Unite chainrings are packed full of tech and features, which is something that is often overlooked, so we are taking the time to highlight some of the features behind the product here. Chainrings are the workhorse of the drivetrain, they put up with a lot of grief, and we expect them to be durable, keep the chain in place, and to never slip, even in the wettest of conditions, which is no mean feat. When the designers at Unite sat down to create the brief for their Grip Rings they came up with three key areas of importance.
Arguably, this one of the easiest parts of the puzzle to solve... use the right material for the job. All Unite chainrings are made from 7075-T6, one of the toughest grades of aluminium available. Chainrings don't have an easy life, especially not during a British winter, mud, grit and grime all combine to create a fine grinding paste that eats away at your drivetrain, its a tough job that requires a tough material. However, 7075-T6 is also tougher to machine and it's more expensive to buy which is why a lot of brands opt for the cheaper and much softer 6082 alloy. If you're burning through chainrings, or if they are bending or breaking on you have a look what they are made from, chances are it's 6082. Unite aren't put off by a difficult machining process, nor do they believe in cutting corners when it comes to materials. All of their chainrings are made in-house in deepest darkest Wales, and they are made to last! If you really want to geek out on the difference between 6082 and 7075 click here.
This was a little trickier to iron out than the durability question, however once Unite and their engineers got to work on it they soon realised that the best option would be to design a new tooth pattern from the ground up. The first thing to note about a chainrings tooth pattern is that both sides of the tooth are not equal, they do not do the same job, and they do not have the same stresses and requirements on them. The rear face does not have any stress or load on it which means that it can have a squarer and bulkier profile to increase chain retention. Unite have also machined a number of divets into the chainring to help clear the mud and stop the chain becoming clogged and throwing the chain. The final design was the result of a lot of months of trial and error, prototypes and a lot of winter riding in the Welsh hills.
Chainsuck is caused by the leading edge of the chainring tooth profile, this is the point where the chain and the chainring meet. Over time this edge can wear, creating an almost hook-shaped profile, creating the dreaded chain suck. This hooked tooth profile doesn't allow the chain to leave the chainring at the top of the rotation, sucking it back down with it. As soon as Unite understood what was causing the problem it allowed them to start work on engineering a solution. By increasing the durability of the chainrings material (7075-T6) a lot of this problem gets eradicated. Unite also engineered the leading edge of the tooth to have a slacker angle to it, this helps the chain leave the ring when it should. It also means that the tooth would have to develop a lot more wear before it would suffer the same level of chain suck. Unite have spent a lot of time working out smart solutions to simple problems to ensure that their products work, and they work well.