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1x Vs 2x Groupsets: Which Is Best For Your Gravel Bike?

1x Vs 2x Groupsets: Which Is Best For Your Gravel Bike?

(gentle music) – If you’re buying a gravel wire one choice you’re likely to be faced with is whether or not you go,
for a double chain ring or a single chain ring option. Either two by or one by. Now given that Shimano have just launched their first ever one by
drop bar specific option as part of their new GRX range, we thought, it was high
time to try and clarify just what the relative
advantages of each system are and then, try and work out which one might be better suited for the type of riding that you want to do. (gentle music) First up a quick explainer. Just in case you need the whole on by or two by thing clarified. Now very simply a one bar two bar refers to the number of chain rings that you have on your bike either on or two. Now it sounds simple
and it is, but there are one or two things that you need to know. In order to run a single chain ring set up you are going to need
a special chain ring. One that’s designed to stop
the chain from coming off which would otherwise be a problem if you were to just remove
your front derailleur. Now the way manufacturers achieve this does vary but very generally
this type of chain ring is called a narrow wide chain ring. And that refers to the alternating width of the teeth on the ring and then they correspondingly
fit much more precisely between the narrow and
wide links on the chain. And it’s really really
effective so much so that although this bike
does have a chain catcher I would not bother with one and also you could only ever run this type of chain ring one bite
because you wouldn’t be able to shift off it. In addition to that specific chain ring, you’re also going to
want a rear derailleur with a clutch type mechanism on there. Now these clever little gizmos effectively and resistance the derailleur arm in a forward moving direction. So that basically stops the
chain from bouncing around and potentially bouncing off. A byproduct of this, is
that it also makes the bike so much quieter on bumpy
terrain because the chain is much less likely to be slapping around against the frame. And so effective is it that it’s also on the two by group set option as well. Now, a two by set up,
I think for a lot of us might sound simpler. But then I think that’s
probably because it’s what we used to. Front derailleur have
been on road bikes now for 70 years but natural facts, it is going to be more complicated in that you have a front derailleur, you have an additional shifter you also have an extra
cable to connect the two plus you have, an extra
chain ring of course. Now,once you know how a front derailleur is super easy to set up and work perfectly but a lot of people do
seem willing to put up with poorly adjusted ones that means that they might not shift
as well as they should or, you just get a bit of
derailleur rub on your chain, making it a little bit noisy. (soft music) Let’s not dwell on that though because as I said, when a
front derailleur is set up somewhere close to correct,
it worked perfectly. So what are the advantages
then of a two by set up? Well predominantly, it
comes down to gear ratios you have double the number of gears on a two by set up compared
to a one by set up of course. Although, interestingly or
perhaps not I’ll let you decide you actually don’t get double
the number of gear ratios and that’s because there’s
a little bit of overlap between the two chain rings. You have a wide range of gear ratios in fact wider than ever
on this GRX 810 chain set because of other first-time Shimano, have created a 17 tooth
gap between the ring. So this is 48-31. Perhaps most importantly though you get smaller jumps between the gears on buy by set up generally, and that’s because you can run a closer ratio cassette back. So in this case, we’ve got an 11 to 34 and it’s good because faster
speeds so perhaps tarmac or smoother gravel, you
can be more comfortable and potentially even more efficient cause you’re more likely to find a gear that suits your optimal cadence
for that particular moment. But then you don’t need to worry about being stuck without small gears cause of course you have
that tiny little chain ring on the front, in this case a 31 which is going to be well suited for the much slower speeds associated with riding off-road. Ultimately, you can safely say that given this tech has been refined over the last 70 years, it’s
pretty tried and tested. Two by setup works, and
it works really well. (gentle music) Whats’ about one by then,
what are its advantages, why get rid of half of your gears? Well that is a good question because for a lot of us, it may well be a slightly counterintuitive. I’m going to start with a personal one but I really like the aesthetics. And that’s really important actually I think if we all admit
to ourselves, deep down at least part of the reason we’ve chosen the bikes that we have in the past is because we like the look of them. And so don’t underestimate
the importance of that. And I’m not just referring to the view of the bike in profile either when I’m taking a bike vault photo. What I actually mean is when riding it and you look down at your legs pedaling and it just looks so clean, I love it then you might love it too. But then you might not, it’s
an entirely personal choice. Now, in terms of the
performance advantages. First up, you will get rid of a little bit of weight of course, cause you’re removing your front derailleur and
one of the chain rings. It’s not a massive amount
to get excited about perhaps 250 grams if
you factor in the cable that you can get rid of as well. One of the most significant advantages and one not shared with
road bikes actually, is that if you remove the front derailleur you can fit wider tires. Even with GRX where the front
derailleur and the chains that have actually been
spaced out slightly there is still an official restriction of 42 millimeters on
the width of your tires. When you remove that, frame manufacturer can then fit much wider tires in there. Now at this point, a lot of you have mentioned already that if your change days are long enough, you can still fit in really wide tires and a front derailleur as well. But here’s the thing,
sure to change that bike does tend to feel a lot livelier and more responsive even with wider tires. And so that’s why it’s quite
an important consideration. Removing front derailleur
has completely liberated mountain bike designers and the same is kind of
true with gravel as well even if it’s not quite so significant. Finally you can use your left shifter now to do other things, like
activate a dropper post (gentle music) Seriously, yes, I mean I do actually have a dropper post on
my mountain right now and I think it’s great. But personally I can’t see the need for one on a drop bar bike. But then that’s what I
said about mountain bikes and now I wouldn’t be with that one so yeah so yeah come back
to me in four years time and I’ll probably have one. You might not be quite so slow
on the uptake as me though. (soft music) Okay, let’s talk gear ratios. Again how does it work if you
remove half of your gears? Well in the first instance you’ll want a much larger ratio cassette at the back. So in this case I’ve got an 11 to 42 mountain bike set on there with GRX you’ll need a
specific rear derailleur in order to accommodate such
a wide cassette on there. For cyclo-cross, it wouldn’t
be quite so important but for gravel you definitely want those easy easy gears, just
in case the terrain demands it because getting off and
running with your bike isn’t really that much fun
outside of a cross race. And actually if we’re honest, it’s not that much fun in a cross racer either. And 11 to 42 cassette like this one with a 42 chain ring will mean
that you’d run out of gears at about 60 K an hour as opposed to 70 kilometers an hour
with a 48 tooth big ring. Now that actually doesn’t
sound too important to me I said it before but I do tend
to stop pedaling these days at about 60 K an hour. However I do know that a lot
of people worry about that. At the other end of the
spectrum, a 31-34 combo would allow you to stay on the bike at about three to five kilometers an hour as opposed to five to
seven kilometers an hour for a 42-42. In terms of the jumps
between the gear ratios, on-road, they can feel quite significant particularly if you’re riding a group and your left or not dictating the pace. But worth remembering the point that we’ve touched on earlier which is that, with a
22 speed two by set up you actually only have apparently, around 14 distinct gear ratios. So with an 11 speed one by set
up, you’re only missing three even if it might sometimes feel like it’s more than that. When riding off-road though
and speeds are generally lower, you’ll find that those larger
jumps between the gears are actually something to be welcomed, it’s a positive thing because otherwise you do spend your life changing gear. And that’s something that
I found out when I was 16. And I spent ages saving up
for a close ratio cassette. My mountain bike cause
I thought it’s going to make me faster, when
in reality all I did was spend every race
changing gear constantly because I could never find the right one. It’s a true story that, not a good one but it is true. So if those are the advantages of each, how do you know which one to choose? Well, if you want a
responsive lively gravel bike with really wide tires, you’re going to need
one by on there anyway. So the choice might be
taken away from you. Then if you like the
idea of the simplicity, slight reduction in weight, and then potentially also a little
bit of extra robustness, one by definitely has
the edge over two by. Then of course, there’s the
important question of aesthetics which is entirely personal,
but two by ain’t dead yet, far from it in fact. It’s tried its tested it’s
more refined than ever and as long as your tire
choice and frame choice doesn’t preclude it, it
is a fantastic option. I think a lot of people
will still be swayed by those smaller jumps between the gears but still getting that wider
spread of ratios overall. Do make sure you let
us know what you think, which is your choice or
which would be your choice, and let us know why, in the
comment section down below. Also give this video a big thumbs up and if you’d like to watch another one about how to choose at your gravel bike, then you can click switch
to that on screen now.

100 comments on “1x Vs 2x Groupsets: Which Is Best For Your Gravel Bike?

  1. I am on a sram Rival 2x 50/34 setup on my gravel bike with 50mm 29er tires. I would love to go 46/30(or even 44/28), but can't really find that crankset in a GXP mount in my size. So, I may just go 1x 34t, as with 1x I can move from 11-36 to a 11-40t cassette in the rear.

  2. I'm going with a 1×11 because since I have a 9 speed 12-36 cassette i'm basically just adding 2 bailout gears and removing a front ring lol

  3. 1X. always for me. Unless there is some massive overwelming reason to go 2X, I go 1X, I dont miss the gear increments, i like the simplicity

  4. Having watched your hill climb video I have to ask what are the power losses in the drivetrain in the smallest and biggest gear combinations of 1X compared to a 2X set-up?

  5. That tire width restriction makes no sense at all. I use 27,5×2.2" mtb tires on my Trek Checkpoint with a standard road 2x drivetrain and the chain doesn't even come close to touching the tire no matter the gear. And there plenty other gravel bikes that can fit a 2x road drivetrain and mountain bike tires. By the way the 2.2's can fit with trek's sliding dropout slammed all the way forward.

  6. I’m building a single speed Crockett woo almost finished gonna be so fun. Running 40t x 18t or 20t and fat 650b and di2 later for some comfortable Gran Fondos lol excited for 2020

  7. Had a Crux with 1x. Too fiddly to get enough gear range for the hilly terrain (high max speed on descents and low speed on steep climbs), with cross chaining at top and bottom gears. Now 2x di2, love it.

  8. Love my 1X Gravel bike. I'd upgrade to 1×12 speed mechanical in a heartbeat… if only SRAM or Shimano would release the damn thing.

  9. What's the way to calculate the speed you can stay on the bike for a given gear ratio? Si mentioned it as the low end difference, is that just "for a standard cadence" or some other thing that can be worked out? All my bikes have freewheel systems so gear choices are a bit more limited…
    PS: If you don't race and would rather not mess with a FD, you can run a 2x as a 1x and kick/stick shift depending on the terrain! That means kicking the chain over with your foot or using a stick from the side of the road to move the chain back up….

  10. I use my Trek Crockett as a road bike, 38c maxxis ramblers and all. I just fitted a 1×11 GRX 800 groupset. 44t chainring and an 11-42 cassette. Only on the fastest parts of a ride do I not have quite enough gears.

  11. Need the low speed range for those 17% gravel grades, I can do without the high speed gears (if I’m that fast it’s because I’m coasting down a road) — dropper is nice on the those 20% gravel descents, and the green and blue single tracts (no fun on the blacks, to brrrrrrrrrrrrrrping hard on the boooooody and arrrrrrrrrrrrms).

    Currently running Shimano 105, with an 11-36 on the back and a long B screw, a 31-36 would be nice range 🤗.

  12. After using both for years I'll try not to buy another 1x again. I don't like the big jumps between gears and 2x is much better in the mountains.

  13. The single seems so, well, limited, whereas the double seems less claustrophobic in that you can enjoy just that much more freedom for all conditions. Wow, I believe if you cannot make up your mind then you'll just have to own both types or develop 'dissociative identity disorder', better know as split personality and you don't want that.

  14. Of course, if you use your bicycle for commuting, joy-riding, racing, exploring and, often enough, pulling a trailer…then a larger gear ratio is always the most useful and happiest…2x or 3x it is!

  15. Wait I was planning on getting a 26t 1x chainring with an 11-36 12 speed cassette for a mountain bike I'm building up. Is that a bad idea then?

  16. I run a Sunrace 1 x 12 (11-50) with a Schlumpf High Speed Drive (28 / 65) in place of the front crank on a Terratrike Sportster recumbent trike. I imagine the set-up would work fantastic on a gravel bike. On road, slapping the Schlumpf into high speed mode (65 tooth chain ring equivalent) would give a strong rider a massive boost possibly rendering the gravel bike full road bike equivalency. The gear-inch range on this set-up, if I'm remembering correctly, is essentially 35 to 165 which gives a low end better than that possessed by most mountain bikes. Give it a try! There's got to be Schlumpf hanging around GCN somewhere! Thanks for the video!

  17. Really hard not to just post a bunch of profanity here. But to be nice I will just say that I hope Shimano is paying you well to claim that 31-34 is a low enough ratio for gravel and to then try to sell me on fewer gears for higher prices by leading with aesthetics.

  18. 3x > 2x > 1x, all day long. having a close-ratio cassette will always be better than the upsides of 1x. I love my 36/46 + 12-27 10 speed setup. 1x only makes sense if you have a mud fetish and/or no mechanical empathy.

  19. 2x vs 1x. Again it comes down to your personal tastes and riding style. A more road specific gravel bike, definitely 2x. If you ride more off-road and with 650b wheels, then a 1x system makes more sense. Best part is my gravel bike can handle both systems.

  20. If my gravel bike was purely for off road riding (and the limited tarmac between) maybe I'd consider 1x. However, the current bike is used for winter riding and commuting on the road, where I like the smooth gears.

    Even for bikepacking, where the steps aren't such an issue you can get a much lower bottom gear on a 2x subcompact.

  21. Whats wrong with triple chainring?
    Weight doesnt quantify the gear ratios of the triple chain ring. Im sorry for me 1x is a fad.
    (insert Si's dropper post look.)

  22. My gravel bike is a Giant Toughroad flatbar with 3×9. There are times when that granny gear sure is helpful. I don't ride technical stuff any more and this bike takes me anywhere I want to go. Its low gearing selection sees me still pedaling when others are off walking uphill.

    I had a full sus Trek Remedy 8 that was 3×10 and that was too much to manage easily in the rough stuff and I can understand why the latest models are 1×12.

  23. I went 1x, I lasted a week before becoming really frustrated by the lack of range and the friction on the chain from almost constant cross chaining, changed back to 2x and fixed these issues

  24. Both have advantages in all styles of bikes. I was a little worried my new Surly Ice Cream Truck was 1×12, but it has been amazing for that bike. I tend to Gravel grind on my 2×10 29er, and think it works well.

  25. Narrow Wide Chainring is such a nonsense. I run an old Shimano Alfine Chainring with a Sram Rival derailleur. No noise, no jumping off – nothing… Just marketing boomers

  26. QUESTION: When should I change gears? — What cassette gear should I be in when I change my chainring gear up or down? — Would it depend on which chain ring I started in? — Would the choice be different when I'm climbing, descending, sprinting, or cruising? — I ride a 'gravel' bike with a 2x setup. — This is my setup: Chainring == 48/32 | Cassette == 32,28,25,22,20,18,16,14,13,12,11. — It seems that the best cruise cassette gear is the 14. — The 48×18 is equivalent to the 32×12. — I hope you can help me sort this out. — Love the show. — Keep up the great work!

  27. first thing’s first- slap a 36t or 34t chainring on your 1x system and call it a day. assuming SRAM 1x, the 10-42 cassette will give you plenty of room. chances are, most adopters of GRX will be using the 30/46 chainset for 11spd, paired with the 34t cassette.
    do the math on that, and you’ll realize that the gearing is a touch easier on 1x, set up more like an aggressive MTB.
    don’t overgear yourself. it’s gravel, not TDF

  28. I found riding 1x on rolling road terrain to be much more cumbersome than 2x. At higher speeds when pitch is changing often it's slower to shift down or up the full rear cog vs 2x where you can dump or add teeth much faster as you transition from climb to decent and back again. Off road I've not felt that issue even on rolling trails.

  29. A question from a Mountain Bike rider that want to get a winter rig.

    What’s the differences between a CX bike and a gravel bike?

    I know CX have narrower tires, but not really anything else.

  30. 7:03 @Si: but you discover one usage of a dropper post on yours and Chris' gravel vs. XC MTB video, didn't you? Get lower –> more aero. Pros already crouch on their top tubes riding downhill: you can do that with a dropper😎. Actually, that'd be the biggest selling point of a 1x setup if you don't want to have a dropper remote on your handlebars.

    Now that I think of it, I may coerce someone into presenting me a dropper post for my gravel bike, for Christmas, for that very reason😇…

  31. 1x for me on my cross bike, and winter/commute bikes. For all the reasons Si gave. And 2x for me on my summer road bike where I’m likely to be doing longer road climbs where I’ll benefit from the spread of gears but at closer ratios. Again, basically what Si said 🧐

  32. 2:08 – you might have done a "with clutch" and "without clutch" comparison shot here, so that no one thinks the clutch is engaged on the bike in this shot. ALSO – "Once you know how, a front derailleur is super easy to set up and works perfectly . . . " said by the guy who isn't a full time mechanic working on all manner of bodged together older bikes. Another benefit of 1X is simplicity. I see so many people with multiple chainrings cross chaining, and wondering why they're experiencing problems. If you're one of those, 1X makes a lot of sense. It can actually make cycling enjoyable again.

  33. All three of my bikes are 1x. One of which I recently converted from a triple to proper 1x with a wide ratio cassette and narrow wide chainring. My other two bikes were 1x as stock and using them made me want to make the switch on my triple.

    I will never go back to having a front mech. The unnecessary process of constantly shifting up and down at the front just to get the full use of the cassette without chin rub at the front is enough of a reason for me. The added perk though is that off roading in the winter filth means that there are a lot less mechanical components to get gunged up and liberally cleaned at the end of every ride.

  34. I think it's down to personal preference/ riding style. I've had a couple of 1x bikes – but after having knee problems the physio (who was also a cyclist) suggested a higher cadence. And that for me, is were 1x is no good; I'd would quite often be 'in between' gears – either grinding or spinning too much.
    However, I can see why 1x makes absolute sense; just not for me.

  35. My gravel bike pre-dates GRx so has Ultegra 50-34 & 11-34. Gears high for the bike- packing I have planned. Will GRx chainrings work on my Ultegra crankset?

  36. 2x, 50/34 with 11/42 Di2 with synchro. 700 or 650B when you want the really wide tires. WHEN 1X HAS 14 0R 15 Gears it will overcome, but, until then……

  37. Si … did you guys at GCn bug me in my sleep or something as I seriously was just talking with my biking neighbor when he saw me loading my bike into the boot of the car the other day. It is my trainer dedicated bike now and it has a 3x front chain ring and I was going on how useless it is for my trainer not to mention the derailleur adjustments are a lot less quirky on a 2x vs a 3x least for me it is … 1x 2x 10spd 11spd x 12spd … i need climbing gears in Zwift for Alpe or other steep ones but little else …

    Its an Old Norco XFR 4 2012 24 speed 'no drop bars' … 3 x 8 … After your video I think you have convinced me to do a 1x at least for the trainer as again i don't need overlap and my lap times get messed with if and when i jump the big ring… now to figure out what options are there …

    Appreciate the tips… you at least help resolve one part of my problem with this video … thanks again

  38. I’ve heard a lot of “pros” to getting rear derailleur with a clutch, are there any “cons” besides the extra cost?

  39. I tried 1x for 2 yrs to test it out running alongside a couple 2x all-road bikes too with Ultegra. I liked it at times for the training benefit to force low-cadence spin, or high spin, after that, all compromises. I just sold all the SRAM Rival 1x and am back to ALL 2x, and that bike is now GRX 2x 48/31. Way way more versatile w 48/31 & 11-30/32/34 cassettes, way way more. And no compromises which is what you get the most of with 1x: missing gears, constant cadence and gear hunting, funky loud-ass shifters, and spinning out on downhills at 33mph. F that. And comically one of the selling points of 1x is how quiet they are!! Ha! Show me a shifter that's louder than a SRAM 1x HRD, you can't , LOUD AF. The take home? GRX is the answer that SRAM missed the mark on BY A MILE with eAXS with no mechanical option, HD drivers, 12-speeds when 11 is totally awesome, and e-everything with prices through the roof, wtf?! . Again, F that. Bravo Shimano, Shimano for the win !!

  40. you say its lighter…..but after you have added a bloody great very expensive dinner plate of a cassette on the back, its a lot heavier, and all the weight is at the back

  41. 2x on my bikepacking bike. 11-42 is not enough range when you look at the necessary granny gear, and still want to hit a decent flat tarmac pace. 11-50 is damn pricey for maintenance schedules.

  42. Only 14 speeds on 1 2x setup? 11-32 with a compact chainset gives 16 by my math… Great for the gravel roads around here.

  43. I used to look down on gravel riding at Roadies who wanted to ride MTB but didn't want to actually get flat bars. However, I demoed a giant Revolt carbon on my favorite trails yesterday and I'm sold. Gravel and MTB are totally different experiences on the same trail. One is about going as fast and as hard as possible, one is about being as precise smooth as possible. Needless to say I spent the whole demo day on a gravel bike and now looking to buy one. I'll probably go with a 2x.

  44. one small point of contention at the 3:20 mark. A Shimano, Campy, or even Sunlite front derailleur set up close to right will work properly. SRAM gave up on FDs working years ago.

  45. It's quite simple. just scrap all this poncy fad crap and get a mountian bike if you want to go offroad. More comfy and stable than any skinny wheeled road bike.

  46. They're both great. Ride the one you got. Both setups will take you on amazing adventures. Ride so much either your chainrings or cassettes need replacing — then decide if it's to switch from one to the other.

  47. i've been running 1x for quite some time now and i like it so much i would probably run it on a road bike as well, when i ride 2x i always forget to shift on the front anyway
    a 1×11 with a 44 front chain ring and an 11-42 cassette gives me all the gears i need

  48. As for aesthetics, a rim brake bike an simpler, more elegant links. I really am having trouble getting use to the clunky look of disk brakes on a road bike. Likewise, the one by gravel bike has the HUMONGOUS dinner plate attached to the rear axle.

    That said, if I very buy another new road bike it will almost certainly have disk brakes. A cross bike, would probably be a one by, disk. Gravel? Good question. There were some good points on both sides present here.

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