Race Face Era MTB chainring first look – as light as alloy and as durable as steel?

Race Face Era Chainring
Race Face Era Chainring seamlessly combines steel, alloy, and carbon (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Race Face has developed a new Era chainring that is said to be the first of its kind. Chainrings can be into three parts, the teeth crank interface, and the spider. These all have specific demands on materials, to create the best chainring possible Race Face has used multiple materials when designing the Era chainring. 

Steel is hard-wearing but adds a lot of weight, alloy is durable but would wear quickly, and carbon, well carbon has a time and a place, and areas of high wear are not one of those. 

Race Face claims this is the first chainring to combine alloy, carbon, and steel, optimizing materials for specific parts of the chainring. Combining multiple materials isn't an easy job and the intricacy of the Era chainring demands a premium price. However, if Race Face's claims of a five-time longer lifespan are true, the Era chainring will be a worthwhile purchase. 

Race Face Era Chainring cut through detail

The inner bonding edge of the tooth section – much like the bonding interface of a ski edge (Image credit: Race Face)

Starting on the outer edge, Race Face has used steel to create the narrow-wide tooth profile as it boasts a far higher yield strength than alloy or titanium. The Cinch direct mount interface is made with Race Face's 7000-series aluminum

These two metal sections sandwich the carbon spider. Race Face used the same proprietary carbon compression and co-molding techniques developed for Era carbon cranks to join the alloy and steel to the carbon spider.

The problem with combining different materials is assuring that they stay combined. Race Face says it has subjected the Era chainring to some aggressive lab testing, including fatigue testing by loading and unloading the chain ring, impact resistance, and ultimate strength which involved applying torque to the ring until it reached breaking point.

Race Face Era Chainring tooth detail

The transition between materials is flawless (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

The finish is impressive on Era chainring, particularly the join between the alloy and carbon which is almost seamless. Besides the carbon section being black, it's hard to tell three different materials are used here. 

According to the scales, my 32t review sample weighs 85g. That makes it roughly 73g lighter than Race Face's fully steel Cinch direct-mount chainring. There are lighter aluminum rings on the market, although they probably won't have the same expected lifespan as an Era ring.

The chain ring comes in 30t, 32t, and 34t and two chainlines, but is only compatible with Race Face's Cinch direct mount cranksets.

The Era chainring will cost $149 / $190.00 CAD / £TBC.

Graham Cottingham
Senior reviews writer, Bike Perfect

Graham is all about riding bikes off-road, based in Edinburgh he has some of the best mountain biking and gravel riding in the UK on his doorstep. With almost 20 years of riding experience, he has dabbled in downhill, enduro, and gravel racing. Not afraid of a challenge, Graham has embraced bikepacking over the last few years and likes nothing more than strapping some bags to his bike and covering big miles to explore Scotland's wildernesses. When he isn’t shredding the gnar in the Tweed Valley, sleeping in bushes, or tinkering with bikes, he is writing tech reviews for Bike Perfect.

Rides: Cotic SolarisMax, Stooge MK4, 24 Bicycles Le Toy 3, Surly Steamroller

Height: 177cm

Weight: 71kg