24 February, 2011

1x10 Experiment

I've been riding bikes with 2x10 or 2x9 drive trains for many years. They are set up with a 46t/30t crank and a cassette with small cog with 11t or 12t and a large with 27t or 28t. I find that I can ride in the 46t ring more than 90% of the time. Only on steeper hills do I need the 30t, which I regard sort of like a Jeep's "low-range". Of course this won't work for every terrain, but in the flats and rolling hills around here it's perfect. It's even fine for occasional trips to mountainous Western Maryland or West Virginia.

For shifting I've set up most of my road bikes with 9 or 10-speed Campy brifters. I know there is still some resistance to index-shifting among the retro crowd, but I've been using it since the 1990's without issue. I've also had no issues with 10-speed drive trains.

So what's the experiment? Well, I've noticed that 1x10 drive trains are starting to appear on more and more mountain bikes. Shimano is making wide range 10-speed cassettes, 11t-36t. I wonder how a 1x10 drive train would work on a rando or touring bike? I think I'll build something along those lines later this year. Anyone have any experience with 1x10 on the road, or any thoughts?

49 comments:

Mike Muffels said...

Nice 2CV!

Me said...

I use Dura-Ace 10-speed indexed downtube shifters on my Salsa Casseroll. I do run a triple crank, but rarely am out of the 39t ring. But I do live in Wisconsin. In Utah, where I'm from, the 30t was VERY welcome. The new SRAM APEX cassette and derailleur setup could work nicely with a 1x10 road setup. I like the idea of simplifying.

Groundshine said...

How about 1x8? I rode last year's Fleche on a 1x8 internal gear. Performs great in the rain compared to a derailleur bike. I enjoy the large steps between gears during long distance rides. Would prefer even larger than what the Alfine provides...

dr2chase said...

No experience with a 1x10, but some with a 9-speed IGH (SRAM) and some with an 8-speed IGH (Alfine). 11-36 gives you a 327% range, midway between the Alfine (307%) and SRAM (340%) ranges.

The kicker is, I'm riding a cargo bike, and in warmer months often climb short hills with 400lbs GVW, and have gone as high as 450lbs GVW (heavy passenger). The compromise made is to set the range as low as possible; with the Alfine (I broke the SRAM), I am often in one of the top two gears -- highest gear-inches is 83. If I "need" a higher gear, I either spin, or coast. Low is about 27 gear-inches (1:1 into a 26x2.35" tire).

It seems to me this would work for a non-cargo bike, too.

Ed said...

I think it sounds like a great idea. Simple yet effective. I've seen a number of cyclocross setups running a single chain ring as well. If nothing else end up with stronger legs!

Anonymous said...

I'm of two minds on this. I rode a 1x6 (47x14-28) with no chainguard ring or guide on the inside for a long time on a light tourer I used as a city errand bike and long haul commuter and couldn't have been happier in the relatively flat midwest. I could make it drop the chain if I did everything wrong in just the right way, but I probably got more flats than dropped chains on that bike.

There are tons of people lining up at cross races these days with 1x10 setups, but they all run chainguards and chain guides. I'm sure you could find some magic combination of high-toothed chainring, perfect chainline, and optimal RD spring tension that wouldn't drop the chain, but I think I'd want guards and guides. It's one thing for racers who have decided they simply don't want or need to shift in the front, but for a recreational bike building it up turns into an exercise in elaborate minimalism. You end up buying some combination of a chainguard ring, an inboard chain guide, a new chainring, a shifter you don't end up using, and maybe even some extra brake levers. Some of us could do that out of our parts bins without even going to the basement, but it's always a little goofy. You can also use the Paul guide or cannibalize an old FD for the guide, but the Paul part costs as much as a good FD and looks like something that fell off an M-16 (not always a bad thing but not really the popular aesthetic around here). When the smoke clears on these builds it just ends up being a ton of work and parts without any real benefit.

stevep33 said...

Agreed that without a front der, you would be happy to have a guide of some sort to prevent the chain from hopping off the ring on a big pothole or something.
There are many doodads out there, but I've been pretty happy with a cheap BGB bach guard replacing the outer ring of a double crank. a 42T ring with a 11-34 cassette gives you all the gears you need and reasonable chainline for the popular gears. The added bonus of a bash guard over a top side guide is that you won't have the chain bumping upwards against a guide when in the largest cog from a modestly sized chainring.

stevep33 said...

btw, that Pass Hunter is still one of my favorites. Stunning.

Anonymous said...

I rode a 1x9 road bike for a couple of years, with a 11-32 on the back and a 42 or a 52 on the front. The gear range is totally fine for Manayunk & the Philly area, where I live. The shifting is also nice & logical & easy---just the one control to remember.

But there's no weight or cost savings to such a setup in my experience. You have to A) run a bashguard or a bigger chainring outside, and a chain watcher inside, or B) dummy up a front derailleur to hold the chain on the front ring. Plus the chainline is terrible in the big & small gears, and I think I exacerbated an autoshifting problem on that frame too.

I might feel differently about my 1x9 experience if anyone made bashguards in sizes bigger than cyclocrossers use, but when I wanted to run a 52 ring on the front I ended up having to buy a cheap TT ring as my bashguard.

Alan@EcoVelo said...

I've been riding a 1x9 derailleur drivetrain on my commuter since August of last year. I'm running a Sugino track crank up front and a wide range cassette in back with a long-cage XT derailleur mated to a Paul Thumbie/DA bar-end shifter in friction mode. It's a clean, simple, and effective set-up for the flat to rolling terrain in which I ride. More here:

http://www.ecovelo.info/2010/08/15/a-1x9-conversion/

Alan@EcoVelo

mattcook said...

I'm with the anonymous guy. I rode 1x6 in madison, wi and the gearing worked great (even went on a week long camping trip with it) but you're gonna drop your chain without a guide. I know I did, about once a week. And you've maybe got a wonky extra unoccupied shifter braze on. You probably don't have to get too elaborate, just get a singlespeed crank with a guide if your aesthetic tastes allow.

But for practical, trouble free riding, unguarded 1x? ain't the way to go. I've satisfied my curiosity and I'll be going back to a traditional setup.

Janice in GA said...

I was real close to buying a 1x9 bike for a commuter last year. I think with the right range that that could work really well around town here.

I ended up with a 3x9 touring bike instead, though. I liked the shifters better, and I thought it might be more versatile for me.

Anonymous said...

My setup is 1x9, no guards, sunrace thumbshifter, no chain jump going on severe washboard roads and single-track besides daily road use. Even for extended touring I wouldn't change a thing. Go for it and keep it simple and fun.

Interstatement said...

I've been thinking about doing a 1x10 city bike using a 1970's road frame. I have a like-new Univega Safari 10 frame that would have the added bonus of an appropriate name. As a city bike, a chainguard could assume chain-keeping duties with proper tweaking.

Etherhuffer said...

Well, I like Rivendell's "7 is heaven' thinking. My 3x7 is just fine, but I rarely use the big ring in front. So a wide range rear set with a 40/30 ish range up front should be plenty as well.

My wife is a dreadful cross chainer, and I am thinking of getting rid of her triple and putting on a double up front to help end that.

Anonymous said...

I run a 1 x 7 on an old Schwinn Continental as a commuter. 46-tooth up front and something like 13 - 28 in back. I use an old front derailer to keep the chain in place. It works fine for a commuter, but a better shifting 1 x 10 would be an upgrade. Beautiful bike, by the way.
--Tom

Stevecrowley said...

I tried this when I was building up my girlfriend's Peugeot. It was a 1x6. I scrapped that idea right away because I couldn't even get it adjusted right in the workstand without the chain falling off of the ring. I didn't have a chain guide, but I did have everything I needed to set it up with a front der. so I just went with that. Definitely try it out, but be warned that you will definitely need some kind of chain keeper like the one that Paul makes.

Bill G said...

My Vaya has a 1x10 set up on it and I love it. Going up some local hills I "sometimes" wish I had a 2x, but that thought passes as soon as I hit the crest!

Mark S. said...

I ride a 1x10 on my Co-Motion Co-Pilot S&S travel bike. I have it set up with a 44 tooth chainring, an 11x32 rear cassette, and SRAM Apex long cage rear derailleur and right brifter. It gives me plenty of gears for any terrain. It also makes packing and travel easier - there are fewer cables and the 44 tooth ring protrudes less when packing the bike, particularly since it's covered by a bash guard. The worst part of the setup is the fairly large gap (13%) between the 44x15 and the 44x17. The chainline has been no problem. Good luck with yours!

TraceO said...

I too have been commuting on a 1x8 drivetrain for the past 5 years. My set up is a bar-end shifter and a 25 year old Campy rear derailluer. I run the old Campy rear derailleur because of its super strong return spring which keeps more tension on the chain than modern derailluers do. I have yet to toss a chain with this set up.

Anonymous said...

Yes!!

I've had a couple 1xMulti setups, used primarily in the city. They are awesome: it simplifies shifting psychologically. Currently my beater is rolling with a 1x9, 44 in the front and a 11-23 road cassette I had in the parts bin. Friction bar-end shifter, I've done a single down-tube shifter as well. If I hadn't had that laying around i'd have gone with something wide-range, but 44:23 is adequately low for someone who is used to cranking up hills on a singlespeed.

My thought on dropping chains & chain guides: with a wider range and a 42t road chainring meant for shifting, I dropped chain fairly frequently. However my current setup seems drop-proof even without a chain guide: with the tighter cassette and a tall-toothed 3/32" track chainring i have not had any problem, even dorking around offroad.

stevep33 said...

Anon:
Is your jump-free unguarded 1x9 coupled with a narrow range cassette?
I found that I had fewer chain jump-offs with a compact cassette 11-25 because I could run the chain pretty tight. But at the end of the day, I like a wider cassette 12-32 for more gear range. Just curious what you did that worked?

Christopher said...

As a mechanic in the Seattle area, I can say that anything x10 is a very poor choice for daily use, unless money is not an issue. In my experience, a 10sp chain lasts about 6 months here (commuting, not a weekends bike). I still haven't heard any convincing arguments as to why 10sp offers any practical advantage over conventional 8 or 9sp rear drives, aside from competitive riding. I am interested to hear what reasons people have for choosing 10sp at all?
I guess in the end, my big question is whether the pros outweigh the cons of 10sp. With cost being much higher, lifespan being much lower, who's benefits from 10sp? Consumers or manufacturers? Both? Should Shimano and SRAM move to 11sp?

Jesse said...

I don't run an official 1x set up...I just don't use the small or big ring, ever. In effect I'm using 1x7 since the two outer cogs cause rubbing on the still installed front derailleur. I ride a moderately modified Kona Smoke in Seattle and have been loving this set up so much, for 9 months or so now, that I'm planning on removing the front derailleur and converting to a real 1x9 system some time this spring.

Kevin Mulcahy said...

I use a 1x6 on my city-bike, which I'll also take on flat rides up to 100 miles. I use a 47 x 14-28

I occupy the empty half of the shifter braze-on with my VO Bell. :)

Chris: you say that you stay in the big ring 90% of the time. Does that mean you'll have to walk up a few of those hills?

latron said...

I have two 1x7s and they've been just fine in Boston (fairly flat, going around hills when needed). Am about to build up a 1x8, but will leave it at that -- 1x9, etc. seems too fussy, plus the cost of chains jumps once you go beyond 8 gears.

Sean said...

Chain line?

I guess with narrower 10spd chains that's less of an issue compared with 8spd.

Doug in Seattle said...

I live in Seattle and am not skinny, so a 1x drive would not work for me.

I find the sweet spot for me is a 2x8, with the front being a 45x32 and the cassette being an 11x32. This is perfect for grinding up the huge hill I climb to work and for cruising around the countryside. My camping bike has a triple with a granny because I climb mountain passes s l o w l y.

I don't want to go higher than 8 speeds because the cost per chain and cassette goes up pretty quickly. I'm thinking of dropping back down to 7sp for my commuting bike just for the cost savings on those parts.

dwainedibbly said...

I have a never-ridden Vitus 929 frame that I'm eventually going to turn into a 1x9 using a 9 of 10 on 7 setup. (Don't want to force the bonded aluminum frame out to 130mm spacing.) I have some 10-speed DA bar ends that'll do nice, and a collection of other parts, some vintage, some V-O. It's going to be my "speedy city bike".

I used to race on the same kind of frame back in the 80s, so it's a flashback for me.

eric said...

I have run a 1x9 set up on a commuter for a few years, with many thousands of miles on the set up. Shifter is a Shimano bar-end and rear is 12-34. I've had no chain drop from bumps in the road, but occasionally when shifting in indexed mode. The chain drop more or less disappeared when I switched the shifter to friction. I noticed the indexed shifting would send a wave up the chain and sometimes launch it off the front ring. I use no inner guide; for bash guard I grinded down the outer ring on a bench grinder, then filed and sanded. That took about 15 minutes total, looks cool, and was free.

Like others I don't think there is too much performance benefit of the 1x set up. I did it just to make for less visual clutter on a city bike where I didn't need additional range. In my opinion this is not suggested for anything other than a city bike. If you're a racer or tourer and worried about weight you'd be better served with a downtube shifter and lightweight front derailler. These hardly weigh anything (esp compared to the bashguard and inner guide sported by the xc racers), and at some point the second ring will be handy.

One cost benefit of the 1x setup is that you can buy a set of bar-end or downtube shifters and get two bikes worth out it - if the front shifter runs friction you can run it to the rear mech.

Justin said...

I'm currently building up a city bike for a friend around a late 70s Motobecane mixte. I'm using a 44t up front and a 14-34 Suntour freewheel. I wasn't planning on using any sort of chain keeper. There are several nice VO bits on there. Do I get half credit for a 1x5?

Uncle Ankle said...

I've run 1x7 (44x11/30) on a city bike in moderately hilly terrain, worked fine. It seemed one could, depending on chainline, choose whether to drop the chain inwards or outwards. I settled on inwards and fashioned a "dog's tooth" from a broken tail light bracket.

Single speed/Track/DH chainring makes a difference, too.

Once I decided to go touring on that bike, however, I added a 28t granny; shifted with my heel.

Steve said...

I have no personal experience with a 1x drivetrain, but history suggests there could be issues with dropping the chain. I've read accounts of AM-7 (1x7 drivetrain) Moultons that had such a tendency to drop the chain owners referred to them as "agents of the Devil" and "The Antichrist" (a nod to _The Gods Must Be Crazy_); and a chain keeper was devised for the AM Moulton. The easy solution is to use an old front derailleur locked in place as a chain keeper -- but that inevitably leads to the thought, if you're going to use a front derailleur anyway, why not just put on that second chain ring...?

Jan said...

I have both a 1x9 and a 2x8 where I never use the small ring. No problems at all.

With a proper length chain, I never ever drop the chain.

Mark said...

My commuter has a 1x8 drivetrain - the rder is controlled by a bar-end friction shifter. To keep the chain happy on the chainring, I have rigged a system with two chainguards, one on either side of the chainring. Works well. Had to fiddle a bit to work out the correct BB spindle to get a good chainline, but it works great. The Rder is a 'Deore' MTB rder.

philcycles said...

Speaking off the top of my head-ie: no experience whatever-I'd sit down and figure out what gears I actually use. For me its about 6 or 7 and if I could get them with a 1x setup I might try it. I'd be wary about chainline issues and chain issues with a 1x10 but I believe a 1x7 might work for me. Perhaps I'll try it.
Phil Broen

Scott C said...

How do the variables in Sheldon Brown's Gear Calculator at:

http://sheldonbrown.com/gears/

figure into this topic?

Anonymous said...

I ride a 1 x 9 (12-25) with a 43 T chainring. The 43 x 25 combo is low enough to get me up just about anything though I mostly use the bike its on as my grocery getter. I do occasionally use it for longer rides and it's nice not to have to worry about front shifting. Another benefit iis not having a front derailleur, which enables you to use a chainguard (just put on a VO chainguard a month ago), which is nice.

Joe said...

You should give the SRAM Apex a try, we've built a few rando style road bikes with it so far here at Sid's and although they've all had a compact double crank, personally I'd just set a bike up with a mid-sized single ring up front. The rear cassette gives you an almost MTB like gear range, with a mid-long cage derailleur, and depending how you set your bike up you could have a 1:1 gear ratio. Not to mention, SRAM is the cheaper, more affordable route to go (especially if you want to try out a new idea). I've done a 1x9 setup on a bike before with a 39 up front, and although there aren't too many giant hills near NYC, the gearing works out for pretty much everything so long as you're not trying to be speed racer in spandex! 10 speed gives you an even smoother jump between each gear.

Steve A said...

Practically speaking, my Tricross operates as a 1X10 when on the road. The only time I use the small front cog on the road is to extend chain life when I have to go up steep, long hills with a headwind. I have not observed chain life to be unreasonably short. The bike has about 6000 miles and is just now on its second chain.

Set up properly, the chain has always stayed reliably on the front ring EXCEPT when running in really rough stuff, so if I wanted to cross race with 1X10, I'd add a guard up front.

Anonymous said...

I am in rural Brasil and ride 90% on dirt roads. I have a 1X8 on my all-rounder with 35 up front and a 11-34 mega-range on the back. I commute, tour and single-track with no problem. Paul's chain-keeper keeps my chain from launching.

Robert Linthicum said...

What Mike said, from a Citro├źn-o-phile. Bought a Xsara Picasso for my wife. It's our family vehicle (my daily car is a bicycle) and it is frankly amazing value for money. Pity there's not a dealer network in The States.

masmojo said...

As someone whose run Internally geared hubs most of my life, Single speeds and is currntly building a 1 X 8 get round town bike; I am kind of in the same boat. Some thoughts, using the bikes you are riding now you can experiment. While riding your current bike figure out which gear you ride in the most, that should help you determine where to start as far as gearing goes, then figure out what is the lowest gear you actually NEED! Lastly and here's the hard part; what is the highest gear you can fit and still live with! As you have already mentioned, much of this can very depending on where you are geographically. I live in Dallas which is relatively flat so I am opting for a fairly close ratio 8 speed cassette in the back and will fine tune the front ring to suit, in a hilly area I would probably choose the opposite Tactic.

Regarding dropping the chain; the Paul's chain thingy is good and bash guards are as well, but another option is to just take an old front derailer and run the limiting screws all the way in so that there is no adjustability to it. This might require a run to the hardware store for a longer screw or two, but no biggie!

Greg Priddy said...

I didn't realize there were so many fellow '1 x' practitioners. How exciting!

I happened into a 1 x 9 setup when the return spring on my triple FD failed. I rode the bike in the middle ring for a few weeks and decided the other other gears weren't all that necessary.

My current setup is a straight tooth Rocket Ring (42T) + bash guard in front. In the rear is an 11-32 Shimano cassette with a 34T in place of the 32T.

No issues with chain dropping, and the shift from the 28T to the 34T is reliable. I get up all the hills I want to on this rather heavy bike.

Anonymous said...

I use a single front on one of my bikes with a 5 or 6 freewheel in back and single Simplex lever. Works great. I used to be plagued with chain-dropping . . . First of all, make sure you're not trying to use a chainring with any sort of ramps and pins. Those are real good for shifting the chain off the ring. Get a nice clean round ring--not too skinny either. The chainring needs to line up in the middle of the freewheel. Finally, chain tension depends on the type of derailleur, and the right chain length matters. My experience is dropping the chain on a regular basis doesn't necessarily mean you need to add a chain keeper, but that the bike is basically out of tune in one of the ways above.

mw

Caroline said...

I have a 105 10-speed cassette and a 41T ring with bar-end shifters. Initially, a lot of folks were curious as to why I went with a single crank instead of a double. I do all of my riding in a city with a few hills and bridges, and the 1x10 is perfect for that. The only problem I have is with the non-indexed shifting - sometimes it's hard to get to the highest/lowest gears.

fixedweasel said...

I'm kind of an odd bird I guess. I pretty much ride fixed for everything and leave the gears alone (but I'm building up a geared road bike right now). Mind, it is fairly flat where I live. I do all my commuting (44x17)/training (51x16 & 52x13)/racing (50x14)/centuries and even 200k Brevets (51x16) fixed with some mild climbing 3k'. I can easily see the 1x trend growing though, especially in areas that are tame. I've ridden with roadies that haven't even shifted once on a ride. And just to note with the chainguards. The reason cyclocross folks use 'em is because of the constant shifting over bumpy terrain. If one is riding on relatively smooth roads, you can probably get away w/o an inner/outer guard especially if you runnin' a long cage.

Patrick said...

Funny, I just finished building a 1x9 (with a VO stem + 1" quill to threadless adapter) the other day as a beater/grocery-getter in town. I've been running 12-23 in back and 42 up front; the decision came because the middle ring on my road triple is 42, and I rarely found myself wanting to go to anything else. I keep a light Salsa guard on the outside and an N-Gear Jump Stop on the inside for security.

Seems to be working fine for now -- the chainline just looks awry at its farthest reaches, but I hardly need those gears anyway. Cost-benefit? Meh. I may have saved a little time/money/effort compared to buying a front derailleur and other rings and installing it all, but an anonymous commenter got it mostly right:

"It's one thing for racers who have decided they simply don't want or need to shift in the front, but for a recreational bike building it up turns into an exercise in elaborate minimalism. You end up buying some combination of a chainguard ring, an inboard chain guide, a new chainring, a shifter you don't end up using, and maybe even some extra brake levers. ... When the smoke clears on these builds it just ends up being a ton of work and parts without any real benefit."

Not that I'm not proud of it.

Andy said...

I am way late on this, but I had to post my experience. I have been running a 1x10 setup on a Polyvalent for about a year. I'm using an alloy rival right brifter, an alloy left SRAM brake lever that matches perfectly, and a SRAM Apex rear derailleur. I picked the Apex because it can handle an 11-32 cassette, but I've been happy with an 11-28 cassette so a short cage SRAM road derailleur would have been fine. I run a 39t front ring, and this gear combo works great for me in hilly Seattle with Hetre tires. I don't often carry more than 30lb on the front rack.

This setup works extremely well, and allows me to run a VO full-length alloy chainguard (the 44t version), which works excellent. I love never having to roll up my pants or worry about which pants I am wearing. My interest in knickers has faded considerably!

The only changes I've made to this setup over time are to add a bbg outer ring to keep the chain from going off the outside, which fits in the same spot as the 53t would normally on these road cranks, and an n-gear jump stop to keep the chain on from the in side. I very rarely dropped a chain even without these, but now I never do.

Andy