We have been riding a little over a year on our 1×11 setup with a SRAM X01 X-SYNC Chainring 32 Tooth, 94 mm BCD (Bolt Circle Diameter). From just after the first few rides on it we noticed a noise coming from the drive train. After some investigation we replaced the bottom bracket which had a very slight rolling roughness to it, just not a buttery smooth as you would like. This seemed to help resolve the noisy (especially under load) drive train. However, once some dust and dirt accumulated on the chain the noise was back. The sound got worse when it was under load, and sounded kinda like a grinding rubbing noise, almost how you would get some noise off of a front derailleur when the chain was at extreme angles, except there wasn’t anything for it to rub against.
Cleaning the chain, cassette, and chainring would tune down the noise but it was always there. We really loved the X-Sync chain design for the 1×11 setup, and have only dropped a chain 1 in around 750 miles of riding, and I blame the operator for that one. The noise had grown worse, obsessively cleaning the chain was only a band-aid to a worse problem. While the SRAM X01 chainring didn’t seem to have excessive wear, it was time to try something new.
There were many options, replace with another SRAM X01 X-Sync chain, Absolute Black Narrow WIde chainrings, Race Face Narrow Wide, Hope Narrow Wide, Oval or not? We also didn’t want to run a chain guide, so we were looking for something similar to the x-sync that had a different shaped tooth to keep the chain on. As you can see we were running an PC-XX1 chain.
Wolf Tooth Components
After much deliberation we decided that Wolftooth components Drop-stop chainrings were what we wanted next. Wolftooth a small company located in Minneapolis, Minnesota that produce high quality, lightweight components that are manufactured in the USA. We had them send us an exact match to our SRAM X01 32 tooth,, 94 mm BCD chainring to see if it was a viable replacement for the SRAM X01 X-Sync chainring we prematurely wore out. We also sent for a set of Chainring bolts in red for a little bike bling.
As expected, installation was straightforward, which is why we all love the simplicity of a 1×11 setup. Just removed the 4 bolts, and the pedal, slid off the old chainring, and put the new one back on.
New bolts were definitely needed, the old SRAM X01 Chainring had some partially welded on bolts that took some stress to loosen, and was glad to not have to re-use them. We would highly recommend ordering a set of new chainring bolts when ordering a new chainring. Some overly anal would recommend replacing the entire drive train, but our chain and cassette were in relatively good condition, and definitely had more life in them.
First ride was a huge night and day difference. The noise was gone, completely. Could crank away as hard as we wanted to without feeling like we were destroying our chain. This led to the next concern which was wear. The Wolftooth came in just a little lighter thatn the SRAM chainring.
First ride on the Wolf Tooth chain ring the noise was gone, it was exactly what we were hoping for. But then we started worrying about the life of the chainring, and would it last or would we be dealing with dropped chains? We ride mostly enduro style, with rock and the occasional jump and after about 200 miles we have not dropped a chain yet. The photos were taken just after we hit 200 miles on the new chainring and you can just start to see where the black anodizing or paint has started to wear on the chainring. With good cleaning and maintenance I don’t see an issue getting 4000 miles out of the chainring.
We have been overly pleased with the Wolftooth chainring and would recommend it for a replacement of any SRAM X-Sync chainring. Most are priced slightly under SRAM OEM replacement, ranging from about $60 to $80 USD.
You can view the entire line up of Wolf Tooth Chainrings here