ROTOR Valiantly Succeeds in Avoiding my Money
Michael Powers Up to Mochikoshi Pass with his ROTOR chainrings of some sort -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2017 Jeffrey Friedl,
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 40mm — 1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Michael Powers Up to Mochikoshi Pass
with his ROTOR chainrings of some sort

Chainrings — the big gears at the pedals of a bicycle — are normally round, but there is the idea that slightly oval ones can be more efficient because they can take advantage of the naturally-strong part of the pedal stroke by placing more leverage there, and less where the stroke is weakest.

I was thinking to get some to try, but the company that makes them, ROTOR, is apparently willfully, egregiously not interested in selling them. They make a dizzying number of different models of oval chainrings, with scant information on their site about the difference among the various lines.

Every first-time buyer will have the same set of questions.... which ones fit my bike, and among those, which are right for me, and in what sizes? They leave most of this for you to somehow figure out on your own (or, failing to have confidence, just abandon the idea of buying them).

Their willfully-stupid site makes me wonder whether their products are also willfully stupid, and it should have been a sign to walk away, but I thought I'd at least ask, so I sent them this request:

Hi, I'd like to buy some chainrings, but I'm not sure of compatibility.

I currently have Shimano Ultegra 6800 with a semicompact 36/52 up front and 11-34 in the back. It seems that for replacement chainrings I can choose from among Q-Rings Aero Shimano 110x4, QXL Shimano 110x4, and Q-Rings Shimano 110x4, though after reading everything I could find at your site, I'm still at a loss as to the difference among them.

I often spin out at high speed, so I'd like a bigger big chain ring. Would a 36/54 combo (Q-Rings Aero Shimano 110x4 or QXL Shimano 110x4) work, or would it hit some limit with the Ultegra front derailleur? What about a 34/54 combo?

In any case, whether I can go with a bigger range or I must stick with a 36/52 combo, what's the difference among the three product lines?

Thanks much,

It's so frustrating when a company seems to care so little about what they sell that they don't bother describing the product sufficient for even the most basic purchase decisions. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when the reply didn't even try to answer any of my questions:

ROTOR Customer Service <>

Hi Jeffrey,

Thank you for get in contact with Rotor. Based on your information, you will need to purcharse the Rotor oval Q-rings BCD110x4 specific for Shimano crankset which we recommend at the first time with oval chainrings. You will notice the advantage with your pedal stoke using our Q-rings.

Best regards,

Ticket status has been changed to Closed

That last line was the end of it... the ticked was closed and there was no avenue to reply. Notice their customer-service email address? At least it's not

Wow. Just wow. Of all the companies in the world trying to avoid accepting my money, these guys really go the extra mile. That's too bad, because my friends that have them like them, though it's a mystery to me how they knew what to buy.

Andy Photographs his ROTOR Chainrings along with the rest of his fine steed -- Iwato Ochiba Shrine (岩戸落葉神社) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl,
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 28mm — 1/125 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Andy Photographs his ROTOR Chainrings
along with the rest of his fine steed

All 3 comments so far, oldest first...

I don’t remember exactly but almost all new bikes in the 80s or early 90s came with Shimano elliptical chainrings. I don’t see any now so maybe you aren’t missing anything but saved some money.

Kenmore, WA

— comment by Rick H. on April 22nd, 2017 at 7:12am JST (7 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink


Just recently I stumbled upon your personal tour-documentation, thanks to personal ties to Osaka (and to my bicycles). I really enjoy your articles with their humble yet high-quality style, quite inspiring. Can’t wait to get my tires on some japanese road!

Back to topic:

Rick, you’re thinking of the “Biopace”-line of chainwheels, which were developed and enhanced around that time, but abandoned by Shimano due to unfortunate marketing. Or so they say. As always, Sheldon Brown explained the advantages of the system here: www sheldonbrown com/biopace.html ..concluding that the those chainwheels offer smoother leg-movement at high cadence, i.e. prevent jumping in the saddle, and are in his opinion of great comfort for long trips, or use of the road.

To Jeffrey again: my condolences to your frustration, been there as well. I’m still riding biopace on my trekking/ touring bike, but just checked out of curiosity, and it seems bike24 com sells and ships Rotor-products to Japan as well.

Best regards from Bochum, Germany,


— comment by Jan on April 22nd, 2017 at 10:31pm JST (7 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

I don’t care for your suggested email address for them,
I would be interested in seeing a closeup of Andy’s helmet.

I think that’s a Catlike helmet. —Jeffy

— comment by Grandma Friedl, Ohio, USA on April 22nd, 2017 at 11:54pm JST (7 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink
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