WickWërks Technology

Z Style, Single, Narrow-Wide, 1X Chainrings​

The Z-Ring

A new generation of bicycle 1X chainrings for single speed and 1X (one by) drivetrains.

  It’s Narrow-Wide — Enhanced.  Take the virtues of the Narrow-Wide, then enhanced durability, add in chain position flexibility.  The result is the Z-Ring.

the z 1x chainring animation

From the side it looks like a Narrow-Wide.  Flip it around and it still looks like a Narrow-Wide.  The catch, if you’re observant, is the narrow and wide features are offset one tooth from side to side — making more of a zig-zag on the wide features.

Video Explanation:

The Z-Ring Details:

To better see the “Z” features, compare at the “A” labeled tooth in the images below showing both sides of the chainring.  Also note the immediately adjacent teeth.  That’s the “Z” and it makes it so the chain will fit on any tooth — which is certainly different than traditional Narrow Wide.  This may be seen even better in the exaggerated, animated graphic below comparing Narrow Wide.

Narrow-Wide Features of 1X Chainring

Compared to Narrow-Wide Chainrings

The “Z” concept is illustrated in the sketched graphic below — illustrated with exaggerated features — showing tooth width orientation compared with a traditional Narrow Wide.  The graphic on the right shows the new “Z” concept and how it doesn’t matter where the chain goes on — meaning wide chain links are not restricted to wide teeth.  The chain fits on one tooth or another just the same — well, almost the same — because it still takes advantage of the wide space available in the outer chain links to maximize tracking and retention.

The offset wide features make the chainring wider than a standard chainring because it does offset control of the teeth to capture the virtues we’ve come to love about Narrow-Wide chainrings while keeping the centerline of all the teeth balanced with the centerline of the ring.

Why is this better?

Take a minute to get your mind around the concept.  It’s not so obvious what’s happening and why, but compare the images below, and once you’ve got the concepts, the advantages start to come clear.

The “Z” is an enhancement of the Narrow-Wide chainring technology which allow you to place the chain on the ring independent of the Narrow and Wide teeth (having the side benefit of being faster, easier, simpler to install).  The other big benefit is the ability to move the chain one tooth (perhaps each time the chain is cleaned) to extend the life of the ring.

And, like most single rings, the Z-Ring teeth are independent of orientation to the crank arm so they can be mounted in any position.  That makes it easy to rotate the ring and get even more life from it.


Advantage Z-Rings

In the quest for flawless function with ultimate stiffness and no weight, durability and serviceability sometimes get left behind.  Z-Rings are Light and Stiff with awesome performance, and at the same time, qualify with an eye to increasing durability and serviceability.  Are these just buzz words?  Here are the specs — you be the judge:

Z-Rings Sneak Peak
  • We start with an uncompromising tooth design for chain retention —
  • Add the features of enhanced wear resistance — Made from the same high strength 7075-T6 aircraft grade aluminum as on our famous shifting rings —
  • Use the same Teflon sealed Type III “true hard” anodize proven for durability and efficiency on WickWerks Bridge Tech Chainrings and in hundreds of military applications. More info on Anodize.
  • Add in the service factor of mounting the chain over any tooth (not just the narrow wide) —
  • Include the ability to clock the ring to avoid wear spots —
  • Design to allow the chain to lay on the ring independent of wide or narrow teeth —
  • And you’ve definitely increased ring life as well as serviceability.

These are the differentiaters that drove the Z-Ring design process.  Yes, Z-Rings tend to be lighter than comparative rings, and at the same time, just as stiff (though stiffness is not a function of the teeth.)  The real advantage is serviceability and potential for extend life of the ring.

Potential?  Yes.  Potential is realized when serviceability is brought into action.  Simply move the chain over one tooth after each chain cleaning and the ring will wear more evenly.  Unbolt the Z-Ring, rotate it one bolt location and tighten it up every once in a while, and the wear patterns on the ring will more evenly distribute.  Yes, it takes a little effort, (very little really), but it extends life and preserves function of the ring pretty drastically.


Available Now!

Z-Rings are now available.  Check out the available sizes on the Mountain Chainrings Products Page.  Get one and try it out.

Enjoy The Ride !!