Types by design
Classic bicycle chainrings
Classic chainrings consist of a single ring with an empty middle. Four bolt holes are attached to the rim, facing inward, for fixing the chainring to the wheel. They work best for light bicycles.
Spoked bicycle chainrings
Spoked chainrings have inner and outer rings, which are connected by four or five spokes. They spokes are usually shaped to fit over the spider. They add a great deal of strength to the bike, but the wrong fit can significantly slow down the pedaling.
Disc bicycle chainrings
Disc chainrings have a solid construction, with only a small hole at the center for fitting over the spider. They can also serve as splash guards for the front wheel. They are the sturdiest design available, although they are not suited for racing bicycles because the strong pedaling can cause the discs to crack.
Types by material
Aluminum bicycle chainrings
Aluminum chainrings are the cheapest in the market. Different grades of aluminum can be used. Low-end chainrings are made of heavy, unpolished aluminum, while some professional quality models use aluminum and carbon fiber blends. They are fairly durable, but may not with stand high impacts from collisions. They are lighter than steel chainrings and cheaper than titanium, making them ideal for beginner and recreational bicycles.
Steel bicycle chainrings
Steel chainrings are made of high-carbon steel, which makes them lighter and tougher. They are used in most midrange professional and racing bicycles. They are heavier than aluminum and titanium chainrings, which makes them tougher against impact but more difficult to pedal. They are ideal for large bicycles, such as mountain bikes, which can better handle their weight.
Titanium bicycle chainrings
Titanium chainrings are extremely lightweight and durable. Titanium lighter than steel and slightly heavier than aluminum, but because of its high density, less material is needed to produce a chainring, which makes titanium chainrings the significantly lighter than the other two types. They allow fast and easy pedaling, and can be used on all types of bicycles. However, they are usually reserved for high-end bicycles since they cost considerably more than steel and aluminum.