absoluteBlack Premium Oval Chainring Review: The Missing 10 Watts

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One day I stumbled upon absoluteBlack brand on my Facebook feed. I was immediately drawn into their product as their oval chainring looks like no other. First of all, the design pattern on the chainring is eye-catching and secondly, there is no brand name printed on it.

Visiting their product information page on their website, it mentioned how the chainring has been specifically optimised for general riders’ way of spinning. While Rotor has different “ovality” settings (3, 4 and 5), the absoluteBlack only has one. The exact number is 11.4% “ovality”.

Long story short, I was immediately interested and pulled the trigger. I purchased the 34 and 50 red-colored chainrings.

I have also ridden Rotor QXL 34-50. In fact, the chainring is still attached on my Guerciotti Eureka SHM50. So in this opportunity I would like to share with you the review on the absoluteBlack as well as comparison with the Rotor.


I would be putting the chainring on my AX Lightness Ultra bike. The current ones I had on there were the round Fiber Lyte’s 33-48 which I used to conquer Peaks Challenge Gold Coast. Before I continued further, let me tell you that I didn’t end-up replacing the 33 with the 34 because of the Power2Max power meter that needed to be taken off which I could not be bothered with. So in this instance, only the 50 will be installed.

Installing absoluteBlack was quiet simple. I did not need to take any of the cranks off. First of all I had to adjust the front derailleur to accommodate a larger chainring. So I undo the cable and lifted the derailleur a little bit. I then took off the 48 and replaced with the 50.

After that all I needed to do was to adjust the height of the derailleur, re-tighten the cable and I was done. As I tested spinning the bike on the stand, I did not find any miss-shifts whatsoever. It worked  seamlessly with the 33 Fiber Lyte’s round chainring. Switching from large to small chainring did not cause any miss-shifts or dropped chain whatsoever. I did not need to replace my chain either.

When I switched to the 50 and spin the bike (still on the stand), I could feel the different “chop”. On the round 48, the spin was smooth but on the absoluteBlack, near the bottom, the spin was kind of “jumping”. When I installed the Rotor QXL it certainly didn’t jump this extreme. Mind you, I was using setting 3 on the Rotor. I have tried setting 4 and 5 before and ended up giving me leg pain.


So how does the absoluteBlack perform on the road? In a simple term: AMAZING! First of all let me start with the scientific results.


I must say that they have done their research and their marketing claim ain’t gimmicks! They said that they have optimised the chainring for general riders’ way of spinning and I have to say they’re spot on. Their argument was, for pros – as they have perfected their spins due to the volume of riding they do everyday – oval chainrings may not bring any benefits. But for amateur riders like most of us, it will certainly bring benefit. I agree with all of these!

Using the round chainring, my Left-Right balance (based on Garmin) was always 49% left-51% right. Power was always around 145w-155w. Now on absoluteBlack, the balance is 50% left-50% right and power has now increased in upper 150w-165w. It means that I have found my missing 10watts! The absoluteBlack has somehow helped my left leg spins more efficiently.

Below are some of the Garmin Connect rides. You can also check out my Garmin Connect profile for more ride entries.

On the round Fiber Lyte (ie. all rides prior to Tuesday 30th of August 2016):

On the absoluteBlack (ie. all rides after Tuesday 30th of August 2016):

Speed obviously increases by at least 0.5km/h!

You don’t have to believe what I say nor what absoluteBlack say, but my numbers don’t lie.

Power-wise, the Rotor QXL on the Guerc somehow gave me a higher number. Mind you though, I’m using a different power meter on that bike: Rotor inPower. It’s either the inPower reads 10-20watts higher or the Power2Max that reads 10-20watts lower.

Average speed on the absoluteBlack however is faster! If you look at my Strava profile, all my commute entries after the absoluteBlack are indeed the fastest.

Ride Feel

When I first rode it on the road, as I experienced during spinning it on the work stand, that unique chop feel was immediately felt. It happened near the bottom of the stroke. Adjusting to it however did not take long. It only took me that first 5 minutes of my ride to adjust. After that my legs could adapt properly with the ovalisation.

I must say that my left leg definitely felt stronger. I could push more with my left leg hence why it may explain the increased efficiency and power. While I was riding the absoluteBlack, somehow I wanted to push bigger-gear-slower-cadence all the time. During my first day of riding, my cadence was around 85-90RPM. But as I entered day 3, I could spin higher cadence at 90-100RPM.

Climbing was where absoluteBlack (and oval chainring in general – for that matter) shined. I like to stand more than seated when climbing, and that “jump” near the bottom of the stroke made a perfect place of “rest”. Further to this, as you’re tempted to push for bigger gears, seated climbing also felt great. You need to try it otherwise you may not understand what I’m talking about.

Compared to the Rotor, the absoluteBlack felt more optimised. On the Rotor I’m using setting 3 and the oval feel was not that emphasized. In fact, it felt quiet like a round chainring. As I mentioned previously, changing the setting to 4 or 5 (hoping for more “ovalised” feel) gave me leg pain. This is not the case with the absoluteBlack though. There is no leg pain whatsoever. So to re-iterate, I truly buy into absoluteBlack’s marketing spill that claim how the “ovalisation” has been optimised for general/amateur riders like me.


In conclusion, absoluteBlack’s claim on its chainring performance ain’t gimmick. I’m a living witness that I indeed improve my riding performance. I’m not paid to write this article. I wrote it because of how much I love my absoluteBlack chainring. I strongly suggest you give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.

As far as Rotor vs absoluteBlack is concerned, I will definitely still lean on the absoluteBlack due to looks as well as a more optimised “ovalised” feel and performance.



Have a great day,


Written by

A web solution expert who has passion in website technologies. Tommy has been in the web industry for more than 10 years. He started his career as a PHP developer and has now specialized in ASP.NET, SharePoint and MS CRM. During his career he has also been in many roles: system tester, business analyst, deployment and QA manager, team and practice leader and IT manager.

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