06 January 2009

bikefix Exclusive Review: Spot Brand chainring

Spot has long been a company synonymous with single speeding. Founded in British Columbia as a handbuilt SS-only company, Spot have since been sold, relocated to Golden Colorado and diversified into (Taiwanese-made) prêt à rouler and geared bikes. Still, single speeding remains at the core of the company's image and they still produce a range of bits to support that core.

When I decided to try running a compact road crankset on my single speed mountain bike, I needed a single speed-specific chainring that would mount to the old-school 110mm bolt circle diameter. While Vuelta have a range of CNC'd ramp-free rings, Spot's were the only rings I could find that were designed with single speeding in mind. A 34t ring was the smallest that would fit on the larger spider (for maximum stiffness) and could combine with a 19t cog to provide gearing close to the 2:1 I was used to on my 26in bike and so was ordered through my local bike shop.

Made of 7075 aluminum (harder but more brittle than 6000-series Al) and hard anodized for additional wear resistance, the Spot ring is otherwise a pretty standard chainring. There isn't anything particularly funky or cool going on, but it works. Combined with KMC's 1/8" K710SL Superlight chain and a Chris King Kog, the Spot ring has been ridden hard and put away dirty. Repeatedly.

Two years on, the Spot ring is showing some wear and should probably be replaced before too long. The teeth, while still substantial, are no longer as perfectly shaped as they once were- but have yet to slip. I can't feel any flex in this setup, but with five forged aluminum arms filling the ring almost completely, I wouldn't expect to. I feel that two-plus years is a very reasonable lifetime for a single speed drivetrain. At $37.50, the Spot Brand chainring is competitive with alternatives from FSA and Blackspire (though more than twice the price of Vuelta's USA-made "Flat" ring). Looking around for alternatives, I haven't been able to find anything more compelling, so have a replacement on order.



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