I am not a roadie. This is an obvious fact. I’m not against road bikes. I’ve just never had a standing relationship with one. But cross…there’s a relationship that has endured. I can mostly be found on a cross bike. My oldest cross bike in my quiver right now is my Vicious Cycles Slider. This stead has treated me well throughout the years. She has gone through many changes throughout our relationship, but has been loyal every step of the way.
Another thing about me is that I am not a climber. I can’t climb for shit. I’m also not part of Team Stick Boy, never have been, never will be. Maybe that has something to do with it, and I’m o.k. with it. That being said…I never back down from climbing. I do go out on routes and look for climbs. Hell, I even do hill repeats once and awhile.
But this being said, the one thing in my mind when building up a bike is gearing. I’m kind of terrified about it to be honest. Will this be enough gears? What about this range? Do I have the right chain rings?
A quick history on the Slider…I’ve been running that bike on a 1x system for about 9 years now. I’ll let that sink in…yes! 9 years. I did that mostly because I wanted a simpler system for cross. I didn’t want to mess with a front shifter. I understood and listened to my riding that if I just put on a chain ring that was in between the current two chain ring set up, I could use the full cassette range without problem. Now…I’ve had drop problems for sure, and it wasn’t till my current set up with a Wolf Tooth chain ring are my problems gone. (currently running a 1x10 Shimano 105 set up) But my fear of gearing was still there, and how to get around that pesky road derailleur of a max range to 28 teeth?
Sometime ago with Shimano, their pull ratio was the same on their mountain and road shifters and derailleur. So with some 105 shifters and a sweet XTR rear derailleur my problem was solved. I could climb almost any hill, road or off, and be just fine. A simple solution to a simple problem. My gearing always hovered around a 42 up front and an 11-34 cassette. Now times and tech have changed, and on the Slider currently is still a 42 up front, but an 11-32 in the back.
Now what’s my point with this? That I’m ahead of the curve? Well…yes. History has proven this empirically. People thought my set up on the Slider was crazy. But now people are paying a lot of money to change over their bikes to a 1x set up; when all you need is the right chain ring up front with what the current road rear derailleur can do. I’m seeing more bikes come with a 1x11 set up. I’m reading articles were riders are ‘testing’ a 1x set up for riding, and how and where they are riding. And it’s just been another day in the saddle for me. Is it practical? Not sure. That’s up to the individual. The individual has to be honest with themselves. How they ride. Where they ride. Their strengths as a rider. And, honestly, working in a bike shop I don’t see too much of that coming from customers, but that’s another topic for another time. A 1x system will always be that; 1x. So is this current move towards these systems a fad, like single speeds were? Not sure. You’re also reading this from a guy who loves his single speeds.