Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Testing - Specialites TA Chinook chainrings

My Specialites TA chainrings after 1000km's of use

Specialites TA are here to accommodate your chainring needs.
I have used these chainrings before so I have a bit of experience with them. Had them on my 2008 Anthem Advanced with XTR 970 cranks. Personally I use them on my 2x9 setup. I don't much care for lugging around useless gear ranges that I never use so I thought I would narrow my gear option and shed some grams in the process. More on that later though. Both times I have ordered my TA's from Starbike.com and received exceptional service with fast and cheap shipping and good pricing. I originally ordered some Blackspire Super Pro chainrings but shortly after they arrived I weighed the big ring at an insane 90grams and ordered the TA's that evening.
Main advantage of the TA's is that they come in many different options. You can pretty much find any tooth count in most standard BCDs (bolt circle diameters) so they are compatible with almost all cranks. That way you can tailor your drivetrain to suit your needs. This time I wanted them in 26/38 tooth counts. I ordered 2 sets to save on shipping.

Out of the box
These babies are exceptional! You really don't expect to get such a nicely finished and lightweight product for the reasonable price they cost. Come in their own little cardboard sleeves and are available in black or silver finish. The black coating is only applied to the area that is not going to get marred up from the chain so they don't look like crap after the first ride.

On the trail
One of the most amazing things about these rings is the shifting. You are hard pressed to find any negative feedback on these rings. They shift exceptionally well and last much longer than you'd think. The don't shift as flawlessly as XTR rings when under high load but you shouldn't be shifting under high load anyway. You might miss a shift or two but I'd say they are on par with RaceFace who also make great rings. Shimano is still in a league of their own, both in performance and astronomically high price with their XTR rings.
I have used these particular rings for about 1000km's now since I arrived in South Carolina at the beginning of March. They show almost zero signs of wear as you can tell by the pictures.

Specs and features
These guys are light, about 50grams for the 38t and 25 grams for the 26t. TA offers them in pretty much any reasonable tooth denomination and have a few different models to choose from. The Chinook series is their 4 and 5 bolt light weight mountain ring series. They come with well laid out pins and ramping and an alignment arrow to keep them in sync.

If you are looking for a certain gear ratio for your unconventional drivetrain setup then the TA's are pretty much your #1 option. The performance to value ratio is amazing. They are one of those products that are such a good value that they make their competitors look silly.

-options and compatibility

-not flawless XTR shifting

Value - 30 degrees out of 31 degree South Carolina weather
Performance - 7 bloated roadkill possums out 10 bloated roadkill possums


  1. nice review...

    shifers you are using?

    FD? MTB or road version?

  2. Stock XT shifters, crank, and top swing front derailleur. The front der isn't as low as I would like because any lower and the cable fixing bolt would hit the lower rocker link under full suspension compression. Still shifts perfectly though. Going to a 7900 bottom pull with Speen adaptor in the fall.

  3. Hey. Is that 38T this one:


    I might be being stupid here but that's marked as a middle ring. So, to get 2x9, you just leave off the outer ring?

  4. That's the one, 104 BCD 38t.
    Yes I bolt the 38 on the middle mounting point so leave the outer ring off and tune your shifter to use the inner two positions. Block off the outer ring shift point using the high limit screw but be careful, on some front derailleurs turning the limit screw in far enough to block the large ring impedes the movement of the derailleur through the entire stroke.

  5. Update: I now have probably 2000km's on these same rings and they still blow my mind with reliably great shifting. Still very little signs on wear which is amazing because I've done 6 or 7 races on them too. I think this set will last me a full season.