A pained analysis: 1x vs 2x for groad

We know that you all have been waiting with bated breath (yes that's the right spelling) to see what the final details of our grountain and groad bikes, but supply chain issues have been nailing us there, like everyone else. I'll let Mike give details on his bike, but the fork in the road came for me and I took it. 2x derailleurs became available late last week, and I bought them. Since the long cage rear derailleur in an AXS setup is 1x only, and the 2x compatible mid cage rear derailleur has a 36t max cog capacity, it forces you to go one way or another. Going 42/36 as the easiest gear in VT is still a bit tall (34/28 has proved brutal on a few occasions) so that doesn't work, and I've previously tried a 38t front ring for 1x and found 38/11 completely deficient for fast group riding and don't expect 38/10 to be demonstrably better. 

This framed it as either 1x with the long cage derailleur or 2x with the medium cage. I could go short cage (33t max) but there seems no penalty for going mid versus short, and I can see a lot of times when fatigue or grade or the fact that my birthday cakes now use Roman numeral candles would make the extra couple of teeth on the cassette very helpful. 1x would be 42t front, 10-44 rear for the All Road-rimmed gravel wheels and 10-36 for the Cafe Racer-rimmed road wheels. 2 would be 50/34 front and 10-36 for the All Roads and 10-30 for the Cafe Racers. 

With the way I use bikes, this might come down to a splitting of hairs. The Vermont Overland and its ilk are the closest I will come to racing this year, but mostly I ride alone or with small groups. Fast road group rides, while I do so miss them, aren't really a thing where I am. But my terrain goes from ultra flat in RI to ultra not flat in VT, and having what you need for both ends of that is nice. 1x with 42 and 10-44 gets you to either end, but some of those gaps get big, and as Mike and I discussed I'm a pretty precious about cadence sensitivity. That's a huge bonus for 2x.

The benefits to 1x are slightly lighter overall weight, less expense, and no front shifting. It's gotten better, and people have learned how to tune it better, but SRAM's front shifting has never been on anyone's all star team. Electronic should sort this out dead cold, but there are a few scars from inopportune front shifting garbage takes. 

Supply chain issues forced my hand - I have reservations for the blanket of decisions I might make, and the 2x derailleurs came available this weekend with today as the deadline for fishing or cutting bait. If the shifters had come available instead, I could have kicked the can down the road a piece, but derailleurs don't let you do that. Knowing that my next chance at them might be October, I went 2x. If 1x comes in soon and/or I get cold feet about 2x, I will be able to get out ahead by selling the 2x. But I think I'm all set with the right decision here. So the tally of full and final drive train parts for the Crux sees Rival AXS derailleurs added to Force crank and Red calipers. 

The 18" of snow we got in Newport this weekend makes this whole conversation seem very conceptual indeed. Sunday's Zwift workout was done with a snow shovel instead of an indoor trainer. 


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  • Dave on

    Jonathan – Yeah, a bailout gear is nice on some of these wookie grades they throw at you. I’ve made it up Lincoln Gap (steepest paved mile east of the Mississippi – it’s cruel) in 34/28 so 34/36 should feel like sipping tea compared to that. Ideally the mid-length RD would maybe go up to 40, but I think I’m ok at the upper edge with 34/36 (knock on wood).

  • Jonathan on

    I did a 100k gravel race this summer that was a mix of gravel, road, and singletrack and thought I had the gearing for it since I ride a lot of singletrack on my crux. Gearing setup is 2x 46/30 front and 11-32 rear with the rear tire measuring out to 40c (most people don’t mention tire size but it is effectively a gear). I never have a problem spinning out on the top end (41 mph top speed recorded on my wahoo). But oh boy did I wish for 34 or 36 gear on the cassette. The organizer had a few hard climbs on route including 9% grade singletrack climb and a total of 1 mile vertical climbing. I run a Sora 3000 FD and RD to keep replacement parts cheap and the max capacity per Shimano is what I’m running (46/30 11-32). I am very tempted to try a 11-36 cassette maybe with a wolf tooth road link to get a bigger granny gear. But not sure if the RD can handle it, and I may miss the tighter steps of my 11-32 cassette.

  • Dave on

    Ashwin – That would make sense. The word I hear is that the electronic shifting is just ducky, hope that holds true.

    Kevin – For CX, I found it unbelievably good. For MTB, I wouldn’t consider anything but 1×. But I think there venues where it’s just not that right solution.

    Peter and Sj – Yeah, I’m hoping that 34/36 is enough. I’ve suffered through a bunch of climbs with 34/28 – and been forced to walk some times when I didn’t want to (narrator – he never wants to walk). Feeling like this is all around the best setup for 1 bike 2 sets of wheels solution.

  • Sj on

    So you went with 2x 50/34 with 10-36? I am on 46/34 (mixed up my 50/34 and 46/36) with a 11-36 rear. I still find it lacking on some all terrain climbs.

  • Peter Graeber on

    This struggle is extremely familiar. I’ve accepted defeat on my previous gen Crux and settled on 40t with 11-42. It never gets involved in road rides so I may even drop down to 38t because while I rarely run out of top end on a “gravel” ride, I’ve definitely wanted more on the low end up in your neck of the woods.



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