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Why 1x?

Old 06-09-21, 12:24 PM
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IcySwan1
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Why 1x?

I am admittedly new to biking, but I don't see the advantage of 1x set ups. I get you can change the cassette to get different gearing, but why would anyone want to give up an additional and smaller chainring gear? I get that it may be a tad simpler and cheaper, but 2x and 3x bikes have worked well for a long time. I like the big ring on my Domane but sure enjoy using the little ring when needed. Same thing with my 3x hybrid.

Is 1x a fad or is there good reasons for it to stay?

Mike
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Old 06-09-21, 12:32 PM
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Steve B.
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With 11 or 12 speeds on the cassette, in ranges of 11 to 50 tooth cogs, you get an adequate range for speed and/or climbing. You do have gaps in between cogs with large tooth difference, but sometimes that's OK. You skip having to figure out what cog to go to after you've decided to go to a different chainring. In some cases, such as mt. biking with a lot of short and sharp up and downs, you're just banging thru the rear quickly and it's really easy. Some folks state that no front derailers means less maintenance and that's true, but it's not like front shifting suddenly got really bad or harder to maintain. Indeed the Shimano Di2 systems make front shifting precise and accurate and easy to use.

I love 1X on my mt. bike as the description above is exactly what I ride, I have little need for the "in between" gears. I would not want it on a road or gravel bike as I desire the closer jumps between cogs that a 2X system give you. YMMV.
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Old 06-09-21, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by IcySwan1 View Post
I am admittedly new to biking, but I don't see the advantage of 1x set ups. I get you can change the cassette to get different gearing, but why would anyone want to give up an additional and smaller chainring gear? I get that it may be a tad simpler and cheaper, but 2x and 3x bikes have worked well for a long time. I like the big ring on my Domane but sure enjoy using the little ring when needed. Same thing with my 3x hybrid.

Is 1x a fad or is there good reasons for it to stay?

Mike
A 1x chainring will be between your two rings for size. A 1x cassette will be wider than your cassette.
That is done to give the rider a wide range of gearing.
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Old 06-09-21, 12:43 PM
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Why? So mountain bikes can easier design frames with suspension, and can have seat tubes that are not straight. That is the why.

Some people like 1x, saying it is simpler (well, it has more maintenance, but we'll ignore that), lighter (well, not really), easier (yep), and covers the same range. 1x is also going to have a lot of chain slap and require a clutch on the derailer.

2x has the obvious advantage of having both a big range and smaller gear changes where you can easier keep the cadence you would like. What is not so obvious is that a 2x11 gear train has about 14 distinct gears, so 1x11 or 1x12 isn't a huge loss.


I would propose that if you ride alone, 1x is plenty - choose your own cadence and speed.
If you need some good low gears and a tight cassette of higher gears that are often required in a group ride or race, or if your speed (and cadence) are chosen by the group and not yourself - 2x may be the way to go.
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Old 06-09-21, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
What is not so obvious is that a 2x11 gear train has about 14 distinct gears
The reason that's non-obvious is that it's false, or at best a misleading marketing point. "14 distinct gears" is just about the minimum that current common 2x11 drivetrain configurations can be construed as offering. Even a Shimano 50-34 11-34, shifted in a "1x-plus-bailout" pattern, is 15 clearly distinct gears. If you're using tighter cassettes and shifting to stay in the straight blocks, it can be more like 16-17. Unusual setups or shift patterns can go even higher.
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Old 06-09-21, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
Why? So mountain bikes can easier design frames with suspension, and can have seat tubes that are not straight.
Also helpful in gravel frame design by allowing much larger tires while maintaining fairly short chainstays.
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Old 06-09-21, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by IcySwan1 View Post

Is 1x a fad or is there good reasons for it to stay?

Mike
I think itís here to stay. I donít even own any 1x bikes (well, unless you count 1x1) but there are some advantages that I donít see going away anytime soon, like:
  • Marginally more robust against drivetrain failure. Iíve never had issues on paved roads, but on mud the front derailer is in location that can get loaded up pretty quickly.
  • as 11 speed, 12 speed (and beyond) become more common, there isnít the same difficulty getting tight spacing and wide range. A lot of people donít even really need both of those things.
  • Adjustments are marginally easier.
  • In theory, 1x should be cheaper to make and install.
  • For some frames, running 1x maximizes tire clearance, and chainring/frame clearance which is also an important thing if you get muddy.

So yea, I donít think itís going away soon, but neither is 2x. If I did paved group rides with my gravel bike, Iíd certainly want 2x.
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Old 06-09-21, 03:16 PM
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Thanks to all. I sense the frame issue for suspension and maximizing wheel clearance were important issues initially, and technology has developed rapidly regarding range of gears making 1x more attractive all the time. I am slow to adapt, but will keep an open mind about it. If I get a 1x it likely will be in gravel bike. And I agree that I will stick with 2x if riding with others since I am usually the caboose anyway.

Mike
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Old 06-09-21, 06:56 PM
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A lot of MTB riders that cross over prefer to stay with teh 1x gearing they have been accustomed to in their MTB. Roadie cerossovrs tend to stay with 2x... It is what they were familiar with before going to gravel.
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Old 06-10-21, 01:58 AM
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Apex 1x came on the TCX I could afford. Also the Hydro hoods are my favourite hoods I've ridden with. Love the simplicity of 1x while riding gravel, racing cx, and climbing around on trails. I only missed my road gearing once on Apex 1x and that was a very fast paced group ride in which I didn't have the lungs to keep up anyways.

That being said. After being on road and gravel for 2 years with 1x, going to 2x the gradual steps in the 10 speed cassette felt dreamy.
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Old 06-10-21, 06:59 AM
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I've gone from a 2x9 to a 1x10 on my mountain bike and it's been great. I don't have quite the same range but it's good enough (I rarely used the super low gearing), but I do have one less derailleur to clean mud out of or worry about maintaining, and I've got a dropper post where my left shifter used to be. So it's great in that regard. I just don't see the same appeal for a gravel bike, where I've ordered a new bike with is 2x10 though because I wanted the extra range and steps.

The only 1x gravel bikes I've seen have been at the lower end of the scale so I can see them being a factor for cheapness/simplicity but I don't think they'll catch on in the same way that they have for MTB. I certainly don't think I'd use a dropper post much on my gravel bike, but I'm guilty of just using it as a more comfortable road bike.
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Old 06-10-21, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Herzlos View Post
I've gone from a 2x9 to a 1x10 on my mountain bike and it's been great. I don't have quite the same range but it's good enough (I rarely used the super low gearing), but I do have one less derailleur to clean mud out of or worry about maintaining, and I've got a dropper post where my left shifter used to be. So it's great in that regard. I just don't see the same appeal for a gravel bike, where I've ordered a new bike with is 2x10 though because I wanted the extra range and steps.

The only 1x gravel bikes I've seen have been at the lower end of the scale so I can see them being a factor for cheapness/simplicity but I don't think they'll catch on in the same way that they have for MTB. I certainly don't think I'd use a dropper post much on my gravel bike, but I'm guilty of just using it as a more comfortable road bike.
It's no fad. It allows for the creation of better chain lines on 11s and 12s cassettes, lessens over-all weight, allows wider tires. Without a front derailleur to restrict clearances, frames can be designed with relatively short chainstays.

This keeps the ride nimble, while still allowing room for tires in the 42-50mm wide range with a 700c wheel set.


FWIW: 1x is currently more common on higher end (gravel) bikes than lower.
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Old 06-10-21, 09:05 AM
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How is the gravel bike used?

1x is great if a gravel bike is rolling thru mud frequently, ridden on singletrack a lot, and is subjected to overall worse riding conditions.
2x is great if a gravel bike is used as a road bike for gravel roads and sees occasional softer/wet road surfaces as well as occasional mud/debris.


If I were entering 15 endurance gravel races a year from February thru November, where surface conditions will vary greatly, then I could see myself at least considering 1x since I would likely encounter poor roads in many of the races.
As it is, I ride because I enjoy riding so I stick to decent weather. I dont go down a muddy torn up 2mi long Level B road because I dont need to. Ill wait until that thing is dry to ride it another time. So for my recreational gravel riding and 2-3 races each year, 2x is perfect. Its just a road bike that works better on unpaved surfaces.
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Old 06-10-21, 09:50 AM
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Actually, 1X is just a sign of the demise of education. No one does higher math in their head any more. Or even on paper. 2 X 11 require multiplication to figure out the number of combos and a combination of multiplication, division and subtraction to get the non-redundant combos. 1X can be done on your fingertips (plus a couple of toes).

Today's rider can handle the concept of being in their 3rd cog but not "I was in my 36-19". The old gear charts - way, way too much info packed in way too small a space. No room in the modern brain to pack it.

Ben (the geeky engineer who has calculated gear inches in his head on rides many, many times)
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Old 06-10-21, 10:15 AM
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I'm surprised no one mentions wear and tear. I do rides where people spend a lot of time in the 10t cog, but spending time in that gear and putting power down in that gear is going to cause greatly accelerated wear on the chain and the cog. Personally, I like to be 14t or above when riding hard.

(the weight thing is a fallacy. My bike is lighter with 2x. Lord knows the front derailleur isn't a heavy component, especially compared to a large range 1x cassette (that is going to have to be replaced more often than on a 2x bike.)

But ultimately, the only thing that really matters is riding. 1x is fine for solo rides, 2x is going to be a big help for fast group rides.
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Old 06-10-21, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
I'm surprised no one mentions wear and tear. I do rides where people spend a lot of time in the 10t cog, but spending time in that gear and putting power down in that gear is going to cause greatly accelerated wear on the chain and the cog. Personally, I like to be 14t or above when riding hard.

(the weight thing is a fallacy. My bike is lighter with 2x. Lord knows the front derailleur isn't a heavy component, especially compared to a large range 1x cassette (that is going to have to be replaced more often than on a 2x bike.)

But ultimately, the only thing that really matters is riding. 1x is fine for solo rides, 2x is going to be a big help for fast group rides.
Hi, a newbie here. How do you notice an acelerated wear on the chain ?
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Old 06-10-21, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by IcySwan1 View Post
Is 1x a fad or is there good reasons for it to stay?
Here to stay. Now that the cycling world has discovered and embraced the benefits of wider tires across almost all disciplines, a 1X system just makes sense, since it facilitates better tire clearance and shorter chainstays. For mountain bikes, 2X and 3X are dead; Sram stopped developing mountain bike front derailleurs in 2015. Gravel bikes have by-and-large adopted the 1X as standard because of the simplicity, frame design advantages, and increased reliability. Only dedicated road bikes are consistently running 2X any more, but I'd wager that's changing, too.

Good riddance to the front derailleur -- as a singlespeeder, the rise of the 1X has made me much more willing to ride with gears again.

Last edited by Rolla; 06-10-21 at 12:50 PM.
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Old 06-10-21, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
How is the gravel bike used?

1x is great if a gravel bike is rolling thru mud frequently, ridden on singletrack a lot, and is subjected to overall worse riding conditions.
2x is great if a gravel bike is used as a road bike for gravel roads and sees occasional softer/wet road surfaces as well as occasional mud/debris.


If I were entering 15 endurance gravel races a year from February thru November, where surface conditions will vary greatly, then I could see myself at least considering 1x since I would likely encounter poor roads in many of the races.
As it is, I ride because I enjoy riding so I stick to decent weather. I dont go down a muddy torn up 2mi long Level B road because I dont need to. Ill wait until that thing is dry to ride it another time. So for my recreational gravel riding and 2-3 races each year, 2x is perfect. Its just a road bike that works better on unpaved surfaces.
^^^This is the correct answer. 1x is great for some things. 2x is great for other things.

Also whoever just said "all gravel bikes are 1x" now is proof that you can say just anything you want on the internet regardless of facts. I was just recently bike shopping and almost every gravel bike from every major and not-so-major manufacturer comes in both 1x and 2x.

I strongly considered getting 1x because it's one less thing to fuss with but for the type of riding I do (long days in the midwest with short punchy climbs) I didn't want to lose either the top or bottom end so I ordered 2x.
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Old 06-10-21, 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Aquiles View Post
Hi, a newbie here. How do you notice an accelerated wear on the chain ?
A chain wear gauge makes it easy to measure the elongation that occurs when a chain wears. You can tell wear on the sprocket by looking at an unworn one anc comparing the tooth profile; wlhen cogs get a shark fin appearance and get thin then pointy at the top. When pointy it is too late...
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Old 06-10-21, 06:26 PM
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Location matters as well. Where I live, most of our climbs are short, and few are very steep. I run a mid compact on my road bike with a 11-30 cassette and almost never use the small ring. I moved from a 11-32 to the 11-30, and kind of wish I'd gone 11-28.

My gravel bike is 1x with a 44 tooth chain ring and 11-32 out back (from the above road bike). I also have an 11-25 that I've used for really flat races. With the 11-32, I have used the bailout on only a few steep climbs. So... 1x for me in my area on gravel is great. I could probably get away with it on the road as well in this area.
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Old 06-10-21, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by ksryder View Post
whoever just said "all gravel bikes are 1x" now is proof that you can say just anything you want on the internet regardless of facts.
Seeing as how nobody here actually said that, I guess youíre right.
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Old 06-11-21, 02:50 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
1x is great if a gravel bike is rolling thru mud frequently, ridden on singletrack a lot, and is subjected to overall worse riding conditions.
2x is great if a gravel bike is used as a road bike for gravel roads and sees occasional softer/wet road surfaces as well as occasional mud/debris.
I like this answer.
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Old 06-11-21, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Rolla View Post
Gravel bikes have by-and-large adopted the 1X as standard because of the simplicity, frame design advantages, and increased reliability.
Originally Posted by Rolla View Post
Seeing as how nobody here actually said that, I guess youíre right.
This you? Anyway just because I paraphrased you instead of quoting verbatim doesn't make what you said any more true.
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Old 06-11-21, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Aquiles View Post
Hi, a newbie here. How do you notice an acelerated wear on the chain ?
What dwmckee said.

Chain wear gage is the only way to really keep on top of it.
In my experience, the chain gets worn
This accelerates cassette wear - typically only a problem in the smaller gears
If I don't stay on top of it, I get to the point where I mash the throttle and the chain just slips because the cog is worn
The problem is exacerbated with smaller cogs. I won't go below 14t on the track because I'm doing hard accelerations there. Even so, I'm sprinting at over 30mph (finish line type sprints) on my gravel bike. If you aren't doing this, than 2x isn't going to be that important.

I think most of the perceived problems here is because people don't do maintenance and adjust their gears. A well tuned 2x ultegra setup is super sweet. The short tight gear changes are a thing of beauty that you don't get with big jumps.

I did think it was interesting how the pro teams recently locked out the small cogs (10t) on their bikes - kinda wonder what that was about - but it didn't sound good.

I do kinda laugh when I hear 1x people debating which chain ring they should use for the big ride this weekend. I love having the choice without using a wrench. Realistically I don't shift the front much - I tend to stay in the small chain ring for long rides or solo rides, and stay in the big chain ring for faster/shorter group rides.

But again, 1x is great if you are doing solo rides, and non competitive rides where you can choose your own cadence. It should be on all entry level bikes (ironically its not).
If cadence is important, and if you are doing fast group rides - 2x is probably the better choice.
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Old 06-11-21, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by ksryder View Post
just because I paraphrased you instead of quoting verbatim doesn't make what you said any more true.
Hmm. Maybe I should explain how words work.

By-and-large is an adverbial phrase that means "when everything about a situation is considered together."
Adopt is a verb that means "to take up, follow, or use."
Standard is an adjective that means "a pattern or model that is generally accepted."

So we can accurately reword the sentence, "Gravel bikes have by-and-large adopted the 1X as standard" as "Gravel bikes, when everything is considered, have taken up the 1X as a model that is generally accepted."

I don't really see how you can argue that this isn't true, much less assert that I said ďall gravel bikes are 1X.Ē

Here's a helpful link: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/

Last edited by Rolla; 06-11-21 at 10:09 AM.
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