PROFILE: absoluteBLACK revolutionises oval chainring market

The absoluteBLACK journey started in 2010 with superlight, full floating centerlock disc rotors. Arguably the biz was a bit too early with this product as at that time only off road riders were using discs and the price of the rotor was a bit prohibitive for that product segment. As a result, the firm moved on to MTB chainrings where it saw a huge potential.

In 2013 they remained one of only two companies who made spiderless chainrings for MTB cranks. At that time, it was an era of 76 and 104bcd spider and ring combos. The market boomed for that kind of product and it took over two years for OEM manufacturers to catch up to the concept.

AbsoluteBLACK released its first oval ring at the end of 2014 and again, at that time it was one of only two companies offering MTB oval chainring options. While the firm saw the benefits of using oval clearly, people still questioned and pushed back on the concept. Fast forward to 2020 and almost every major manufacturer is now offering them and absoluteBLACK is riding the wave as the world’s largest manufacturer of aftermarket oval chainrings.

Why does the concept make sense? Simply put, the round shape is not the best for cycling ergonomics as humans can’t effectively deliver torque evenly throughout the pedal stroke.

Initially the business used independent University laboratories to aid in the design and to develop the best possible oval shape, but now has full-time scientists working at its in-house testing and development labs to do just that. With that the firm has become a supplier of scientific biomechanical optimisation services to Pro Tour teams, including UAE team Emirates. This further allows data capture from thousands of Pro and amateur riders to constantly improve the products.

Marcin Golec the founder of absoluteBLACK said: “This is something our competitors don’t have access to, which often means to avoid IP and patent infringement, competitors have to compromise on the design of their products. Unfortunately, this can damage the general reputation of oval chainrings as riders may not fully experience the positive effect over round chainrings similar to what happened in the past. We have devoted seven years in research in our chainrings and will continue to do so. It’s our flagship product; this is what the company stands for.”

Laying claim to being one of the lightest available options, each is designed to be extremely long lasting too; customers experience on average two to three times longer service life than what they had before. This is in part thanks to the materials used, but in particular, absoluteBLACK’s proprietary tooth profile.

Aftermarket chainrings for almost every crank on the market are catered for and offer unique solutions such as sub-compact chainrings for standard Shimano 110/4 cranks, as well a chainrings that work with the latest generations of 12-speed MTB groupsets.

Joining the catalogue is GRAPHENlube. It’s a bit of departure from the core product line, but since Pro Tour teams began giving feedback on biomechanical optimisation the company has learned that drivetrain lubrication is a major issue in the Pro Peloton.

“What we came up with is a game changer in the lubrication world. It’s not only the longest lasting lube on the market in any conditions by a huge factor, but it also saves up to 7W of power, per each pedal stroke, typically lost through sub-optimal lubrication. This is why Pro Tour teams like UAE, Jumbo-Visma and others (we can’t disclose) are already using it right now at TdF. The price for a bottle sounds high to some, but if you compare the running costs per km it suddenly becomes two times cheaper than the next best competitor. Our bottle of lube can last up to 14,800km,” added Golec.

With manufacturing based in Europe absoluteBLACK has full control over the entire production process. At the present time this is especially useful as it can adapt quickly to the market needs. Covid is the best example of that, with many broken supply chains with the East, the firm was able to deliver dealer orders with no major disruptions. Even pre Covid, average delivery time for orders from the East was 90 days. With European manufacturing, if stock is low, supply to dealers normally resumes inside three weeks.

“We’ve got high hopes for the future, whilst we have made great progress on biomechanical optimisation of the bicycle drivetrain, oval chainrings and low-friction lube is just the beginning of our journey. There’s some very exciting products on the way,” concluded Golec.