bikes with single chainring

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
ludo
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Joined: 30 Jul 2012, 8:29pm

bikes with single chainring

Postby ludo » 10 Jan 2020, 7:20pm

I am thinking f buying a lightweight touring bike but with a single chainring rather than a double. Does anyone have experience of riding a bike of this type for touring purposes. I enjoy hills and much prefer rolling country rather than flat. In the summer my usual day rides are 50 to 100 miles. How practical are single chainring bikes for this type of riding.

Marcus Aurelius
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Re: bikes with single chainring

Postby Marcus Aurelius » 10 Jan 2020, 7:32pm

ludo wrote:I am thinking f buying a lightweight touring bike but with a single chainring rather than a double. Does anyone have experience of riding a bike of this type for touring purposes. I enjoy hills and much prefer rolling country rather than flat. In the summer my usual day rides are 50 to 100 miles. How practical are single chainring bikes for this type of riding.

One of my bikes is a 1x 11 speed Hybrid. It’s got a wide range cassette11-48 and a 32 tooth chainring. It takes a bit of adjusting to ( as far as riding style goes) but I’ve toured with it, doing multiple 100 mile + days, with no particular issues. The simplicity and convenience of the 1x setup is actually ideal for touring and long distance IMO.

mattsccm
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Re: bikes with single chainring

Postby mattsccm » 10 Jan 2020, 9:00pm

You'll still get the range( in theory) so in that respect it could be fine. Most of the 1x kit is MTB based so ought to be tough.
It boils down to you tolerance of big gaps in the gears. I hate it. Some love it.
They do tend to have whopping great back sprockets which being mostly steel tend to weigh a bit and thus negate any small supposed weight gains. Probably neither here nor there touring anyway. Those big sprockets mean long dangly rear mechs which can be rather vulnerable and they are often more complex with a clutch.
I doubt simplicity comes into it really. The front mech is probably the most foolproof moving part on a bike. Doesn't usually play up if in a standard fitting as long as cables are ok.
MTBers love it. Roadies don't. Generally.
Try such a bike first for a few hours if I were you.

Brucey
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Re: bikes with single chainring

Postby Brucey » 10 Jan 2020, 9:21pm

I'd also comment that if you are using the full range of gears the chainline is pretty rotten in most of the available gears. I quite like a triple setup (with big overlap between the ranges on each chainring) because your chances of being able to run a decent chainline in any given gear are vastly increased. Gear intervals are all over the place, ranging from 11% to 24% in some cassettes.

I also think that 1x setups are fundamentally flawed for road touring use in another way. If you set the gear range from (say) ~20" to ~85" and use an 11-46 cassette (say)
http://ritzelrechner.de/?GR=DERS&KB=34&RZ=11,13,15,17,19,21,24,28,32,37,46&UF=2185&TF=90&SL=2.6&UN=MPH&DV=gearInches

then sure, you have the gear range, but look at the sprockets you will be using when you are 'tapping along' on a ~60" to 70" gears on flattish roads; they will be on the small side, which makes for less efficiency and a worse wear life. Just to rub salt, the chainline ain't great either.

The latter concern is not as pressing for offroad use, because your 'tapping along' is done at lower speeds, nearer the middle of the cassette, and larger sprockets are used.

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

brynpoeth
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Re: bikes with single chainring

Postby brynpoeth » 10 Jan 2020, 9:37pm

One can manage quite well with six gears, 72" top
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Carlton green
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Re: bikes with single chainring

Postby Carlton green » 10 Jan 2020, 10:33pm

ludo wrote:I am thinking f buying a lightweight touring bike but with a single chainring rather than a double. Does anyone have experience of riding a bike of this type for touring purposes. I enjoy hills and much prefer rolling country rather than flat. In the summer my usual day rides are 50 to 100 miles. How practical are single chainring bikes for this type of riding.


Several decades back I moved home, lived out of temporary ‘digs’ and had one bike only. That bike had (IIRC) a single 46T at the front and a five speed 14 - 34 at the back. I rode with the local CTC section, never got left behind and 80 miles in a day was not unusual. Yep, single chainrings can work very well, just set then up properly and don’t ask too much of them.

Brucey
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Re: bikes with single chainring

Postby Brucey » 10 Jan 2020, 10:50pm

14-34 5s gearing offers a useful spread of gears alright. Interestingly if you accept that the 90" top gear is a 'bonus gear' (mainly for use downhill and with tailwind etc) the rest of gear range isn't much different to that given by a 3s hub. You do have an additional ratio and smaller gear gaps with the derailleur of course.

14-34 5s and 3s AW gear compared here;

http://ritzelrechner.de/?GR=DERS&KB=46&RZ=14,18,23,28,34&UF=2185&TF=90&SL=2.6&UN=MPH&DV=gearInches&GR2=SAAW&KB2=36&RZ2=19&UF2=2185

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Carlton green
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Re: bikes with single chainring

Postby Carlton green » 10 Jan 2020, 11:22pm

Brucey wrote:14-34 5s gearing offers a useful spread of gears alright. Interestingly if you accept that the 90" top gear is a 'bonus gear' (mainly for use downhill and with tailwind etc) the rest of gear range isn't much different to that given by a 3s hub. You do have an additional ratio and smaller gear gaps with the derailleur of course.

14-34 5s and 3s AW gear compared here;

http://ritzelrechner.de/?GR=DERS&KB=46&RZ=14,18,23,28,34&UF=2185&TF=90&SL=2.6&UN=MPH&DV=gearInches&GR2=SAAW&KB2=36&RZ2=19&UF2=2185

cheers


Come to think of it the smallest sprocket was bigger - might have been changed to a 15, to make top gear a bit more useful. Around that time I tried a SA five speed too and whilst it should have been wonderful it was dreadfully unreliable. Sach managed to built a proper five in a can (love mine). If the OP doesn’t mind hub gears then they are the way to go, just got to find a decent one at an affordable price.

ludo
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Re: bikes with single chainring

Postby ludo » 11 Jan 2020, 7:00am

Thank you for your replies. I will be trying a couple of 1x chainring bikes next couple of days. It is useful to have opinions of those with actual experience of riding such bikes. Much appreciated.

mattsccm
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Re: bikes with single chainring

Postby mattsccm » 11 Jan 2020, 7:48am

Despite my reservations above I to use a single chain ring as in days gone by. The thing is that in the past we were not so hung up on a huge range of gears. A 28 was an ambition and 13 was likely to be the smallest. Cross chaining on a double was frowned upon but on a 120mm, or even a 126mm, hub it was no big deal.
If it wasn't for one 200 metre 20%+ ramp in my local TT course I would run a single ring on the TT bike.
For a big range of gear? No

rmurphy195
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Re: bikes with single chainring

Postby rmurphy195 » 11 Jan 2020, 10:04am

You might want to check the replacement cost of the rear mech, cassette and chain when they wear out, as part of your buying decision, as opposed to that for, say, a 3x8 setup
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pwa
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Re: bikes with single chainring

Postby pwa » 11 Jan 2020, 10:14am

I believe that 1x11, due to the poor chainlines in some gears, has an efficiency similar to that of good hub gears. Apart from a small weight penalty, the hub gear alternative has a lot going for it. If you can afford it Rohloff gearing would give 14 evenly spaced gears and a good range. Maintenance would be a lot lower that with an 11 speed derailleur system, and it would last a lot longer.

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Tigerbiten
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Re: bikes with single chainring

Postby Tigerbiten » 11 Jan 2020, 10:42am

Are you going to use the bike for a solo tour or with a group as you're asking for a touring bike ??
One downside of a 1x setup I can think of is the wider spacing between some gears for a set gear range.

On a solo tour it may not matter.
You may just be a little slower if you cannot spin up a gear to get into the power band of the next gear if you have a 16%-18% gap.

But in a group you may get stuck in the wrong gear due to the same large gap.
One gear is just to slow for the groups speed and the next just to fast.
So you won't be able to spin along in your ideal cadence, so you may end up using more energy for the distance covered.

Luck ........... :D

xerxes
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Re: bikes with single chainring

Postby xerxes » 11 Jan 2020, 3:39pm

Had to laugh at this. As a lad I used to cycle big climbs in the Lake District (e.g. Corney Fell) with just a 3 speed Sturmey Archer. OK, I had to get off and push it occasionally, but still covered big distances.

Marcus Aurelius
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Re: bikes with single chainring

Postby Marcus Aurelius » 11 Jan 2020, 4:07pm

Tigerbiten wrote:Are you going to use the bike for a solo tour or with a group as you're asking for a touring bike ??
One downside of a 1x setup I can think of is the wider spacing between some gears for a set gear range.

On a solo tour it may not matter.
You may just be a little slower if you cannot spin up a gear to get into the power band of the next gear if you have a 16%-18% gap.

But in a group you may get stuck in the wrong gear due to the same large gap.
One gear is just to slow for the groups speed and the next just to fast.
So you won't be able to spin along in your ideal cadence, so you may end up using more energy for the distance covered.

Luck ........... :D


Very true, there is a different technique involved, and the shifts are ‘lumpy’ relative to a more conventional set up, but the lack of front mech means it’s less complex, and that’s a bonus. Horses for courses for sure.