Rotor Q-Rings do not eliminate the dead-spot, but help to reduce its negative effects, moving the legs easier through the dead-spot imitating a smaller circular chainring, and enabling the legs to remain in the power stroke for a longer period of time when compared to round chainrings. Q-Rings change the equivalent tooth size by decreasing it before the dead-spots and increasing it when the rider is in the power mode (when more power is available at the pedal down stroke). A 44T MTB Q-Ring, around the upper dead-spot is equivalent to a 42T, but as the pedal goes down and more strength is applied (just passed the maximum power moment), the equivalent chainring tooth size reaches 46T.
Rotor is a company from Spain that manufacturers very high end components. They’ve been making waves with with their 3D+ crank system and Q-Rings and they sent us a set of of their 2×10 crank to try out. At any price, it is worth trying out. Consider the Q-rings first to see the benefit and if it makes sense for you. Of course the risk always is you’ll like it so much that you’ll feel compelled to upgrade all your bikes in the stable. Continue reading →
Strengths: Easy to install on XX cranks
Increase in acceleration on 29er
Makes climbing easier
Has not happened yet but i worry about dropping the chain.
Bought the 40/27 setup for my XX cranks on my Anthem X 29er. Let's just say I could tell a difference right away. The difference was not so much in the way they felt, rather the increased speed I was able to turn the cranks in a range of gears. This lead, I believe, to quicker acceleration.
I completed my first ride on these rings with a couple of friends that both ride 26ers. We all race CAT1 and one has actually raced pro a couple of times and is a CAT2 road racer, also he is 24 and I am 39. I was able to keep up with him for most of the ride on the same trail where he has dropped me plenty of times before. I have yet to look at my Garmin data to see if there were any changes in recorded data, but since I was able to hang where I have not been able to hang before I'm sure there are some changes.
Strengths: works as intended
reduces knee pain/discomfort
shifting is just as fine as shimano/FSA
free speed on the rides!
Weaknesses: confusing terminology in manual - "regulation points"
i got the black hard anodized set for the XTR 970 crankset - but for my XT 760 crankset. i do short-haul touring, so every bit that helps relieve the pedaling load i have when the bike is fully loaded is appreciated. i modified the positioning of the middle chainring by filing down some ~0.5mm steel washers to allow the middle chainring to be "pushed" further inboard, because the chain used to jam up between the granny and the middle ring. found out later on rotor's facebook page something about the Q-rings meant for XTR 970 had a granny ring that's further inboard (no thanks, shimano!), hence the problems. after the modification, the shifting works quite well still.
in case you're wondering, i do XC, commuting and touring - all on the same bike. for offroad rides, the modulation from the rings generally helped me a fair bit. i call these rings, "free speed". the hard anodized version has only 3 mounting positions for each ring - but the coppery ones have five if i'm not wrong.
my earlier review is here:
Strengths: helps smooth out dead sections on technical terrain and improve leg speed
Weaknesses: None that I can note
Run in a 1x set-up for racing in the elite field and feels like it allows me to run the best gear inch solution for both high rpm and low rpm needs. Can maintain good speed on the top end fast sections and then on the "grunt" climbs the power production is smooth at low rpm. Really like feel of getting over waterbars and out of the tight switchbacks of trail pinches.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: March 12, 2012
Strengths: These rings help me climb better. No doubt. Also helps eliminate my knee pain I experience when I get on round rings. If that's all they did it would be a win.
This is not Bio Pace, the technology is proven. Why would Ned Overend, Sauser, Rebecca Rusch.....use them? I tested them at a XC series 4 years ago and with out them I was struggling to stay with the group on the climbs, with them I was right there. Nuf said.
a Weekend Warrior
from Calgary, AB
Date Reviewed: June 6, 2011
Strengths: These rings are awesome. I was reluctant on spending that much money on chain rings, but they are great. Zero issues getting used to them. I bought a second set for my road bike too. They will definitely make you a better rider.
Weaknesses: Pricey, not as nice looking as the OEM rings, but totally worth it.
The Q Rings are a great investment for anybody. I had a set on my road bike for over a year and after going for a ride on my mountain bike with standard round rings, I noticed a huge difference (I couldn't keep the cadence, my calfs felt very tired, sour knees, etc). So now I have 2 sets of Q Rings and I'm gonna never look back to round rings.
Similar Products Used: Shimano Biopace, normal round rings.
a Weekend Warrior
from Johannesburg, South Africa
Date Reviewed: October 1, 2010
Strengths: options available are designed specifically to replace major brands with minimum fuss
Weaknesses: can't think of any
Used the original Shimano version in the 80's and Have used the q rings as direct replacement on road bike ( Ultegra fit)for tha last six 6 years - recently swopped back to the std Ultegra rings whilst revamping my bike - immediately noticed the difference - had forgotten the advantages i had been receiving due to years of familiarity - being a part time but competitive oldie at 51 - the effect on my knees and comfort on climbs , not to mention the reduced fatigue experienced on long rides, is remarkable - more evident with less fitness! - i am now about to get a set for my mountain bike.
Can't understand why they are not "standard" feature for all "serious" level bikes
Similar Products Used: loads rings ... to sum the up , all "round"
Bike Setup: 29er FS and HT
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: December 15, 2009
Strengths: Q-Rings are the best upgrade I have made to my bike, no questions asked. They let me power through tough sections, mantain momentum like never before and let me ride longer for harder.
I really notice that the Q-Rings help me get through technical sections I could never quite clear before. Amazingly, grip is improved in slippery conditions cause you have more torque at your weakest point and less at your maximum point, meaning less variation in power going to the tire during the pedal stroke. This same effect allows you to power through Sand more easily. When I spoke to Lene Byberg before a World Cup race when deciding to buy them she told me I would feel this.
I also notice that on the really long climbs where you face a sudden ramp, I dont suffer as much as I used to and I dont feel my heart pounding as much.
These things wont make a Fred into a Lance, but they certainly make you Fred 2.0...
Weaknesses: They only make the classic 44-33-23 sizes for MTB, I wouldnt mind having a 42 option for the outer ring. Other than that, no weaknesses, just benefits.
At its simpelest, there is no way on earth I am going back to round rings. I can't believe that the bike industry continues to use round rings so often when these ovals from rotor are hands-down the best upgrade you could make on your bike. Future bike choices for me will have to pass this simple criteria: Will the Q-Rings fit?
Similar Products Used: Round rings... but they are not at all similar: They suck. The triple set installed relativley easilty but you do need to follow the instructions. I did need to raise the FD a little but I didnt have the same problems Yeti below did. I did upgrade the FD while installing the Q rings so maybe the derailleur is the issue for some people? The Specialized team all ride these rings on all sorts of Specialized bikes so the guys at rotor must have made sure they work properly.
Bike Setup: 2009 specialized epic.
a Cross Country Rider
from Grand Junction, CO
Date Reviewed: April 18, 2009
Strengths: Discernibly easier to climb steep inclines at low cadences with the middle and inner chainrings.
Weaknesses: Finicky setup
Slight degradation of front shifting
Outer (big) chainring is impossible to use on a triple chainring crank. Moving the front derailleur up to fit the big ring causes the chain to rub the front derailleur when using the big (rear) cog and inner and middle chainrings. Do not buy the big, outer chainring. I am just using the middle in inner Rotor chainrings, and a regular round outer ring.
Spacing of the inner and middle chainrings is greater than the spacing of the middle and outer chainrings. This does not seem correct to me. The inner chainring is closer to the BB shell than it should be. This causes a slight rubbing of the chain against the front derailleur cage when using the big (rear) and small (front) combination. It’s not enough to prohibit use of the big-small combination, just a slight annoyance. I do not think the inner ring spacing is correctly machined.
The question is do the benefits outweigh the problems? Yes, the benefits are greater than problems, but just barely. I can climb better with the chainrings so the ovalized engineering is sound. Rotor just needs to take another look at that inner chainring spacing. Granted the cranks are the 2009 Specialized propriety carbon cranks, but Specialized says that XTR chainrings will fit these cranks and that is what I purchased from Rotor. For the outer, big chainring, I purchased the 44 tooth, and like I stated above, there is no way I can get it to work. Rotor needs to make a big ring that is 40 or 41 teeth so that the chainring ellipse is not so large or, no larger than a 44. Until then steer clear of the big ring.
a Cross Country Rider
from Memphis, TN
Date Reviewed: November 26, 2008
Strengths: Better "feel", reduce knee stress, good quality.
Weaknesses: Expensive! Performance claims questionable. Shifting slightly worse, can be a pain to adjust.
Q-rings might well be "the" innovation in cycling over the last 5 years, they just feel great. I had at one point two almost identical bikes, one with Q-rings - one without. Riding on rollers the difference was amazing, much less wobbling fore and aft with Q-rings and a more natural feel.
They are also great when pushing a high gear and really reduce the stress on knees. I like them particularly on my TT bike.
That said I think the performance improvement claims might be exaggerated - but that is really difficult to measure. My girlfriend tried them and says there is no difference - I think there is a small improvement.
Downside is high price but Rotor is a small company and they need to stand up against big S. Pity you have to buy them as an upgrade.
Shifting is not really a problem, but it's not as smooth as regular rings. Buy the rings with less of a gap, 52/42 or 50/42 instead of 53/39.
Bike Setup: Now on all my Road and MtB bikes and on my ss.
a Weekend Warrior
from Tucson, AZ
Date Reviewed: June 2, 2008
Strengths: Easier to stay on top of a gear. Better power in sand, and rough uphills
Weaknesses: Slightly pricey, but worth it.
Q-Rings tried on Motolite (review) I decided it was time to refresh the drivetrain so changed the cassettes chains and front sprockets on me and my girlfriends Motolites.
I decided to try the "Rotor Cranks Q-Rings" while at it. These are NOT Biopace!! They reduce the ratio at the top and bottom of the stroke, the exact opposite of Biopace.
Tried them on a couple hour ride in Tucson Mtn. Park. You could feel a difference for sure, and in a positive way. The good thing is that they did not take any adjustment at all. They felt different, but totally natural. I felt that they evened the spin out. I was afraid that they were going to feel "herky jerky" but were just the opposite. I am a high rpm spinner, usually riding a gear or two lower than my companions while at the same speed so was not sure I needed any help with my spin, and was afraid an eliptical ring might hurt my spin, but it did not.
It was not so much at the high rpms that I noticed the difference, but more when I needed to power through things. I dove into a sand wash in a fairly high gear, and it just seemed easier to keep on top of the gear with the sand trying to drag your cadence down. The bike did not get a chance to slow down as much between each power stroke. Same thing on technical uphills. There is a hillclimb we found hidden off the popular riding trails that goes up a rocky steep hill until it reaches wheelie backwards "hike a bike" steepness. I felt that it was easier to keep going in those situations where between each leg stroke the bike almost stops.
We ride lots of nasty stair step sections and have gone to 5-Ten shoes and platforms for the safety of instant release, and ease of restart climbing techy ups. The only downside is the occassional foot coming off the pedal sometimes while attempting really nasty climbs. The rings seemed to reduce that by keeping more even pedal pressure.
They don't climb the hill for you or anything, but just seem to make it easier to stay on top of a gear. I felt like the designers matched the rings well, to the way the body produces differing amounts of torque at different areas of the crank position.
Shifting was totally normal. I only replaced the inner and middle rings. Therefore, I did not have to change derailler height at all. They cost $50 for the inner, $80 for the middle, and $120 for the big, so for most people, I would say don't buy the whole set, just get the 2 inner rings and save money over the whole set, and avoid having to move the front derailler.
My girlfreind liked them as well, and said they reduced her knee pain as well. So all in all, we plan on keeping these on our bikes.
Similar Products Used: Round rings, and old Biopace
Bike Setup: Titus Motolite
a Cross Country Rider
from Barcelona, Spain
Date Reviewed: May 11, 2008
Strengths: Light weight. Excellent quality. Customized look. No apparent stress on knee, even if natural to bicycling. Incredibly smooth stroke. Overwhelming sense of efficiency.
Weaknesses: Price? But you get more than what you pay for. To me it was a little tricky to set up the front derailleur at the beginning, but great afterwards.
As Tai puts it below: "The Q-rings make it seem like your pedals just bounce right back up on the pedal up stroke allowing a killer smooth and powerful spin." I´m picking parts for a new bike with Rohloff, and realize that my choice of frames mostly comes down to "Will I be able to use the q-rings with this frame?" I definitely will accept the need for chain tensioner to use with the outer q-ring if that allows me to use it (not possible with sliding dropouts or eccentric bottom bracket). Having tried these, I can´t understand round rings... Q-rings make you feel like you are flying your bike, not just riding it. Try them yourself and be sold! (I don´t work for Rotor!)
a Weekend Warrior
from South Africa
Date Reviewed: August 21, 2007
Strengths: Good quality, good workmanship.
Weaknesses: No apparent difference in performance. While the science seems to make sense there are no peer-reviewed studies which confirm the manufacturers claims. There are lots of claims and sponsored studies but no peer-reviewed unbiased, published studies.
Waste of money for my purpose, but maybe if you have to change your chain ring anyway then why not.