We have to admit that it was a bit of bad luck that on the week we published our First Ride thoughts on the Osymetric chain rings, Bradley Wiggins also announces that he will no longer riding Osymetric rings, going as far as calling them “silly”. But we don’t ride products because a single rider uses them, we ride products because many riders are showing results (and maybe there is a bit of objective data to back it up as well), and whether it is Wiggins at the Tour last year or Sanchez, Porte, and Froome riding this year, there are plenty of elite riders putting their faith in Osymetric.
Our goal of this review was not necessarily to validate the claims of Osymetric rings (or any asymmetrical ring), but instead to discuss how it feels to ride the rings, and any acclimation time we needed. We recognized that a byproduct of this testing would be seeing if our performance numbers showed any improvements (or declines). To this end we spent the past month answering two basic questions – How do the Osymetric rings ride and did we get faster? But before we can answer those questions, a quick recap on the specific rings we were looking at.
The Osymetric Rings
We went with a pair of Osymetric 52-38 110 BCD rings to match with the stock Vision TriMax cranks that came with our test CD0.1. On our test bike we also have a set of Vision’s excellent Metron shifters (which we reviewed here) and we had some concerns that shifting the rings may prove to be a challenge. Because of this, we had the guys at Alex’s Bicycle Pro Shop help us with the install to ensure we got the shifting as precise as we could. (However for those who never let anyone touch their bike but themselves, Osymetric has a great video walk-through – here.)
The decision to go with the 52-38 was easy due to the fact that Osymetric only offers the 110 BCD in 52-38 and 50-38 (and the lack of hills in South Florida makes going bigger the way to go). In 130 BCD, Osymetric offers six sizes ranging from 52-42 through 56-44. If we 130 had been an option we most likely would have gone with a 54-42 or 56-42, but unfortunately we were a bit limited by the parts we currently have on our test frames.
We were not sure what to expect from the Osymetrics, our biggest concern coming into the review was that riding Osymetrics would force you to completely relearn how to pedal. Luckily this was absolutely not the case; after the first 2-3 miles we had become completely accustomed to the rings. For those first few miles you will experience the feeling that at the top and bottom of the pedal stroke your feet were floating (a feeling similar to a sudden shift to a bigger cog). However once you get past those miles, riding became as natural as it was on your stock circular rings. We spent most of our time riding on flat surfaces down here and riding the rings has been a true joy.
But we also wanted to test what happened when we were out of the saddle sprinting and climbing, would the change of position and the pounding of the pedals feel different than the circular rings? (This was partially a result of the request our reader – Jessica made in the comments from the first look.) Surprisingly (based on our expectations from flat road riding), they do. Sprinting you tend to feel that each stroke has a bit more push and that you are entering the next stroke a tad quicker. Unfortunately, based on the little bit of sprint drills we did, we never became quite comfortable sprinting on the Osymetrics, however we do believe that if we made sprinting a more regular part of our riding we would. Climbing also felt a bit different than standard rings, but while sprinting tended to feel a bit awkward, climbing left us with a feeling of power. Each rotation of the rings tended to feeling like you were surging up the climb, this was a feeling we quickly got used to.
The other open question we got from readers was how shifting felt. We were using an Ultegra front derailleur matched to the Metron shifters. The Metron shifters have always been a little “touchy” for front shifting so we weren’t surprised to see that with the Osymetrics as well. We found that front shifts often required a second pull on the levers to finalize the shift; however the issues may have as much to do with the Metrons as it does with the Osymetrics. Either way for the riding we did, it was never a factor, we rarely if ever are in the small ring, and when it is needed we were able to shift up and down without a single dropped chain.
As we mentioned above we were not looking to do a purely scientific analysis of the claims of Osymetric rings. Osymetric claims a 7-10% improvement, which would have been a bit difficult for us to fully prove (or disprove). What we can say is that throughout the test period we consistently rode faster than we had prior to the new rings. In group and solo rides we tended to have a bit more top end speed (about 1-2 mph) for the same effort. To that end we do believe that we were getting a bit more power from the Osymetrics.
The biggest question to ask is whether or not we plan on riding Osymetic rings going forward. Obviously if our plan is to pull them off the bikes and never ride them again we wouldn’t be giving a ringing endorsement. Conversely if we don’t plan on giving up these rings until they take them from our cold dead fingers that would be a strong endorsement. So finally – we may be sending these rings back to Osymetric but we can tell you that at least one of our team members plans on having a personal set back on their bike in due haste, so yes we have become quite the fans.