by Marc Basiliere
January 7, 2014
Agreements signed to spread X-Glide Technology
With the rapid proliferation of aftermarket narrow/wide and thick/thin chainrings – inspired by their use in SRAM’s XX1 and XO1 1×11 drivetrains – it comes as little surprise that the company has decided to license their X-Glide patents to other manufacturers. It has long been SRAM’s position that – given the time and effort invested in making X-Glide work as well as it does – as soon as the applied-for patents were granted the company would make moves to enforce them.
With quiet talk about prior art, some smaller brands have adapted what they claim is existing technology to meet the demand for secure single-chainring drivetrains. Like SRAM’s X-Sync models, these ‘rings work with clutch-type derailleurs to allow for chainguide-free single ring setups: be they 1×10 with Shimano or SRAM cassettes and clutch-type mechs or 1×11 with wide range SRAM XX1 or X01 cassettes and mechs.
Should SRAM’s patents be granted, a licensing agreement would likely be preferable to the uncertainty and costs of patent litigation. By signing with Chromag and Accel (to start), the company has indicated their willingness to work with alternative chainring manufacturers- and might even improve those companies’ products in the process. It’s interesting to note that the first two licensees are also (if not primarily) bike brands, suggesting that SRAM might be less-than-enthusiastic about OEM’s specifying incomplete XX1 and X01 drivetrains. Read SRAM’s full statement below:
Since its successful and celebrated introduction 2 years ago, SRAM’s popular single-ring 1X™ Drivetrains featuring X-SYNC chainrings continue to gain popularity. In an effort to provide consumers more choice – SRAM has licensed this valuable, precision-based technology to two industry partners.
This December we formally signed two license agreements for the technology, one with Canadian-based Chromag, the other with the Accell Group. Both of these top-tier industry suppliers will be manufacturing their own versions of SRAM’s X-SYNC rings, to be distributed through their own networks. Both suppliers will continue to use and support all SRAM 1X™ Drivetrain components in addition to this license.
This narrow-wide design (also referred to as thick-thin) is an original SRAM technology, designed and engineered to be paired with matching SRAM components to ensure proper function. Imitation rings not manufactured to proper SRAM specifications may result in rapid wear and poor mud clearance, both of which may result in dropped chains.
SRAM has filed numerous patent applications on narrow-wide / thick-thin tooth geometry. Our German engineering teams invented narrow-wide / thick-thin chain retention for bicycles and we continue to improve on it. We strongly believe consumers deserve both choice and design integrity in the products they purchase. SRAM reserves the right to enforce its intellectual property in all matters relating to X-SYNC.
About Accell: Accell Group N.V. (“Accell Group”) focuses internationally on the mid-range and higher segments of the market for bicycles, bicycle parts and accessories and fitness equipment. Accell has leading positions in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy, France, Finland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. Accell Group’s best known brands are Batavus (NL), Sparta (NL), Loekie (NL), Ghost (DE), Haibike (DE), Hercules (DE), Winora (DE), Raleigh and Diamondback (UK, US, CA), Lapierre (FR), Tunturi (FI), Atala (IT), Redline (US) and XLC (international). For more information visit: http://www.accell-group.com/uk/accell-group.asp
About Chromag Bikes: Chromag is a manufacturer of high end machined bicycle components based in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. In addition to a full range of quality components, Chromag also manufactures an extensive line of steel hardtails. Being a smaller company gives Chromag the ability to move quickly and bring the most relevant components to market with a heightened sense of detail and creativity. For more information visit: http://www.chromagbikes.com
SRAM X-SYNC 1X™ Chainrings provide the highest level of chain management, performance and durability. SRAM’s X-SYNC tall rectangular tooth edges engage the chain earlier than traditional triangular-shaped teeth. The sharp and narrow tooth profiles, as well as rounded chamfers, help manage a deflecting chain. To provide the best possible performance in muddy conditions, the X-SYNC chainring provides mud-clearing recesses for the chain links and rollers. Designed in Germany, X-SYNC rings are an integral part of the SRAM 1X™ drivetrain.