1x: I’ll Give it a Try

I’ve never been much of a geek. I’ve tried in my own way, but the best I’ve been able to muster was a mild obsession with WWII fighter planes when I was around 10 and an unhealthy interest in day trading stocks later on. Both of them turned out to be useless adventures to say the least.

What I’d like to say is don’t get your hopes up for this article on the 1x (“one by”).

I’m coming late to this game, but I’ve been sort of aware of it for some time now and something that popped up on my ‘feed’ this afternoon brought it to the forefront. Campagnolo, it appears, might be entertaining the idea of making a 1x road bike transmission (which means it is to be taken seriously, obviously).

What is the one-by? Remember that shopping bike your mother (or in my case, me, when I lived in Tokyo) used to ride that had only 3 speeds? That’s essentially it. It’s a bike with one chain ring instead of two.

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The concept is not hard to come to grips with, but the modern roadie is used to having more and more gear ratios to choose from. On the other hand, when I first started riding a road bike, triples were still a thing you could see on the road. Now you can’t rent one from any of our partners. The Compact has replaced it for good.

But back to Campy. They apparently have a patent in for a 12-speed cassette, which, I’m told, is not all that radical, and exists in this world already. A 12-speed cassette could come in to add those extra granny gears we were talking about a few weeks ago (on a regular 2-chain ring set-up), but it could also mean that Campagnolo is considering a move into the 1x market.

Personally, I love the idea and not just because it could potentially mean one less place I could drop a chain. I doubt I’d miss the couple of gears that I’d need to sacrifice up and down and cassette, either. It would be a small price to pay for the extra simplicity.

The one issue that seems to be a potential problem for people who ride lots of long, steep climbs is that on the ‘easy’ end of the cassettes that are out there now there’s a bigger jump in gears than through the middle of the cassette. I can’t imagine jumping from, say, a 27 to a 31, which is sort of what I read could be the case.

But because I can’t geek, I’ll stop here. I know some of my readers are a little more tuned into tech, so feel free to share your thoughts on this one.

Oh, and if you want to see how the 1x looks like in the pro peloton, there’s a whole team out there this year that is riding it – Aqua Blue.

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12 thoughts on “1x: I’ll Give it a Try

  1. No. Freaking. Chance I’m switching to a 1x. My buddy, Chuck has it on his gravel bike and he gears out riding with us all of the time. I could see a pro being able to suck up some disadvantage, but not me.

    Besides, and to geek out here, the 1x shift lever on one side throws the front end look off.

    • Okay, that’s an interesting comment. How does your friend ‘gear out’, though? Is he simply missing something on one or the other ‘end’?

      • He’s got a 40 tooth front chain ring… The rest of us are running 48/32. He can’t get up over 24 mph. I know it’s a little off trying to compare a gravel 40 to a road 52, but you’d need a pretty big pie plate of a cassette to get a 50 or 52 to work in the hills. On top of that, I like having tight cassette gearing in a group so I can match my cadence to the speed. With a 1x, there’s going to be too much jump in the sprockets. The pros can make that up with a little extra want to, but that’s not for me.

        Sorry, should have been a bit more specific.

        • Thanks for the clarification, Jim. Apparently 3T have a 9-32 cassette that could solve this issue, ‘with a 40t ring it’s equivalent to 50/36 by 11-29′. That’s Gerard Vroomen of Cervelo fame. That’s a mighty ‘big pie’, though, as you rightly stated! Still, I’m definitely intrigued…

  2. “Where do all the gears go?” I’ve never got enough, it ‘s hard enough riding the bike without the big jumps. Cheers

  3. 1x is great for cyclocross, where it’s the norm now. Reason: velocity range is much smaller than in road, so it works great. It may also work on the flats. Personally, I wouldn’t consider it for varied terrain with steep climbing and long descents where the velocity range is huge…

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