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 worked on the road.cc tech team from 2012-2020. 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, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes.