There is obvious popularity gain lately for oval chainrings and the benefits from using it. Behind three most popular designs of oval chainrings are a rather credible pro cycling components and equipment producers: “absoluteBlack”, “Wolf Tooth Components” and “Sram”.
The designs from these producers may differ in terms of aggressiveness of the oval shape of the chainring, but the final product from all should maximize the cyclist personal power. Opinions, when the oval chainring is most effective are not clear or final, still for majority in cycling world on technical MTB stages oval chainring gives better power delivery and more traction. That being so, for road bikes with oval chainring riders benefit excels while climbing.
It sounds strange but, the power that is put on the pedals will be transferred as a torque on the rear wheel more smoothly with oval than with round chainring. Cyclist will feel his pedal stroke more “round” when using oval shape chainring.
When riding and your pedals are on the non-optimal part of the pedal stroke, oval gives you feeling that bike is easier to pedal. When the pedals turn on the optimal part of the stroke, the oval chainring helps you to maximize your power and torque that is transferred on the rear wheel. This way with the same pedal work you’ll experience larger effect.
With round chainrings, the feeling of uneven pedal stroke amplifies when exhausted, oval chainrings are designed to eliminate this experience. That’s why oval chainrings are easier on the legs while climbing. They practically maximize the part of the pedal stroke when the power is produced, and they minimize the resistance on the opposite part of the stroke.
So to sum up, oval chainrings will allow you to push harder when it counts, you will pedal smoother, keep consistent cadence, you’ll get less tired, climb easier, with more traction and better power delivery.