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This Technical Tweak Makes Mountain Biking Way More Fun

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This Technical Tweak Makes Mountain Biking Approach Extra Enjoyable

Lower than a decade in the past the 1x drivetrain — a single entrance chainring with a big rear cassette — was an outlier, discovered totally on selfmade franken-bikes. For the reason that creation of the entrance derailleur within the Nineteen Thirties, most bikes have employed twin mechanisms — usually two chainrings in entrance and several other in again — offering a wider vary of gears and smaller gaps between them.

For almost a century, 1x groupsets lived on the perimeter, restricted by their vary. Thought-about inefficient and sluggish, they had been a black sheep within the bike world. However with new expertise rising, that status goes out the window.

In 2012, SRAM boldly introduced the “dying of the entrance derailleur” with the primary mass-produced 1x groupset, designed for mountain bikes. Though the declare was a bit untimely, it wasn’t fully fallacious. The brand new 1x system got here with an 11-cog rear cassette the dimensions of a dinner plate, offering the identical excessive and low gears as most double-chainring mountain bikes, with out entrance shifting.

sram xx1 eagle axs groupset

SRAM’s top-end XX1 Eagle AXS Groupset.


“The principle promoting level was simplicity and the liberty it gave the rider,” explains Chris Mandell, SRAM’s North American PR supervisor. “We’re all human beings, getting on bikes, attempting to interface with the terrain. From inexperienced persons to elite athletes it’s the identical problem on the path. The one-by system frees up headspace to concentrate on driving and reduces boundaries between you and the path.”

Regardless of early pushback, the 1x grew to become trade commonplace for mountain bikes inside a number of years. As we speak it’s uncommon to see something however 1x drivetrains on the path, as each main bike producer designs particularly for them. On most bikes, dropper post levers now occupy the house the place a second shifter used to dwell, making them ergonomic and simpler to make use of. With this foothold, the motion to simplify drivetrains began to develop.

“As mixed-terrain driving began to blow up a handful of years in the past, demand for parts that carry out higher on a number of surfaces adopted swimsuit,” says Elliott Lane, USA street & gravel class chief at Specialized Bicycles. “Within the US, the gravel market has grown over forty p.c 12 months over 12 months, and these riders are taking their bikes on gravel roads, double monitor, even single-track mountain bike trails. They’re dealing with bumpier and steeper terrain, and one-by drivetrains usually carry out higher in these conditions.”

sram on trek ebike


In 2016, SRAM unveiled a 12-speed rear cassette for the 1x system, mitigating many of the vary drawback. The unique Eagle had a 500 p.c gear vary – the distinction between the most important and smallest gears – and a large granny gear, providing a bigger vary than many two-by setups. By emphasizing sturdiness and user-friendly shifting, the Eagle broke into the drop-bar world and shortly began to dominate the journey and gravel classes.

“Our purpose was by no means to blow the doorways off,” notes Mandell. “We needed to take heed to riders about their wants and construct a system that was proper for them. This was primarily targeted on a bigger vary and a better gear to go up hills. We had been listening to this from everybody — on a regular basis customers to professional athletes. Folks need to preserve power on the as much as be safer and have extra enjoyable on the way in which down.”

By 2016, 1x drivetrains had been extensively obtainable for gravel and street bikes, encouraging bike producers to design frames particularly for them. To many manufacturers, ditching that entrance derailleur offered extra versatility and freedom.

“We adopted one-by groupsets for gravel bikes fairly early on, quickly after the parts had been launched 4 years in the past,” recollects Stewart Thompson, world street & gravel class chief at Specialised. “Internally, most of our product workforce and testers desire one-by drivetrains and so the modifications to our bikes have adopted a logical development. Whereas designing solely for one-by removes some variables and permits for bigger tires, we needed to retain two-by compatibility and provides a number of choices to the rider,”

moots with sram


For a lot of riders, the benefits of a 1x quickly grew to become definitely worth the swap. The shifting is easy, the chain falls off much less, and a pair hundred grams of weight is shaved off your bike. Plus, with fewer elements, 1x drivetrains lower down on mechanical points — and so they’ll ultimately be inexpensive, too.

“We launched the brand new Eagle with 52 enamel on June eleventh, a month in the past,” says Mandell. “It’s a mix of many small tweaks to shifting and sturdiness that make the system significantly better. This cassette paired with the best chainring will roll quick on flats and actually assistance on lengthy, steep climbs too.”

Whereas it’s too early to inform if the new GX Eagle will lastly shut the vary hole and be adopted by the thin tire world like its counterparts on gravel and mountain bikes, it’s actually potential that we see a 1x groupset within the peloton of a professional race within the close to future.

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