A couple of years ago, SRAM launched a new 1x11 mountain bike groupset. It binned the front mech and used a single chainring combined with a huge range 11-tooth cassette. From this photo of US cyclocross racer Ryan Trebon, it looks like they’ve adapting it for the cyclocross market.
SRAM hasn’t revealed any official information on this groupset yet so we don’t exactly have many details to share with you. We do know SRAM likes to use its sponsored racers to test new developments; we first spotted its hydro disc brakes on a US cyclocross racing bikes back along. However, we know plenty about the mountain bike version this new groupset is based on, and it doesn’t look from the photos to stray too far from it.
The really interesting aspect about the new groupset is the lack of a front mech or chainguide. SRAM developed a chainring with alternating wide and narrow teeth that fit inside a chain with corresponding alternating inner and outer links. This essentially means the chain fits more securely on the chainring than a regular setup. Meanwhile, the rear derailleur has an internal roller bearing clutch that increases tension on the chain, and stops it bouncing around - which can lead to derailed chains. It's been well proven with many top flight mountain bike world cup and enduro victories to its name already.
The groupset offers a simplicity of shifting - you only have the rear shifter to play with - and much less chance of the chain dropping over rough terrain. I’ve ridden the mountain bike groupset and it does work astonishing well. Shifting is quick and precise and there’s no shortage of ratios at either end of the cassette. It does look like Ryan has been using a regular RED road cassette, probably an 11-26, but we image there'll be a greater selection if, when, it comes to market.
This sort of groupset, with all its benefits, is ideal for cyclocross racing. But we reckon it's ideal too for the new breed of versatile utility cyclocross bikes that are becoming more popular.
Thanks to Bikerumour of use of the photos.
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.