Narrow/wide chainrings rule. Pioneered by SRAM just a few years ago, competition over this component has lead to better prices and new ideas. Dropped chains still occur, however, which is why Kore decided to take a another look at the design. Today they're pleased to introduce their take on the narrow/wide chainring and a cassette adapter that adds loads of gear range to a standard cassette.

What makes the ring special? Aside from coming at a great price in a several colors, Kore designed their patent pending Stonghold narrow/wide ring to prevent vertical chain derailment by machining small bumps at the ends of select teeth to help keep the chain locked in place. The chain releases as the tooth rotates out of each link.

Kore Stronghold Narrow Wide Chainring Highlights

  • Available in 30/32/34/36 tooth sizes
  • 9, 10, or 11 speed with 104 BCD cranks
  • Uses narrow/wide profile plus extra retention thanks to a slight bevel on the teeth (patent pending)
  • No chainguide needed

  • Comparable durability to others on market (claimed)
  • Available in Blue, Green, Purple, Orange, Red, Silver, and Black colors
  • MSRP $56.99 - 32/34T // $61.99 - 30/36T

In person, Kore shows off the ring's capabilities by having people pull on string attached to a section of chain that rests on the chainring. You can't pull it off. It's a neat trick, but as Vital readers showed other designs can achieve the same result. Gimmick aside, does the chain stay on while riding? That's what really matters. Curious to see how it performs in the real world, we handed the chainring off to Cory Tepper, one of our more demanding test riders for a go. What follows are his riding impressions.

Initial Impressions

For the last few years, everybody has been taking off their chainguides and installing narrow/wide rings in their place. Heck, even the heavy hitters are trusting this newer concept. When I worked in a shop I sold similar rings like dollar beers, and yet never could do the swap myself. First off it looks ridiculous - just a chain and ring - so naked. Single speed setups are the only place where this is acceptable. Second, I didn't believe it would actually keep a chain on, I just didn’t. I figured it would require at least a top guide, which would aid in the aesthetics department as well. Third, I had a setup that was working just fine, which included a 34 tooth Zee ring on Zee cranks and an MRP guide (basically the heaviest trail bike setup EVER).

But then a couple of things happened. I started an office job that entailed sitting most of the day, and with that new job I started driving to work more often. So I got weaker, softer, and lazier. The only solution was to step down to a 32 tooth ring, right? It allowed me to be lazy and still sort of do some climbs. Then I decided that if I was going to switch rings I might as well sip some of this narrow-wide KoolAid. Can they really be that good? I also dropped the chainguide and some precious grams off my bike too, because its way easier to shave bike weight than it is body weight.

Most chainring reviews are full of all kinds of technical data, CAD drawings, friction coefficients, and marketing based acronyms. I will keep it simple. I run a 10-speed setup with a clutched derailleur and never dropped a chain. The ring bolted right up and did as it was intended to without incident. That's without a guide through some of the Northwest’s most popular and fast trails. I also never had any chain suck or slipping issues despite throwing this new ring into a very worn, very tired drivetrain. The added benefit of less friction from dropping the guide was a plus as well, as it makes a difference in pedaling effort.

So, are they that good? Yeah, I'd say so. Kore's new Stronghold narrow/wide ring performs well and I have yet to drop a chain. It proved this die-hard chainguide fan wrong and made pedaling a tad easier in the process.


Kore is also making Mega Range 40 and 42 tooth cassette adapters to pair with the chainring. They're color matched, look real pretty, come at a better price than most, and add additional gear range to your existing 11-36 tooth cassette for those that need it.

Kore Mega Range Sprocket Highlights

Visit www.kore-usa.com for more details, or visit booth #800 at the Sea Otter Classic to check out the goods in person.

Related:
Create New Tag

bturman 4/13/2015 7:54 PM

5 comments newest first

How many miles do you have on that ring?

It may be that most chainring reviews are "full of all kinds of technical data, CAD drawings, friction coefficients, etc." but reviews should have some kind of qualifying information like that, not simply be "it worked, it's great."

Having pretty extensively tested N/W rings over the last year or so, I can tell you they all seems sensitive to wear to varying degrees. Pretty much any of them will work flawlessly at first - thus the reason you might see a sponsored athlete able to tackle a few runs down Rampage guideless. However, it's rare you'll any elite racers go without a guide in competition - even those with full factory support.

I mean, I'll happily sell anyone a chain-retaining style ring, and for some people that performance is good enough. But, it's about time an MTB site did a real test of these products' performance and durability. I think you'll find their (rings only) long-term performance still falls short of a really basic upper-only chainguide - a product that's cheap, doesn't really "wear out", weighs as little as 40g, and doesn't introduce friction to the system (which interestingly is cited as a "con" for chainguides, but never mentioned in regards to rings).

Sorry, rant over, haha. Killing time in the passenger seat on the long drive to Sea Beaver.

| Reply

"Doesn't introduce friction to the system"? Yes, they most certainly do. It may not be significant but it is definitely present. If the chain is never contacting the guide then the guide is completely unnecessary. I will still up vote because I agree with the majority of your comment though.

| Reply
Show More Comment(s)