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.
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.
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.