|Image provided courtesy of SRAM|
Oh sure, I went and rolled my eyes a couple months back when an industry contact whispered the words "10-42 eleven speed" over the internet to me in an e-mail. "42 tooth cassette cog? Really!?", I thought, "That's nuts. That's insanity. It can't be for real, can it?"
Well, crazy like a fox......maybe.
You see, this new stuff is not meant to have a front derailleur or multiple front rings. It is meant to be only a 1X option with a wider gearing range. In many ways, this makes a lot of sense.
I've always said front derailleurs were the weak link in a derailleur drive train. They shift harder, and in the case of mountain bikes, foul easier than the rear does. Front shifting makes you lose momentum because the jump in ratio is not a close one, and probably will require you to make multiple shifts in the rear to get close to where you were in terms of cadence and speed. If a system has a wide enough range to climb your terrain without a front derailleur, why not use it? I think it makes loads of sense.
Then there is the aspect of full suspension design, and to some extent, hard tail 29"er design. Getting rid of a front derailleur allows designers a lot more leeway in terms of tire clearances, chain stay lengths, and suspension designs. The possibilities are enticing in this regard.
|The 1X10 on this bike has been really good.|
Durability is often brought up in discussions dealing with 10 or 11 speed systems for mountain biking. It is true that early 10 speed road stuff was abysmal as far as longevity. However; I've been finding that has improved. In fact, my 1 X 10 titanium Mukluk has been holding up rather well through snow, mud, sand, and dirt. This with a Shimano 105 10 speed chain, by the way.
Of course, an 8 speed, or heck, a 7 speed drive train would last far longer and may be all anyone would ever need. I still think an XT level, all aluminum 7 or 8 speed group "for the masses" should be produced with durability, efficiency, and moderate costs as design goals.
But this new 11 speed XX1 group might be pretty dang cool on the right bike. There will be several drive ring choices all the way down to 28T and Grip Shift and triggers will be supported. I may just look into it for By-Tor the Titanium Mukluk. I think a tad lower end on the range would be just what the doctor ordered here, sans front derailleur and shifter.