Frustrated with the chain ring and front derailleur interface on his mountain bike, Chris Wickliffe founder of Wick Wërks, decided it was time for a change. He decided to build his own. To do so, Chris went back to the basics, he analyzed the current system and asked himself how the shifting process could be improved. The years of R&D and various prototypes that followed have resulted in more than a few minor changes to the chain ring and derailleur, taking it’s performance to a new level. His goal was to create a system that moved the chain smoothly from one chain ring to another producing minimal contact (drag) with the derailleur. What has emerged is a company with a promising future of out-of-the box ideas. Chris took each prototype, beginning in 2001, to the cycling gurus at Interbike Las Vegas and absorbed the feedback, each time improving his product.
A typical shift from the small to large chain ring begins with the derailleur moving the chain laterally. One of the three or four metal pins on the large chain ring then guides the chain onto the corresponding shallow ramp until the chain settles on the teeth. Anyone who’s tried to make the shift under load has undoubtedly been the victim at some point of a chain wrap and a grinding halt. Soft pedaling, babying the shift and a few farm swears seem to be some of the favorite techniques used by cyclists waiting for a pin to make it’s way around.
In contrast, the standard chain ring (53t) we reviewed from Wick Wërks replaced the usual three or four pins with ten prominent ramps. The ramps guide the chain onto gradually profiled teeth and into place. What does this mean for cyclists? Multiple ramps makes shifting under load smooth and fast. With no hesitation, or curse words necessary, changing gears is seamless. For triathletes, every second counts. Let’s be honest, we spend money and time trying to shave tenths of a second from race day.
What We Liked
Faster, smoother shifting means less hesitation and a better biking experience. Upon noticing the difference with my LOOK 576 TT bike on the flats, I immediately began craving a steep canyon ride and was not disappointed. Shifting under load took some getting used to, but upon reaching the top an hour later I realized that I had completely forgotten about shifting all together. A testament to an efficient product. I found them most useful in a time trial situation on my TT bike and for steep climbs on my road bike. Fit and finish on the chain rings are well done. They’re made out of very light, military grade anodized aluminum. The Standard set weighs in at a mere 148g per set (53/39). Professional mountain biker, Andy Schultz, had this to say about the Wick Wërks chain ring, “ I found it that if I shift hard and fast I get a guaranteed good shift with your system. After discovering this, I haven’t missed a shift since.”
National Cyclocross Champion, Katie Compton is also a big fan as well as the entire Kenda Professional Mountain Biking Team. Chris is quickly winning fans as word about his products is spreading in the cycling community.
What We Didn’t Like
Wick Wërks Road Chain Rings come in Compact BCD 110mm, Double BCD 130mm and Triple BCD 130mm. They also offer a Mountain XC Compact BCD 104/64mm and the very popular Cyclo Cross BCD 110mm. They also have a line of cranks if you’d rather purchase the entire crankset at once. Prices start at $129.50 for a set of Road Compact chain rings.
The Final Say
Would I recommend this product to a friend? The answer is yes. Would I recommend them to an acquaintance? The answer is no. I would prefer to leave even the nicest acquaintance at the mouth of South Fork Canyon while they pause to baby their shift for the umpteenth time. I will, however, spill the secret once we get to the top and after they have acknowledged my climbing greatness. This is a quality product from an innovative up-and-coming company. I anticipate more ideas coming from Chris’ direction in the future.