • Jimmy Dee says:

    Funny. It seems that the improvement in shifting feel comes largely from the increased number of points. I asked Chris at wickwerks if there were any numbers as to how much weight was being carried by the broad surface of the ramps and he freaked out at me as if I was pissing in his morning coffee.

    Over the course of 19 emails, he kept telling me how I was stupid and not a real engineer and I just kept saying that I was not interested in how a bunch of people felt, I was just interested in whether or not the ramps were helping in carrying the load.

    The conversation ended by him telling me that he had ‘tons’ of evidence, but ultimately refusing to show any of it. Specifically, I was asking for a comparison of the load carried at the end of the ramp compared to the load carried by a pin.

    My conclusion therefore is that there is no such evidence and that the performance increase happens because there are 10 points of engagement rather than the conventional 4.

    On their website, they claim that the effects are that the chain resists slipping off by virtue of the increased contact of the ramps, however 3 points of contact at the bottom of the links vs a broad surface contact on a round pin that fits into the form of the chain doesn’t improve it. Primary load bearing is still at the end of the ramp, where it is lifting the chain. I showed the pictures to 3 engineers where I work and they all said the same thing without me saying a word.

    It may have less chance of slipping, but it seems that the reason is not what they think.

    My suggestions to use a shaped ramp to match the curve or to mill away the sections of the ramp that were not in contact with the chain (therefore not contributing) or to use an partial tooth or lip to hold the chain in place as more effective ways of accomplishing their goals were laughed off as infantile. In spite of the fact that these very methods are used on Shimano cassettes for many years.

    I don’t deny that the cranks improve things. They clearly do. But not for the reasons described on wickwerks’s website. I am concerned about a company that doesn’t really understand how their own product works and would rather write 11 lengthy emails telling someone how stupid he is and how great their engineers are instead of simply answering the question asked and providing a simple and basic proof.

  • TBCamarillo says:

    Hey Jimmy Dee
    I work with a bunch of engineers and I would recommend you let them keep their secret sauce and quit prying into their design since this is what keeps their business in business. I think they know exactly why it works and they are not calling you stupid because what you are asking is stupid but because you are stupid enough to think they are stupid enough to give you their trade secrets jus because you request it. If there is a possibility that you will publish why they work or steal their idea or sell their ideas then they are smart enough not to give away this to any crazy person that requests it. Hey company ABC can I have all your secrets? Hell no, quit calling and emailing and if that doesn’t work here are some insulting emails that say effectively “go away dumb#%+”.

  • Chris Wickliffe says:

    Thank you TBCamarillo! Well said!!! I certainly didn’t want to give any design secrets to jimmy Dee nor did I want to have my engineer Eldon spend any of his time on this guy. I thought Jimmy Dee’s opinions were one sided especially considering he’s never even seen or examined the rings on a bike in person. You are absolutely correct, I was not about to give up any secrets to any person, crazy or not, just because they emailed me and asked. This guy was like an annoying fly that wouldn’t stop emailing me, I finally had to brush jim off and I had to block him and automatically send his emails to spam so I could focus on positive things with my time.

  • Chris Wickliffe says:

    Thank you TBCamarillo! Well said!!! I certainly didn’t want to give any design secrets to jimmy Dee nor did I want to have my engineer Eldon spend any of his time on this guy. I thought Jimmy Dee’s opinions were one sided especially considering he’s never even seen or examined the rings on a bike in person. You are absolutely correct, I was not about to give up any secrets to any person, crazy or not, just because they emailed me and asked. This guy was like an annoying fly that wouldn’t stop emailing me, I finally had to brush him off and I had to block him and automatically send his emails to spam so I could focus on positive things with my time. Have fun biking everyone and best wishes in everything you do in life!!!

  • JA says:

    As a consumer who bought these chain rings based on the manufacturer claims, I’m extremely pleased with the shift speed and feel over all my previous experiences. I don’t need to know the engineering details so long as I’m not being BS’d about the end result, and believe me, these are a worthy upgrade to any bike. It werks! har har

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