DEATH TO THE FRONT DERAILLEUR
When SRAM pioneered the first off-road 1x drivetrain in 2012, they initiated a gearing revolution that would change the way we shift forever. As SRAM continues their unwavering belief in 1x, Shimano’s reluctance to advocate it for the masses is based squarely on the fact that the reduction in gear range would outweigh any performance benefits from dropping the inner ring(s) and front shifter.
While this holds true for those of us who aren’t fit enough, an increasing number of riders are turning to 1x, thanks to the development of wide-range cassettes such as SunRace’s humongous 11- 50T 11- speed. Putting a dent into Shimano’s argument, it’s compatible with 11sp Shimano XTR, XT and SLX, and will work with SRAM X1 too.
The jump between gears may be bigger than in a 2x system, but the bottom- end range will get you up almost anything. SunRace have also just released a 12- speed 11- 50T cassette, which will further champion the switch to 1x.
From the manufacturer’s point of view, removing the front derailleur – as Scott and Specialized have done, on their high- end race bikes – allows engineers to better optimise the rear end of the bike, making it lighter, stiffer and more responsive.
So as manufacturers deem the front derailleur obsolete for racers (who are best able to handle relatively narrow gear ranges), in 2018 the everincreasing range of cassettes will make 1x transmissions even more appropriate for the masses.