WickWërks is a Utah-based company founded by Chris Wickliffe with the intention of improving the front shifting on road, mountain and cyclocross bicycles. The front derailleur has not changed much over the last 40 years, and WickWërks’ Chris Brand told Cyclocross Magazine that Wickliffe has been spent many years developing and refining a new “Paradigm Shift” front derailleur system that promises super fast, reliable shifting.
While this potentially revolutionary front derailleur has not yet made it to market as the company refines its design, an essential part of the system is already available for cyclocrossers in the form of the WickWërks ramped chainrings.
The company offers its unique, ramped chainrings for mountain bikes and road bikes, but the technology just might be perfectly suited for the dramatic and sudden terrain changes unique to cyclocross, and thus the company is focused on meeting the size and shift requirements of cyclocrossers.
What makes these rings unique? The WickWerks chainrings feature ramps at least every five teeth, as compared to standard chainrings that may have two or three shift pins per ring. These closely-spaced ramps are designed to provide near instantaneous shifting during upshifts (harder gear), especially under load. The ramps are deep enough so that they actually engage both the outer and inner links of the chain and lift it to the larger ring, unlike chainring pins which just grab the outer links. Each of these machined ramp leads to a single lower profile tooth that allows the chain to gently slide onto the ring.
Under pressure and need a lower gear in a hurry? These same low profile teeth at the end of each ramp are also designed to provide frequent opportunities for the front derailleur to push the chain down into the smaller chainring. Most standard chainrings today have these shorter teeth to aid in downshifts, but the WickWërks chainrings have a lot more than your OEM or aftermarket chainrings.
Although the company officially launched their production cyclocross rings last fall, some riders, including cyclocross star Katie Compton, have ridden custom WickWerks rings for several years (Compton has used custom four bolt WickWërks chainrings for her Zipp VumaQuad carbon crankset in the past).
We were fortunate to grab an early set of 34/44t 110mm BCD chainrings mounted on a RaceFace Cadence cyclocross crankset (the company also offers a 36/46t combination). The extensively ramped chainrings weigh 111 grams per set, and featured a ramp every four teeth on the large chainring.
Initial impressions definitely confirm faster shifting in either direction, nearly without delay for all but the slowest cadence of the biggest gear masher. Shifting has been fast and smooth, but it hasn’t been without a few hiccups in our early tests. Has WickWerks created the ultimate cyclocross chainring? Stay tuned as we put them through a full beat down for our full review, coming soon in Issue 12 in our print and digital magazine.
WickWërks cyclocross chainrings
MSRP: $129.50 per set
Options: 34/44 or 36/46, 110mm BCD
Material: CNC 7075-T6 aluminum, hard anodized
Country of Origin: USA (Colorado)
For more info: Wick Werks Website