Our Guide to Buying 1x Drivetrains

What is a 1x (pronounced "one-by”) drivetrain?

In a nutshell

Historically mountain bikes have had either 2 or 3 chainrings mounted on the cranks which used a front derailleur to move the chain across them when shifting gears. This system offered a large range of gears to the rider allowing them to climb steep hills and achieve high speed on smooth terrain. However the complexity of moving the chain from one chain ring to another puts a lot of stress on the chain and was often the cause of snapped chains or premature wear to the chainrings, cassette and chain with expensive

Press Play for Video Toby investigates 1x Drivetrains

What is all the fuss about?

So why is 1x great at more affordable price points?

Well it’s simple - less to go wrong and less wear on components. 1x makes as much sense for new mountain bikers as it does for experienced MTB’ers. The trend has also made its way to Adventure Road Gravel Bikes as mixed terrain enthusiasts look to simplify their set up and save weight too.

Is it expensive?

A couple of years ago 1x drivetrains started appearing on high end mountain bikes and over that time the technology has trickled down and is now available on mountain bikes starting from a fairly reasonable price. Alternatively if you’re just looking to upgrade your existing bike 1x mountain bike groupsets are available

What are the advantages to 1x drivetrains?

There are a number of advantages to 1x drivetrains. Simply put:

Easier to understand and use - with only the right hand gear shifter used to shift up or down gears riders can focus on enjoying their ride rather than fretting about the complexity of their gears. Even experienced riders find this beneficial, just look at Gold medal winning Nino Shurter and Jenny Rissveds bikes from the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Less chance of the chain falling off - The new chain ring design grips the chain and rear derailleurs with new technology to wrap the chain tight over the cassette for less noise and to prevent the chain bouncing off over rough ground.

Lighter weight - Even with a larger and slightly heavier cassette, the loss of chainrings, shifter and front derailleur results in a reduction in total bike weight.

Easier to clean and maintain - Less places for mud to build up on winter rides and only one derailleur to tune when adjustments are necessary.

Frame design has evolved - Manufacturers have always had to design their bikes around the constraints of attaching a front derailleur the extra width of multiple chainrings. With this no longer needed frames can be stiffer with better tyre clearance and lighter weight.