SRAM and Campagnolo might have gone 12-speed, but Rotor has made the leap to 13-speed with its brand new 1x single ring groupset. We first saw Rotor’s new 1x13 groupset at Eurobike last year - Dave did a first look video - and now we can furnish you with more details including prices, specs and claimed weights.
A quick recap before we get stuck into details. Rotor has been developing its Uno hydraulic groupset for a number of years, we first saw it back in 2015, never really made it to market, but last year Rotor launched a new version based around a 1x13 configuration.
The company reckons the new groupset “offers you a choice of chainring and cassette sizing combinations for more range at high speeds, more range at low cadences and perfect sequencing of gears for every situation.”
But first, let’s give you the prices. It starts at £1,750 for a 1x12 upgrade kit and between £2,999 and £3,999 for the 1x13 versions depending on whether you want a power meter, a lightweight option or one tailored towards adventure riding.
Here are the groupset prices at a glance:
As the new 13-speed cassette requires new hubs and wheels, Rotor has decided to develop a 12-speed groupset that offers an easier upgrade path, letting you use your current wheels and hubs. It uses the same hydraulic gear/brake lever hoods but a specific chain.
So you could upgrade to the 12-speed groupset using your current wheels, and then make the leap to 13-speed in the future if you wanted. It’s an interesting decision to offer two routes into the new groupset compared to the wholesale approach by SRAM with its new Red eTap AXS groupset.
The 1x12 cassette offers, according to Rotor, a comparable range to a 2x11 setup but with “a lighter, more aero and reliable combination without changing chainrings at any time.”
There are four 12-speed cassettes to choose from, they are:
Why 1x13? Good question, and one that helpfully Rotor attempts to answer. IT claims the reason to adopt 1x13 offers weight, aerodynamic and reliability benefits as well as being adaptable to different styles of riding from road racing to gravel bashing.
There are three 1x13 groupsets to choose from. They are 1x13 Ultimate Performance (£3,999) for racers and performance focused cyclists and includes carbon fibre wheels and a power meter. The 1x13 Super Light (£3,050) version is obviously for weight weenies and combines the carbon wheels with an ALDHU crankset. And lastly, the 1x13 Adventure (£2,299) setup uses aluminium wheels and an ALDHU crankset and is designed for comfort and durability focused riders.
To ensure the four cassettes couple to a single ring provide the ideal performance with minimum gaps, it developed what it likes to call True Cadence technology. This boils down to an extensive analysis of power meter date from a wide range of cyclists which is used to hone the exact sprocket count of each cassette.
The first seven sprockets offer a closer range while the six larger sprockets have large gaps, the idea being that when you’re at the meaty end of the cassette you have small cadence changes, yet you still have necessary range for dealing with hills where arguably the size of jumps isn’t as critical.
There are four 13-speed cassettes to choose from, they are:
Whether you choose 12- or 13-speed, the same hydraulic shifters and brake levers/callipers and rear deraiareeur is used. There’s a specific chain for 12- and 13-speed but the same Aldhu crankset or 2INpower if you want a power meter.
The crankset uses a Direct Mount interface to allow easy chainring changes and is offering sizes from 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, 48, 50, 52 and 54.
Rotor makes some impressive weight claims for the new groupset, just 1,785g for a rear derailleur, shifters, flat mount callipers, chain and a 10-36t cassette with all necessary hardware such as hoses and disc rotors. Shimano Dura-Ace Di2, by comparison, is a lardy 2,322g.
Wheel changes with disc brakes can be slower (as I experimented with recently in this video) so to reduce this penalty Rotor has developed some interesting technology for its funky rear mech. There’s a “Go to Origin” button which instantly puts the mech into the smallest gear, while a “Quick Extract” system lets you easily unlock the cage with a single hand to easily whip out the wheel.
The other big talking point is hydraulic shifting. By adapting disc brake hydraulic technology Rotor has created “Pulse Hydraulics” which it claims “provides precision, power of actuation and safety” and there are the claimed weight benefits as well, with the complete groupset significantly lighter than Dura-Ace and eTap. The system uses mineral oil and can be internally or externally routed.
Rotor has had to developed new hubs to accommodate the 13 sprockets using the Rvolver hub it launched a few years ago.
This hub comprises radial pawls that engage a floating ratchet ring, which Rotor says means friction when coasting is reduced, while a 15-degree engagement angle ensures instant pickup when you start pedalling.
It has also developed new wheels specifically designed for 13-speed hubs and cassettes. There’s a choice of carbon or aluminium rims to suit different budgets and style of bikes.
It'll be hitting shops in April 2019. We'll hopefully be getting our hands on it soon because we're really keen to find out how it performs and if 13 is the magic number for making a 1x drivetrain a viable alternative to a 2x setup.
More info at https://rotorbike.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.