The Specialites TA X110 4 arm 11x chainrings are a decent upgrade or replacement for your standard Shimano offerings and provide similar quality shifting across the inner and outer rings. Wear rates look to be pretty impressive too.
These TA chainrings are designed to work with Shimano's 11-speed four-arm cranksets with a PCD (Pitch Circle Diameter) of 110mm, so that covers the last two versions of 105, Ultegra and Dura-Ace.
Made from 7075-T6 hardened aluminium alloy, they are still looking pretty good after about 1,000 miles of testing in all sorts of weather. The coating has worn on the teeth but that's normal, and the teeth all look to be the same shape as they were when they were first fitted. I'll leave them fitted to bikes over the winter, though, to get a real feel for how well they stand up to abuse.
The 52/36 inner and outer chainrings been fitted to various bikes over the last few months on both 105 R7000 and Ultegra R8000 cranksets, and the gear changes have matched that of the standard Shimano offerings.
The TAs don't have as many ramps and tooth profiles that Shimano incorporates, but it doesn't seem to affect the shift even when under load, like dropping from the big chainring to the small on a steep hill while out of the saddle.
Shimano, like most brands, offers its chainsets in the usual setups of 50/34, 52/36 and 53/39, so the X110s enable some customisation thanks to a decent spread of options.
The outers are available in 48, 49, 50, 51, 52 and 53t, and the inners in 33, 34, 36, 38, 39 and 42t. TA recommends that you keep a difference of between 12 and 16 teeth for the rings for the best shifting.
What with gravel/adventure riding becoming more common, it would be nice to see the rings available in smaller sizes, as some people might find 48/33 too large for riding off-road.
I'd also like to see a pin on the outer to stop an unshipped chain getting jammed between the ring and the crank.
Chainrings tend to last quite a few thousand miles, depending on your maintenance routines and the type of conditions you ride in, but if and when they do wear out the cost of getting Shimano replacements has made changing the whole chainset a more viable option.
A quick look on the usual internet shops shows that you can pick up a brand new Ultegra R8000 outer chainring for about £100 (an rrp of £130ish) and if you are going to replace the outer you'll be replacing the inner too at £25. You can get a shiny new chainset for just £150.
In a like-for-like setup, the 52/36 TA chainrings here work out a bit cheaper than the Ultegra options, even at full rrp.
The 52t is priced at £63.99 and the 36t is £34.99, so £98.98 in total. But if you want to maintain that smooth look of the rings blending into the cranks you will also need to allow for a set of bolt covers, another £22.99 for R8000 ones.
Overall, if you want to customise your ring sizes than the X110s make sense. They match the excellent shifting of Ultegra and look to be wearing well, but as direct replacements they don't offer a huge saving on price.
Great shifting quality and plenty of size options, and comparable on price to those they are replacing
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialites TA X110 4 Arm 11x Chainrings
Size tested: 52/36 tooth (126g outer, 39g inner)
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Specialites TA says, "Manufactured 100% CNC 7075T6 aluminum alloy aerospace, our rings will be light, rigid with optimal durability.
"Our wide choice of teeth will allow you to adapt your transmission to your performance."
Well made and they offer plenty of size options.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Material: 7075 T6 Aluminium,
Unique PCD: 110mm 4 arms.
Outer : 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53 teeth.
Inner : 33, 34, 36, 38, 39, 42 teeth.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They offer the same shifting quality as Ultegra, which is impressive.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Very good shifting across the rings.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
No chain drop pin on the outer.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The rings are intended to replace Shimano 105 through to Dura-Ace and comparing them to the middle option Ultegra they are reasonably competitively priced, although you do have to factor in the bolt covers on top.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The X110s replicate the great shifting of Shimano's Ultegra and seem to be just as hard wearing. The come out a little cheaper too.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!