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SRAM XX1: And One Ring to Rule Them All

  • By Lennard Zinn
  • Published Sep. 19, 2012
  • Updated 23 mins ago


With only a single front chainring, the SRAM XX1 system has been hard for many riders who are neither cross-country racers nor gravity types to get their heads around.

After all, 2 X 10 has been a bridge too far for many passionate mountain bikers who didn’t like losing their lowest gear in particular, so how can they hope to get up steep climbs after chopping yet another chainring off, even if they get another rear cog? And how can XX1 riders win Olympic and world championships with a single ring with neither a front derailleur nor a chain guard — isn’t that too far out on the skinny branches in terms of risking dropping a chain? How can The One Ring truly take over, or even presume to?

Well, first off, the purist in anybody ought to find it appealing to eliminate complexity from ever-more-complex bikes.

The vast majority of shifting problems happen on the front, and without a front derailleur, most broken chains would also not occur. Chain suck is a moot issue without the front derailleur.

XX1 frees up suspension frame design, because the cloogey seat tube mounts and stubs, as well as most of seat tube bows, asymmetrical swingarms, and weird pivot configurations, are done in order to mount a front derailleur. Cut that sucker off and designers can go to town building cleaner, lighter, more efficient suspension systems.

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FILED UNDER: Bikes and Tech / MTB TAGS: / /

Lennard Zinn

Lennard Zinn

Our longtime technical writer joined VeloNews in 1987. He is also a framebuilder, a former U.S. National Team rider, and author of many bicycle books, including Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance and Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance, as well as Zinn and the Art of Triathlon Bikes and Zinn's Cycling Primer: Maintenance Tips and Skill Building for Cyclists. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in physics from Colorado College. Readers can send brief technical questions to Ask LZ.

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