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  1. #1
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    Tried Oval back to Round Rings.....

    So I got on the band wagon to try oval rings a couple of years ago on both road and mountain bike. My conclusion is that I can't tell a difference at all. My new mountain bike came with round ring and I might like it better in fact.
    So my question to anyone out there has anyone tried oval and gone back to round?

  2. #2
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    Ever hear of Biopace? Read the Sheldon Brown article below to see why it never caught on:

    https://www.sheldonbrown.com/biopace.html
    “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” -- Aaron Levenstein

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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    Ever hear of Biopace? Read the Sheldon Brown article below to see why it never caught on:

    https://www.sheldonbrown.com/biopace.html
    Yup had biopace back in 1986. But if oval (of today) to round is like apples to oranges, then oval to biopace is like apples to bananas.

  4. #4
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    I would say peaches and nectarines. My former boss talked to a sports anatomist that was hired by Rotor to study oval chainrings.

    She established that they did in fact work as advertised, but also found that cyclists could learn to pedal smoothly enough to flatten out the difference. Rotor chose not to publish her findings.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
    I would say peaches and nectarines. My former boss talked to a sports anatomist that was hired by Rotor to study oval chainrings.

    She established that they did in fact work as advertised, but also found that cyclists could learn to pedal smoothly enough to flatten out the difference. Rotor chose not to publish her findings.
    That's what I am wondering. Maybe my pedal stroke doesn't get the benefits of oval (and I'm not willing to adapt). Then I wonder could oval be detrimental by not getting the full benefit of the whole chainring through whole pedal stroke

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unbrokenchain View Post
    That's what I am wondering. Maybe my pedal stroke doesn't get the benefits of oval (and I'm not willing to adapt). Then I wonder could oval be detrimental by not getting the full benefit of the whole chainring through whole pedal stroke
    I think it is more likely that experienced cyclists just adapt to whatever kind of ring they are riding. Oval rings make it easier to do something - apply power to the pedals - that you already have learned to do well by riding at 90+ rpm. I would expect any immediate effect of adopting either ring system to simply disappear as your body acclimates to it.

    Take heel dropping, for instance. By making your ankle joint move more throughout the pedal stroke you can create the same sort of transitory leverage changes in what your quads are doing that an oval ring can. And you can negate the oval ring by doing the opposite sort of ankle movement.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
    I think it is more likely that experienced cyclists just adapt to whatever kind of ring they are riding. Oval rings make it easier to do something - apply power to the pedals - that you already have learned to do well by riding at 90+ rpm. I would expect any immediate effect of adopting either ring system to simply disappear as your body acclimates to it.

    Take heel dropping, for instance. By making your ankle joint move more throughout the pedal stroke you can create the same sort of transitory leverage changes in what your quads are doing that an oval ring can. And you can negate the oval ring by doing the opposite sort of ankle movement.
    Thanks for comments

  8. #8
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    I've gone back to round rings on the road bike but, still run rotors on the TT bike. I wouldn't classify myself as a sprinter or anything but, I'm able to eek out a touch more power in sprints with rounds. I wouldn't classify myself as a TT guy either but, my best 20, 30min etc...power has come from the rotors. Now whether the rings were a part of either observation I really can't say. But then since no one else really knows what's best I press on as is. I do know the rings are not winning or losing races for me so I just gravitate to what feels right.

  9. #9
    Russian Troll Farmer
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    I seem to remember that old Biopace rings were notorious for allowing front derailleur overshifts, resulting in a lot of thrown chains.
    "L'enfer, c'est les autres"

  10. #10
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    Interesting topic.. Be nice to hear why they are used by a few of the pros? Do they believe they get more power in a sprint and or ??. I too had the Bio-Pace on my old dirt bike they worked OK for the mountains..

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by n2deep View Post
    Interesting topic.. Be nice to hear why they are used by a few of the pros? Do they believe they get more power in a sprint and or ??. I too had the Bio-Pace on my old dirt bike they worked OK for the mountains..
    Does it really matter? After you've accounted for sponsorship and curiousity, does the non-scientific belief of a pro rider matter? Pros used to abstain from sex during the season for similarly non-scientific beliefs.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by n2deep View Post
    Interesting topic.. Be nice to hear why they are used by a few of the pros? Do they believe they get more power in a sprint and or ??. I too had the Bio-Pace on my old dirt bike they worked OK for the mountains..
    Knowing what I know now after years and years of both I'd ride whatever ring if someone paid me. I'd put money on that's the bulk of why only a handful of riders are on them. If it was even remotely true that you could either raise power or lower HR with an oval ring then everyone would be on them.

    With that said, there was a similar thread on slowtwitch and I stated the same thing about round rings yielded a touch more peak power for sprints. Forget who responded, but it seems like was an industry insider, who talked to a number of pros who went back to round rings for the same reason. I'm not aware of any studies that prove one way or the other so I say ride what you are comfortable with and can afford.

    I vaguely remember reading what Kontact stated about ankling cancelling out whatever advantage oval rings brought to the table. For me I don't feel like I'm doing anymore or less ankling when I switch but, these things tend to be so small I probably just can't perceive it. Perhaps this is why for some the difference between oval and round is more noticeable. Meaning maybe those that don't ankle as much see a larger change. Just musing.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by n2deep View Post
    Interesting topic.. Be nice to hear why they are used by a few of the pros? ....
    Because somebody paid them?????
    "L'enfer, c'est les autres"

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    Quote Originally Posted by woodys737 View Post
    I vaguely remember reading what Kontact stated about ankling cancelling out whatever advantage oval rings brought to the table. For me I don't feel like I'm doing anymore or less ankling when I switch but, these things tend to be so small I probably just can't perceive it. Perhaps this is why for some the difference between oval and round is more noticeable. Meaning maybe those that don't ankle as much see a larger change. Just musing.
    Ankling is just one example of the type of adaptive behaviors a cyclist might learn to even out the power at different portions of the pedal stroke. I'm certain there are others.

    Full on heel dropping probably does more to vary the effective distribution of power to the stroke than the small ovalization of Biopace and Rotor rings. Which isn't to say that ankling is superior, just that the power system of a bicyle - which includes the three major joints of the leg, is a little complicated.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
    Ankling is just one example of the type of adaptive behaviors a cyclist might learn to even out the power at different portions of the pedal stroke. I'm certain there are others.

    Full on heel dropping probably does more to vary the effective distribution of power to the stroke than the small ovalization of Biopace and Rotor rings. Which isn't to say that ankling is superior, just that the power system of a bicyle - which includes the three major joints of the leg, is a little complicated.
    Yes totally agree. Now I'm starting to recall more of the article. If you have it link it maybe. It was very enlightening and might be interesting for guys to read.

  16. #16
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    Here's a point data. Bradley Wiggins used oval rings during the 2012 TdF which he won. After that, he switched back to round. Then he set his Hour Record on round ring.

  17. #17
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    Talented athletes often seem more adaptable and less equipment sensitive than us mortals. A guy who averages 17 mph might see a big benefit from oval rings while Wiggins clearly did not.

    Personally, my speed really increased when I got aero brake levers in the '80s.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unbrokenchain View Post
    So my question to anyone out there has anyone tried oval and gone back to round?
    Given that oval rings in various forms have been hyped for bicycles for over 100 years, I would suggest that nearly EVERYONE who has tried oval rings has gone back to round. No personal experience there since I was first exposed to oval rings in the '60s and discovered then that they were just the latest wave in a repeating fad. I've seen the fad come and go 4-5 times since then and my faith in round rings has been rewarded every time. Just saying.

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    aero what levers??? lol
    but i'll bet they didn't have "aero" handlbars back then, the ones with flat tops, since these are only practically available with the use of carbon fiber.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by aclinjury View Post
    aero what levers??? lol
    but i'll bet they didn't have "aero" handlbars back then, the ones with flat tops, since these are only practically available with the use of carbon fiber.
    You're kidding, right? I have one of the several available flat topped alloy handlebars out there. Deda, Zipp, 3T and even no name OEM are out there. I imagine they are hydroformed.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerry Irons View Post
    Given that oval rings in various forms have been hyped for bicycles for over 100 years, I would suggest that nearly EVERYONE who has tried oval rings has gone back to round. No personal experience there since I was first exposed to oval rings in the '60s and discovered then that they were just the latest wave in a repeating fad. I've seen the fad come and go 4-5 times since then and my faith in round rings has been rewarded every time. Just saying.
    Yep. Hate to admit it but, yep. Whatever the small mechanical advantage on the down stroke is it's basically cancelled by the same small mechanical disadvantage on the upstroke. Meaning mechanically it's round.

    So, once you adapt to a shape of ring the shape really shouldn't matter as far as producing power or efficiency. Whatever feels good ride it. It doesn't matter. $ and looks are about the only thing to think about.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerry Irons View Post
    Given that oval rings in various forms have been hyped for bicycles for over 100 years, I would suggest that nearly EVERYONE who has tried oval rings has gone back to round. No personal experience there since I was first exposed to oval rings in the '60s and discovered then that they were just the latest wave in a repeating fad. I've seen the fad come and go 4-5 times since then and my faith in round rings has been rewarded every time. Just saying.
    I think you've missed one point: This time around, it costs a lot more for the same repeated fad.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by terbennett View Post
    I think you've missed one point: This time around, it costs a lot more for the same repeated fad.
    Yes, I left out the part where every time oval rings have been "reintroduced" they have unequivocally solved the problems of the previous generations of oval rings. Guaranteed.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerry Irons View Post
    Yes, I left out the part where every time oval rings have been "reintroduced" they have unequivocally solved the problems of the previous generations of oval rings. Guaranteed.
    Considering that most of the "problems" were only in peoples' minds, that can't have been too difficult.

    I didn't care for Biopace or now Rotor because it looks silly, but I know both of them work just fine.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
    You're kidding, right? I have one of the several available flat topped alloy handlebars out there. Deda, Zipp, 3T and even no name OEM are out there. I imagine they are hydroformed.
    oh man, back in the 80s and thru the early 90s, my biking experience has been a kmart Huffy! Then in mid 90s, I gave myself a gift when I went to college, bought myself a high end Italian Casati (still have it to this day). But I've never ever once heard of aero oval top handlebars, until recently! Honest.

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