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So I recently experienced the rumble of a worn-out narrow-wide elliptical chainring. I just replaced it with a sweet wolf tooth steel elliptical chainring. Am I just imaging that it felt like a tremendous loss of power and efficiency with a worn chainring? For a while it almost felt like I was pedaling through mud, and I could feel the vibration in the cranks. The new chainring is so smooth and silent, I feel like I've got more watts to spare. Is it all in my head or is there a real power loss with a worn chainring?
 

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I've experienced similar. I think as the gap between the teeth widens there's a little bit of slack before the chain is actually engaged. Depending on what size ring and how many links are engaged, this can create a lot of extra friction.

On a sidebar I started recently playing around with a 49mm chainline on 12 speed. Anecdotally this is smoother in the climbing gears and my front ring seems to last much longer. Shifting not as crisp but totally acceptable.

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When the chainrings get a bit of a sharktooth profile from the chain wearing back into each tooth, each has to "roll" into that pocket..pulling the chain forward and needing extra roller rotation.

I've observed similar loss in efficiency. This is why the X-Sync chainring were redesigned to scallop out the top portion of the tooth.

It'll be worse on the 1x rings than the 2x in the test noted above because of the tall, vertical tooth profile.
 
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