Dirt Rag Magazine

2014: the Year of the Single-Ring Drivetrain

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While it might seem a little premature to make such a prognostication, I’m going to do it, if for no other reason to get your attention.

There is little argument among people who have ridden them that SRAMs 1×11 drivetrains are a serious step forward in drivetrian evolution. What isn’t appealing is the upfront cost, and the replacement cost for that 11 speed cassette, somewhere in the vicinity of $300. So, what’s a mountain biker with champagne taste and an MD 20/20 budget supposed to do?

One option? Get strong like ox, ride less gears, give no craps. Pretty simple really, and most people with that attitude are probably out riding right now, not sipping a crappicino and reading about mountain bike bits on the employers dime.

Option two? Enter a new generation of small manufactures, a flashback to the neon purple heyday of the 90’s where small guys with access to a CNC machine drove the high end market. This time around it’s a bit different, with the small guys filling in the niches left by the big players.

One of those smaller guys is OneUp Components and its 42-tooth cog designed to give your 10-speed drivetrain the same low gearing as the expensive 11-speed stuff. A single hundred-dollar bill gets you a black or green aluminum cog with 12 upshift points.

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Here’s how it works: Pull off the 10 speed cassette, put the 42-tooth cog on the cassette body, remove 17-tooth cog from the cassette, reinstall the cassette, and ride off with a gearing range of 11-13-15-19-21-24-28-32-36-42.

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There are some caveats, and props to OneUp for covering them comprehensively in its FAQs. We have one on hand, and plan to get it on a bike ASAP. The first shipment is already sold out, but you can get in line for the next at its website.

Those choosing to go 1x are well served going with a narrow/wide chainring, an idea also proven in the excellent SRAM XO1 and XX1. Luck be have it a trio of such items just arrived from Mr. 650b himself, Kirk Pacenti. These Pacenti Cycle Design rings are available in red, blue or black, in 32-34-36-38 tooth options. All are hard anodized.

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We’ve already have one of these on a bike, and even with a 9-speed drivetrain, no clutch derailleur and no chain guide, the ring is doing an admirable job of keeping the chain retained.

Rings are available at pacenticycledesign.com for $69.

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