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Praxis Works Semi-compact Chainrings review

IMG_3732As part of my winter TK3 build I was asked to try out the new to the UK Praxis chainrings and I put 1,000 miles on a set during winter and early spring – more than enough to give a view on them and to gauge how well they’re wearing.

There are a few points about the Praxis rings that stood out to me from the beginning. The most significant is that they’re cold forged and this is unusual. Typically only Shimano cold forge their chainrings, most manufacturers CNC them or cut them out with a machine. Cold forging is done via pressing the rings out of a block of metal and in Praxis’s case using 1000 tonnes of pressure to forge them.

Cold forging is more expensive way of manufacturing but it gives you a harder chain ring, which means a longer lasting chain ring and if they’re designed well too from a tooth profile point of view, should also give you better shifting. The fact that Praxis rings are cold forged and a significant amount of design and testing went into the tooth patterns and shifting performances make them a very interesting product.

Another key point of interest for me was the 52/36 ratio option. I’ve found a standard 53/39 too much on the punchy local hills around where I live but I’ve also found the 50/34 of a compact not quite right either (a little like Goldilocks in the fairy tale!). 52/36 or semi-compact seemed like it could be the perfect balance so I jumped at the chance to try it. The Praxis 52/36 rings are 110BCD so they should fit most compact chainsets (apart from Campagnolo, who designed things slightly differently).

The final point before I got riding is the cost – for an upgrade of a pair of chainrings, the Praxis rings retail at £120 a pair. Considering the last time I replace a Shimano chainring it cost me £80, the £120 for a pair isn’t exorbitant by any means. If you want to move to 52/36 this might be your only way without buying a completely new crankset (as long as you’re starting from a 110BCD compact crankset) and given that the cold forging should mean they last really well too makes it an interesting option.

In the 1,000 miles I’ve put on these rings during the winter they hardly wore at all and I rode through some pretty foul weather and road conditions. They shifted incredibly well too – I have no complaints at all on the shifting. Other reviews and people I’ve spoken to about them have suggested that they shift as well as Dura Ace 7800 rings did and Praxis themselves will happily say that Shimano’s own Dura Ace cold forged chainrings are effectively the cutting edge of chain ring design and that they don’t see themselves competing with Shimano’s cutting edge cold forged rings.IMG_3713

I make this point because the real market for these rings in my view is for someone who’s bought an entry to mid level bike with perhaps non groupset cranks and is running a group set up to and including Ultegra/Force. It’s the many, many people in this category who should be looking at the Praxis rings once they either start wearing out their initial rings – or if they want to move to semi compact or are simply looking for nicer front shifting.

If this is you, I’d be very surprised if you didn’t notice a tangible difference in shifting compared to the CNC rings you have on your bike right now. Putting a set of Praxis rings on your chainset is going to give you a jump to nearly Dura Ace quality front shifting and that’s something worth pondering.

On my bike I took off a set of lightly used Ultegra 6750 rings and the shifting was as good to my mind as the Ultegra rings but with the bonus of changing to 52/36. The timbre of the shifting noise was a little different – perhaps sounding a bit lighter but the rings performed faultlessly until I kicked my front mech during a ride. It was a bit more of a battle after that – but I can hardly point the finger at Praxis for my clumsiness whilst riding.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed these rings. I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed the semi-compact ratios, they’re perfect for my riding and with an 11-28 cassette I can cope with any terrain on both good legs and bad legs days. If you’ve been paying attention you’ll notice that now on both the new Dura Ace 9000 series and Ultegra 6800 11 speed – 52/36 rings are a normal option (and one I expect to sell well).

If you’re getting to point of changing rings – definitely do consider the Praxis option – especially if you’re riding non-series cranks or think you’d benefit from the semi-compact gearing option.

You can find more information on Praxis rings here:

http://praxiscycles.com/road-cyclocross/

Thanks for reading.

Pez Cycling have posted a fantastic and in-depth review here and I strongly urge you to read it if you’re thinking of new rings…. http://pezcyclingnews.com/?pg=fullstory&id=10151