1x groupsets? Dreams of an engineer or the future?


Thoughts of a serious cyclist.


Without hesitation, this is probably the most controversial topic in cycling. Especially now that the "rim brake squad" has lost the battle. So, short questions, short (and clear) impressions. For you to think about - Filip Kvasina:


Ah… ..that shifting. And that SRAM. And that 1x logic…

Filip: ‘‘The big plus is the levers and the ease of changing gears and of course the precision of the electronics. Every click (extremely light - appreciative to my frozen fingers) was precise, there was no chain sucking, skipping or anything like that. Compared to a mechanical groupset that uses one lever for the front derailleur and one for the rear, the 1x12 eTap uses both to move the rear derailleur. And it all works very well and is easy to get used to, left hand for smaller, right hand bigger gears. But, when the time come to eat something, I ran into the first problem (a matter of habit). My right hand serves to hold the chocolate bar, and my left to change gears. And that's where I got a little confused. Move chocolate to other hand and then change to bigger gears with the right hand. It’s not exactly “cool” and requires adjustment. Nothing serious, but it's worth thinking about."


Ranges, ranges, ranges…

Filip: ‘’When I learned how to change gears, it was my turn to test the range of sprockets on the available uphill and downhill sections. I chose my childhood ‘’nightmare’’ – Molvice. A climb of some 20% incline (Strava claims) in one place - short but sweet. For comparison, I had a friend with me with a standard transmission (2x) - competitive 53/39 front and 11/28 rear. On the steepest part of the climb, we rode with the same cadence with minimal deviations. The steep climb was followed by an even steeper descent. Positively, there is no more pressure for quick change on the front rings with the possibility of a chain suck… I kept going faster and faster, one by one gear towards the smaller sprockets, I turned the pedals and reached a speed of 52 km/h, and still I have not reached maximum cadence (although I expected it). The revs at that time were slightly below 90 rpm, and according to my free estimate, I think that up to 60 km/h I could still spin pleasant revs without extreme pedalling. In conclusion, when I need a bigger gear, I shift down, and when I need a smaller gear, I shift up.’’


Situation number 2. Group ride. Social tempo.

Filip: "The second day of the test was reserved for the Bonk Grind Ride - a group ride of 100 kilometres and almost 1000 meters of altitude, with varied terrain and milder uphill sections. There was no lack of gears in the recreational group ride without frequent changes of pace. I kept the optimal cadence (approx. 90rpm) and when needed I shifted to more easier gears... until we get to the steepest parts where it’s hard for everyone. Now, in a couple of such situations, when I reached the easiest two gears, I felt a slightly bigger gear jump - as if one gear was missing to soften that transition. Maybe this would be solved with a different choice of cassette sprockets - you should definitely try to find a range that suits most situations :).''


And the bike as a package?

Filip: ‘’Stiff, but not too much. Still, extremely agile when riding out of saddle. Also, I didn’t feel its slightly heavier weight (8kg) when riding uphill. It reaches higher speed very quickly on the flater terrain, both because of the simpler/quicker transmission and because of the aero frame. Understandably, it was very easy to maintain speed and consequently increase it. Combined with SRAM eTap, Pirelli 28c tires and wide aero 3T wheels it is very comfortable to ride it….. I do recommend it for those considering 1x conversion …’’


Bonk's Note:

Specificatons of the bike can be found here.

The gears ratio on the tested bike is 44T at the front and 9-36T at the rear. In terms of gears at the end points of this groupset, this corresponds to the standard 2x - 50/34T at the front and 11-28T at the rear. As Filip noted in the text above, what makes the (essential) difference are the gears located between the end points of the gear range. Here, 1x groupsets require certain adjustments and optimizations to suit the user and the required user cadence. The ‘’father’’ of 1x revolution, Gerard Vroomen, insists that 1x configurations are the future (it should be noted, he thinks more of the recreational part of the cycling market) - "This groupsets have the potential to offer less weight, better aerodynamics, less risk of "chain" problems, easier maintenance, less noise, easier cleaning, create a minimalist aesthetic and, especially for new cyclists, nurture a much more intuitive experience of changing gears."

This text, of course, is not intended to persuade anyone or take sides. It is more of an incentive to openly talk about this topic. The technological future brings changes. That is the only certain thing. We'll see which way it goes at the end.


As always, until next time, share the road,