Component manufacturer SRAM is bringing its single-chainring transmissions to the road with a pair of variants on the Rival and Force groups joining the range it calls 1x.
SRAM introduced its first drivetrains based around a single chainring and massively wide-range sprocket set for mountain bikes in 2013, expanding the idea to cyclo-cross bikes in 2014 with Force CX1.
Now SRAM is aiming at road, gravel, adventure, fitness and triathlon applications with SRAM Force 1 (which replaces CX1) and SRAM Rival 1.
The 1x system (which SRAM wants us to pronounce 'one-by' - good luck with that) comprises three elements. SRAM’s X-Sync single chainrings are now available in a range from 38 to 54 teeth; wide-range 11-speed cassettes are available in 11-36, 11-32, and 11-30, plus the whopping 10-42 introduced for the original mountain bike 1x, which needs a special XD freehub body. Finally, there's the clutch mechanism rear derailleur which controls chain slap.
SRAM says: "Conventional thinking about what’s truly necessary on the bicycle is being scrutinized. Efficiency, lightweight and functionality are the preference over excess, redundancy and complexity."
The company says a 1x transmission can give the same range as a double chainset. A 46-tooth chainring with the 10-42 cassette in fact gives a slightly wider gear range than a 50/34 compact double with an 11-25 cassette. There are definitely some interesting possibilities here for inveterate ger tinkerers.
As well having appeal for general riding and messing about on dirt roads, the system may well suit time trail riders who want to keep things simple. with a 54-tooth chainring, a less outre cassette than the wide-rangers, like an 11-26, yields a gear range from 56 to 133 inches and no need to think about a front derailleur while you're fighting through the lactic acid.
SRAM will offer matching brake levers for its mechanical and hydraulic stoppers, and trigger shifters for flat-bar bikes.
Force 1 and Rival 1 components will become available this summer, starting with brake levers, disc brakes and derailleurs in June, cranksets and chainrings in July and the 11-36 cassette in August. Some cassette sizes are already available as they are part of existing mountain bike and cyclo-cross sets.
Prices are laid out in this Excel spreadsheet. Also: full specs of the new groups and SRAM's complete product booklet For Force 1 and Rival 1.
Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.