1x, my oh my

As I continue my search for the holy gravel grail (a path that doesn’t deteriorate into a gully or a pile of limestone), I find my attention turning to more positive stuff on my new bike. After 3 short rides, I shouldn’t say that I’m an expert on 1x (‘one-by’) transmissions, but bloggers have special dispensation from normal rules on expertise, so I pretty much know it all now.

For the uninitiated, a 1x is simply a single chainring on front, coupled with a usually-massive plate of rings on the back. In my case it’s 40 for the chainring and 9-42 on the back – yes NINE!

I’ve ridden the Nemo mostly on the road and it goes slower than my real road bikes, probably thanks to the tires, so I have not even come close to needing the 9 ring. I have definitely had the chance to use the 42, though, which is more gears than I have on the Colnago, but the extra weight of the new bike makes me glad I have it.

To compare to a road Compact, a 40:9 is more or less equivalent to a 50:11 and my 40:42 is the same as a theoretical 34:36 (I suppose somebody out there has this on their road bike…). On the extremes, I can’t see myself needing anything more.

But just like life, most of the action happens in between the highs and lows. One of the constraints of 1xs has been that the jumps between gears can be too big, or at least that’s how the argument goes. I’ve got 13 rings on the cassette at back, which is a whole lot of choice. Yes, less choice than a set-up with a double chainring, but when you don’t have the choice, you make due with what you have. You can tell I’m feeling philosophic this weekend.

7 thoughts on “1x, my oh my

  1. Hi, as i have two wheelsers i use 9 36 on theroad and 9 42 on gravel and bikepacking. Both with 38. Dont mis anything an roadrides, only on the sprints..
    1x is so easy to clean. I love the ekar brakes
    Don’t really understand your concerns on gravlling, but for sure i don’t know your area good enough. Maybe you have enough quite roads without traffic, you dont miss gravel. I really like it a lot

    • Carsten said, “Maybe you have enough quiet roads”. A light went on in my head then. It had never occurred to me that traffic was driving people to gravel, but it makes sense! (I am lucky to live in a low traffic area … on a gravel road! But the paved roads are quiet too.)

      • I’ve just talked with someone else who knows some guys who were asking themselves the same ‘why’ questions as I’ve been doing. Maybe it’s all about what you have (quiet roads) and where you come from (MTB in your case?).

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