1X10 Drivetrain 4 weeks in…

4 weeks or so running the 1×10 drivetrain on my Mojo HD, thought I’d post an update on how it’s going. There’s a whole bunch of things that come to mind, will try and organize them.

Climbing limitations seems to be the main concern when talk of 1×10 comes up, which is fair enough as granny gears have been a feature of MTB’s since the early days. I guess the key climb variable with 1×10 is rider strength and fitness. As I ride 1×10 more and HTFU it becomes less of an effort, or looking at it another way I can go further into rides before starting to feel the strain. With 1×10 and fresh legs/early in the ride you can really power up pretty much anything, including steep technical terrain, carrying more speed compared to what you would in a granny gear. It’s good fun. The cost I guess is the energy/effort required as it’s a different experience to granny climbing – muscling up vs spinning up.

Later in the ride I’ve found things can get tougher with 1×10. Your energy reserves are lower and as you head up a climb your thumb goes for the downshift lever but it won’t budge as you’re already in the lowest gear. Really? You glance back at the cassette to confirm. Dang, yeah really. So then it becomes a slow cadence climb, rolling the cranks over top, one at time, trying to keep it smooth. Provided you stay relaxed though it’s surprising what you can climb when you’re beat and you don’t have  a granny to fall back on.

Another situation I’ve found where 1×10 can get tricky is when the terrain is tight and technical, where the bike speed is very slow and you come across some unusually challenging obstacle. In a granny gear you’d still have the momentum of your spinning legs to help carry you through. You also have huge torque on tap for an instant squirt of power/acceleration.  With 1×10 however you have ultra low cadence at ultra low speed, not much torque to boot.  It comes down to low speed control and strength in reserve, trickier, even more so as you fatigue.

Overall the combo of the 33 tooth chain ring and 11-36 cassette is working out to be a pretty good match to the trails around Castlemaine. Some climbs are still very tough, but it gives me something to work on. I’d reckon that ATM I’m mainly using the easier 2/3 of the cassette. If that stays the same after a few months of riding I’d consider dropping to a 32 on the front — for easier climbing and better use of the entire cassette — but given how things have gone so far I reckon improvements in fitness and strength will do the trick. Just gotta get out there and ride more to make it happen.

1x10 All Mountain MTB Drivetrain

1x10 All Mountain MTB Drivetrain

Ground Clearance
The extra clearance of 1×10 comes in handy especially when it comes to new trails/obstacles. In the event you do use all the clearance the MRP chain guide protects the chain ring from getting damaged or snagging on anything. Definitely a little confidence booster.

Dropped Chain
No chain ring shifting combined with a chain guide, no more dropped chains. No hassle, nice.

No Overlapping Gears/Less Shifting
With 1×10 there is no overlapping gears, and subsequently no hunting for gears across cassette/chain ring combinations while riding. This simplifies shifting a bunch, might not sound like a big deal but it means you spend less time tooling around shifting gears with a 1×10. Riding with a buddy on a 3x he jokes that I have no granny gear to save me, I joke that all I can hear is him shifting gears endlessly.

Mentioning simplicity to anti 1×10 guys is usually followed by eye rolling and a dismissive ‘meh, heard/read all about that’.  Simplicity covers a whole bunch of stuff, like the overall riding experience (shifting, pedaling etc), less things to go wrong, less clutter, and that old chestnut weight weenies love, less weight. Simplicity can be a good thing.

So far I’ve really enjoyed the fun, challenging ride 1×10 provides.  Component wise there’s nothing to report other than everything is working well. A 1×10 MTB drivetrain might not be everyone’s thing but hey, what me worry, I’m digging it :)