Cycling has undergone many advancements and changes, both good and bad, since its inception. When the modern drivetrain sprung into existance, component manufacturers began adding more and more overall gears to the system. Just over the last few years, this idea has changed. Get rid of the multiples and stick to the rear only has been the growing trend. Both Shimano and Sram have been pushing the movement to simplify the drivetrain on mountain bikes and a few other genres, with Sram in the front of this.
So why are these companies appear to be making riding more difficult with less gear options to choose from? The answer lies in the rest of the drivetrain package. Both Shimano and Sram offer 11 speed cassettes, with a range that gets as low as a 46 tooth granny ring. When you factor in Sram’s new ‘Eagle’ kit, the 10-50 tooth range on the cassette gives the rider a 500% overall gear ratio range, allowing the rider to climb the steepest climbs and still reach max speeds on the downhill and flat sections of the trail.
The benefits to all of this is more than most would think. 1) It’s simple. There is only one derailleur and one shifter. This limits out redundant gear ratios that 2x or 3x systems notoriously bring to the rider. 2) With less overall drivetrain, you save weight. We’ve determined the average savings is around 0.75lbs when switching from a typical 2x drivetrain to a 1x. 3) It’s better for your drivetrain. With far less cross chaining, you can use all 10, 11, or 12 gears and not wear your cassette and chain away to nothing.
4) When you determine what type of rider you are and where you are riding, you will find that a 1x drivetrain has you covered 99% of the time. Our testing has lead us to very few occurrences of wishing for a lower/higher gear. Even with a 28, yes 28 tooth front ring, paired with a Sram XD 11-speed cassette, your high gear will still warrant a top speed of around 30 mph (28 chainring; 10 tooth cog; 120 rpm). Riding this fast on any MTB trail is nearly impossible (for an extended time period). On the reverse side, your 28 chainring and 42 cog will allow you to climb nearly any hill in the area.
Interested in more info? Please stop down to the shop, we have all of your answers to get you setup with the best options from the best brands in the industry to make your ride better!