Standards. It’s a concept that is increasingly losing its meaning when it comes to the mountain bike industry. You know what I’m talking about right? Hub widths, drivetrain spacing, bottom bracket sizes, rim diameters, tyre widths, front derailleur mounting, handlebar and stem diameters – they all seem to be up for grabs lately when it comes to creating something that’s “lighter, faster, stronger, vertically more compliant and laterally stiffer”. Though I’m not exactly sure how that relates to front derailleurs…
That said, evolving standards have always been a part of the mountain bike industry, and frustrating non-interchangeable parts are as old as the bicycle itself. Remember how many seat post diameters we used to have to deal with? And don’t get me started on how many freaking rear derailleur hangers local bike shops have to stock. Urgh. To address one of these frustrating standard shit-storms, Wolf Tooth have just announced a new modular chainring system that should help to improve compatibility. So how do they do that then?
Based out of Minnesota in the USA, Wolf Tooth Components is primarily a manufacturer of chainrings, having famously entered the market with their narrow-wide Drop Stop chainrings. They also produce elliptical chainrings, adapters for your rear derailleur to fit wide-range cassettes, and if you were following our news story earlier this week, you’ll have also seen Wolf Tooth’s first dive into the chainguide arena.
While they pretty much have a chainring to suit any crank and application out there, in Wolf Tooth’s words, they’d been noticing a significant amount of “de-standardisation” with drivetrains over the past few seasons. And what exactly are they talking about? Well, hub spacing was almost standard at 135/142mm. Then boost 148mm came along, and now Super Boost Plus 157 has also come along to the party. And all of this has occurred while we’re cramming more cogs into a wider range cassette, making chainline even more critical. Of course Fat bikes have also arrived, and they went from a 135mm offset rear end to a 170/177mm thru-axle system, then to 190/197mm. Plus they have different spindle lengths and tire clearance requirements too.
(*takes a breath*)
What about the good ol’ 104 BCD crankarm standard? It used to be the norm, but then direct mount cranksets (those that allow chainrings or spiders to be mounted directly to the arm) arrived with their promise of lighter weight and cleaner looks. The only problem here is that all of them use a different mounting interface (SRAM, Cannondale, E-Thirteen, FSA etc). So that’s a total pain in the arse too, and here lies the problem for companies making chainrings – there’s like a bazillion different options.
“When combining 4-6 mainstream direct mount crankset with different mountings, 3-4 chainline offsets per mounting, 4-5 chairing sizes sizes, elliptical and round, stainless and aluminum, and some colour options, the number of chainrings needed to meet the mainstream market, demand is several hundred”, explains Wolf Tooth Components. So, they’ve introduced CAMO™.
In a nutshell, CAMO™ is a 2-piece modular chainring system. There’s a central alloy carrier that mounts to the crankarm, and it features five arms with a bolt hole on the end of each one. Then there’s the outer chainring. In the case of Wolf Tooth, you can have the outer chainring in alloy or steel, round or elliptical, and in various tooth sizes. But each of those chainrings uses the same mounting system to bolt onto the inner carrier, so in theory, you’ll have fewer headaches when it comes to swapping cranks from one bike to another.
For bike shops, it makes things a lot easier to have the right options on hand. Wolf Tooth claim that by stocking 5 spiders and 9 chainrings, a shop or distributor can cover 85% off direct mount customer demand. So that’s a good thing.
- Price: rings starting at $44.95 USD and spiders at $27.95 USD
Aluminum round chainrings 28t-34t available now, 36t in 2-3 weeks
Aluminum elliptical chainrings 30-34t available now
Stainless round chainrings available in 2 weeks
4 offsets of SRAM direct mount compatible spiders available now covering all the different offsets: 135/142mm, Boost, BB30, and reverse dish
4 offsets of Raceface direct mount compatible spiders available now covering all the different offsets: 135/142mm, Boost, BB30, and reverse dish
Cannondale AI compatible offset available in 2 weeks, standard and other offsets this Fall
E-thrirteen, Sworks, FSA, etc all in the coming months.
The CAMO™ advantages include:
Perfect Chainline – many spider offsets so you can select the optimal chainline for reduced wear and improved shifting precision
Optimal material usage – choose aluminum for lightweight performance or stainless steel for ultimate durability. Stainless steel with Aluminum spider is 50% lighter than a solid stainless direct mount ring.
Price – best in class Drop-Stop® starting at just $45, full systems, spider+ring are within a few dollars of our one piece direct mount chainrings
Quick ring swaps – swap out a different sized ring in seconds with a T25 wrench and 5 small bolts.
Wide application coverage – round or oval, stainless steel or aluminum, and no matter the crankset or chainline needs, Wolf Tooth is the one-stop-shop for your direct mount needs.
Bling!! – we offer spider colors and bolt colors add a little flash to your sweet ride. All spiders will be shipped with matching ano bolts to black spiders will come with black bolts (pictures are with silver and red bolts), blue spiders with blue bolts, etc.
So there you have it, the new CAMO chainring system from Wolf Tooth. You dig the concept? See any advantages that aren’t listed here? If you’re looking for further information and local pricing, get in touch with www.leveretproductions.com
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“For bike shops, it makes things a lot easier to have the right options on hand. Wolf Tooth claim that by stocking 5 spiders and 9 chainrings, a shop or distributor can cover 85% off direct mount customer demand. So that’s a good thing.”
Or by making the spiders to fit existing ring patterns they could stock just 5 spiders and the rings they already stock, but hey why be sensible when you can just create something new that shops need to stock even though no-one will walk through the door looking for a direct mount ring for their obscure cranks, and if you did have it in stock then the customer would want it in the other colour WT offer. Good work WT, helping the LBS out by making more incompatible stuff.
I’m with STATO. nice way to make things even more convoluted AND negate one of the points of having a DM ring in the first place…
Why couldn’t the direct mount spider be 104 BCD?
There was nothing wrong with the old chainring standards. Wolftooth have deliberately made the CAMO standard not fit any existing chainrings so they can sell more chainrings and sell a new spider product line.
So a bit corporate nasty of them, but it is clever leveraging of their drop-stop patent.
meh, its only another ‘standard’ if other/all crank manufacturers adopt it. CAMO is only standard to other WT bits.
> Why couldn’t the direct mount spider be 104 BCD?
I thought that but I don’t think you can do 28/30t rings that fit.
Aesthetically it is less pleasing compared to DM, particularly with the bolts coming through from the back (also more annoying to get at).
Not totally convinced that this solves anything other than the question of how to get people to buy more wolftooth components.
Much as I like Wolftooth’s stuff:
I temporarily thought it was a good idea until I saw 5 bolts, so, as many have said, yet another non-standard. Grrrr