The theory behind the Q-Rings shape is simple, they reduce the time a cyclist’s leg spends in the dead spot and increases the leverage produced while traveling threw the power zone.
Scientific data backs up the theory, as extensive testing by Spain’s University of Valladolid determined Q-Rings support lower heart rates and decreased bloodstream lactate for an overall power increase of 4.1%.
What this elliptical shape means from a mechanical perspective is a 53 tooth Q-Ring equals 56 teeth in the power zone and 50.9 teeth in the dead spot. A 40 tooth Q-Ring equals 42.2 teeth in the power zone and 38.4 teeth in the dead spot. Plus, a role out test determined Q-Rings supply the same gear in inches as a round 53-39 set.
Another interesting feature are the ring’s multiple bolting holes that allow users to change the placement of the power zone to best suite their riding style. Personally, I was quite content with Rotor Cranks recommend setting.
(Note: for those that remember Shimano’s ill fated Bio-Pace rings, know that Bio-Pace emphasized the dead spot. Q-Rings do the exact opposite.)
My first exposure to these egg shaped blades came during last summer’s Interbike trade show where I spent three minutes spinning on a stationary Q-Ring equipped bike. A short spin on round chainrings followed.
Even after such a brief introduction, it was easy to feel that power production was substantially different with the Q-Rings, and needless to say, I had to ride a pair on the road. The generous folks at Rotor Cranks helped out, and as soon as I had the rings bolted onto my personal bike, the fun began.
Adaptation on the flats was a snap, and after about thirty minutes of easy riding, my legs felt as if I had been on Q-Rings for years. Shifting into the big ring came next, and the initial sensation was that of being able to apply a more forceful, full body connection into the crank arm while not bogging down or loosing momentum when negotiating the dead spot.
Climbing was another story, as the Q-Rings increased power zone leverage taxed my quads in a way that caused post ride muscle soreness. After a few weeks and a handful of mountain rides west of Boulder CO, all soreness disappeared.
Interestingly, the easiest way for me to feel change from the Q-Rings was when engaged in any out of the saddle effort, especially when climbing. It was almost as if the bike was accelerating with every pedal stroke.
With eight weeks of exclusive Q-Rings use under my wheels, I can honestly say I am going faster without an increase in perceived effort, as I’ve added about ten watts to my average when on a two-hour flat ride, and at times, climbing actually feels easier.
The only downside I experienced while using the Q-Rings was some finicky shifting when going from the small to large ring, but once the teeth of the Q-Rings and my chain broke in together, miss-shifting presented much less of a problem.
Compatibly: Campagnolo, Shimano, compact doubles, cycle-cross, mountain bike triples.
Retail: $200, (53-40 tooth set)