You might have noticed that some of our new Boardman bikes only have a single front chainring. This is called a ‘1x’ or ‘one-by’ drivetrain, and we think they’re great for loads of cyclists. Want to find out more? Read this blog post for the low-down!
On most bikes, you’ll have a selection of between 7 and 11 gears at the rear wheel (the ‘cassette’) and 2 or 3 at the front (the ‘chainrings’). You can change gears on either to make things easier or more difficult.
Traditionally, the front chainrings would be used for ‘big’ changes – before you go up a hill, for example. Smaller adjustments in gear are made by changing gears on the cassette at the rear. There’s some overlap between the ratios in the middle, so you can be in either the big or the small ring on the front for lots of riding without crossing the chain over.
Less is more
On a 1x drivetrain, there’s just one chainring at the front – you can only change gear by shifting at the cassette (at the rear). This gets rid of lots of extra moving parts, meaning that the bike is lighter and there’s less to go wrong!
More modern cassettes and derailleurs mean that you can have a much wider range of gears at the back – just take a look at the huge 10-42 cassettes on some of the Boardman range! This means that the range of gears is just as big as it was before (or even bigger for some bikes). Your easiest and hardest gears will be just as easy or hard as they would have been otherwise.
Making a leap
Of course, the result of putting a wider spread of gears at the cassette is that the difference between one gear and the next one up or down is a bit bigger. However, modern drivetrains have up to 11 gears in the rear cassette, meaning that this is much less of a problem nowadays.
Making it work
There’s more to making a 1x drivetrain work than just taking off one chainring, though. Here are some of the other features modern 1x setups use to be as reliable as they are:
- Narrow/wide chainrings – Because the chain never has to come off the chainring (to shift to a different one!), the teeth of the chainring can be designed to ‘grip’ the chain, by matching the pattern of the narrow and wide links of the chain. The teeth are also longer, making it much more difficult for the chain to come off.
- Clutch rear derailleur – By putting a clutch into the rear derailleur, the derailleur can hold the chain onto the chainrings. As a bonus, this also helps keep the chain from ‘slapping’ your bike’s frame over bumpy ground.
So there you have it – that’s a quick run-down of 1x setups, and why we like them! With modern drivetrains, they can give you the same range you’ve always had (or more) and are simple, quiet and reliable.
Want to see them in action? Take a look at this video for the Boardman MTB Pro!