rider is. This can be a true, swallow-your-pride moment, but
believe us, you’ll look cooler actually pedaling a 3X drivetrain up a steep climb than pushing your 1X bike.
EASIER THAN EVER
Converting your drivetrain used to involve the challenge
of figuring out how you were going to keep your chain on
the ring if you didn’t already have dedicated tabs for a chainguide. Now it’s easier than ever, and in most situations,
the complete parts swap is simply one chainring without a
As we mentioned, more companies are making chainrings
with profiled teeth than ever. We’ve had great results with
Race Face’s Narrow Wide chainrings (as tested with the
Next SL cranks on page 112), as well as with Wolf Tooth
Components chainrings who offer rings in nearly every bolt
circle diameter available.
While many have run with the profiled-tooth technol-
ogy, another component of SRAM’s 1X success has also
been tapped for use with other drivetrains—the 42-tooth
cog. OneUp Components is now offering a 42-tooth cog that
works with standard SRAM and Shimano 11-36-tooth cas-
settes after removing one of the cogs in the middle of the
cluster. With products like this already available, the flood-
gates are now open to a new crop of small companies coming
up with clever solutions to retrofit old drivetrains in search of
performance similar to SRAM’s dedicated 1X systems.
WHAT’S DIFFERENT ON THE TRAIL?
The biggest challenge most riders face when adapting to a
1X system is not having a “bailout” gear for when they come
across an unexpected climb and need to shift down to an easier
chainring in a hurry. Rather than having that large jump from
chainring to chainring, 1X riders must quickly shift through a
number of gears to get to that same ratio.
The best way to adapt is to get good at shifting quickly and
smoothly but know how to ease off the pedals at a moment’s
notice and not hammer the pedals through a shift. Learning
to spin a slightly higher cadence can be beneficial. If you’re
spinning a heavy gear at a slow cadence most of the time, you
don’t leave yourself much leeway when you get into difficult
situations. While this can be true of riders using all types of
drivetrains, it’s especially true for 1X users.
MORE THAN ONE WAY TO 1X
Though single-ring drivetrains started out being used by
aggressive downhill and trail riders, there have always been
some who have sworn by them for cross-country applications.
Now, thanks to the wider spread of SRAM’s rear cassette, 1X
is a viable option for riders from many more disciplines. With
the number of 1X solutions now available, it’s never been easier to give 1X a try without a huge financial commitment. ❏
A. Last line of defense: While some, especially aggressive all-mountain
riders, still like the peace of mind from some kind of chainguide, we’ve
never dropped a chain when using a profiled chainring.
B. Goodbye, old friends: While it certainly won’t happen tomorrow, we
can imagine a day when the majority of mountain bikes have shed their
C. Spin to win: OneUp Components now makes a 42-tooth rear cog that
is compatible with standard Shimano and SRAM cassettes. Riders simply
remove a cog from the cassette—the 17-tooth in this case—to make room
for the XX1-inspired crawler.