Tested : Ben’s OChain R Review.

Seen on plenty of World Cup downhill bikes, the OChain R is designed to offset pedal kick and offer a smooth ride or the same experience at higher speeds.

Ben dusts off his testing gloves and passes verdict on one of the undersung parts of the modern downhill bike, the Ochain R.

Key features:

  • 7075 T6 and 6082 T6 construction
  • +3mm virtual chainring offset
  • Black hard anodized finish
  • Active Spider
  • Adjustable travel 4-6-9-12 degrees
  • Available for all major crank manufacturers
  • BCD 104 mm chainrings ranging from 32t to 36t compatible
  • NOT compatible with 30t chainrings.
  • Spare Ochain Elastomer Kit included.
  • 120kg max rider weight
  • £339.00 RRP
  • Ochain.Bike

The OChain active spider has become a common sight on the World Cup circuit with dozens of the world’s fastest riders running them, including World Champ, Charlie Hatton. Product tester, Ben has been a fan of the original OChain for a number of years now, so was stoked to try out the latest “R” version to see how it stacks up.

In a nutshell the OChain allows the chainring to rotate backwards slightly as the rear of the bike goes through its travel. This reduces or removes pedal kickback, and allows the suspension to move freely, as if the bike was chainless. This results in a smoother ride, less fatigue and better grip, especially under braking.

On the standard OChain you could fine tune how many degrees of travel the OChain has by stripping it down and replacing the elastomers. You could either set the OChain to 4,6, or 9 degrees of travel, also known as ‘float.’ This requires removing the cranks and takes about half an hour including cleaning and re-greasing. The greater the travel, the more it isolated the rear of the bike, but the more uptake you had when you want to pedal.

Over the past 2 years I have put hundreds of hours in on the OChain and now I basically don’t want to ride without one. It has made me a faster, smoother rider and is a genuine upgrade. If you want to know more about the original OChain and my experiences with it, then you can watch this short YouTube video…

OChain R is the next step in the product’s development as it offers quick and easy changes to the degree of travel without having to strip the unit down. Changing the travel just requires a 2.5mm Allen key and takes about 30 seconds. It can be done trail side or back in the workshop and is basically a fool-proof process.

The other difference is that is has a 12 degree option, 3 degrees more than the original, making it an appealing choice for DH focused riders and racers.

Finally, the original OChain has a rider weight limit of just 100kg and the OChain R has a 120kg limit, making it accessible to a wider range of larger riders looking for ultimate downhill MTB performance.

If you follow the instructions and are confident with removing your cranks then it is very straight forward to fit an OChain on your bike. Just be aware that you will also need a 104bcd chain ring to fit to it, and it is not compatible with 30t rings. The only issue I had was that the chainline was wrong for my Hope cranks, and I needed to space the chainring inwards with 3mm spacers. Luckily I had some in the toolbox, otherwise it would have been a frustrating delay.

I already love the feeling of riding with an OChain so it was immediately familiar. Early on in the test period I headed to Dyfi bike park where the 12 degree float option made a lot of sense and really helped to smooth things out for me.

Maybe I am strange, but on previous mountain or bike park trips it would often be my feet that got beaten up and tired rather than my hands. OChain has totally removed that issue for me, and the R version is no different.

The interesting thing about this version is you can do back to back runs to really feel the difference. With the original unit you could be forgiven for getting used to it and almost forgetting its value as you can’t easily compare it to a conventional spider. With the OChain R you can do back to back laps on 4 and 12 degrees and whilst not locked out totally, you can really appreciate the difference.

It is on that note that I think OChain missed a trick as a locked out position would have been a nice addition, not least for marketing and demo days where you could quickly let riders experience both options back to back.

Apart from a week in Morzine and a trip to Dyfi where I ran it on 12 degrees, I have actually just been keeping the bike in its 9 degree setting as I feel that’s pretty useable on a wide range of trails. There are a couple of races I can think of where I would switch settings between stages, using 4 degrees for the flatter, pedal stages and 12 degrees for the gravity fed ones.


6 months in and it is still smooth. No maintenance needed, despite loads of mud and jet washing. It has been surprisingly robust as I had reservations about the added complexity. The anodising has also held up really well and it cleans up nicely even after a lot of gritty rides.

What do we think?

It is a lot of money, but it will make your bike faster. The extra cost over the original model is worth it if you are a downhill performance focused rider or racer who loves to tinker.

We love:

  • Fast, composed ride
  • 12 degree option

Could do better:

  • Chainline was tricky to get right

You can check out the OChain R over on their website here.