A company founder/engineer told us that chains drop less with a Wolf Tooth setup than with a standard three-ring system. This checks out so far. I did not drop the chain a single time during training or racing, including hundreds of miles of riding over the summer.
It all sounds great, I know. But what about the loss of the gear range? I was able to spin out a 32-tooth Wolf Tooth chainring on gravel roads and even downhills on the trails (but loved it on our favorite technical and punchy singletrack).
Because I was spinning out sometimes with the 32T ring, I threw a 36-tooth ring on after a few weeks. The 36T ring (with a 10 speed, 12×36 cassette) has been a great setup.
To be sure, the 36T setup will send your heart rate through the roof on a long steep climb. But since putting it on I have never looked back. Unless I’m riding the Breck Epic or another endurance mountain event, I have all of the gears I need now.
The Wolf Tooth guys can walk you through a gearing chart if you want to geek out on gear ratios relative to your 26, 27.5 or 29 inch wheels — all three of the Wolf Tooth founders are mechanical engineers.
The elegant simplicity of the 1X setup is too good to want to go back to putting on our extra hardware. Go with the 32T option if you have average fitness or often ride long climbs, and up to the 36T ring if you are strong enough to push a large gear up hills.
When it works this well, simple is better. It’s cheaper, faster, and with little compromise. Wolf Tooth is onto something here, and I’m stoked to have a quality product made in Minnesota on our bikes that gives us a weight and reliability advantage on training days or during a race.
—Thomas Puzak is a contributing editor and an athlete on Team GearJunkie/WEDALI.