Sram Launches 1x For Road

sram 1x

Sram’s 1x Revolution Reaches the Road

Last week, Sram announced the launch of Force 1 and Rival 1.  The launch of these two new group set marks the arrival of Sram’s 1x revolution to the road.  Originally developed for mountain biking, 1x drivetrains use a single chainring and pair it with a wide range cassette.  The result is a simple, one-handed sequential shifting drivetrain which others a big enough range for most users.

Force 1 and Rival 1 are essentially slight variations on Force 22 and Rival 22 with the major changes coming at the chainring and rear derailleur.

The new groupsets use Sram’s X-Sync chainrings which feature an alternating pattern of narrow-wide tooth profiles to eliminate dropped chains.  The narrow-wide pattern also features on the pulley wheels of the rear derailleur to further ensure the chain stays in place.

The rear derailleur shares many of the same features of its mountain bike brethren with some changes to better suit road bikes, such as the inclusion of a barrel adjuster.  Like the mountain bike rear derailleurs, the Force 1 and Rival 1 rear derailleur uses a clutch mechanism to maintain optimum chain tension.  The long-cage version will be able to accommodate a whopping 42-tooth cog.

Unfortunately the removal of parts (front derailleur, small chainring and left handing shifting) don’t add up to much weight savings due to the increased weight of bigger cassettes (10-42) and a heavier rear derailleur.  But it does mean that Force 1 and Rival 1 will cost less then Force 22 or Rival 22.

sram 1x

Now the big question is, who is road 1x for?

According to Sram, 1x offers a wide enough range for most users but they see it as particularly useful for a couple groups.

Gravel and Adventure riders: Eliminating the front derailleur makes one less thing to break for these riders who are going to be asking a lot of their equipment.  The X-Sync chainrings also means that they can say good-bye to dropped chains while riding the rough stuff.

Fitness and Recreational rider: A 1x drivetrain means simple, one-handed sequential shifting which would be beneficial to the recreational rider because they don’t have to worry about their shifting as much.  These riders are also less likely to be looking for big climbs so some of the concerns with range don’t matter as much to them.

Triathletes: Most triathlons are done on relatively flat courses so triathletes often don’t really need their small chainring which means they will benefit from the simplicity and weight savings offered by 1x.

But since this is The Wannabe Racer, that’s not really what this site is about.  So are their applications for road racing?

The range offered by 1x may be limiting for most true road uses.  Riders might feel like they are missing something at the both the low and high ends, so when they are climbing and descending.  That means you shouldn’t expect to see 1x in the pro peloton anytime soon, if ever.

But 1x does have its uses if you don’t plan on going up and down hills and mountains a lot.  So where then is it useful?

Criteriums: Crits are normally contested on flat courses with riders doing the whole race in the big chainring.  1x would make sense for crit racers because they don’t need their small chainring, there is one less thing to go wrong, and they don’t have to worry about dropped chains.

Time Trials: Similar to triathlons to criteriums, most time trials are contested on flat courses so, as a result, riders make little use of their small chainring.  Like triathletes, time trialists would benefit from the simplicity and the meager weight savings offered by 1x.

I am interested to see and try out the applications for Sram 1x in road racing.  It definitely has a place on the market, being welcomed with great rejoicing by gravel riders, but should it be embraced by roadies and is it right for you?

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