1x11 drivetrain questions

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1x11 drivetrain questions

Postby BLOOMIS914 » February 12th, 2020, 10:04 pm

Looking for suggestions for converting 2x11 Shimano to 1x.....currently 36/26 with a 11-42 cassette on 29 wheels and 11-40 with 27.5+.
Considering front ring 34T and 11-42....is this enough climbing gear for SE Mich? Or should i consider 11-46? I tend to think 11-42 is enough. Many comment that Shimano jump is too big from 37-46...thoughts? I ride Maybury, Tree Farm, DTE and Island Lake 95% of time. I know most guys will just get a single speed for those easy trails but I’m getting older.
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Re: 1x11 drivetrain questions

Postby b_b » February 13th, 2020, 12:06 am

32 x 11-36 works for me so 34 x 11-42 (or 40) is plenty.
I ride Maybury, Brighton, Highland, DTE, Poto, PLRA, ILRA.
If I got extended cassette I'd probably just get 40.
Could also run 32 ring with the 11-40 for more low end.
32x11 is also fast enough for me for trail and gravel.

*edit* I'm more of a spinner
Last edited by b_b on February 14th, 2020, 1:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 1x11 drivetrain questions

Postby PK » February 13th, 2020, 5:47 am

I've had zero issues with a 36 x 46-11 setup.
(The 36 is a wolftooth.)
Stony, Addison-type of climbs are no problem.
At first I wanted more high speed gear for the flats but I compromised.
If I were find myself climbing anything more, I would probably need more gearing.
Shifting up to that 46 is seamless.
29" hardtail.
I'm a masher, not a spinner BTW.
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Re: 1x11 drivetrain questions

Postby DynoDon » February 13th, 2020, 6:28 am

Some days I can use all the help I can get, some days its all easy, Just cuz' you have a bail gear doesn't mean you have to use it, but somedays, or if you go to a different trail its nice to have, or if you just want to take it easy, it sure beats walking. I have run 1 by 12 since it came out, I run 36t x 10/50t now, I don't use the 50t much, the 42t is plenty most days (thats 11th gear for me), but on some days its nice to have 50t, and I am much older, on a 29er.
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Re: 1x11 drivetrain questions

Postby bikeguy4life » February 13th, 2020, 9:10 am

I'm sure having the bailout gears is nice, but IMO I think the 10/50 & 11/50, etc drivetrains are overkill for MI riding & I've kind of heard as much from my riding buddies - out west, east coast gnar, yes, I'm sure it's REALLY good to have, but around MI, probably not needed. I ride all of the stuff in NW MI/Traverse City area and on my current bike that I've had for about 2 seasons now, I've been running a Sram X01 1x11 drivetrain, RF 34T NW up front w/ Shimano XT 11x40 (or 11x42, I can't remember) out back & I love it. Easy to spin on anything I've ridden on around my area, no issues on the steepest hills around here (XC hills on the Vasa trail, ski hills @ Hickory here in TC, state hospital, etc). I'm more of a spinner than big-gear masher and I found with the 36T up front I was lugging the bike around too much and the 34T was just right. I do ride gravel roads from time to time and my gearing works well for that too; I think top speed w/ my gearing is around 25-28mph before I start spinning out. A 10T cog out back would be nice, but it's not a deal breaker. Prior to this bike, I was running a 1x10 w/ 34T & 11x36 and I had no issues with that, including 3 Lumberjack 100 finishes (gearing was at the top end for Lumberjack, a 32T up front would have been nicer). Hope that helps, 11 speed is still a GREAT way to go!
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Re: 1x11 drivetrain questions

Postby DynoDon » February 13th, 2020, 10:00 am

bikeguy4life wrote:I'm sure having the bailout gears is nice, but IMO I think the 10/50 & 11/50, etc drivetrains are overkill for MI riding & I've kind of heard as much from my riding buddies - out west, east coast gnar, yes, I'm sure it's REALLY good to have, but around MI, probably not needed. I ride all of the stuff in NW MI/Traverse City area and on my current bike that I've had for about 2 seasons now, I've been running a Sram X01 1x11 drivetrain, RF 34T NW up front w/ Shimano XT 11x40 (or 11x42, I can't remember) out back & I love it. Easy to spin on anything I've ridden on around my area, no issues on the steepest hills around here (XC hills on the Vasa trail, ski hills @ Hickory here in TC, state hospital, etc). I'm more of a spinner than big-gear masher and I found with the 36T up front I was lugging the bike around too much and the 34T was just right. I do ride gravel roads from time to time and my gearing works well for that too; I think top speed w/ my gearing is around 25-28mph before I start spinning out. A 10T cog out back would be nice, but it's not a deal breaker. Prior to this bike, I was running a 1x10 w/ 34T & 11x36 and I had no issues with that, including 3 Lumberjack 100 finishes (gearing was at the top end for Lumberjack, a 32T up front would have been nicer). Hope that helps, 11 speed is still a GREAT way to go!


Most people that have the 10/50 are still running the 32t chainring the bikes came with, that was useless for me, I went to a 34t, that was better, I now use a 36t, much better, 36 with the 50 is still plenty low enough, and with the 36t x 10 I have a better high gear, I could see using a 38t on most trails around here, maybe I will this year. Nino Schurter has used a 40t chainring with 10/50. Gearing is what you make of it, bikes are sold with a general purpose set up, not always good for the area the bike ends up in.

For the OP, sorry about getting this off topic, its great you're working on your gearing, there are many new set ups, and older stuff so you can run 1x with anything if you don't mind walking up some hills, having a bail out gear just gives you more range incase you need it, people just have to experiment until they find something that works for them. This is one upgrade that most people overlook, but it can make a big difference if you find the right setup for you.
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Re: 1x11 drivetrain questions

Postby flamingo » February 13th, 2020, 10:27 am

I have been riding a 1x11 34T chainring on 10-40 cassette. That would be on a 27.5 wheel. I ride a lot of Highland and only when I am totally out of shape and tired I feel like maybe I could use a 42T or a 46T cog. Mind you I weigh 150lb. So I guess for a 29 a 32T front ring would be close to equivalent of my setup. I like close ratio cassettes as they allow me to keep steadier cadence. On my 29 hardtail I have 32T front and 11-34 11teeth on the back - I use it for gravel riding.
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Re: 1x11 drivetrain questions

Postby Leroi Brown » February 13th, 2020, 11:21 am

Just to preface this input, I am more of a low-cadence "masher" of sorts.

I have been running a 1x11 with a 34t front ring and a 10x42 cassette for the last 5 years, and find it quite ideal for Michigan riding. I've also ridden this configuration in Marquette/Copper Harbor, as well as in Pisgah, NC, and have been quite pleased with the gearing range in these place. This is on a 29" Epic with 2.1 tires.

I think you may find the range and bulk of a 50t, or even a 46t cassette to be a bit of an overkill in Michigan.
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Re: 1x11 drivetrain questions

Postby TimTucker » February 13th, 2020, 2:22 pm

If you're carrying weight or towing anything, the extra range helps.

My main bike is a 29er with 1x10 with a 11-46 Sunrace cassette (slightly more even jumps at the low end than Shimano) and a 26T chainring up front.

Note that I'm running 152mm cranks -- if you compare gain ratios the 26T actually works out about the same as a 30T with 175mm cranks:
https://www.sheldonbrown.com/gear-calc.html

Riding with my 4yo son, I use a TowWhee to pull him along on longer uphill sections:
https://towwhee.com/

I use the full low end range riding Addison Oaks with him behind me.

My other bike is an old 26" running 1x7 with a 24T on 152mm cranks and a 11-34T cassette. The gearing works well for hauling tools & lumber for trail maintenance. I've also used it to pull a bike trailer with my younger son on wider trails like Bald Mountain, but there were spots where I wished I had more low end range.
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Re: 1x11 drivetrain questions

Postby BLOOMIS914 » February 14th, 2020, 8:07 am

Wow. Great responses and variety of rider styles confirmed most of what I thought. Thanks so much. I will be going with 34T x 11-42 single ring conversion from my current setup. Looking forward to dropping granny ring, rear derailleur and shifter mechs. Last question. Should I consider a chain keeper/guide for the front 34T now or is the Shimano XT single ring and matching 11-42 cassette have excellent chain retention? I would rather not add chain guide unless absolutely necessary and plan to be sure I use proper chain length assuming big/big and full squish travel. I appreciate hearing masher vs spinner feedback as I am 215 lbs and more of a masher. Trying to work on better cadence/cardio with winter training on Peloton indoors at 80 cadence or or more.
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Re: 1x11 drivetrain questions

Postby WICCMB » February 14th, 2020, 11:22 am

I am a "masher", and 34 front ring with 11 rear cog is not tall enough for me....I spin out when riding gravel or pavement on the way to trails, especially when riding with others. I need 36-11 as a minimum, and would prefer bigger. Many modern bikes will not fit bigger than 34. For this reason, I have decided to keep my 2x11 set up....which allows me to run a bigger front ring.

To each their own....
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Re: 1x11 drivetrain questions

Postby DynoDon » February 14th, 2020, 11:51 am

WICCMB wrote:I am a "masher", and 34 front ring with 11 rear cog is not tall enough for me....I spin out when riding gravel or pavement on the way to trails, especially when riding with others. I need 36-11 as a minimum, and would prefer bigger. Many modern bikes will not fit bigger than 34. For this reason, I have decided to keep my 2x11 set up....which allows me to run a bigger front ring.

To each their own....


I'm a masher too, I remember when MTB's had 3 rings in the front, 42t big ring, and 11/36 it was fast, and for a masher it was great for a rest on the straightaways, but when the 11x1 came out mashers lost out, my Epic only took a 34t chainring so I never went for the 11x1, now with a 2018 Epic I can put a 38 chainring on maybe a 40t... I run a 36 with the 1x12, its almost has the same ratio as the old S works gearing I had on my old Epic..with 2x, at least I'm not spinning out.
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Re: 1x11 drivetrain questions

Postby Leroi Brown » February 14th, 2020, 12:56 pm

BLOOMIS914 wrote:Wow. Great responses and variety of rider styles confirmed most of what I thought. Thanks so much. I will be going with 34T x 11-42 single ring conversion from my current setup. Looking forward to dropping granny ring, rear derailleur and shifter mechs. Last question. Should I consider a chain keeper/guide for the front 34T now or is the Shimano XT single ring and matching 11-42 cassette have excellent chain retention? I would rather not add chain guide unless absolutely necessary and plan to be sure I use proper chain length assuming big/big and full squish travel. I appreciate hearing masher vs spinner feedback as I am 215 lbs and more of a masher. Trying to work on better cadence/cardio with winter training on Peloton indoors at 80 cadence or or more.


With the 1x narrow-wide chainrings you shouldn’t need a chain guide. My chain stays put very nicely.
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Re: 1x11 drivetrain questions

Postby b_b » February 14th, 2020, 1:43 pm

Leroi Brown wrote:With the 1x narrow-wide chainrings you shouldn’t need a chain guide. My chain stays put very nicely.

I believe clutch derailleur (shadow plus) is also preferred.
I'm using Race Face n/w with X9 clutch derailleur no chain keeper.
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Re: 1x11 drivetrain questions

Postby TimTucker » February 14th, 2020, 2:45 pm

With my hardtails I haven't had issues with dropped chains with narrow-wide chainrings.

On my bike with 1x7 (no clutched derailleur) I do have a BBG bashguard mounted on the outside, but that's primarily so I can jump on it for rides around the neighborhood without worrying about my pants getting caught on the chainring.
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