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AbsoluteBlack Premium Sub-Compact Oval 110/4 chainrings



A welcome addition to lower gearing ratios for road and gravel for those who are fans of oval chainrings
Crisp shifting
Lower ratios for climbing without sacrificing too much top-end speed
They don't work with bolt covers to provide a smooth transition between rings and crank

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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We've seen various brands delivering smaller chainrings on their gravel groupsets and now absoluteBlack has brought non-round options to the marketplace with its Premium Sub-Compact Oval 110/4 chainrings in 46/30 and 48/32-tooth combinations. They are top notch when it comes to build quality and also for the performance of the shifting from small to large and back again.

As the gravel/adventure bike scene has increased in popularity, one of the most hotly contested topics is what gearing ratios are most suitable. A compact road chainset (50/34T) is considered too big by some, and with few other options available until now, many brands and riders have gone down the single chainring route.

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I prefer a double chainset, and a close-ratio cassette paired to it, so I'm glad to see many brands, including Shimano, offering much smaller chainring pairings. Taking things even further, though, absoluteBlack's new 46/30 and 48/32-tooth rings (we have the latter on test) also bring the benefits of being oval.

Absolute Black Premium Sub-Compact Oval 110-4 chainrings 1.jpg

I've used oval chainrings many times over the years, most noticeably when I was time-trialling. If you haven't come across them before, the theory is that the rings are smaller in diameter at the point where your legs are going through the 'dead spot', the in-between bit where you go from pushing to pulling on the pedals. In the part of the rotation where you are putting the most power into the pedals, the chainring behaves like one of a bigger diameter, one with more teeth if you like. This means that you can get the power down where you are most efficient and have a slightly easier time of it through the zones where you aren't – TDC (top dead centre), for instance, as you pass through the highest/lowest point of the pedalling circle.

To get this ovality in the best position, absoluteBlack has positioned the point that you'll be using the larger part of the ring at 108 degrees (32T) and 110.5 degrees (48T) after TDC.

Absolute Black Premium Sub-Compact Oval 110-4 chainrings 6.jpg

I found the whole motion very smooth and natural, especially when climbing, and particularly on long, draggy climbs on gravel tracks. They'll work well for days in the mountains or loaded audax riding too.

In terms of compatibility, you have plenty of options, including Shimano, FSA, Praxis Alba and Zayante, S-Works and some SRAM chainsets.

This setup I used is for the latest Ultegra chainset. I swapped the rings out for the standard ones that had only covered about 500 miles, so brand new really. After a little tweak of the front mech height everything was ready to go.

Absolute Black Premium Sub-Compact Oval 110-4 chainrings 3.jpg

I was really impressed to find that the shifting between the absoluteBlack rings was barely indistinguishable from Shimano's offerings, no matter where in the pedalling rotation I was.

The only slight negative is that because of the way these rings fit to the crank, you can't add any cosmetic bolt covers like you can with many aftermarket rings. This means the overall look of the chainset and rings isn't as aesthetically pleasing as with the standard Ultegra rings.

> How to get ultra-low gearing for your gravel bike adventures

I covered about 400 miles on these rings during the test period, so it is still very early days, but durability looks good. The anodising has barely a mark on it, so I don't see the 7075 series aluminium wearing out any quicker than on other chainrings.

The CNC (computer numerical controlled) machining detailing on both the front and rear of the large chainring not only looks cool, it also reduces a bit of weight. The 48T ring comes in at 110g, while the 32T is 30g, plus another 7.3g for the specific bolts.

Absolute Black Premium Sub-Compact Oval 110-4 chainrings 5.jpg

Compatibility-wise, this is the only combination you can use – 46/30 or 48/32 – so although you purchase them separately you are looking at £175.98 for the pair including bolts.

Not cheap, but comparable to the Specialites TA Ovalution 4 Arm chainrings Liam recently tested at £173.96. That does include the bolt covers, though, and a braze-on mech adaptor that was needed.


Aesthetics aside, I really like the absoluteBlack chainrings – the shifting is really good, and the benefits of the lower gearing and smooth pedalling style they produce works really well on gravel. It's an investment, but one that is worthwhile.


A welcome addition to lower gearing ratios for road and gravel for those who are fans of oval chainrings

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Make and model: Absolute Black Premium Sub-Compact Oval 110/4 chainrings

Size tested: 48-tooth, 32-tooth

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?

absoluteBLACK says, "absoluteBLACK Premium Road / Gravel 110/4 oval chainrings in Sub-compact (super compact) sizes to improve your climbing and cadence. Increased Cadence is key to reducing perceived effort . With 48/32T and 46/30T crankset chainrings you can ride anywhere and climb anything. Alpine climbs will never be that difficult anymore. These special super compact chainrings are designed for Shimano 110/4bcd cranks making absoluteBLACK the only company on the market offering such sizes. 30 and 32T chainrings allow you to climb on your own terms with improved cadence and efficiency. It is the most Premium oval chainring on the market with scientifically proven performance gains.'

They are top quality replacement chainrings which deliver quality shifting and better low-end ratios for gravel and road riding.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?


30T/46T or 32T/48T


Black, Grey, Champagne (inner ring in black only)


Shimano Dura-Ace 9100, R9120, R9150 & R9170 Di2, Ultegra 8000, R8020, R8050 & 8070 Di2., 105 R7000, R7020, R7070, Dura-Ace 9000 & Di2, Ultegra 6800 & Di2, Shimano 105 5800 , Tiagra 4700* (*requires modification -contact us); 10 / 11 / 12spd compatible.


Special bolts are included with 30T (2xM5 TI / 2xM7 AL)

Special bolts are included with 32T (4xM7 AL)

Material & Finish

cnc machined 7075 Txxx Aluminum. Long-lasting construction. Type II anodizing


Optimized to each size separately. 30T- 9% ; 32T - 8% ; 46/48T - 10-11.2% ; Timing of 108 -110.5° after TDC (top dead center) - Ideal for climbing. Patent Pending

Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:
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Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
Rate the product for value:

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Gear shifting is just as good as the Ultegra rings they replaced, and the lower ratios help when climbing.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Quality gear shifts.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

They don't offer the same smooth looks of an Ultegra crankset and rings.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on

For two rings they are very similar in price to the TA options we recently tested, mentioned in the review. If it's just smaller ring sizes that you are after, it might be cheaper to upgrade the whole chainset to something like the Praxis Alba though.

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

Really good quality and hardwearing chainrings that deliver on shifting performance and give a good spread of ratios.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 41  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

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,

As part of the Tech Hub here at F-At Digital, our senior product reviewer Stu uses the knowledge gained from putting well over a 1,000 products through their paces (including hundreds of bikes) to write in-depth reviews of a huge range of kit. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 160,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. Although, as he spends a fair bit of his time reviewing ebikes these days he's becoming an expert in letting the motor take the strain. He's also waiting for 23mm race tyres to make a comeback!

Add new comment


IanEdward | 3 years ago
1 like

Kudos to AbsoluteBlack for responding to comments!

Can you advise when you might have rings compatible with GRX chainsets? I'm thinking also about the GRX front mech which won't accommodate the 2.5mm adjustment inboard (which is a shame, my setup could definitely use the improved chainline!).

How are the rings compatible with Praxis Zayante? I was looking at these cranks as a future upgrade to my road bike but didn't think I could fit AB rings, do you need a new direct mount spider also?


Avatar replied to IanEdward | 3 years ago

Hi Ian,

GRX is coming soon:)

If you are asking about zayante that has 110/5bcd then yes it will fit as we do 110/5 version as well, but only in 48/32T. Nothing smaller with fit on 110/5 unfortunately even with our clever solution. But same offset applies as with 110/4


gary p | 3 years ago

Surprised you didn't mention how these push the chainline inwards 2.5mm.  On many applicaitons, this won't matter.  On some, however, that could be a problem.  

Avatar replied to gary p | 3 years ago

Hi Gary,

Chainline changes indeed by this small distance to the inwards as our proprietary solution requires it. But this is the only way to fit sub-compacts on the 110/4 Shimano cranks. 

If the rings will run too close to chainstay we actually have special spacers that you can place on the drive side on the axle and it solves the problem. But from our experience over the last few years only handful of frames required it. 

2.5mm smaller chainline is actually more beneficail than the reular one because chain runs more straigh  to the cassette on the gears you mostly use. That is small ring and big cogs on the back, and big ring and 3/4 of the top end of the cassette. 


skroid101 replied to | 3 years ago

Hi there! I have this exact problem, my chainrings are sat in a box instead of being mounted to my bike because of chainstay clearance. Where can I order these spacers from?

Avatar replied to skroid101 | 3 years ago
1 like

Hey, please contact us through the website and we will help you out. 

dave_t | 3 years ago
1 like

Re the comment about the bolt covers, you can buy bolts that somewhat replicate the look of the original crankset, just look on the Absoluteblack website, you don't have to put up with the cut off spider legs look!

Avatar replied to dave_t | 3 years ago
1 like

Unfortunately you cant. We offer our bolt covers for all our rod chainirngs except the sub-compact rings. This is because such small chainrigns like 30-32T require really elaborate engeneerign to put it on the 110bcd circumference. Because of that the botls are mounted from the front. Not like with al other rings where botls come from the back. So we cant put the bolt covers from the front as bolts go on the same side. 

But in all fairness if you get the chainring of the same color as crank it's not really that visibleonce on the bike. 


Mathemagician replied to dave_t | 3 years ago
dave_t wrote:

Re the comment about the bolt covers, you can buy bolts that somewhat replicate the look of the original crankset, just look on the Absoluteblack website, you don't have to put up with the cut off spider legs look!

Those bolt covers don't work on the subcompact cranks, they're for 50/34 and above. 

dave_t replied to Mathemagician | 3 years ago

Thanks for correcting my post, I assumed the caps fitted all the crank sets.

maviczap | 3 years ago
1 like

I used the 46/30 combination last year in the Pyrenees, the shifting was super crisp from big to little and vice versa, although most of the time I was in the little ring  1
Saved using a triple set up and the rings look superb.
I didn't need a Shimano chain, it worked fine with an FSA chain I had

Welsh boy | 3 years ago
1 like

I didn't think that is was possible to make a Shimano chainset look worse but I was wrong!  At least the Shimano rings look like they were designed for the crank, come on guys, make the ring look like it was designed to fit the spider

pockstone | 3 years ago

I came very close to buying some of these last year but the requirement to use only Dura-ace chains made them too pricey compared to an FSA or Miche 46/30 chainset. It may be an over cautious recommendation, but who wants to risk their warranty? The chain in the photos doesn't look as new as the it Dura-ace? and if not,did it affect the running?

I also dont recall any mention of compatibility with FSA chainsets either. Has this changed? The link to supplier only mentions compatibility with Shimano.

I'm curious as to why the orientation of ovality differs with ring size.

Not too bothered by the cut-off spider look, but that machining must be a proper mud magnet.

Avatar replied to pockstone | 3 years ago

Hi Pockstone,

You can safely use Ultegra chains as well. Reason we wrote DA only is they tend to have less play on the rollers (and there is not much space on the small ring to the tabs).  But since we have those rings on offer for a longer while now and tens of thousands of riders using all sorts of chains with them I can tell you that is't perfectly ok to use Ultegra or higher end Sram chain with no issue.  

Chainrings are compatible with 110/4 Shimano bcd pattern. 

Regards the cleanliness.Have a look at our instagram account as there are pleanty of photos of the rings from users all over the Globe using them in all possible conditions. So you can see how they will look like when used. They dont get dirty in a way the machining would suggest.  Our anodizing is very slick so even if you get mud on them it's easy to clen.

hope this helps. 

pockstone replied to | 3 years ago
0 likes wrote:

Hi Pockstone,...

hope this helps. 

Thanks for reply, I do take manufacturers strictures about e.g.derailleur/cassette compatability with a pinch of salt (to the point of ignoring them sometimes) but I can imagine how tight the tolerance must be to get a 30t ring on a 110bcd chainset.

Glad to hear your nice looking kit keeps its looks after a bit of use.

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