Monday night on Just Riding Along, Kenny and I (Matt was out of town) discussed a need for a update/improvement to a bike part that only exists on the entry level/hybrid end of the market. It started with a discussion about gearing. I’m a big fan of 2×10 drivetrains. I’ve used SRAM XX and X0 as well as Shimano XTR. Kenny is a total 1xdrivetrain fanboy. His favorite setup now is either full 1×11 or, for the more budget-oriented build, using a 1×11 crank/chain (designed to work together to keep the chain on the chainring) and any clutch-type 10-speed rear derailleur.
Functionally, he’s had great success with both, but these are my holdups with them:
-On 1×11, the gaps in between gears would bug the hell out of me (10-12-14-16-18-21-24-28-32-36-42). I’m already swearing off 11-36 10 speed cassettes for the same reason (once my current one wears out, I plan on going 11-32).
-SRAM is slated to release different size 11 speed cassettes in the future, but then the problem of range comes in. If I’m gonna have gears, I want a similar range to the 2×10 I use now (39/26 up front, 11-36, soon to be 32, in the rear). I use the 39×11. It’s not often, but, in training on the road or during races that include some road sections, it is a gear that I find on a regular basis. This is why, on a 1×10 setup, the range just doesn’t do it for me. Like I said, if I’m gonna cart around some gears, I want my 39×11, and I want a granny gear of some sort (I’ve found that a 26×28 is really useful on most climbs, sometimes as low as 32, but I rarely find the 36)
SO, to get the range I’d like, the current 1×11 offering would work with a 34 or 36t chainring, but the gaps, as I mentioned, would set off my nit-picky/diva pet peeves. Enter, solution:
Make a baller 11-speed version of the Shimano Megarange that comes on cheapie bikes all over the world. My dream gearing would be essentially a 10-32 “10 speed” cassette (gears something like 10,11,13,15,17,19,23,25,28,32) with a 42 tooth low gear. Problem, solved. Gear divas all over the world rejoice, and I become a 1×11 fangirl forever. (P.S. There is this: General Lee Wide Range Cassette Adapter, which is interesting, but not really the same thing.) As for the haters who say, “that jump from 32 to 42 will NEVER work,” well, if a cheapass Acera on a Hybrid can make the jump, I see no reason why a baller-ass XX1 derailleur couldn’t hack it.
Of course, this is a lot of nit-picking over gears for someone who indulges in Singlespeeding on a very regular basis, but, until women’s singlespeed is a more popular race category, I’ll always be looking for the best (even if it’s just in my head) setup. SRAM, make my dreams come true…