First ride on the absolute black oval ring today. At first, I knew something had changed but couldn't put my finger on it. If I didn't consciously know I'd fitted an oval ring I'd of probably got off the bike scratching my head about what had changed. Riding with the oval was very natural and took no getting used to. As the ride went on and terrain changed I started to really think about what was going on with my pedalling, I started to notice subtle differences. The main one was over choppy ground, in this case a roughed up bridleway, as the rear skipped and danced I stood up and mashed the pedals. In this scenario, it's often difficult to build and maintain a higher speed, the faster I go the rougher the ride, the rougher the ride, the harder it is to maintain a smooth pedal motion as the bike bucks up and down, the movement of the bike and my weight down on the pedals means they get out of sync and eventually leads to a loss of traction and a reduction of speed. The oval really helped here, power delivery remained smooth no loss of traction allowing me to travel faster over this terrain. After hitting a few more hills some smooth, some rough the conclusion I've drawn is.
Wth a round ring power delivery begins just after the crank leaves the 12 o'clock position and because it's round requires the same effort right through the pedal stroke, that means the power is just being fed to the back wheel if that happens when it's unweighted it'll slip. The oval however definitely delivers the power differently it ramps up, peaks, then tapers off. So as the crank moves from 12 to 2 this requires and delivers less power between 2 and 4 is peak power and then reduces to 6 o'clock (full leg extension.) It's because of this more fluid stroke I was able to maintain speed over rough ground and up hill that momentary low power spot meant when the full power arrived the tire was probably back where it could grip. Meaning the bike didn't stall and a rhythm could be maintained. This is also how it would work on technical climbs I guess. Now don't get me wrong, round certainly works and the differences today on the oval were minimal at best but as the oval is the same price as a round you certainly wouldn't disadvantage yourself. I'll look forward to trying it on more testing terrain.
Written by Joel Babb. Stay tuned for updates. :)