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Is single-chainring simplicity set to rule?

KISS — Keep It Simple, Stupid. There’s a lot to be said for simplicity, and one way to make a bike’s transmission simpler is to ditch the usual pair of chainrings and get by with just one.

A few years ago this would have been unthinkable. The unquestioned way to get a wide range of gears on road bikes was to have at least two chainrings. It’s generally a good idea for gear ratios to be fairly closely spaced. An eight- or nine-speed cassette and two chainrings gave you two overlapping ranges of reasonably closely spaced gears. When you ran out at the high end of the small chainring or the low end of the big ring, you just changed chainring and maybe changed a sprocket or two as well to get to the next higher or lower gear.

Polygon Bend CT5 - riding 1.jpg

It’s taken the bike industry a while to catch on, but the development of 11-speed cassettes changed things substantially. You can now have 11 reasonably closely-spaced gear ratios with just one chainring. You save the cost and complexity of a double chainring, front derailleur and shifter, and it’s one less thing to think about as you ride.

Single-chainring systems are now very common on mountain bikes, where they're known as 1X (say "one by", as in 1X10, 1X11 and even 1X12). That’s driven development of the technology that has now spilled over to drop-bar bikes. Mountain bike designers had extra incentives to ditch the front mech; getting rid means no longer having to design a suspension system around it. You can put your suspension pivot where you like, and it’s also easier to accommodate fatter tyres if you don’t also have to find room for two or three chainrings between the frame and the crank arm.

Merida silex 9000 drivetrain crop

So far, most the spillover of single chainring systems to drop-bar bikes has been for cyclocross racing. Cyclocrossers have been using single-ring set-ups for decades, because if you’re going slowly enough to need the low gears of a small chainring, you should probably be running. Single chainrings with teeth designed to keep the chain in place have helped make this more popular; some previous cyclocross single-ring systems used a pair of chain guards to keep the chain on. Effective, but hardly elegant.

Boardman CXR 9.4 - riding 3.jpg

Gravel/adventure riding is another genre where single chainrings have traction, for the same reasons of simplicity that make them popular on mountain bikes. However, at the moment you could argue that single-ring transmissions have a small problem with limited gear range for riding that often involves very steep climbs or luggage. Hubs with SRAM’s XD freehub body help solve this problem by allowing a ten-tooth smallest sprocket and we wouldn’t be surprised to see a version of SRAM’s Eagle 12-speed, 10-50 cassette for gravel bikes soon. If you’re looking at a bike with SRAM’s 11-speed 10-42 cassette and want lower gears, you can always fit a smaller chainring and coast on steeper descents.

polygon bend ct5 rear cassette

Speaking of SRAM, most of the bikes here have SRAM transmissions. Shimano was slow to get on the single-ring mountain bike bandwagon and doesn’t currently make a single-ring version of any of its road bike transmissions. That means bike manufacturers have a choice of phoning up SRAM and ordering a complete set of parts or bodging something together. It’s not surprising they choose SRAM.

Is a single-ring set-up right for you?

Like all new developments in bikes, single-chainring systems divide opinion. Among the road.cc editorial team, for example, road.cc founder Dave Atkinson has enthusiastically embraced 1X and does most of his riding on a single ring. He says: "There are plenty of good reasons to run a 1X setup. For a start there's no front mech, and front mechs are a faff. They jam up easily because of their mounting position, they rub on the chain and they drop the chain or push it over the top of the big chainring if they're not perfectly set up. You don't get any of those problems with a single ring, and a thick-thin chainring never, ever drops the chain, in my experience. Ever.

Kinesis Tripster ATR v2 - riding 5.jpg
Big Dave gives it some on a single-ring Kinesis Tripster ATR V2

"Secondly, gearing becomes rational, simple and logical. Too hard? Change up. Go faster? Change down. There's none of the psychological baggage that comes with swapping chainrings and no having to adjust your gear at the rear too when you do. And there's one less gear cable to look after as well. They're quieter, too: no chain slap because of the clutch (or stronger spring) in the mech, no movement of the chain on the chainring and no rubbing of the front mech plates.

"I've been running a single ring transmission on my main bike, a Kinesis Tripster ATR, for a couple of years now, and I'm sold on on it as a great general purpose setup. It'll depend on what you use your bike for, but for an everyday machine they're great."

Polygon Bend CT5 - riding 1.jpg

Mat Brett searches for a higher top gear on the Polygon Bend CT5

On the other hand, technical editor Mat Brett is a sceptic. He acknowledges the simplicity of 1X and the way you can't get chain rub on a front mech that's not there, but says: "You get some gert big jumps in gear ratios across such a wide-range cassette. In a typical set-up, the 38-tooth chainring and 42-tooth sprocket give you a 24.3in gear while the next largest sprocket is 36-tooth and gives you a 28.3in gear. It can be difficult to keep your rhythm when swapping from one to the other.

"That said, the 42-tooth sprocket will get you up nearly anything – not necessarily quickly, but at least you'll keep progressing.

"At the other end of the scale, I find myself running out of gears on long, fast descents. If you want to pedal at over 28mph you have to spin at more than 100rpm in an 11-tooth sprocket. If you want to pedal at over 33mph you're looking at 120rpm, so I find myself just coasting more often than usual. If you're going to ride only on tarmac and unladen you might find many 1X systems under-geared."

The bikes

Let’s take a look at some single-chainring bikes.We've listed the gear range for each one, in gear inches based on a 27-inch wheel. That's about the rolling diameter of an ETRTO 584mm (650B) wheel with a fat tyre or an ETRTO 622mm (700C) wheel with a 32mm tyre. A change of tyres will change the gearing, but these numbers provide a basis for comparison of gear ranges between bikes.

Mason Bokeh Force — £3,100

Mason Bokeh.jpg

The Mason Bokeh is a highly capable adventure bike with a feature-packed aluminium frame, splendid aesthetics, and handling that ensures it's as at home on the road as it is on the trail.

The Bokeh combines an aluminium frame and carbon fork with all the key ingredients of an adventure bike, including wide tyres, disc brakes, thru-axles, relaxed geometry and mounts for mudguards and racks. The Bokeh goes the extra mile with a front dynamo mount, third bottle cage mount, 700C and 650B wheel size compatibility and fully internal cable routing.

You can have all Mason's bikes with 1X gearing, and the set-up Mason has chosen here is as versatiled as it gets.The wide-range SRAM 10-42 cassette paired to the 42-tooth chainring up front will get you up and down most climbs and descents without unduly running out of ratios.

Gear range: 27-113 inches

Read our review of the Mason Bokeh Force

 

Specialized S-Works Diverge 2019 — £8,750

2019 Specialized S-Works Diverge

The is the only off-the-peg Shimano-equipped bike here, and Specialized makes it work by exploiting the compatibility between road bike and mountain bike Di2 shifting. Specialized has paired an XTR Di2 rear derailleur from Shimano’s mountain bike line with Shimano R785 Di2 hydraulic brake/shift levers to drive an 11-40 XTR cassette. An Easton carbon chainset carries a 40-tooth chainring.

The Diverge is one of our favourite bikes of recent years, and this luxury edition is no exception. Dave Arthur described it as “one of the best adventure bikes I've ridden” and added: “It's a sophisticated ride with buckets of capability for going fast and tackling big journeys over varied and challenging terrain.” It’s not exactly cheap though.

Gear range: 27-98 inches

Read our review of the Specialized S-Works Diverge
Find a Specialized dealer

3T Strada — £3,600 (frame, fork & seatpost)

3T Strada.jpg

One of the most exciting road bikes around, 3T's Strada is the only single-chainring aero road bike available, and while its tight clearances and inability to run a double chainset might put some people off, those issues fade away when you ride it. It's a truly stunning bike with breathtaking speed, impressive smoothness and fine handling balance.

Gear range: up to you

Read our review of the 3T Strada
Find a 3T dealer

Merida Silex 300 — £1,200

2019 Merida Silex 300

Stick knobbly tyres on a road bike and you get an indifferent off-roader, at best. But put slicks on a mountain bike and it'll blat along on the road perfectly well. With that in mind, Merida based their Silex bikes on mountain bike geometry and – to a certain extent – riding position, and the result is a belting all-rounder that's lots of fun off-road.

Gear range: 26-98 inches

Read our review of the Merida Silex 9000
Find a Merida dealer

Bombtrack Hook EXT-C — £3,000

Bombtrack Hook EXT-C.jpg

This is the carbon fibre version of a bike we reviewed and really liked in 2017, and in going composite it's shed a couple of kilos of weight, which is impressive. We expect the Hook EXT-C to be as big a bundle of fun as its steel cousin, but less work on climbs and on the road. Trail riding is where the Hook EXT really excels though, thanks to huge 2.2-inch ETRTO 584mm (650B) tyres.

Read our first look at the Bombtrack Hook EXT-C
Find a Bombtrack dealer

Gear range: 26–98 inches

Specialized CruX Elite 2019 — £3,000

2019 Specialized Crux Elite

All four of Specialized’s Crux cyclocross bikes now have singe chainrings, and this one is a simply brilliant crosser that provides really good handling, bags of pace and all the benefits that disc brakes bring to the party, all wrapped up in a bold looking package. It's ready to race, but is equally at home blasting along bridleways and through the local woods for a couple of hours.

Gear range: 34–98 inches

Read our review of the Specialized Crux Elite
Find a Specialized dealer

Trek Crockett 7 Disc 2019 — £2,095

2019 Trek Crockett 7

Trek's Crockett is mostly a race-ready cyclocross bike, but features like the clever Stranglehold rear dropout and relatively tall head tube make it more than a one-trick pony.

Gear range: 34–98 inches

Find a Trek dealer

Cannondale Superx Apex 1 — £1,999.99

2019 Cannondale SuperX Apex 1

The SuperX has a stellar frame, with a smooth, stable ride that's perfect for flatter cyclocross courses and playing in the trails. You'll probably want to upgrade the wheels though; they're a bit beefy. While you're at it, get wheels with a SRAM XD freehub if you fancy wider-range gearing.

Gear range: 34–98 inches

Read our review of the Cannondale SuperX 105
Find a Cannondale dealer

Whyte Wessex One 2019 — £1,999

2019 Whyte Wessex One

Whyte's Wessex is a longstanding road.cc favourite. Here it's configured as perhaps the ultimate fast day-ride bike for dirt roads and neglected, frost-ravaged back lanes. Racing aside, it's all the bike you really need for year-round riding in the UK, fast enough for sportives and pacy training runs, comfortable and reliable for grinding out winter miles, and at home on longer commutes. Only a British company could design a bike that is absolutely, perfectly, 100 per cent suited to the demands of year-round UK road cycling.

Gear range: 28–119 inches

Read our review of the 2017 Whyte Wessex
Find a Whyte dealer

Marin Cortina AX 2 — £2,200

2019 Marin Cortina AX-2

The two-bike Cortina range is aimed squarely at the privateer weekend cyclocross racer. Fortunately, what goes into making a decent cyclocross bike can – sometimes – make for a decent road and gravel-adventure bike. This is one of those times. The Cortina's handling is exemplary. Testing the AX1 in the winter, our Mike Stead snagged number two spot on a Strava descent, bested only by a mountain biker the previous summer. It'll take mudguards and racks too, and out of the box the gearing is suitable for almost everything but racing.

Gear range: 24–103 inches

Read our review of the Marin Cortina AX 1
Find a Marin dealer

Boardman Elite CXR 9.4 Ultegra Di2 2019 — £2,560

2019 Boardman Elite CXR 9.4 Ultegra Di2

The gravel/adventure thing may have softened some cyclocross bikes a touch to make them more versatile but Boardman's CXR 9.4 is having none of it."Ready to race straight out of the box," it says on Boardman's website and while it could do with a couple of minor tweaks the CXR 9.4 is one flickable, lightweight off-road rocket which is an absolute blast on the technical stuff.

Gear range: 30-93 inches

Read our review of the Boardman CXR 9.4
Find a Boardman dealer

Giant Toughroad GX SLR 0 2019 — £1,599

2019 Giant Toughroad GX SLR 0

Very much a bike for high-speed playing in the trails, the cyclocross-derived Toughroad GX SLR 0  has a light aluminium frame, tubeless wheels and proper dirt-road tyres in its 40mm Giant CrossCut Gravel 2s. There are rack mounts too, so if you want to load up and disappear into the distance you have the choice of bikepacking bags or panniers.

Gear range: 26–98 inches

Find a Giant dealer

Kona Libre DL 2019 — £3,699

2019 Kona Libre DL

With its carbon fibre frame, 45mm tyres and massive selection of gear mounting points, Kona's new Libre platform is billed as "the ultimate adventure machine' and for once it looks like that hype is justified. Sensibly, Kona have gone for hubs with SRAM’s XD freehub body, allowing a ten-tooth smallest sprocket so the 40-tooth chainring still provides a decent high gear, and it'll still be reasonable if you decide to fit a 36-tooth ring for hauling gear. There plenty of rack and mudguard mounts, four bottle mounts, a top-tube bag mount and Salsa-style three-bolt rack mounts on the fork legs.

Bit spendy for you? Its steel stablemate, the Rove ST, has many of the same features for just £1,499.

Gear range: 26-108 inches

Find a Kona dealer

Rondo RUUT AL 2019 — £1,699

Rondo Ruut.jpg

The RUUT AL is an aluminium gravel/adventure bike from Polish brand Rondo. It’s a super comfortable multi-surface machine with agile handling that can be adjusted between fast and racy to more upright and relaxed through its cleverly designed, geometry adjusting Twintip fork. The 43mm Panaracer Gravel King tyres work well in all but silly conditions, and there's scope for 55mm ETRTO 584mm (650B) tyres and wheels if you want to go even fatter.

The RUUT distinguishing feature is that fork, which has swappable 'chips' in the tips that change the offset and ride height. The difference is not that noticeable at the handlebars as it’s only 1cm in height difference, but turning into switchbacks and barrelling along the singletrack, the difference in steering feel is noticeable. In the low axle position with the longer trail, the bike needs more input to take the same lines as the high axle position with the shorter trail. It's a clever feature, letting you choose the handling that you like best for your own trails and style.

Gear range: 26–98 inches

Read our review of the Rondo RUUT AL
Find a Rondo dealer

BMC Roadmachine X 2019 — £1,600

2019 BMC Roadmachine X

As the name implies, this is an endurance road bike with adventure tendencies, the only one of BMC's Roadmachine family to dispense with the traditional double chainset. By the standards of many of the bikes here it has skinny tyres at 34mm, indicating its purpose is more Tarmac than trails, but with a wide, low gear range it looks well suited to long days in the hills.

Gear range: 26-98 inches

Find a BMC dealer

Polygon Bend CT5 — £1,435

Polygon Bend CT5.jpg

 The Polygon Bend CT5 is a rough and tough 'urban sport' bike that offers loads of versatility. It's not the lightest bike out there but it'll handle everything from all-weather commuting to gravel tracks, and it's a lot of fun. It offers a fairly upright riding position and a decent level of comfort, largely thanks to 30mm-wide Schwalbe G-One Speed tyres, and it's easy to fit mudguards and racks.

The Bend CT5 really shows its worth over poorly surfaced roads. It doesn't just cope with randomly-varying crummy road surfaces, it eats them up, giving you the confidence to tackle the next section that bit quicker and generally putting a smile on your face.

Gear range: 24–93 inches

Read our review of the Polygon Bend CT5
Find a Polygon dealer

Vitus Substance V2 Apex — £979.99

Vitus Substance V2 Apex.jpg

Drop-bar bikes with ETRTO 584mm (650B) tyres are still quite rare, but Vitus chosen the smaller and arguably more versatile wheel size here, and built it in steel too, a material that has long been the preserve of the adventure/touring rider. Don't go thinking it's an exercise in nostalgia though: with hydraulic disc brakes, 1x groupset and full-carbon fork, this Substance V2 Apex holds plenty of appeal for the modern day on/off-roader.

There are lighter and quicker bikes out there to take on the gravel, but if comfort and stability are what you're after then the Substance will make a loyal companion.

Gear range: 26–108 inches

Read our review of the Vitus Substance V2 Apex

Whyte Glencoe 2019 — £1,299

2019 Whyte Glencoe

Whyte is also clearly a believer in the 650B concept too, enough to call the Glencoe " the best all round road bike we have ever made". But like the Merida Silex it shows strong signs of Whyte's expertise in mountain bikes, with a long frame, short stem and wide bar for control on crummy surfaces. The 47mm tyres put the Glencoe in the RoadPLUS category, Marin says and we've certainly been impressed by the capabilities of the WTB Horizon tyres Whyte has chosen. If you're looking for something a bit out of the ordinary, the Glencoe deserves close examination.

Gear range: 28–108 inches

Find a Whyte dealer

Vitus Energie VR 2019 — £1,000

2019 Vitus Energie VR

The Energie VR is an excellent tool for thrashing round in the mud for an hour on a Sunday, and it's versatile enough for more general riding. The drivetrain is excellent and it's tubeless-ready out of the box. For the money, it's hard to fault. It's built around a 6061-T6 triple-butted hydroformed aluminium alloy frame that's mated to a full carbon fork, and both of those are tidily built. The bike has mounts for a rack and full mudguards and two sets of bottle bosses, so it's properly versatile if you want to run it as a winter bike/adventure bike/tourer.

Gear range: 30–98 inches

Read our review of the 2017 Vitus Energie

Sonder Camino Al Apex 1 Hydraulic V2 — £999

Sonder-Camino-Alloy-100.jpg

With its wide, flared bar, the Sonder Camino from outdoor equipment specialists Alpkit is very much at the 'off-road adventure' station on the liine spectrum from pothole-basher to intercontinental expedition. This is a bike that enjoys going off-road but would also be quite happy taking you longer distances on tarmac too. The bias – and the way the bike is specced certainly corroborates this – is towards off-road adventuring. The comfortable position is perfect for gravel excursions or riding long distances loaded with luggage, but is just a little too upright for longer (proper) road rides. It’s a do anything bike with a definite off-road flavour, but above all, it’s a bike to have fun with at a price that belies its capabilities.

Gear range: 26–98 inches

Read our review of the Sonder Camino Al Apex 1 Hydraulic V2

Pinnacle Arkose X — £1,400

2019 pinnacle arkose x

Evans Cycles rightly describes the Arkose as being "a gravel bike before we were using the term". The 2019 Arkose line has been revamped with more tyre clearance, and a range of builds for different purposes, some for predominantly road riding, some for dirt and the X, which is a true do-everything bike. It has SRAM's Rival 1 transmission and hydraulic disc brakes, with 650B wheels shod with WTB's 47mm 'road plus' Byway tyres.

Gear range: 27–103 inches

Read our review of the Pinnacle Arkose 3
Find a Pinnacle dealer

Boardman CXR 8.9 — £1,000

Boardman CXR 8.9

Chris Boardman has always said that his cyclocross bikes are his favourites in the range. With a big gear range, SRAM Apex hydraulic discs, and mounts for racks and mudguards, the CXR 8.9 exemplifies the versatility Boardman loves about cyclocross bikes, and it's outstanding value for money.

Gear range: 28-108 inches

Find a Boardman dealer

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Road.cc buyer's guides are maintained and updated by John Stevenson. Email John with comments, corrections or queries.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

19 comments

Avatar
TheSmallRing [15 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

Just started using 1x on my new commuter. Haven't noticed the big jump between gears, probably only an issue when on a fast pace club run or racing.

What I do notice is the lack of chain slap, especially when hitting potholes or jumping up curbs. Very satisfying. 

Indexing seems a bit more fiddly though. 

Avatar
Jimthebikeguy.com [229 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes

Love a sram 1x. If you are having indexing issues, remember that they are very sensitive to the b screw being in the right place. There are plenty of youtube vids from sram on the topic.

Avatar
matthewn5 [1280 posts] 10 months ago
2 likes

If people want simple, why not go for hub gears? No derailleurs, no problems, last for ever.

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Nick T [1221 posts] 2 months ago
3 likes

*leans into mic*

 

no. 

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fukawitribe [2674 posts] 2 months ago
1 like
matthewn5 wrote:

If people want simple, why not go for hub gears? No derailleurs, no problems, last for ever.

Well, they're really no more simple but I think it's mainly that currently they tend to be significantly heavier and far more expensive in general *... and seen as 'not cool'. Hopefully all three of those will continue to change in the future, it seems to be happening but it's slower than many would like, myself included. I'd like to think that the increase in popularity in e-bikes is pushing the gearbox developments a wee bit faster, but difficult to tell for sure.

 

* Up-front costs anyway - the amortised cost due savings in cassettes, chainsets and chains can certainly be compelling but no help if the initial purchase price makes it difficult to get.

Avatar
TheSmallRing [15 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

Why is it seemingly impossible to buy a standalone Rival or Force 1x groupset in the UK? The only way to get it is with a complete bike.

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darrenleroy [318 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

Is there a 1x chainring set up that gives the same ratio as a 13-34 rear cassette and 50-34 chain ring? If there is I would consider swapping. That would be my do-it-all range of gears. Low enough to tackle almost any incline and high enough to go fast in a bunch on the flat.

On another note, it's clear there's a gap in the market for a website that offers customisable cassettes that are comparable in price and quality to Shimano/Sram/Campag. Miche do it but the website is ugly/clunky and I've heard mixed reviews of the quality of components. What do others think? 

 

Avatar
fukawitribe [2674 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
darrenleroy wrote:

Is there a 1x chainring set up that gives the same ratio as a 13-34 rear cassette and 50-34 chain ring? If there is I would consider swapping. That would be my do-it-all range of gears. Low enough to tackle almost any incline and high enough to go fast in a bunch on the flat.

For easily available stuff that you can pick up quite cheaply, closest I can find is 42T front / 11-42T rear (27/102 low/hi vs 27/103 for the compact double). 40T / 11-40T is close-ish too, bit chopped off the top mainly (27/97) but smaller gaps.

Avatar
darrenleroy [318 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
fukawitribe wrote:
darrenleroy wrote:

Is there a 1x chainring set up that gives the same ratio as a 13-34 rear cassette and 50-34 chain ring? If there is I would consider swapping. That would be my do-it-all range of gears. Low enough to tackle almost any incline and high enough to go fast in a bunch on the flat.

For easily available stuff that you can pick up quite cheaply, closest I can find is 42T front / 11-42T rear (27/102 low/hi vs 27/103 for the compact double). 40T / 11-40T is close-ish too, bit chopped off the top mainly (27/97) but smaller gaps.

 

I don't understand gear inches I'm afraid. Does the 42 front with the 11-42 rear give as low a gear as being in 34-34? Thanks.

Avatar
peted76 [1284 posts] 2 months ago
2 likes

Adam Blythe says no.

Avatar
fukawitribe [2674 posts] 2 months ago
1 like
darrenleroy wrote:
fukawitribe wrote:
darrenleroy wrote:

Is there a 1x chainring set up that gives the same ratio as a 13-34 rear cassette and 50-34 chain ring? If there is I would consider swapping. That would be my do-it-all range of gears. Low enough to tackle almost any incline and high enough to go fast in a bunch on the flat.

For easily available stuff that you can pick up quite cheaply, closest I can find is 42T front / 11-42T rear (27/102 low/hi vs 27/103 for the compact double). 40T / 11-40T is close-ish too, bit chopped off the top mainly (27/97) but smaller gaps.

 

I don't understand gear inches I'm afraid. Does the 42 front with the 11-42 rear give as low a gear as being in 34-34? Thanks.

Umm - yes, it's just a ratio - 34/34 and 42/42 (or 40/40). Top end for the 1x is ~3.82:1 (42/11) or ~3.64:1 (40/11) vs ~3.84:1 (50/13) for the double. No real difference in the top speed between the 1x with 42T F / 11-42T R vs the 2x with 50-34T F / 13-24T R if you're having to pedal, around 1-2km/h @ 90/95rpm top gear if you look at the 1x with 40T F and 11-40T R instead.

 

Edit : sorry, forgot to mention that the original gear-inch figures were for a typical 700c 28mm tyre setup - it was more the comparative ratios between the 1x and 2x set-ups I meant to show.

Avatar
Miller [188 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

One-by has its uses but I'm not convinced by the concept for gravel, assuming your vision of a gravel bike is one that can happily transition between tarmac and unmade surfaces. I've done a few CX sportives and my two-by (can I say that?) transmission gives me high gears and low gears and plenty of options in between, just as two rings always have done. The one-by thing for gravel looks faddy to me and suggestive of lazy product mgmt in the bike vendors. If chain slap is seen as a problem, a clutch mech will work in a two-ring setup.

 

Avatar
darrenleroy [318 posts] 2 months ago
1 like
Miller wrote:

One-by has its uses but I'm not convinced by the concept for gravel, assuming your vision of a gravel bike is one that can happily transition between tarmac and unmade surfaces. I've done a few CX sportives and my two-by (can I say that?) transmission gives me high gears and low gears and plenty of options in between, just as two rings always have done. The one-by thing for gravel looks faddy to me and suggestive of lazy product mgmt in the bike vendors. If chain slap is seen as a problem, a clutch mech will work in a two-ring setup.

 

 

I think it's the simplicity and ability to shed mud that appeals. 

Avatar
TelemarkTumalo [16 posts] 2 months ago
1 like
Miller wrote:

....The one-by thing for gravel looks faddy to me and suggestive of lazy product mgmt in the bike vendors. If chain slap is seen as a problem, a clutch mech will work in a two-ring setup. 

If you have ridden a mountain bike constructed in the past 5 years or so, you will immediately understand the benefit.  While most of us won't challenge a gravel/cross bike to the same rough trails as we might on our mountain bikes, most riders will do great on a 1x set up.  As already mentioned, the lack of a front mech increases reliability and fewer chain dumps.  The greatest drawback is the steps between gears.  I too worried about this,  but I adapted quickly.  12 speed cassettes are coming, which will make the jumps (or range) more appealing.  1x bikes are even coming to strictly road cycling.  Look at the 3T bikes.... not even available with 2x.... and being raced by Aqua Blue.   I agree that manufacturers like Shimano need to step things up to the 1x plate and make a dedicated crankset.  The Easton EC90 SL crank is a nice option for those hoping to swap back and forth from 1x to 2x, and makes our bikes versatile to both setups.  I am riding an OPEN UPPER with this setup and love the flexibility.

I can remember when mountain bikes began ditching 3x setups and the conventional pundits were howling with outrage.  When was the last time you saw a triple ring setup on a modern mountain bike?  It is an interesting time in cycling development.  The gravel bike movement, bikes capable of running 650b and 700c wheelsets and tires, and the 1x concept.  All on drop bar bikes.  Fantastic!

Avatar
Huckfinn [23 posts] 1 month ago
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Having ridden a 3x mtb for quite a while (well over 5 years....) I'm on the market for a gravel/cx one.

I tried some and, while I'm definitely after a light carbon frame bike, the biggest difference is made by the gears. And here's the point: as I understand it, many a road bike have a 52-36 crankset and 11-28 cassette. This gives you a ratio of 4.72/1.28 which in gear/inches translates as 35.8-132.16 ({Gear/Inches} =wheel diameter in inches X n° of teeth in front chainring divided by n° of teeth in rear sprocket}}...if I understand it right. Great for speeding, not so when climbing (I live in the South of France and climbing cannot be avoided).

I noticed that, for example (similar price bracket):

1)The lovely White Essex One has a: 44 (1x) & 10-42cassette= 4.4/1.04 , i.e. gear/inches:  29.2 - 123.2

2)The new Giant Revolt Advanced2: 48-32   & 11-34cassette = 4.36/0.94, i.e. gear/inches: 26.3- 122.1 

3)The new Orro Terra C Adventure:   48-32       11-30                  = 4.36/1.06                                    29.7- 122.1

and so on...

Am I doing it right? Because from this it appears that, for ex, the n°2 climbs more easily and it is not that much "slower" when speeding..

For reference, my old Giant 3x mtb: 42-22         11-30                 = 3.81/0.73                                    19 - 99.1 (insanely easy for climbing but makes me pedal like crazy when speeding on flat asphalt road...!!).

Any comment would be appreciated!

Thanks!!

 

 

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miles_from_anywhere [38 posts] 1 week ago
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I have been using 1 x 11 sram force for around 18 months now and love it. The bike is used for trails, commutes and club rides with my old road crew. The poor bike has also been used touring when I cycled back from Land's End (admitily ran out of gears coming out of Salcombe (my excuse)) - I have 11 x 42 with a 46 tooth front ring, seems perfect

Before this, I converted an old cannondale MTB to 1 x 9 and it breathed new life into it.

Sometimes on my old Trek road bike I enjoy the smaller increments of the rear cog, especially when out in a headwind or really pushing hard through a club ride (my legs are getting old)

 

 

 

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tugglesthegreat [115 posts] 1 week ago
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I currently ride a Arkose for commuting, weekend gravel rides and CX races. Gearing wise I've 36.46 and ride 11-28 during the week and I have a spare set of wheels with 11-34 for longer off road adventures.

Looking at the ratios I don't think I'll be missing out going to a 1x system. The cross gears big-big and small-small (pro-gears) you can discount and there seems to be a few ratios very close to each other (duplicates) so you can subtract those from the total of gears. The gaps are slightly wider but I don't think that would be too much of an issue, but I haven't ridden a 1x!

The biggest advantage to me would be clearing the bottom bracket area - reducing the potential of blocking with mud or ice. Certainly for cross races I'm not out of the 36 chain ring so I'm just carrying extra weight. The only reason I don't currently have a bike with a 1x system is finances.  When I have the money I'll be getting one.

Just looking for a bike with 11sp, thru axles and 1x for less than £1k, ideally with hydo brakes. Any help on that would be greatly appreciated? 

 

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imajez [118 posts] 1 week ago
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This incredibly useful gear comparison chart lets you visually see the differences between two sets of gearing options and you can see how they differ or match up really easily. Fully customisable.

Here's 1x11 compared to 2x11. Personally I'll be going to 2x12 [when I can afford it] because I want more and not less gearing, so here's a 1x12 Vs 2x12 comparison
 

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fukawitribe [2674 posts] 1 week ago
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imajez wrote:

This incredibly useful gear comparison chart lets you visually see the differences between two sets of gearing options and you can see how they differ or match up really easily. Fully customisable.

Here's 1x11 compared to 2x11. Personally I'll be going to 2x12 [when I can afford it] because I want more and not less gearing, so here's a 1x12 Vs 2x12 comparison
 

Interestingly - or not - using a 1x with 40T + 11-42T then the only 'missing' range in the last one is from around 45 km/h up @ 90rpm. I'd be happy with that for a general purpose bike, or anything that's not going downhill for a long time.