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Wide range 1x drivetrain for gravel bikes?

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Wide range 1x drivetrain for gravel bikes?

Old 12-19-15, 12:04 PM
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KonaRider125
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Wide range 1x drivetrain for gravel bikes?

I've been researching and thinking about buying a gravel type bike. I'm still undecided if I want to go with the usual 46/36 and 11-32 cassette or a SRAM 1x set up with a 38 or 40 T chainring and a 10-42 cassette.

My question for all you is do you think the 1x on dropbar bikes is a fad that SRAM is trying to hype up to sell more components or is something that is here to stay? I would like to hear from people who have 1x drivetrains on your gravel/dropbar bikes, do you like the setup?

Pictures are good to.

Last edited by KonaRider125; 12-19-15 at 05:58 PM.
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Old 12-19-15, 09:33 PM
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A 10-42, 11 speed cassette brings a lot of interesting options...depending on the chainring, it could provide a wider range on both ends than a 46/36 11-32...the gears would be a little further apart, maybe similar to an 8 or 9 speed double, that's about the only downside I can think of.

Kona switched the Rove ST to 1x for 2016 (11-36) and seems to think that's good enough...im guessing thats how they managed to lower the price by $100 (given the parts that arent needed). Oddly enough no one is making a low end 1x that I can find...the 10-42 sram equipped bikes are even higher. I think sunrace is making some 11-40 and 11-42 cassettes now, so maybe next year "1x technology" will trickle down
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Old 12-20-15, 03:11 AM
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Originally Posted by wheelsmcgee View Post
A 10-42, 11 speed cassette brings a lot of interesting options...depending on the chainring, it could provide a wider range on both ends than a 46/36 11-32...the gears would be a little further apart, maybe similar to an 8 or 9 speed double, that's about the only downside I can think of.

Kona switched the Rove ST to 1x for 2016 (11-36) and seems to think that's good enough...im guessing thats how they managed to lower the price by $100 (given the parts that arent needed). Oddly enough no one is making a low end 1x that I can find...the 10-42 sram equipped bikes are even higher. I think sunrace is making some 11-40 and 11-42 cassettes now, so maybe next year "1x technology" will trickle down
Yes, the downside is that You have less gears in between. One gear could be too high the next too low for You. But You get simplicity instead.

The other issue I can think of is the longevity of this solution. From the start of my bicycle life everyone was telling me that I should not use the most further apart gears together because of the wear out of the chain and the cassette. With one crankset You will naturally do that very often.
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Old 12-20-15, 07:27 AM
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I have a 1x setup. I do not run a wide range cassette simply because I don't encounter hilly terrain all that often. The main benefit is simplicity. It is very liberating only having to worry about the right shifter.
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Old 12-20-15, 08:19 AM
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The best option would be to objectively look at the comfortable min/max cadeances ride at, then use one of the online gearing calculators (like this one: BikeCalc.com - Speed at all Cadences for any Gear and Wheel) to see what kind of speeds you'll be going for a given cransket and cassette combo.

My personal opinion is that 1x setups are fine for riding over a relatively narrow speed range (say, MTBing, actual CX racing, or general riding in flat areas). If any of these riding styles apply to you, a 1X setup would probably be fine, pending that gearing will work for your expected speeds.

If you live somewhere hilly, a 1X setup will certainty leave something to be desired. The "low" really won't be that low and the "high" really won't be that high. You may find yourself spinning out at low speeds on long downhills, and struggling up steep uphills at too low of a cadeance, which can sap energy, be hard on your knees, or leave you walking. Your average speed would also suffer.

In the area where I live, we have many very steep, relatively short hills (generally <500 ft in total ascent/descent), and my average speed for a given gravel ride is something like 4 mph to 40+ mph, so a 1X setup would be ineffective, and not worth the weight savings or reduction in complexity. FD's have come a long ways, and I only adjust my Shimano CX70 maybe once a year.

Also keep in mind that a 46/36 is really a pretty crappy chainring combo for anything but CX - the 10t difference between the rings makes for great shifting, but doesn't give you that big of a range. A 46/34 is better, and a 46/30 is great, but only a few cranksets in the 46/30 ratio are available (neither Shimano or SRAM making these is a big oversight, IMO).
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Old 12-20-15, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by DirtRoadRunner View Post
The best option would be to objectively look at the comfortable min/max cadeances ride at, then use one of the online gearing calculators (like this one: BikeCalc.com - Speed at all Cadences for any Gear and Wheel) to see what kind of speeds you'll be going for a given cransket and cassette combo.

My personal opinion is that 1x setups are fine for riding over a relatively narrow speed range (say, MTBing, actual CX racing, or general riding in flat areas). If any of these riding styles apply to you, a 1X setup would probably be fine, pending that gearing will work for your expected speeds.

If you live somewhere hilly, a 1X setup will certainty leave something to be desired. The "low" really won't be that low and the "high" really won't be that high. You may find yourself spinning out at low speeds on long downhills, and struggling up steep uphills at too low of a cadeance, which can sap energy, be hard on your knees, or leave you walking. Your average speed would also suffer.

In the area where I live, we have many very steep, relatively short hills (generally <500 ft in total ascent/descent), and my average speed for a given gravel ride is something like 4 mph to 40+ mph, so a 1X setup would be ineffective, and not worth the weight savings or reduction in complexity. FD's have come a long ways, and I only adjust my Shimano CX70 maybe once a year.

Also keep in mind that a 46/36 is really a pretty crappy chainring combo for anything but CX - the 10t difference between the rings makes for great shifting, but doesn't give you that big of a range. A 46/34 is better, and a 46/30 is great, but only a few cranksets in the 46/30 ratio are available (neither Shimano or SRAM making these is a big oversight, IMO).
I think that the best combination for gravel bike is like this: CUTTHROAT CARBON X9 | Bikes | Salsa Cycles
28/42 crankset and 11-36 at the rear. And not that expensive...
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Old 12-20-15, 11:33 AM
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I concur, and that is similar to the 46/30 and 11-36 combo that I run. The 42/28 would be better for more off-road riding, as it would spin out easily on long descents.
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Old 12-20-15, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by b0rderline View Post
From the start of my bicycle life everyone was telling me that I should not use the most further apart gears together because of the wear out of the chain and the cassette. With one crankset You will naturally do that very often.
Actually, with a 1x, you NEVER do that. With a 1x, the chain line is centered all the time -- with 2x, the chain shifts to the inside and outside in front , resulting in the issue you're talking about.

There is never an extreme chainline angle with a 1x.

Last edited by FlashBazbo; 12-20-15 at 04:14 PM.
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Old 12-20-15, 12:24 PM
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I've been riding a 1x gravel bike for several months. I live in a mountainous area and I'm very happy with it. Maybe I can help dispel some of the myths.

My setup is 1x front, with easily changeable chainrings, with an 11-42T rear cassette. If you use a 44T front chainring with that cassette, you get almost exactly the same gear range as a compact road (34/50) crankset with an 11-32T road cassette. You essentially miss the two "highest" gears from that combination -- and if you're going over 30 mph on real gravel, you probably don't really need to go faster than that, anyway. It's extremely rare that I spin out on gravel. It's also rare to get stuck in a less-than-ideal ratio. (Remember that pro cyclists were road racing with bigger gaps than these less than 10 years ago.)

I use a 40T or 42T front chainring most of the time. I've got a 38T for long courses that involve a lot of steep climbs, but I've never needed it. With the SRAM Force1 and Quarq 1x cranks, you can change gearing in about 5 minutes. It's easier and faster than changing a tire.

I use a SRAM 1x crank and chain and a Shimano XTR Di2 rear derailleur and XT cassette. The MTB derailleur / cassette allow me to go much lower with the gearing than I can get with road equipment. Good stuff when (as they do around here), the grades start topping 20% to 25%.

For me, the advantages of 1x over 2x are (1) simplicity, (2) a greater variety of easy gearing choices, (3) lack of a front derailleur allows me to move my seatpost bottle cage about an inch lower (greater frame pack clearance), (4) zero chain drops, (5) less lateral stress on the chain (from front shifting) and, (6) with Di2 shifting, I free up the left shifter to also shift the rear derailleur.

Here's a photo of my setup:

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Old 12-20-15, 07:52 PM
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46 x 11-40
And I love it! I use it for gravel, trails and road rides. I don't ever feel like I am missing any gears and haven't noticed the larger gaps either. I actually think the x1 excells in the Hillier terrain.
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Old 12-23-15, 09:49 AM
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Thanks for all the opinions about 1x. The only limitation I can see a 1x setup having for me is top speed going downhill. This doesn't matter to me too much as I'm a recreational cyclist, and not racing or riding competitively.

Flashbazbo- Very nice bike setups you have. What made you decide to go with Shimano Ultegra/XTR Di2 instead of SRAM Force 1?

Also when changing out the chainrings on a 1x setup, how high/low can you go before you have to shorten/lengthen the chain?
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Old 12-23-15, 10:41 AM
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I'll throw in my opinion here only based on my experience. I have ridden my 1X10 (44X11-28 10 speed) cx bike for racing cx and gravel. It worked great and I loved the simplicity. However, this fall I got a dedicated gravel bike that is also serving as my winter training bike( I race mtb and road as well). After a few long gravel rides, bike packing adventure rides, and local group rides, I love the fact that I now have a 2X10 (50/34 X 11-32 11 speed) ! Those small changes in gearing allow me to find my groove. This was very beneficial to me at mile 110 with lots of hills and gear! Food for thought! I feel for CX racing, the 1X is the bomb though!
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Old 12-23-15, 11:10 AM
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My preference for a wide-range 2x10 is definitely biased by the terrain where I live, as well as my riding style. In the 46x11, a cadence of 100 will get me all the way to 34 mph with a 40c tire. I don't hit this on gravel often, but pretty much all of my gravel rides include some pavement, and I spin out the 46x11 combo on the paved sections on almost every ride.

In the 30x36, I can comfortably spin up a 25% grade at 4 mph, at a cadence of 60. During very long rides, the granny bail-out gear is a life saver, and I've only had to walk up a hill with this bike when it is just too loose/rough to maintain traction, and a couple times after a total bonk. I've also used this bike for some short loaded tours, and the granny gearing makes climbing hills loaded pretty easily. I stay in the 46t ring above 10 mph, and only drop into the 30t ring when I'm about to go uphill.

Overall, the 46/30 and 11-36 combo has proven excellent for my riding style, as I have acceptable gearing all the way from 4 to 34 mph. Dropped chains or front shifting issues have not been a problem for me, I rarely had to touch the front shifting at all. I also use a $11 N-Gear chain catcher.

However, I had to order my Sugino OX801D crankset from Japan, as it is nearly an impossible ratio to find stateside. I still don't understand while SRAM and Shimano are choosing to skip this very versatile ratio and promote 1X setups instead, which simply do not offer the same range and the ultra-compact 2x10 (or 2x11) would.
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Old 12-23-15, 07:50 PM
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Why the Shimano XTR Di2 electronic rear derailleur? That's actually the non-negotiable part of my setup. My previous setup was an Ultegra Di2. I haven't found conditions muddy enough, sandy enough, or wet enough to make Shimano's electronic shifting skip a beat. That's not always the case with cable-actuated rear derailleurs. I have yet to talk with anyone from this year's Dirty Kanza 200 who used cable-actuated rear derailleurs who didn't have shifting problems. A lot of people ended up with access to just 3 or 4 cogs and some practically lost all rear shifting. My Di2 never hesitated and never missed a shift with a single push of the button.

The XTR obviously gives me a lot broader gearing options than the Ultegra can. It also has a clutch that maintains chain tension.

The SRAM crankset and chain are there because they offer the 1x gearing I want and specific tooth and chain profiles that make it near impossible to drop the chain.

Last edited by FlashBazbo; 12-23-15 at 08:06 PM.
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Old 12-23-15, 09:30 PM
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I don't think 1x drivetrains are a "fad". The advantages are too compelling. They do have limitations on gear range and/or spacing, but neither are big limitations except in the far corners of the envelope. For me, I simply don't feel any need to go faster on downhills once I get to 30-mph or so. (30+ mph on gravel? Not in a million years.) So I could easily go with 40t and 10-42t and be completely happy for everything except loaded touring.

I've ridden 1x a few times and love it; any future bike I buy will not have a FD. Most "improvements" in bicycling get more complicated.... it is refreshing to have an improvement that gets simpler.

- Mark

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Old 12-24-15, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by FlashBazbo View Post
Actually, with a 1x, you NEVER do that. With a 1x, the chain line is centered all the time -- with 2x, the chain shifts to the inside and outside in front , resulting in the issue you're talking about.

There is never an extreme chainline angle with a 1x.
This is wrong. With double, you are not shifting to the extreme so chainline is better at their extreme.

Anyway, if you are roadie, you will notice huge gaps and constantly shifting to find the right gear, but if you are not, it won't bother you. I have one cx bike with 1x and another 1x cx bike that I use as a commuter. They work quite well, but I'll never put 1x on my road bikes.
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Old 12-24-15, 01:01 PM
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A 1 in the back too, but theres 14 inside the Hub WB Bicycle Gallery: Robert Clark's Koga Miyata WTR..
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Old 12-24-15, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Dream Cyclery View Post
This is wrong. With double, you are not shifting to the extreme so chainline is better at their extreme.

Anyway, if you are roadie, you will notice huge gaps and constantly shifting to find the right gear, but if you are not, it won't bother you. I have one cx bike with 1x and another 1x cx bike that I use as a commuter. They work quite well, but I'll never put 1x on my road bikes.
What is wrong? You're not being clear. Are you saying that you have extreme chainline angles with your 1x? If you do, you've got it set up wrong. The front chainring should be aligned with the middle of the cassette.

And I'm a long-time roadie and I never have problems with the gaps. Not that long ago, 2x roadie setups had much bigger gaps than this. Most riders had the capacity to turn out the power over a broad range of cadences. With 1x, we are talking 2 mph gaps between cogs compared with 1.7 mph gaps at a constant rpm. If an old guy like me can handle a 10 rpm variation in cadence, I'm sure that most people can handle it without noticing it.
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Old 12-24-15, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by FlashBazbo View Post
What is wrong? You're not being clear. Are you saying that you have extreme chainline angles with your 1x? If you do, you've got it set up wrong. The front chainring should be aligned with the middle of the cassette.

And I'm a long-time roadie and I never have problems with the gaps. Not that long ago, 2x roadie setups had much bigger gaps than this. Most riders had the capacity to turn out the power over a broad range of cadences. With 1x, we are talking 2 mph gaps between cogs compared with 1.7 mph gaps at a constant rpm. If an old guy like me can handle a 10 rpm variation in cadence, I'm sure that most people can handle it without noticing it.
Claiming that 1x has straighter chainline is wrong.

Second paragraph is for OP. If you ride with groups and ride hard, gaps are much more noticeable.
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Old 12-26-15, 07:15 AM
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If the total rear cluster width is A and the spacing between the front chainrings is B, then the max cross-chaining distance on the 2x setup is A/2+B/2 and on the 1X it is A/2. Obviously, the 2x is more. But...if you actively work to avoid cross-chaining, it's possible the 2x might result in less "average" cross-chaining since you can tailor your cog selection on the back to stay better aligned with the chainring you are using. (Looking at it another way, a 2x setup has two gear combos with nearly-perfect chain lines, the 1x setup has one.)

I don't think chain line would be much, if any consideration, in my decision to go 1x or 2x.

- Mark

Last edited by markjenn; 12-26-15 at 07:18 AM.
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Old 12-26-15, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by themishmosh View Post
I have a 1x setup. I do not run a wide range cassette simply because I don't encounter hilly terrain all that often. The main benefit is simplicity. It is very liberating only having to worry about the right shifter.
This ^^^.

About 10 years ago I noticed I really never used the smaller rings on my bicycles, so I just ditched the FD. Yes, I still have a double chainring cranks on them, and for those few times I need to use the smaller ring I'll simple change it by hand. Singles up front seem to be a great way to go unless you have some compelling need to use a double/triple (loaded touring bicycle in hilly terrain, or some MTB riding might be good examples).
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Old 08-12-17, 10:48 PM
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Question re Gearing

Originally Posted by sparshall View Post
46 x 11-40
And I love it! I use it for gravel, trails and road rides. I don't ever feel like I am missing any gears and haven't noticed the larger gaps either. I actually think the x1 excells in the Hillier terrain.
Like the Lynsey! Enjoyed reading your comments and rationale on gearing selection for 1x on steeper terrain.

- Do you ride more road than gravel on this set up
- Are you doing sustained climbs of 6+%
- Your age

Thanks..
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Old 08-21-17, 03:13 AM
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Hi Seattle43,

Great to see you're embracing the 1x transmission on your bike. Ditching the FD is not the major issue many riders imagine. With a large range of chainring size and shape options, (we at www.absoluteblack.cc) makes loads, combined with the modern super wide rear cassette ratios, mean you're rarely stuck for the right gear.

Next time you're shopping for a 1x ring give our Oval rings a look.

Cheers.
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Old 08-22-17, 03:21 PM
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Biggest issue with 1x is the super gappy cassettes you're forced to ride with. 1x doesn't have anywhere near the appeal for road/gravel that it does for mtb and only creates headache while trying to solve things that aren't issues. Maybe for a commuter or leisure bike..
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Old 08-22-17, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by chemtrailsnifer View Post
Love my 1x. On my MTB.

There is now way that I would consider trading my 50/34, 11-32 on my drop bar bike. It would be much too limiting.
thats kind of weird gearing for a cross or gravel bike though
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