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WickWërks Tech Talk

Our Most Asked Question

Our most asked question(s) are variations of ” Can I Use A Different Size Inner or Outer Ring?

Questions like can I buy the 34t instead of the 36t with the 46t ‘cross ring? . . . . Or can I trade the 34t of your 44/34t set for a 36t to make it a 44/36? . . . . And other variations.  Basically, Can I mix and match chainrings?

We believe our best customers are informed, so the answer comes with some explanation:

Quick Answer:

Our Technology is shifting — smooth, fast, stable shifting.  WickWerks chainrings are designed to work as a set — the small and large rings are designed so that ramps and teeth are properly positioned with respect to each other to give the best shifting.  It makes the fastest, most stable shifting, but unfortunately, it is not so flexible to mix and match tooth counts or gear changes.

We recommend that WickWerks rings be installed and used only in the specified sets.

More Complete Answer:

Chain transition from small ring to large ring

The tooth clocking (where the teeth of each chainring are with respect to each other) is important in getting a good shift.  As the chain comes off of one ring and on to the next, the space between the last teeth still engaged on the first ring to the first teeth engaged on the next ring will, in part, determine the quality of the shift.

Also of importance is the positioning of the ramps with respect to the teeth of the two gears.  WickWerks Radical Ramps (or Bridge Technology) lifts the chain directly under the chain pins.  This is part of what gives stability to the shift — like grabbing a hand full of chain — but it only works if the chain is positioned correctly so that the ramps lift the chain to the waiting teeth of the larger ring.

If the small ring is larger or smaller than the designed intent, the shift cannot happen as prescribed.  Tests show that it will shift, but not as smooth and not as stable.  Here are some thoughts:

Thoughts about Mix and Match:

– First, If WickWerks chainrings are used with other brands (mix and match), even if they are the same tooth counts, the tooth clocking may be different and the shifts will suffer.

– Second, on WickWerks rings, when up-shifting, the chain lifts off the small ring and lays tangent on the shift ramp precisely so that the chain is “lifted” under multiple load points.  If you change sizes, (larger or smaller), the chain will not set tangent on the ramp, causing both shift quality and shift stability to suffer.

– Third, Beyond shift quality, the big down side of using miss-matched rings is accelerated wear on the ramps and shift teeth.  If the chain does not set on the ramps predictably, things will wear.

Think about it:  If the inner ring is too big, the chain won’t sit on the ramp — it will shift only on the tip of the ramp — much like the classic pin shifting — and the tip of the ramp will wear fast.

On the other hand, if the inner ring is too small, the chain will catch first on the inner diameter of the ramp, then transition to the ramp.  This is a better scenario, but because of chain clearance and biasing considerations, ramps are narrower at the inner diameter so a chain lifted as described will fall from the ramp more frequently — again, wearing the ramps and diminishing shift quality.


We expect a lot from our chainrings.  We are cycling enthusiasts, and we ride the rings all the time.  WickWerks chainrings are engineered to shift with precision and provide you, as our customer, the best front shift experience.  Our goal is to delight you — and to that end, we engineer each set of rings to work as a set — and we sell the rings in sets.  We also provide instructions on proper set-up and ways to maximize your shift performance.  Do these things, and you’ll shift better than ever before.


Full Disclosure:

So, from the above question and answer(s), you see we recommend using the WickWerks chainrings in the specified sets.  That being said, in the spirit of full disclosure, if you do mix and match the sets, it does work, and (depending on particulars) will usually shift pretty well.  (OK, shifting “pretty well” is subjective.  A mixed set with the WickWerks rings can shift better than say a mixed set of our competition, but not as good as it should, and not as good as what we expect from our chainrings).

Plus, as mentioned above, there is the accelerated wear issue.  Yea, stick to the engineered sets.  That’s were the Jack Pot is.