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 🙂

16 Responses

  1. Hi,
    got here from mtbr.com. Great blog and lovely photos! I'm considering a 1×9 and don't know if 1×10 will be much better (11-36 is a great idea). Aside this what You think about all of 1×10 vs 1×9? I mean is it shift better, quicker? No problems with mud?

  2. Heya lpezda, thanks for stopping by!

    With 1×9 vs 1×10, I think either are worth a go for sure. In my case I wasn't happy with the shifting on my 1×9 (SLX based), but more importantly wanted the 11-36 so there was a spread of ratios, so I could run a smallish chain ring and still have good climbing and good high speed. That's how I ended up deciding on an XT based 1×10 with the 11-36 cassette. Plus 10 speed is current, so going forward probably easier to get a wider range of parts for compared to 1×9.

    But… as it turns out so far on my local trails I have hardly used the 11 on the 11-36 cassette at all. I could have been running a 12-36 9 speed and probably not noticed! To make better use of the cassette I either need to get fitter, or drop a tooth on the chainring.

    I haven't ridden in much mud yet with the 1×10 so can't comment on that.

    I think with both 1×9 or 1×10 it's more about having the right cassette/chain ring combination to suit where you ride, not whether it's 9 or 10 speed.

    The MTB the Mojo replaced is an early 90's Stumpjumper – XT 3×7 drivetrain (still shifts sweet btw). A 1×10 drivetrain probably has more unique ratios… will have to check that out 🙂

  3. Thanks for lots of information. I've to first check if 1×9 is right for me but we have a winter now in Europe 🙂

    I'm thinking about 10 speed as there isn't a qood quality 9sp cassette (there is only 12-36 LX which cannot be use with aluminium freehubs). You're right that 10sp is the future now and earlier or later everyone would have to migrate to it.

    Anyway, thanks for info. Keep it going with blog – amazing photos!

    Greetings from Poland

  4. How about highspeed? I dont worry too much about climbing, but how about when going on paved roads to an from the trails?

    I also use my MTB for fast riding on level trails… high speed is a player there for sure…?

  5. Hiya Claus, I guess the trick is to have the 1x drive train setup to suit you – where you ride, what you ride, how you like to ride. If it’s more about flat, high speed etc I guess you’d go for a few teeth more on the chain ring if you wanted to run 1×10.

    For me MTB isn’t about paved roads at all, and practically there’s only a minute or so of sealed road between me and the trails so it’s a non issue. Similarly I generally don’t ride on fire roads or much in the way of level trails, the majority is single track in the hills. Where there are genuinely fast descents the gearing isn’t really a issue – can end up descending +50km/h no worries, and can comfortably sustain +30km/h pedaling. The cadence is up there, but a long way short of what I’m used to sustaining when mountain unicycling.

    I guess it’s around 9 months now with the setup I’ve been running and I’m very happy with it for riding in Central Victoria. If I still lived in the mountains where there a lot of long steep climbs and all day descent type rides the bike setup would be different.

  6. Hey Pete,

    I saw a reference to this report on MTBR, and I’ve been scouring those forums looking for some clarity on crank set up. I’m in the long and agonizing process of doing a full build (agonizing only because it kills me waiting for funds to mount so I can buy that next component) on a 2011 EMD 9. I want to run 1×10 and I’ve already nabbed a SRAM X9 rear mech on ebay, so being the aesthetics minded guy I am, I’d like to match and go with X9 cranks. Problem is, I’m not too astute on the conversion process from a 2×10 down to 1×10. It’s tough to find X9 crank arms only, so if I had to buy a crankset, would I need to get a different spider to fit a 32T chainring? Cameron Park in Waco, Tx is my home and hills there get brutal. I’m really open to other suggestions if there’s a more efficient/sensible process I should look in to.

    Your site is very cool


  7. love your site , i am waiting for a courier to deliver my mojo hd from melrose as i am writing this. I live in Healesville and will contact you from time to time to gain from your experience if i may.

    Ian Faulks.

  8. Hey,
    Great blog. I’m also building up a bike that will be 1X10 and I have a 3-ring XT crankset. what do I need to do and know about converting the crankset to single ring? chainline, bolts, etc. I’m planning on using a 36 tooth ring. thanks for any help.

  9. Hey mate firstly I want to say I love the blog- lots of good info and a great layout! Wielding an angle grinder in a kitchen is is always a win too ha ha.
    I’m about to switch my Pivot Mach 5 (loving the DW Link!!) over to 1×10 using a Widgit- what method did you use to find your chain length?

  10. heya Lachlan, thanks mate, yeah can’t go wrong with the angle grinder!

    Re the chain length, just used the method recommended by Shimano but erred a little on the cautious side. Have just removed a couple of links and now I reckon it’s perfect.

  11. Hey Pete this setup on your mojo is SWEET! i’ve also been running 1×10 for about a year now, and wanted to ask what chainring that is on there. i’ve run a surly 33 until now.. but recently started to have insane chaingrab from both old and new chains… not sure of the root, maybe odd wear on the steel ring. but im looking for a new chainring and figured you would have a pretty educated opinion on these matters.

    thanks all

  12. Heya James sorry about the delay in replying mate!

    I can’t recall the brand of my previous chainring but it lasted about 10 months or so I guess. The chain was fairly stretched and worn by then too, and yeah the drivetrain was starting to grab/suck in certain conditions so I replaced both.

    Have been running an e*thirteen chainring since. I haven’t checked it for wear, should do that, it’s running great though. Next time around I guess the cassette may also need replacing.

  13. Hi.
    Great article. I’ve just converted to 1×10 and Its working out pretty well. I see you are planning on going from a 33 to a 32. My 2 cents here is that it’s of no use. You need to lower the ratio more than that if you want to lower it. 33:36 is about 0.916. 32:36 is about 0.889. 33:32 ( second gear on your cassette that is ) is about 1.031. You should lower the front ring so that your new second would be your old first, meaning lowering the 1.031 to about 0.916. I’d recommend a 30t ring in the front. That would end up being 30:32~=0.938. Your first first gear will end up being a whole gear lighter, ending up on 30:36~=0.883.

    I ended up with MRP’s bling ring on a Sram crank. Works nicely so far. We got a lot of steep hills in Norway and the 30t is working perfectly. I started by locking Sram’s 22/33/44 to the middle ring my adjusting the range bolts. Figured that I missed a little lighter gear and 30t ended up being the right choice.

    Thanks again for a good article.

  14. Great blog
    Should I convert a 3×10 XT to a 1×10 or a 2×10? (BB mount)
    a) 2×10: think I need the big as the drive. (Hope bashring)

    b) 3×10: option is leave the granny and make the middle the drive and the big the bash, then put a Blackspire Stinger as chain guid (both solutions)

    (32t should be good here)


  15. Hey,

    On my bike I currently have a XTR Drive train. Head to toe so am I able to take my small ring off my 2×10 or will that not work? If not am I able to buy an XTR one without 2 front chain rings?


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