The 1 x setup has taken almost no time to become hugely popular (again… many of us used to run single rings in the 80s and 90s along with dual guards to keep the chain on the right part of the bike).
A single front ring, when it works, is fast becoming the racer’s setup of choice. We’re about to see more pros using it over on the continent after only 3 or 4 in 13/14, then about a quarter in 14/15. SRAM’s massively popular CX1 groupset has helped things along, of course. The technology is generally sound (bar a few provisos – read on…) and which racer isn’t going to be interested in reduced weight, less mud-catching gumph all over the bike, and general all-round simplicity? It’s even starting to infiltrate the road bikes…
Of course, the trade-off is a slightly reduced range of gears compared to the standard dual-chainring set up. That’s something that has been addressed succesfully in mountain biking (where single rings have been popular for quite a few years now) and we’re starting to see properly spec’d rear cassettes with a larger range to handle that.
Although I have run a single Absolute Black ring (1×10) on my mountain bike for some time now (and never thrown the chain, ever!), my cyclocross life over the last three years has been dominated by shoulder surgery so, amazingly, as a fan of the single-ring setup, I have never actually raced cross on the new breed of (thick-thin) single ring bike yet. After fitting my first in 2013, I was restricted to ‘testing and training’ mode…
Training partner, Fluent in Cross’s Alan Crossjunkie Dorrington has ridden the AbsoluteBlack cyclocross chainring over the last two seasons his blog from 2014 here puts it in context of a muddy North West season in full flow
the AbsoluteBlack ring set up and the resulting simplicity around the bottom bracket area has markedly reduced mud and vegetation build and kept the bike not only trouble free, but weighing less as a result too. Paired with an 11-28 block (10 speed chain, Sram Red rear mech), my 38 tooth ring gives me all the gears I had before and I have never missed the potentially wider range of gears a more traditional double set up gives. From now on, I’ll be running this setup on my Pickenflick during the winter season and for me it’s a perfect solution to the increasing levels of mud our climate seems to bring
I’m really getting giddy about removing the MTB double chainsets from my bikes (that I need for the rather unique the 3 peaks cyclocross) and stripping the bikedown to the 1 x setup again this season. The Absolute Black 42 rings are ready on their spiders in the garage and good to go.