Like the idea of simplifying your drivechain but don’t want to get tattoos and become a single speeder? Well a single-ring conversion could be the answer.
Single ring setups have been popular for many years and things really took off when SRAM launched their XX1 drivechain. Since then the options have expanded massively with 1X specific chainrings and a growing range of clutch-style rear derailleurs. Combine the right selection of parts and you'll have much of that desirable XX1 simplicity for a fraction of the cost.
Of course a regular nine or 10-speed cassette won’t match amazing gear range offered by the newer 11 (or even 12) speed set ups, but for some people and some riding areas the gear ratios will suffice. A single ring drivechain mightn’t be able to equal the total range of a 2X or 3X system but you can select a chainring size that’s most appropriate for your trails. Faced with a particularly hilly ride? Just swap to a smaller chainring and away you go. Obviously there’s a limit to how small a chainring you can fit (a 30T ring is the smallest that’s commonly available for a 104 bolt circle), but you can still get a respectable low gear when using a regular old 11-36 cassette — in most cases you only loose the two or three easiest gears when compared to a multi-ring setup.
For the ultimate budget 1X setup, you can also fit an extra large cog to your regular cassette as shown here. These modifications may compromise the shift quality in some cases but the total gear range can equal some 1x11 setups.
So let’s take a look at what’s involved in ditching your chainrings and how to perform a tidy 1X conversion on your older multi-ring steed.
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