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What's the latest on road 1x viability?

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What's the latest on road 1x viability?

Old 09-06-21, 07:07 AM
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PeteHski
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What's the latest on road 1x viability?

I'm seriously considering a 1x road setup on my next bike, which until recently was always going to be a compromise on gearing and/or some sort of mtb/gravel bodge up.

But now we have 13 speed Ekar with sensible cassette spacing and also Sram XPLR, does that now swing the balance more in favour of a 1x setup for the average road rider?
I'm thinking it probably does for me. I could go from my current compact double 50/34T x 11-34T to something like 42T x 9-42T with Ekar.

Any reason why I shouldn't take the plunge now the ratios seem more viable?
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Old 09-06-21, 08:12 AM
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I don't know the answer. But, here's one guys' take on the comparison of 1X and 2X systems. Hope it helps.

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Old 09-06-21, 08:18 AM
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Your current compact double is fine IMO. I would just keep it. But if you're bored it might be a fun project. If you don't have experience at this, Do a lot of research first. It may be easy for a bike mechanic, but for the average cyclist it's not easy.

That said, Since you already have a multi speed road bike. Just make a note of the gear range in gear inches you are most likely to use and add perhaps 10% . Google gear inch calculator for that. Even a basic 9 speed 11 - 34T cassette provides a 3.1x gear range (35 - 105 gear inches) with reasonable spacing on all but the extreme gears.

If you live in a mountainous region with long steep rides, then you'll likely want more range that an 11 speed offers or you're current 2x chainring. But a for few short steep hills and longer low grades the even the most basic 9 speed with the right 1x chainring will do. Also drivetrain efficiency drops fast below 13T on the cassette, The 11T is best saved for fast decents if your bored.

Last edited by xroadcharlie; 09-06-21 at 08:31 AM.
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Old 09-06-21, 09:08 AM
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If the spacing doesn't bother you and you have the range you need, go for it.

For me, gearing gaps can be pretty frustrating if I'm really pushing myself, so I don't see 1x being a viable answer for me unless it's going to be a bike that'll be ridden a little more casually.
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Old 09-06-21, 09:24 AM
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If you want to cha ge for the sake of change- neat. It's a hobby and there is an appeal to trying something new/different.

But its tough for me to come up with a legitimate benefit of 1x for road.
If someone really can't manage to move a finger on their left hand from time to time, they shouldn't be riding a bike in the first place. And if someone can't figure out a general use of 2x, they should look into something more basic like shuffleboard.
When I hear people talking about how they are constantly searching for a gear, it's super confusing. If you are pedaling too fast and easy for your liking, shift to a harder ratio. If you are pedaling too slow and tough for your liking, shift to an easier ratio.
Its that simple.

And if you have a front derailleur that doesn't shift correctly then fix it. Either figure out how to fix it yourself or take it to a shop. The answer shouldn't be that you get rid of a chainring and then slap a goofy big cassette on the rear.


But if you want to try it because it's innovative, makes sense.

Disclosure- I ride 2x on my gravel bike too since it's just a road bike that can more capably handle unpaved roads. The gearing is slightly easier than my road bikes because a larger tire changes gear inches and softer surfaces are a touch more difficult to climb.
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Old 09-06-21, 09:55 AM
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Here's my thinking. I live in a place where the roads are undulating with quite steep dips and rises. Almost no flats worth mentioning. So on a typical ride I find myself constantly swapping chainrings going up and down countless short steep pitches. Or sometimes I just stay on the big ring and power over the rises - which is not very efficient really. Having run a 1x mtb setup for the last 6 years I prefer just clicking up and down the cassette without any dramatic changes. For sure the advantages of a 1x are amplified off-road, but I do like the concept. Now that 1x cassettes have enough range and reasonable steps (Ekar has 1 tooth steps on the 6 highest gears) I'm more tempted than ever to make the switch. I would only do this on a dedicated new build. I'm not motivated to mod my existing bike. So it's not going to cost me anything to change over. It just needs to work!
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Old 09-06-21, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
If the spacing doesn't bother you and you have the range you need, go for it.

For me, gearing gaps can be pretty frustrating if I'm really pushing myself, so I don't see 1x being a viable answer for me unless it's going to be a bike that'll be ridden a little more casually.
Ekar has 1 tooth gaps across the 6 highest gears and then progressively larger gaps on the lower end. Sounds good to me. Better than my current 2x 11-34 in that regard.
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Old 09-06-21, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by xroadcharlie View Post
Your current compact double is fine IMO. I would just keep it.
I am keeping it. This is for a new bike. It's fine, but I have to do a lot more chainring juggling than I would like. However well you set up the front mech, swapping chainrings still sucks. It's slow and creates a big gap. One of those things you live with and accept simply because you don't know any better. But I've been spoilt with 1x mtb gearing so now I want the same on my road bike.
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Old 09-06-21, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
If you want to cha ge for the sake of change- neat. It's a hobby and there is an appeal to trying something new/different.

But its tough for me to come up with a legitimate benefit of 1x for road.
If someone really can't manage to move a finger on their left hand from time to time, they shouldn't be riding a bike in the first place. And if someone can't figure out a general use of 2x, they should look into something more basic like shuffleboard.
When I hear people talking about how they are constantly searching for a gear, it's super confusing. If you are pedaling too fast and easy for your liking, shift to a harder ratio. If you are pedaling too slow and tough for your liking, shift to an easier ratio.
Its that simple.

And if you have a front derailleur that doesn't shift correctly then fix it. Either figure out how to fix it yourself or take it to a shop. The answer shouldn't be that you get rid of a chainring and then slap a goofy big cassette on the rear.


But if you want to try it because it's innovative, makes sense.

Disclosure- I ride 2x on my gravel bike too since it's just a road bike that can more capably handle unpaved roads. The gearing is slightly easier than my road bikes because a larger tire changes gear inches and softer surfaces are a touch more difficult to climb.
I don't know really. Double chainrings certainly made sense with 5 or 6 speed cassettes. But now we have 12 and 13 speed cassettes I'm not so sure why they really need a double? Front mechs are awful things too. Something to get rid of if feasible, which I admit it wasn't until now.
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Old 09-06-21, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
Ekar has 1 tooth gaps across the 6 highest gears and then progressively larger gaps on the lower end. Sounds good to me. Better than my current 2x 11-34 in that regard.
not better than my 12-29 cassette, which has 1Ėt gaps for 6 gears, and never more than 3t, and with a compact gives me (juuuuuust about) enough range to get up the 1500ft mountains around here. And Iíve had cassettes without that 16, and I do miss it.

I get why people donít like front shifting, but for me the great advantage of modern wide cassettes and brifters is that you can get through a ride with only a handful of front shifts; basically one downshift per mountain unless it has a very long downhill section.

I have a ďsome day in the futureĒ gravel bike plan to pair a 42-26 double with a 11-36 9 speed cassette. Big ring on pretty much all paved surfaces, and drop to the little ring when off road.
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Old 09-06-21, 10:50 AM
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I use to think that if one could get the min and max gear ratio needed for the riding one does, then 1x will be great. And I do still think that 1x is great for some, maybe many.

However, what I now realize is that when riding with groups, it's annoying sometimes not to have that perfect gear ratio to allow you the cadence and power you need to comfortably maintain the speed of the group. So a 3x5 bike from the 1970's still might beat a 1x12 from 2021 for allowing you to find a comfortable gear.
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Old 09-06-21, 10:52 AM
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If you are ok with MTB 15% shift sizes and a 100 inch top gear then itís been viable since 9 speed. 10-46 is only adding range at the margins.

If you want 53/11and two passes through the corncob and the 10t-11t shift looks huge, then no.
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Old 09-06-21, 11:20 AM
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Looking at the gear calculator, it could really work with Campy's 13 speed cassette, the chainline ought to be pretty straight when going quickly on the flat with that setup. Give it a try and report.

I mean there's always that "bigger chainrings are more efficient" thing but the difference comes out to less than a watt and you lose a chainring and the front mech, so 🤷

If you are super persnickety about gear spacing and want it to be tight when riding slowly, too, then it might not be for you - but the gear jumps when going quickly in the a 80-90 rpm seem just fine.

Could work, why not? I'm happy with 11 speed 50-34 with a 11-30 in the back, but with 13 speed, 1X does seem viable.
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Old 09-06-21, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Branko D View Post
Looking at the gear calculator, it could really work with Campy's 13 speed cassette, the chainline ought to be pretty straight when going quickly on the flat with that setup. Give it a try and report.
Yep, thatís what I thought too. Whenever Iíve looked at previous cassette options Iíve always sucked through my teeth and then bottled out.

But I think the Campy 13 speed cassettes are a genuine game-changer here. Not just the extra gear, but the way they are spaced. I would probably go with the 9-42 or 10-44 because I need low gearing for some 25% climbs.
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Old 09-06-21, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Leinster View Post
not better than my 12-29 cassette, which has 1Ėt gaps for 6 gears, and never more than 3t, and with a compact gives me (juuuuuust about) enough range to get up the 1500ft mountains around here. And Iíve had cassettes without that 16, and I do miss it.

I get why people donít like front shifting, but for me the great advantage of modern wide cassettes and brifters is that you can get through a ride with only a handful of front shifts; basically one downshift per mountain unless it has a very long downhill section.

I have a ďsome day in the futureĒ gravel bike plan to pair a 42-26 double with a 11-36 9 speed cassette. Big ring on pretty much all paved surfaces, and drop to the little ring when off road.
But I couldnít live with a 12-29 cassette. Climbs are just too steep and Iím sometimes climbing 4000m over 100 miles. So I need a 1:1 low gear for the 20%+ pitches and fatigue. Iíd be dead on your gearing! I wouldnít say no to an even lower gear to be honest.

I was considering the Ekar 9-42 with a 40T chainring. I could always put a larger chainring on for easier flatter rides.
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Old 09-06-21, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
I don't know the answer. But, here's one guys' take on the comparison of 1X and 2X systems. Hope it helps.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9-en9zMNss&t=511s
He seemed pretty sold on it and I agree with most of his comments. This was before Ekar and the latest SRAM setup too. They address most of the cons I think.

So Iím pretty sold too at this point!
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Old 09-06-21, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
Ekar has 1 tooth gaps across the 6 highest gears and then progressively larger gaps on the lower end. Sounds good to me. Better than my current 2x 11-34 in that regard.
Hmm, maybe. I'd have to punch the numbers in to a gear inch calc and see what gets spit out for various chainrings; I'm currently riding a 12-25t 11-sp, which has one-tooth jumps from 12 to 19, and two-tooth jumps thereafter.
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Old 09-06-21, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
Hmm, maybe. I'd have to punch the numbers in to a gear inch calc and see what gets spit out for various chainrings; I'm currently riding a 12-25t 11-sp, which has one-tooth jumps from 12 to 19, and two-tooth jumps thereafter.
Ekar doesnít have a cassette that tight, 9-36T is the tightest option. The gaps get quite large at the lower end, but I donít mind that so much when climbing. I donít think Iíll lose anything coming from a compact 2x with 11-34T. The gaps are already big on that cassette.
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