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Why go for only 1 front ring?

beanie's picture

By beanie - Posted on 28 July 2010

Why would you choose to go for only one front ring and what are the benefits of this? What size would you choose?

My middle ring is really worn out and I need to replace it as I'm 'spinning' all the time when I put slight pressure on the pedals while on the middle ring. I'm planning to get a new bike soon so don't want to use to much $$ on the old one. The old one, a GF Marlin will be converted to a commuter bike when I get a new MTB.

Thanks for advise and input!

Morgan's picture

I run a 1x9 with a 30T front & 11-34 on the back. It's done OK for everything I've ridden in Canberra and I figure if I can't get up a hill in 30-34 I can walk. I'd be concerned about doing a big multi day ride through the mountains with only 1 ring tho.

Make sure if you do 1 ring that you factor in $ for the chainring (get one from cycleunderground - they're ace), a chain guide (to stop the chain falling off, or you can bodge it and keep your front derailleur on there), and perhaps some chainring spacers to fit the chain guide. I use an MRP1x chain guide which slots in behind the BB & pushes out your drive side crank a bit, hence the spacers to bring the chainring back in to line. You can also look at the Widgit which, as long as you have the one bolt set up they cater for, looks cool and you don't have to worry about spacers.

You'll then be able to get rid of your front shifter & cable plus the 2 other rings, saving about 400grams I think I've read. It's a bit weird to start with only having one shifter, but it's heaps easier to think about. I love it.

Lenny_GTA's picture

I ride 1x9 with 32 teeth up front an 11/34 cassette. For me it works well on the trails I ride (glenrock/awaba) ad I rarely used the big or little rings.

It's probably not a setup for everyone but it works for me and takes away some of the clutter I didn't use.

richo's picture

Hey guys im thinking of changing over to a 2 x 9 11/34 cassette at the back what would you recommend for the front rings combo?

obmal's picture

I use a 28T with 11-34, it makes some hills ( like the start of Center Track ) more of a walk than if I had a granny, but its fine for anything else I ride.
I'm thinking of going to the 30T when this one wears out (its lasted ages as its stainless steel), in fact I miss the big ring more than the granny.

I'd not use it on an enduro, or any other ride where I'd use the big ring a lot... but hey that's why we should have more than one bike.. can you ever have too many bikes? Cool

Pants's picture

On my old Scott Nitrous i ran a 32 front and 11-32 rear and could ride all of manly dam and some downhill tracks. The trick was to keep the speed up on the hills as you cant go slow.

My downhill bike has 36 front and 11-32 rear and is a bit hard to go up heart break hill but i managed DH + C at Terrey Hills the other week with a bunch of people on here (including the hill at the start of centre Laughing out loud )

My commute bike has the shimano nexus 9 speed internal hub and i love it for the constant stop/start of commuting.

I find it really nice to not have to worry about selecting a front gear, having chain suck or my chain falling off.

Noel's picture

The last time I tried it, it was with a 34 up front. Don't really need the big dog or the granny. This time it will be with 32.
-Saves a heap of weight
-Less crap on the bike
-Increased clearance
-Cant cop the big dog teeth in the leg in a stack
-Not having to "think" about front ring selection. Easy to underestimate this one. This is one of the best bits. You get better at the ring you have.
-Can build up leg strength more (with no granny)
-Without the big dog I get a better handle carrying the bike up stairs etc (i put hand under BB).

Been riding around the last 3 weeks without using the granny or big-dog once. So, it's time to piss it off.

Scottboy's picture

mountainbike but it is on my hybrid , I been running middle ring for a few months now as I wasn't using granny & the front derailer was playing up so I just took the cable off grinded off big ring & left the derailer on for guiding & stop the chain coming off , it is only a commuter & training bike

Antsonline's picture

Hey Richo - try 26/40 up front, or even 26/38 if you go have an 11 at the back.

CB's picture

I'm just putting together a commuter bike ( won't be used off road...) and am setting it up 1x9 with 11-32 at the back, a 38t ring at the front and a short cage rear derailleur.
I wasn't planning to use a chainguide or widgit, presuming that losing your chain was more of an off road thing. Have any of you 1x9ers had a need for a chainguide when riding on the road ?

Just waiting for a shiny new Middleburn crankset to arrive in the post...( they have just started doing cranks which are compatible with external bottom brackets...) and it'll be ready to ride.... can't wait !


craked's picture

richo im running a 26 38 with 11/34 really happy with it, gears for all ocasions

Noel's picture

Off road without the chain guide, i was MOST likely to loose the chain downhill whilst changing gears. It did not need to be that rough. Each click of the gear lever provided slack that the rear derailleur had to pick up. That is when it would most likely come off. I can't imagine what it is like on road, but I think you should have something there to keep the chain on if you have a rear derailleur (which provides slack).

Look, it can be dangerous to drop your chain. I'd have a guide. Try it without a guide, I did for a couple hours. It just wouldn't stay on.

ja_har's picture

I've been running my old MTB's as commuters for a few years now, been running 1x8 for most of that time.
I ditched the granny and middle ring, moved the big-dog onto the middle ring tabs for a better chain line. Run a 44 big-dog and 11-28 8 speed cassette. Its been perfect commuting setup and never had to use the 28 cog yet around Sydney.

I leave the old front deraillaur in place (no cable attached ) and just tighten up the limit screws to get it running sweet. Have on occasion (about once every 3 months) dropped a chain when 'hucking a gutter' or taking a short cut jumping a garden or whatever...a chain stop widget would be perfect but I havent got around to getting one.

philberesford's picture

There's a good article outlining the pros and cons of 1x9 (and all other gear combos) in the current issue of AMB. Don't have the copy with me at work but it's the one that came with the free hat.

Worth a read

hawkeye's picture

Your chain only has to cover the available gear combos. That's measured with the derailleurs moved out of the way by stringing the chain around the biggest chainring plus biggest rear cog and seeing where it can join up and then adding 1 link pair. There's a diagram included with each replacement chain you buy - pull it out and take a look next time you change a chain.

If you drop the 44T big dog and go for the 32T middle chainring, your chain length can be reduced by 12 teeth = 6 link pairs.

If you didn't do this Noel, I'd suggest that's perhaps one reason why you were dropping chains continually. On my first couple of bikes I found I had continuous problems with the chain jumping off the middle ring on the downshift and completely missing the granny ring, and jamming itself around the bottom bracket. Sad Cutting the chain length fixed this on both.

Why either the factory or bike shop insist on letting them out the door like this to frustrate customers' new bike experience beats me: four out of 5 new multi-gear bikes I've ridden have had the chain length set too long and have suffered issues with dropping chains.

That said, some kind of chain guide or The Widget on a single front cog would be worthwhile insurance.

gramps's picture

I am currently, and have been, for a year, using 26/40 on the front. I find it works very well, 26/34 is midway between granny 2 and 3, while 40/11 is between high 8 and 9. My little brother, crack has gone, 26/38 and he is satisfied with this.

Noel's picture

Shortening the chain sure reduced it, but I had no front derailleur or anything at all there for a while. In that case it just bounces off quickly, it's sideways slackness up the top that throws it.

hmm, MRP or Widget?

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