Praxis Works chainrings, a tidy upgrade

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I’m not even going to try to write 1000 words. So, just to say I have new chainrings from Praxis. These are the CX version but don’t worry, Praxis do something for everyone. So if you want a nicer crank, depending on what’s on there, these might be a good upgrade for you. Back to the product in a moment, but first the why.

I am power, it seems. So, trackstanding at roundabout a week or so ago and pulling off in too high a gear I appear to have bent my existing FSA chainrings. A fault? Bendy chainrings? Something stuck? Don’t know. Never had it happen before but, I have to say, I did find that when really stomping down on the pedals there was a bit of rubbing on the front mech so when I did manage to bend them and I mean really bend them (practically a 1/4 of the chainring was about 2-3mm out) I took the opportunity to source a replacement. Not awfully difficult. Find your BCD (bolt circle diameter, 110 in my case) find a 5 bolt then make your choice. I could have just bought an outer ring, that was all that was bent. I could have paid £20 but I couldn’t shake the feeling that anything that looked insubstantial would be insubstantial. So I did this instead.

Praxis make the stuff you need. From chainrings to cranks, a few cassettes and now some wheels. Of course, what they are really famous for is their bottom brackets and in particular the one that lets you convert (properly convert) a BB30 bottom bracket into something a bit more reliable. All three of my bikes have BB30 so I might be calling on that product in due course. As well as being the Klingon moon Praxis is  is the process by which a theory, lesson, or skill is enacted, embodied, or realised. So in their case that means making the best product of its type.

That doesn’t come cheap. The RRP for these chainrings is £120. Yep, £120 for two pieces of serrated metal. That’s a bit more than just buying a new chainset such as a SRAM Rival or Force. I didn’t do that for two reasons. The first is aesthetic, you can’t mix SRAM and Shimano. The second is more important. The Cannondale SI chainset is bloody lovely. It’s super stiff (unlike the rings attached to it) and very light indeed. It’s hard to do better than it. It’s also a bugger to take off without the right tools so I didn’t.

Installation of new chainrings is a piece of cake. Some guides say to take the chainset off the bikes. That’s ridiculous. You don’t even need to remove your chain, though that does make it a bit easier. Off come the bolts, on go the rings, and the bolts reattach. Cannondale have used chainring bolts with hex holes either side so simple allen keys do the job without needing a chainring bolt tool (effectively a slotted tool). There’s a guide if you really need it.

The rings are cold forged and made from 7075 T6 aluminium. You can read about the process here. Praxis claim that they’re stronger and tougher and better with chain forces. They are certainly noticeable robust. I actually like the industrial aesthetics of them and they look tough. The Levatime refers to Praxis’ desire for the ultimate shifting performance. Put simply most of that “one shot” forging takes care of the structure of the ring, the tooth profile and the ramping. There need for any subsequent machining is much reduced. The theory is that the ring is strong and will shift at least as good as what you took off (assuming what you took off is high level) or better that what was there before. If you’re taking off Dura Ace or Red, expect these to be as good. If you’re taking off a more reasonably priced set of rings expect the performance to be better. So there’s not going to be a eureka moment in some cases but in others you will be pleasantly surprised.

Much will also depend on what’s already on there. I’ve no doubt these would make my CAADX FSA Gossamer a bit better but that’s not the world’s greatest crankset. But the Cannondale SI is a great base on which to build and upgrading the rings that are on there is a bit of a no brainer. And in the absence of a proper supply of Cannondale spiderings it’s a really good choice indeed.

In use these have been spot on. Not only are they noticeably stiffer than what came off but the shifting quality is superb. That’s testament to the tooth profile and shift ramp. There’s no fuss or drama, they just get on with it. They are better than what was there before, even when those rings were not bent. Being all black the teeth will eventually turn a different colour to the rest of the rings but, hey, that’s always the case. In terms of longevity they look robust so should stand up to a season of CX abuse (which will yet again include the odd bit of beach racing). I’ll report back in due course.

Are they good value? Well, that depends. They’re certainly not cheap but the drive train is one of the more important bits and good shifting is of paramount performance in my view. Depending on what you’ve got or what you’ve worn out these are a really good option.

So, the Supersix gets them next when I decide whether to go compact or not. And the road version are really bloody gorgeous.

(945 words. See, I can do it)

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