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WickWërks Tech Talk

Road Bike – Ultra Wide Range

The quest for optimum gearing performance in every condition — the holy grail — is elusive and fraught with compromises.  That landscape is changing as WickWërks introduces  . . .  a gearing solution born from superior shift technology to deliver highs and lows like never before  . . .  making the impractical a reality.  This is The Road Bike Ultra Wide Range.

Introducing “Ultra Wide Range”

Paradigm Shift Road Bike Ultra Wide Range ChainringsFor years, there were two prevailing traditions for Road Bike front chainrings — The standard 53/39 (130 BCD) with variants like 53/39/30 for triples;  And the “compact” 50/34, made to fit a 110 BCD.  In more recent years, options like the mid compact 52/36 have become popular as a welcome middle ground.  The compromise has ended — now there is another option, a better solution, a 34 for climbing the hills and a 53 so you won’t spin out going down them.

The WickWerks Road Bike Ultra Wide Range is a 53/34 (110 BCD) combination that breaks traditional gearing limitations with shift technology designed to capture the full ratio spectrum.  Better shifting with more available ratio.  The best of the standard and compact!

Available For These Applications:

– Road Compact, 110 BCD, 5-Bolt.
– Shimano 4-Arm, 110 BCD, 4-Bolt.
– SRAM Exogram, 110 BCD, 5th Bolt into Arm.
– SRAM 22 Style, 110 BCD, 5th Bolt Hidden.
– Campagnolo Compact, 110/112 BCD, 5-Bolt.

53/34T Road Bike Wide Ratio Chainrings

Wide Range Details:

Wide Range Best Of Both Worlds

The Best of Both Worlds:

Sometimes you need the speed of a 53 tooth chainring . . . Sometimes you need the climbing capabilities of a 34.  On traditional cranks you don’t get both — sometimes because of incompatible BCD’s, and sometimes because of shift limitations.

The new WickWërks 53/34 set (dubbed Road Bike Ultra Wide Range) gives the speed of a 53 – AND – the “climb like a billy goat” capabilities of a 34.  One chainring set to fill the needs of both worlds.

Road Bike Wide Ratio Comparison

The graph above shows ratio differences for typical road bike sprocket combinations.  An 11-28t cassette is used for calculations as a reference.  Each horizontal bar shows the range of possible ratios to be achieved with each chainring.  Changing the cassette to wider or narrower span will modify the actual numbers, but the relative perspective for comparison is the same.  The WickWerks Ultra Wide Ratio is highlighted in Yellow.

Note A — The area where the two bars span the same ratios (emphasized in green for the 53/39) is called ‘overlap’.  This is where gear ratios are available using either of the front sprockets.  This represents the best places to shift (in the front).

Note B — Graphs like this can be hard to relate. For example, the small gap indicated is the difference between riding a 34t chainring versus a 39t. In the graph it looks small, BUT on the bike, especially climbing, the difference feels huge!  (That’s part of the deception of graphs.)  Our bodies are fine instruments that feel small differences. Unfortunately, graphs don’t do a great job of showing how a ratio feels.  Use this as perspective with the graph.

Bike Ride Climbing

Lower Gears For Climbing:

The 34 tooth small ring is the low gear in the wide range.  It offers all the acclaimed climbing advantages of a 50/34 compact chainring set — because it is, after all, a 34t chainring, made for road bike climbs.

Bike Ride Decend

Higher Gears for Speed:

As with a road bike standard, the 53 tooth large ring is the high side of the wide range.  It offers the speed capabilities of a traditional 53/39 set, but now, mounted on a compact.  For those who like big rings, this is the traditional 53t size.

Better Front Shifting

Better Shifting:

“Better Shifting”?  Is this not the description you expected for a 19-tooth differential?

Most people are surprised and delighted by the amazingly shifting of this 19 tooth jump. Because of compromises with competitors products, it’s not expected, but then WickWërks is not traditional.  These chainrings offer improved shifting over competitors because of the patented Bridge Shift Technology made famous, in part, by riders like Katie Compton.  It helps in challenging environments like CX, of course, yet it also improves shifting in nearly every application — because the ramps interact with the chain in a different, more stable way.

Handling a 19 tooth jump is just one of the ways this tech shines.

Wide Range Shift Technology

Click the image for a more complete explanation of Bridge Shift Technology and a comparison to traditional front shifting.

Gear Strength

Built With Strength:

It’s not just the high-grade material (AL 7075-T6), or the precision CNC machining, or even the “True Hard” wear resistant anodize that make WickWerks chainrings strong.  It starts with the design as a careful balance of strength, weight, and stiffness  —  including features that maximize strength and stiffness for best possible chainring performance.  It’s all just like rocket science to us.

Aggressive Road Bike Shift

Aggressive Shifting:

Using the proven Bridge Shift Technology which includes the Radical shift ramps mentioned above, when it comes to shifting, these rings mean business. They have one job — to shift better and faster (over a larger gap) than anything you’ve previously experienced.  We’ve set out to shift more than just gears, give us a chance, and we’ll Shift Your Expectations too — even with an Ultra Wide Ratio!

System Limitations

System Limitations:

From the write-up above, it’s easy to conclude that the new Wide Range Chainrings solve every possible issue. While that’s almost true, there are, a few limitations:

  1. The Ultra Wide has a shift differential of 19 teeth — bigger than other chainring sets. As such, front derailleurs designed specifically for this shift do not exist. (Most are designed for up to 16 teeth differential.) Being outside the specifications does NOT mean they won’t work well — on the contrary, for most bikes they work awesome. However, when setting up the FD, some riders may need to balance position — and perhaps avoid certain gearing conditions (such as small ring to small cog cross-chaining) to avoid derailleur rub.
  2. Not all bike geometry is the same, in fact, it varies drastically. Because of this (and the 19 tooth jump), these rings may not work on some bikes. From our testing it works well with most road bikes, but not necessarily all cross or gravel bikes.
  3. As with limitations listed above, these chainrings do not work with all Front Derailleurs. They usually work well with road derailleurs (like Di2, Dura Ace, Ultegra, Red, Yaw, Microshift, Campagnolo, etc.), but not, for instance, with some CX derailleurs that are made specifically for narrower ratio differentials.
  4. These chainrings are designed to work with 10 and 11 speed road bikes. 8 and 9-speed are not recommended.
  5. For situations where more typical front derailleurs don’t work as well, inserting a road triple front derailleur has shown promise because they are designed for a wider differential in tooth span. Simply connect it with a 2X shifter. Again, there are application limitations.
  6. Derailleurs and Shifters are becoming more specific to each other. For best luck with the Road Bike Ultra Wide chainrings, we recommend using Shimano FD’s with matching Shimano shifters; And, Sram FD’s with matching Sram shifters (in particular for the Yaw). Same for Microshift, Sun Race, Campagnolo, etc.. In some cases it works to mix and match, but in many cases, the mechanic will struggle to get the setup correct.
  7. Our biggest warranty concern is not the chainrings, rather the skill of the mechanic doing the setup. In many situations we have re-directed customers to other, more skilled, mechanics who have easily solved setup issues. This new 53/34 chainring set can be (depending on bike frame, angles, equipment, etc.) a little tricky to set perfect. It may require a little more attention to detail and a little more skill. We certainly recommend finding the right source for assistance with setup and derailleur adjustment.
Great shifting in a non-traditional configuration made possible with WickWerks Bridge Shift Technology.   Shift Your Expectations — and see the Awesome in what other manufactures call impossible.
S-Works Road Bike Wide Range
Interbike 2015 Introduction — A rather poor photo of a great system set up on an S-Works with Di2 that shifts better now, even with this massive 19 tooth step than ever before. It’s the WickWerks Shift Technology Advantage.

4 Comments

  1. ChrisW
    April 3, 2016 @ 7:09 AM

    I’m pleased that this gearing option will be available soon, I’ll be ordering a pair as soon as they are available. For the graph, why not use a logarithmic scale on the x-axis to better reflect the differences between the gearing options (which is something that is quite commonly used)?

    • E. G.
      April 5, 2016 @ 9:18 AM

      Yea, Graphs can be tough — and I really like the log scale suggestion — though that skews things at the other end of the graph. I’ve come to conclude that the graphs don’t really give a good feel for reality unless you reference something you know — like riding a 34 versus riding a 39.

  2. George
    April 14, 2016 @ 8:16 AM

    When are you planning to release these ultra wide chainrings?
    Thanks

    • E. G.
      April 14, 2016 @ 8:56 AM

      That’s what we’re asking too. Manufacturing has been incredibly slow with these! Standard and Sram 22 mount rings should be available April 30. Shimano and Campy rings will follow. Hopefully by the end of May.