Digital Hippie

1×10 MTB Drivetrain

1×10 speed Shimano XT Mountain Bike MTB Drivetrain, 33tooth chainring, 11-36 rear cassette

1X10 Drivetrain Overhaul

The Mojo HD’s 1×10 drivetrain is due for some love including a new chainring, chain and cassette… which inevitably leads to wondering what if any changes to make.

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ZEE 10spd Shadow Plus Derailleur

Just before we began the rock and roll back country descent during which my XTR Shadow Plus derailleur got ripped in two, Rich put the mozz on me by asking why I’d gone with the long cage due to clearance issues etc. I had intended to get the mid cage version but when it came time to order it wasn’t available… and by that stage I was too hot and sweaty for Shadow Plus to wait any longer. All things considered though it’s been a long time since a rear derailleur got munched so I can’t complain, it’s been a good run.

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XTR Shadow Plus Derailleur

A new year, a fresh start. Time to get my act together and fit some long awaited goodies to the Mojo HD.

Plan was to fit an XTR Shadow Plus Derailleur and as part of that take the opportunity to simplify the drivetrain further and try running only an upper chain ring guide.  Angle Grinder Required!

The XTR Shadow Plus Derailleur is a beautiful piece of industrial design. Like all things XTR it’s about performance as much as it is about weight.

The derailleur’s key feature, uber chain tension, is enabled by a schmancy gold lever and works wonders.

  • Dramatic improvement in shifting performance vs XT. Super clean, precise shifts
  • Drivetrain is so fricking quiet. Aleluya!

Some guys have mentioned the shifting action feels significantly heavier with the Shadow Plus fitted, enough to cause fatigue. It does feel a little heavier (with an XT 10spd shifter) but not by a huge amount.

XTR Shadow Plus Derailleur

XTR Shadow Plus Derailleur


MRP Mini-G2 Mod

I’ve been super keen to try out an XTR Shadow Plus derailleur – for improved shifting performance and significantly reduced noise (via the derailleur’s beefy chain management system).

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KMC Chain, Missing Link & e*thirteen Chain Ring

Thought I better do something productive while getting over the flu, almost there thankfully. I guess getting around in the wee hours of Winter mornings, out in the rain and wind, might tend to slow the process down some.

The 1×10 drivetrain was definitely overdue for some love so I replaced the worn front chain ring with a new e*thirteen one. Kept to 33 tooth as that seems to work well around here for me.   Also replaced the stretched and worn Shimano chain with a KMC X Series chain. It comes with the reusable missing link which is pretty handy. The guys at The Bike Vault swapped the original missing link out for a black one so it’s quick and easy to find, good idea! I’d cracked the G2’s lower guide a while back so replaced that too.

KMC X Series Chain, Missing Link and e*thirteen Chainring

KMC X Series Chain, Missing Link and e*thirteen Chainring

It’s all looking disturbingly clean and shiney, even the cassette (thanks Mike!)… won’t take long to fix that. Looking forward to seeing how the KMC chain performs, hopefully as hassle free as the old Shimano chain.

KMC X Series Chain & Missing Link

KMC X Series Chain & Missing Link

Heading into Spring and Summer and generally drier conditions (in theory anyway) I’m swapping back to using Squirt lube. It worked great last Summer, especially its automagic clean drivetrain capabilities.

2X10 vs 1X10

Testing out the Stumpy FSR 29’er was a good opportunity to check out the 2×10 drive train and see how it compares to the 1×10 I’ve been running on the Mojo HD for the last six months.

The 1×10 drivetrain on the Mojo HD is a 33 tooth front chain ring, combined with an 11-36 10 speed cassette. The 2×10 drivetrain on the Stumpy is a 22/33 tooth chain ring combo on the front combined with an 11-36 10 speed cassette. If the Stumpy was a 26″ MTB practically there’d be no reason for me to use the granny on the trails as I ride as otherwise it’s the same drivetrain as the Mojo HD.  The Stumpy was a 29’er though and while those bigger wheels roll buttery smooth compared to a 26″, they require more energy to accelerate so the constant up, down, slow down, speed up and tight switch back nature of the local trails made for a good test.

1x10 vs 2x10

1x10 vs 2x10

How did the 2×10 experience compare to 1×10?

All those years of running triple chain rings meant the front ring shifting habits came back instantly, but in short I much prefer the 1×10 drivetrain and have no interest in changing back to multiple chain rings.

Why? Because the simplicity of a 1x drivetrain translates to flow on the trail. Multiple chain rings mean shuffling back and forth across chain rings, including the additional corrective back and forth shifts on the rear cassette so you don’t effectively end up in the same gear you were just in. With 1×10 you can shift when you need to, to the gear you need rather than doing the shift shuffle on the 2×10, the latter usually done ahead of time.

If you don’t like to think in terms of warm and fuzzy concepts like flow, simply put running a 1x drivetrain results in quicker, on demand gear shifts, significantly reducing being caught out in the wrong gear.

As an example of what I mean the local trails include numerous sections that go from high speed descent under power, that abruptly transition into heavy braking, super sharp, low speed climbing turns. In reality the transition happens in a second or two. With a 1×10 there’s minimal disruption to the flow of the ride, you get to the transition and push through to the required gear on the rear cassette and continue on. With the 2×10 it’s either disrupt the flow, come off the power early and shift the front chain ring and rear cassette to be ready for the transition, or attempt to do the shift shuffle as the transition happens, in the midst of heavy braking and everything else that is going on and listen to the drivetrain howl in protest.

Not that I didn’t have fun using the 2×10. I was definitely able to clear some low speed, steep rocky, loose, sharp turns much more easily in granny gear. Those turns on the 1×10 are a challenge, requiring delicate balance and control as you don’t have the ideal gear available, and much of what makes difficult MTB easy is being in the right gear. There are very few sections like that though, and I don’t mind the challenge so no biggie. I had forgotten how weird granny gear feels though — lots of spinning, lots of inching along.

Other things:

  • Love the snappy feel of the SRAM shifters, but overall the XT shifting is smoother and cleaner on the HD.
  • Disappointed that the KMC 10 speed chain on the Stumpy failed part way up a climb. Ouch.

So there ya go, less can be more, it is for me anyway. I’ll stick to flowin’ with 1×10 🙂

KMC 10 speed chain failure

KMC 10 speed chain failure

Hope 9-36 tooth 10 speed Cassette

Definitely of interest to anyone running 1x or 2x drivetrains is the cool article posted on Pinkbike about Hope’s 9-36 tooth 10 speed cassette, including a Q&A with Hope’s Neil Arnold about how it all works:

Simpler, lighter, less complicated – all the things we all want our bikes to be!

Amen! The Pinkbike article also covers the 9-36 happenings that Specialized and SRAM are working on. Read: it’s headed our way, like it or not.

I remember spending close to $100 in the mid 90’s to get a go fast TNT 11 tooth cog to replace the standard 12 tooth, at the time I thought that was revolutionary (excuse the pun), but now only 9 teeth? Nuts.

All very cool IMO as wider ratio cassettes will mean more riders get to enjoy the fun of a 1x drivetrain — less is more 😛

Hope 9-36 tooth 10 speed cassette

Hope 9-36 tooth 10 speed cassette