From the steady stream of inquiries we get, the quest for lower and lower road bike gearing shows no signs of slowing.  Most of the solutions we have posted have focused on what can be done at the rear of the bike to allow use of cassettes with larger cogs. However, the Praxis Works sub compact chainrings 48/32 combination focuses on the front of the bike by allowing chainrings that are two teeth smaller than the conventional 50/34 combination to bolt onto a Praxis Works Zayente crankset.

Praxis Works Sub Compact Chainring Construction

In our experience, Praxis Works makes some of the best aftermarket chainrings. Made from cold-forged aluminum alloy, Praxis chainrings are very hard, durable and stiff.  The shifting pins and ramps on the inside of the large chaining are well designed, and shifting is smooth. The stiffness of the cold-forged large chainring is an important ingredient to its performance.

Praxis Works Sub Compact Chainrings Crank Compatibility

The Praxis Works sub compact chainring combination will fit on Praxis Works crank without modification. This is the best crank to use with the rings and the intended application. Some other standard compact cranksets with a 110mm BCD can potentially be modified to accept the rings. The Praxis Works sub compact chainrings will not fit on the latest generations of Shimano cranks, nor will they fit on any Campagnolo crankset or many by SRAM as well.  At the least, you need a crank with a “conventional” 5 arm spider on the crank that has evenly spaced arms. Even if you have this, if it isn’t a Praxis Zayante M30, it will require some custom machining to work.

Praxis Works Sub Compact Chainrings High Gear Limitations

The 32 tooth inner chainring obviously offers a lower gear than a 34 tooth chainring.  As for the large chainring, reducing the large chainring from 50 teeth to 48 teeth does sacrifice something on the top end. However, it is not enough to matter to many riders. In my case, on a long, gentle downhill slope with a tail wind I may get into my 50-11, but that doesn’t happen very often.  To put it in perspective, a 48-11 combination is a higher gear than a 50-12, and almost as high as a 52-12 combination.  52-12 was a pretty common high gear not that long ago. So, practically speaking, the Praxis Works 48/32 chainrings offer a fine gearing range for many riders.

Some ask, “Why doesn’t Praxis Works just make a 32 tooth inner chainring so that I can stay with my 50 tooth outer chainring?”  Road front derailleurs have a capacity to handle a maximum difference between the inner and outer chainrings of 16 teeth.  50-32=18. The derailleur’s function will either diminish or stop working if you exceed the capacity.

On the back end of the bike, a Shimano Ultegra GS rear derailleur is designed to have a maximum tooth capacity of a 32 tooth rear cassette cog.  Same for the SRAM Wi-Fli derailleur.  Depending on the bike, these derailleurs can sometimes be used with a 36 tooth cassette, although this is strictly on a case-by-case basis and not approved by the manufacturer.  However, with a 32 tooth chainring, you can now easily have a 1:1 gear ratio (less if your frame works with a 36 tooth cassette).  Imagine how low a gear you can get if you combine a 32T chainring with a long cage mountain bike rear derailleur, the applicable J-Tek Shiftmate and a 11-42 mountain bike cassette.  The Mad River Valley’s steepest climb (Lincoln Gap) will almost be easy! Well, maybe I shouldn’t go quite that far…

Comparing Sub Compact Chainrings to Triple Chainring Gearing

For those of you holding on to your road triple cranksets, thinking that it is the only way to get low gearing on your road bike, take heed.  A 32-42 is much lower than anything set-up within manufacturer’s recommendations with a road triple crank. In other words, if you want ultra-low gearing and smooth shifting on your road bike, it is time to ditch the triple!

Praxis Works Sub Compact Chainring Price

At the time of publication, the price for a set of Praxis Works Sub Compact 48/32 chainring set is $150.00.

Praxis Works Sub Compact Chainring Conclusions

When a client contacts us about getting lower gearing, we have a variety of alternatives that depend on their drivetrain, their bike, and how low they want to go.  While we wish there was greater compatibility with many of the most common compact cranksets on the market, the new Praxis Works sub-compact chainrings are another high quality component in the arsenal for riders looking for lower gearing. In combination with a Praxis Zayante M30 crankset, the Praxis Works sub compact chainrings enable us to offer riders  even lower gearing choices than were previously available, with minimal sacrifice at the top end.

If you need lower gearing, stop in or contact us and we can discuss your options.

About Jim

After almost thirty years as an attorney, Jim became the service manager at Fit Werx in Vermont. He held this post for almost ten years. Having retired in 2019, Jim still likes riding, working on and writing about bikes and bike equipment.


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  • Feddy

    Hi. Just want to ask, what is the best 11 speed cassette to use with praxis 48/32 chainring? Is it 11-34 or 11-40?

    • Ian

      Sorry for the delay in reply, we had a site issue and your comment just showed up. Your cassette options will be determined by your rear derailleur’s capacity and not your crankset. If you want to contact us and let us know your rear derailleur, we may be able to assist more.

  • Mark Shuba

    Am a home DIY tinkerer. I want to try a Praxis 48/32 chainring. Currently OEM, Praxis 50/34, 110 bcd. on 2014 Fuji Absolute 1.1D.

    Why? Easier gearing for climbing, as after a move, my routes are hilly and me not getting younger.

    This feasible? Radically expensive? Too many changes?


    • Ian

      If you have a Praxis 110 BCD crankset you can just get Praxis 48/32 chainrings and it will work. The 32T will not fit on non-Praxis cranks though, so making sure it is compatible with your crank is key.

      • Sunder

        My 2010 Specialized Tarmac Pro has a 50/34 S-Works 5 bolt crankset that I am trying to change to a 48/32. My LBS said the only way to make that work is with the Praxis subcompact but with an alloy spider that Specialized no longer makes (part # S181600001, used on S-Works road bikes between 09-18) along with special bolts (part# S170500003). I’ve been on the hunt online but have had little luck so far in my search for the spider but did find the bolts. Hoping someone on this thread might suggest a lead. Thanks.

  • Mauri Galvez

    Di2 front mech handled the 18-tooth jump fine. Currently using Praxis 52/34 on my S-Works Tarmac. Getting older and live on Maui where it’s constant climbing, would like to go 50/32. Are these 110bcd, and fit my S-Works cranks?

    • Ian

      Sometimes you never know what will work well until you try. Glad to hear your 18 tooth jump is being managed well by your Di2.

      While the chainrings are 110 BCD, they only work on cranks specifically designed to handle a 32 tooth ring. The material around the holes on most cranks will get in the way of the chain with a 32T ring and it will not work. I don’t have specific information on the S-Works cranks. This being said, the only cranks we’ve consistently had success mounting the 32T rings have sub-compact specific compatibility in their design – like Praxis cranks.

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