posted by Marc – February 14, 2013 – 8am EST – Still a great article!
Recently, while descending a rough, loose descent, my attention was drawn to the rattle of a pair of hydraulic lines. Annoyed at first by the intrusion, I soon realized the reason that the hoses’ noise had come to the forefront was the fact that nothing else was making noise. No chainstay slap. No rattle in the front derailleur. No whir of a chain guide. Nothing but the soft thrum of the tires- and the faint rattle of hydraulic hose.
Even before laying hands on hardware, the more I thought about SRAM’s new XX1 group, the more it made sense. Sourcing a new freehub can be a hassle and the exquisite cassette is extortionately priced- but the logic is sound: What if you could remove the gearing redundancy inherent in even 2×10 setups? What if you could de-clutter crowded handlebars? What if you never dropped another chain? What if you could drop between 0.5 and 1.5lb from your bike? What if you gave up virtually nothing in return? All are big questions and exciting possibilities- and are the promise of the 11 speed drivetrain.
But I never thought to ask if it would be so wonderfully, eerily quiet.
Hit So SRAM aren’t suggesting that a 1×11 setup will replace everyone’s 2×10 or 3×10 drivetrains. But those who are running a trail-style double should take note: an XX1 group with a 30t chainring covers the slightly more ground than a 24-32t chainring/11-34t cassette combination. It just does so in slightly fewer steps, with considerably less overlap. Take a look at the graph above. The blue lines represent the gear ratios provided by a 24-34 2×10 setup. (Want gear inches? Multiply the ratio by your chosen wheel size’s diameter.) The red line represents the ratio provided by an XX1 group with a 30t chainring. The XX1 group covers the same ratios- matching the 2×10 setup’s high and low gears almost exactly- just in fewer steps.
So, if you’re a rider who rarely shifts into the big ring of that triple, then XX1 may be for you. Even if not, there’s a good chance that XX1 will cover most of your existing gearing: the high gear on an XX1 32 is equivalent to a 42×13 while the low is close to a 24×32; the high gear on an XX1 34 is equivalent to a 42×12 and that ‘ring’s low works out about the same as a still-manageable a 24×30. To make a long story short: the 10-42 XX1 cassette packs a surprising range.