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Brings single ring 1x11 and clutch-style rear mechs from mountain biking to cyclo-cross

SRAM has today launched its newest groupset, Force CX1, which borrows single ring 1x11 technology from its mountain bike division and applies it to a cyclo-cross groupset.

Reducing the number of chainrings in cyclo-cross has already been a thing for some time, but now SRAM is bringing its well received X11 technology from mountain biking over to cyclo-cross. The new groupset offers a single ring drivetrain with a special wide/narrow chainring and a new clutch-style rear derailleur that keeps chain tension high, and prevents the chain falling off when riding or racing over bumpy ground.

Eliminating the inner chainring, and with it the front mech, drops a lot of weight and increases simplicity and reduces mud clogging. The reduced availability of gears is offset by the wide range made possible by an 11-32 and 42T chainring combination, with other cassette and chainring options available. This is a groupset aimed at cyclo-cross racing remember, where a really wide range of gears isn't typically required for most courses. The upshot is great simplicity with no front shifting required, and with that less chance of dropping a chain or the mud fouling front shift performance.

SRAM has a couple of measures that means the chain should be very unlikely to drop off the chaining when riding over rough ground, which makes a front chain guide unnecessary. The Type-2 clutch-style derailleur is technology borrowed from the mountain biking world. There is clutch mechanism inside the mech body that prevents it swinging forward when riding over rough ground, and keeps the chain tensioned. This goes a long way to prevent the chain falling of the chainring. The clutch can be disabled for easy wheel removal with a simple release button.

The chainring uses its X-SYNC technology, with alternating wide and narrow teeth that provides better engagement with the chain and helps to keep the chain in contact with the ring, helping to prevent derailment. It’s availablein  38, 40, 42, 44 or 46 tooth sizes which offers plenty of customisation choice, to suit your riding style, strength or local terrain. This new chainring is also compatible with 10-speed drivetrains, opening up the possibility of upgrading an existing 10-speed Force groupset,

The new groupset is compatible with existing Force 10-speed so you can just buy the new components (rear derailleur and chain ring) and upgrade, as an option instead of buying the complete groupset.

 

The Force CX1 crankset costs £157 for the GXP flavour or £189 for BB30. It’s available with 38, 40, 42, 44 or 46-tooth chainrings. Claimed weight for a 42T setup with 172.5mm carms is 542g for BB30, 710g for GXP.

The Force CX1 ErgoDynamic lever is available with a left-hand lever with no shift paddle. It weighs a claimed 119g, the right-hand lever is a claimed 158g, the set is 277g. The right lever costs £147 and the left is £86.

 

The SRAM Force CX1 X-SYNC Chainring costs from £96 to £112. A 42T ring weighs a claimed 75g.

The Force CX1 Rear derailleur weighs a claimed 261g and costs £178.

A cassette, available in 11-26, 11-28 or 11-32, costs from £81 and the PC-1170 chain is £41.

SRAM likes to get its sponsored athletes testing new products, which is how we knew about this new groupset already. Here’s a couple of quotes from Bart Wellens and Ryan Trebon, who have both been involved in the development. Ryan, incidentally, used his to place second at the US national cyclo-cross championships earlier this year, so not a bad debut the new groupset. 

Ryan Trebon, Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com:

“This is just what I’ve been waiting for. My CX1 1X11 is everything I look for in a ’cross groupset – it’s simple, durable and rock solid. I come from a mountain biking background, so the chain security and sure shifting are huge for me especially on rough and technical courses. That combined with the ergonomics of SRAM Force levers mean I’m more comfortable and efficient than ever.”

Bart Wellens, Telenet-Fidea Cycling:

“In cyclocross, every 10 seconds you’re shifting. With the SRAM Force CX1 1X11, you don’t need to think about it. You just go. The 11 speed is so good because now I have one extra gear without worrying about front shifting. In Belgium, you have lots of different types of cyclocross tracks. In the past, when the tracks are harder I would need to change my cassette every time, but now the 1X11  have everything I need.”

The groupset will be available in July 2014. More info at www.sram.com

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

16 comments

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bobinski [240 posts] 2 years ago
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I run an Alfine 11 hub on a Crosslight pro 6 and it is overkill for commuting, a pain to swap out with a puncture, especially if you run mudguards and very heavy. I know the weight compares well when looked at in terms of a whole groupset but with stop start commuting in London i get to feel the weight at every traffic light etc. This is the ideal replacement and i can see its use spreading amongst commuters especially with disc braked bikes.

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othello [382 posts] 2 years ago
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I like they have bought this out at Force level, rather than Red, making it more accessible. Looks good.

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joemmo [1164 posts] 2 years ago
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Even better if they'd done it at Apex or Rival level but still like the look of this. The chainrings seem expensive mind you.

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jollygoodvelo [1539 posts] 2 years ago
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I reckon 1x groupsets with wide-range cassettes are the future for an awful lot of cyclists. On my commute there is only one hill that requires the small ring (and that's only because I'm weak and fat at the moment - and even then I get up it in 34fx28r).

For most people - by which I mean non-enthusiasts, just people riding bikes - a 42 front ring and 11-36 at the back would get them up absolutely anything. And it saves weight, complexity, maintenance, everything.

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Al__S [1081 posts] 2 years ago
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How many gears at the rear do we reckon it'll take to go single ring on the front for road racing? At least, for flatter stages. I know there have been experiments in the past with doing it it for TT/prologues, just ask Chris Boardman about how badly that went!

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Guyz2010 [304 posts] 2 years ago
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Strange. I was out doing a 57 mile plod today and was having problems with a front shifter flicking the chain off. I madf me think about a single chainring bike a la MTB. I'd want more teeth than 42 though maybe 46 or 48.
Great idea....gonna go and trial it.

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joemmo [1164 posts] 2 years ago
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Guyz2010 wrote:

Strange. I was out doing a 57 mile plod today and was having problems with a front shifter flicking the chain off. I madf me think about a single chainring bike a la MTB. I'd want more teeth than 42 though maybe 46 or 48.
Great idea....gonna go and trial it.

You might be surprised by the size of ring you need. I had a 1x9 with a 36 up front and 11-28 at the back and it was good well into the mid 20s. 42-11 is a pretty decent top gear. Also rode the coast to coast with a 36 and 12-34 cassette which gave a good spread for climbing with a light load in panniers.

If you ran a 48 up front you would either suffer at the low end or have to run a wide cassette with big jumps between sprockets which is where the limits of this sort of setup show themselves up for road riding. Depends on your strength and pedalling style as well though.

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STATO [514 posts] 2 years ago
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"The new groupset is compatible with existing Force 10-speed so you can just buy the new components (rear derailleur and chain ring) and upgrade, as an option instead of buying the complete groupset."

Is that true? surely you mean existing 11 speed (force 22) groupsets?

I know Sram MTB 10 speed mechs work with 10 speed road stuff tho, so already a clutch option, if not quite as well designed as this.

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allez neg [497 posts] 2 years ago
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Intriguing, but I would still prefer the 100ish gramme penalty of a chain retainer on the seattube and thus a simpler rear mech without clutches and buttons and stuff.

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Jerm [39 posts] 2 years ago
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That does seem an awful lot of money for the rear mech when one considers the price of Shimano's clutch mechs.

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David Arthur @d... [715 posts] 2 years ago
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STATO wrote:

"The new groupset is compatible with existing Force 10-speed so you can just buy the new components (rear derailleur and chain ring) and upgrade, as an option instead of buying the complete groupset."

Is that true? surely you mean existing 11 speed (force 22) groupsets?

I know Sram MTB 10 speed mechs work with 10 speed road stuff tho, so already a clutch option, if not quite as well designed as this.

Yes, that's what SRAM told it, it's compatible with 10- and 11-speed Force groupsets

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David Arthur @d... [715 posts] 2 years ago
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allez neg wrote:

Intriguing, but I would still prefer the 100ish gramme penalty of a chain retainer on the seattube and thus a simpler rear mech without clutches and buttons and stuff.

In my experience, a clutch mech is much better at keeping the chain on the chainring than a chain device, simply because it stops the chain flapping about in the first place, which is why a chain falls off over rough ground

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surly_by_name [410 posts] 2 years ago
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SRAM (10 speed) users can spend c.£100 and get a similar result - X9 type 2 (clutch) rear mech (£60) teamed with a Race Face narrow/wide chainring (110bcd, 38t/40t/42t - £40).

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STATO [514 posts] 2 years ago
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I hadn't realised SRAM road 10/11 stuff was cross compatible, interesting. So you could run an MTB 10spd mech on a 11spd road set-up, with a double up front. Advantages of a single CX1 set-up, but with even more range  21

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joemmo [1164 posts] 2 years ago
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surly_by_name wrote:

SRAM (10 speed) users can spend c.£100 and get a similar result - X9 type 2 (clutch) rear mech (£60) teamed with a Race Face narrow/wide chainring (110bcd, 38t/40t/42t - £40).

Or shimano users for similar or less with an SLX or XT shadow+ clutch mech. Where are you seeing the RaceFace chainrings for £40 though? Cheapest I can find is £45.

I used an outer chainguard and dog fang on the inside on my 1x9, never dropped a chain on it but this solution looks much cleaner, for what its worth. I'm even considering trying a clutch mech on my CX double, just to reduce chain slap

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surly_by_name [410 posts] 2 years ago
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Chain Reaction - £39.99 for 110bcd or 130bcd.