The 1x Drivetrain
One needn't read the MTB blogs much to see that the SRAM 1x11 drivetrain has gained considerable mindshare over the last couple years. The recent target of my fascination, the Kona Process 111 is a fine example:
There are several advantages to a single front chainring. A front-shift is far more violent and error-prone than a rear shift. I've broken a few chains by slamming the front and rear both into the granny, only to have the front ring get held up right as I'm approaching maximum torque. And no matter how well tuned your FD, you're sure to drop the chain on the inside once in a while. Other advantages include less gee-gaws on the bars, and significantly less weight. Indirectly related, a 1x setup is often accompanied by a clutched RD, which substantially decrease the risk of chain-slap and chain-wrap. Yee haw.
Of course the downside is also obvious: fewer gears. There are plenty of websites that cover the math, but with my Trek the stock gearing gives me a gain ratio of 42/11 (3.8) down to 24/36 (0.7). Replace the front triple with a single ring and, depending on the chosen chainring (I'm using a 30T) and that gain drops down to 2.7 to 0.8.
Now honestly I'm not doing a lot of longer trail rides on my Trek, so losing the high gears isn't a huge problem. But I am fat and slow, so I hate to lose the granny. So I'm also throwing on a 42T granny gear, which gives me back a 0.7 easy gear.
The Front Ring
I went 1x10 on a cross bike a couple years ago, but made the mistake of throwing a regular double chainring on. Imagine my surprise when, on the shakedown ride, the chain kept derailing. Turns out those are designed to derail.
SRAM's 1x rings are based on their X-Sync technology, which is designed not to derail. I bought a Chromag Sequence 30T ring.
Which will be replacing the old rings
The Rear Cog
I've been fascinated with apple "go-fast" green ever since I got my Volkl P40 F1s (with Energy Rail!). Just like the Volkl P9 single-handedly made chartreuse cool, the P40 has done the same with apple green.
So when I read this review (and this, and this) of the Oneup 42T cog, the fetching green was simply too much to bear. Not to mention going from a 36T granny cog to a 42T. So it ended up on my "to install" pile.
The Rear Derailleur
With the single chainring I may as well upgrade the rear derailleur. The newer generation of derailleurs have a clutch mechanism. This lets them swing backward easily, but not so easily forward. Thus nearly eliminating chain-slap. The price you pay is a tougher rear-shift, but this strikes me as a good bargain.
As usual Merlin comes through with a $60 clutched rear derailleur. With a single chainring, I went a little crazy, opting for the medium-cage.
|XT Shadow M780 on the left, XT Shadow+ M786 on the right|
May as well add a bash guard, so I picked up a Hope 32-34T from Merlin.
Installing the bits went about as easy as such things always do. For some bizarre reason Trek opted to use Torx bolts instead of hex. WTF? Thankfully my recent torque wrench purchases included the necessary driver.
|WTF Trek? Torx?|
I was able to install the new RD without using a new cable. Also salvaged the chain. Thank goodness. I left the front derailleur and shifter on for now, in case I decide to switch back to a double- or triple-chainring. After a few weeks, I'll take that off too.
|Hope Bashguard and Chromag Sequence 30T. With a FD just cause.|
|42-teeth of apple green.|
On one of the local trails I'm always threading through some narrow trees. So I decided to chop an inch off of each side of the bars. I used the Park steerer tube cutting guide and a hacksaw.
To be honest, with the benefit of hindsight, taking two inches off was too much. I should have started with maybe a half inch. Oh well. Go big or go home, right? Of course I was already home, so maybe I shouldn't have gone so big.
When I bought my Trek it was already used, and the grips were pretty torn up. Oddly they haven't gotten any better over the last couple years.
So I bought a couple sets of ODI Rogue Lock-On grips, one for the Trek and one for the Lynskey. Only after the fact did I find that they're also available in green.
Oh well. Even in boring black they're still a big improvement over the old grips.
|New Grips, Shorter Bars|
Despite still nursing an elbow that won't quite straighten, I took my newly renovated bike out for a short ride yesterday evening.
The verdict? I'm very pleased with the shifting. I've got virtually the same granny that I had previously, and while I'm missing quite a few gears at the top end, the only reason I ever really needed the big ring previously was to combat chain slap. And the new rear derailleur takes care of that nicely.
The action is admittedly a bit stiffer when shifting up, due to the stiffer spring on the derailleur. Were I riding my mountain bike on a 300K brevet, I might choose to release the clutch. But for a typical 10-mile MTB ride, it really wasn't a big deal.
Dragging the chain onto the 42T rear cog was a delightful non-event. Now granted I've got the b-screw pretty much slammed, but that's what the b-screw is for after all. The shift across the missing 17T cog was slightly more eventful, with perhaps the occasional miss, but it was never a real problem.
And my goodness, the chain stuck on the front chainring like glue. SRAM really figured it out with their narrow-wide tech. This weekend I'll take off the now unnecessary front derailleur and shifter to finish the package. I see no reason to put the triple rings back on.
The new grips were fine. I really didn't even notice them, which I suppose is a good thing.
Now, the only real issue was my ill-advised decision to chop a couple inches off the bars. The bike was quite rideable, mind you, and I certainly never clipped the end on a tree. But I did miss the extra bit of leverage.