Front chainring mounting standards

Front chainring mounting standards

Higher classes of cranks usually have chainrings that are separately replaceable. The problem many people face is choosing a correct (matching) chainring for their model of cranks. In this post I will explain what chainring mounting standards exist and how to tell which one you need.

Contents:

  1. Chainring mounting standards
  2. Measuring BCD
    2.1. Measuring BCD of 5 bolt mounted chainrings
    2.2. Measuring BCD of 4 bolt mounted chainrings
  3. Directly mounted chainrings
  4. Sources


1. Chainring mounting standards

There are four groups of mounting standards for front chainrings:

  • With 5 bolts (older standard)
  • With 4 bolts (current)
  • Shimano 11 speed Ultegra and Dura Ace – 4 bolts, but using different layout, non-standard
  • “Direct mount” (newest standard) – SRAM and Shimano having different standards

With the first two standards, all the bolts (whether there are 4, or 5) are placed at the same distance from the crank axle and with the same spacing between adjacent bolts. What differs between 4 and 5 bolt chainring mounting standards is the diameter of a circle along which all the mounting bolts (centres) are placed. That is called BCD (Bolt Circle Diameter) – picture 1 explains it better:

Diameter of the circle along which all the mounting bolts are placed (BCD - noted with letter "A" in the picture)
Diameter of the circle along which all the mounting bolts are placed (BCD – noted with letter “A” in the picture)
Picture 1

The problem is that, for example: two 5 bolt mounted chainrings don’t always have the same BCD, so this needs to be measured when looking for a new (replacement) chainring. Measuring procedure will be explained in chapters below.


2. Measuring BCD

The dimension that we need is from centre to centre. However, I find it hard to measure that accurately, so I measure from end to end, using vernier calipers, as shown in picture 2 (it gives the same dimension, just using a different method).

Measuring BCD using Vernier calipers
Measuring BCD using Vernier calipers
Picture 2

BCD affects two things:

  • Will a chainring fit the cranks at all.
  • The minimum size (number of teeth) that a chainring can have (the larger the BCD, the larger the “smallest fitting chainring” will be, of course).

2.1. Measuring BCD of 5 bolt mounted chainrings

With these chainrings BCD can not be measured “directly”, by measuring the distance between any two non-adjacent bolt centres. It takes measuring the distance of two adjacent bolts, then multiplying it by 1.7 and/or look at (the nearest standard BCD size in) the table 1 provided here. What needs measuring is shown in the picture 3 (marked with “B”):

Measuring bolt centre distance of two adjacent bolts
Measuring bolt centre distance of two adjacent bolts
Picture 3

Table 1 gives a list of standard sizes of 5 bolt mounted chainring BCD-s. C-C is the distance between adjacent bolt centres, while MIN is the smallest chainring tooth count that can fit the given BCD. All the sizes are given in millimetres (divide with 25.4 to get inches).

Table 1

BCDC-CMINCrank models
15188.844Very old Campagnolo standard (pre ’67) (Obsolete)
14484.641Old Campagnolo standard, still used for track applications.
13579.439Current Campagnolo standard
13076.438Standard Road double and triple (outer 2 chainrings)
12875.238Nervar Sport, Star (Obsolete)
12271.738Stronglight 93, 101, 103, 104, 105 (Obsolete)
11869.436Ofmega, SR (Obsolete)
11668.235Old Campagnolo (Obsolete)
110,11264.7, 65.234Campagnolo CT inner/middle/outer with one bolt at a larger BCD behind crank
11064.733Touring double, standard triple outer
10260.032Avocet triple inner (obsolete)
10058.731; 36Merz adapter; Campagnolo triple inner (obsolete)
9455.429Compact triple outer
9253.330Shimano Dura-Ace triple inner (old)
9052.930Edco, Mavic triple inner (old)
8650.528Stronglight 80, 99, 100, SR Apex (Obsolete)
8550.028Old Shimano Deore, Takagi triple inner (Obsolete)
8047.026Tevano (TA Campagnolo clone) triple inner. Bolts not interchangeable with others.
7443.524Standard (“full-sized”) triple inner, used with 110, 130, or 135 mm BCD outer chainrings.
5834.120Compact triple granny
5632.920Sun Tour Compact triple granny (Obsolete)

2.2. Measuring BCD of 4 bolt mounted chainrings

Here it is possible to “directly” measure the BCD, but on can also measure the distance of adjacent bolt centres then multiply it with 1.41 (see table 2). Both methods are shown in picture 4.

Direct BCD measuring ("A"), or by measuring adjacent bolt centre distance ("B")
Direct BCD measuring (“A”), or by measuring adjacent bolt centre distance (“B”)
Picture 4

Table 2 gives a list of standard sizes of 4 bolt mounted chainring BCD-s. C-C is the distance between adjacent bolt centres, while MIN is the smallest chainring tooth count that can fit the given BCD. All the sizes are given in millimetres (divide with 25.4 to get inches). Note that Shimano 11 speed Ultegra and Dura Ace do use 4 bolts, but with a different layout, non-standard one (of course).

Table 2

BCDC-CMINCrank models
146103.244Shimano XTR M960 Hollowtech 4-arm outer
11279.234Shimano XTR M950, M952 4-arm middle/outer
10473.532ShimanoXT, LX 4-arm outer, Sugino MX350
10272.132Shimano 2003 XTR MX960 4-arm middle
6848.122Shimano XTR M950, M952 4-arm inner
6445.322Shimano XTR M960, XT, LX 4-arm inner
5841.020Sugino MX350 4-arm inner


3. Directly mounted chainrings

Current trend is the introduction of directly mounted chainrings. Direct in mount means that chainrings are mounted at the crank’s base, not mounted to a spider that is an integral part of the crank.

Shimano XTR M9100 direct mount chainring
Shimano XTR M9100 direct mount chainring
Picture 5

As far as I know, every larger manufacturer has their own standard, not-interchangeable with other manufacturers’ standards. So (for) now we have: Race Face Chinch, Cannondale, SRAM and Shimano XTR M9100. The chainring mounting grooves must match the mounting splines of the crank.

Here when replacing chainrings it is important to mind the chainline that they provide. This often depends on the crank model, but some manufacturers of replacement chainrings (Wolf Tooth for example) offer various models depending on the desired chain line.


4. Sources

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