|Shimano variable chain line patent for 1X drive trains.|
A little over a year ago now I wrote this post about some new ideas Shimano and SRAM patented which would address some inefficiencies inherent in 1X drive train set ups. That points up the fact that whenever you move to innovate in one area of bicycle design, you will in turn compromise something else. There is never any free lunch, it seems, no "win-win" situations. Something gets presented as a benefit but some other area suffers.
In my opinion, this is due mostly to the fact that in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, the bicycle's mechanical properties were honed to a point where the efficiencies and mechanical properties, at least on paper, were optimized to their furthest extent. Consider the lowly chain. Nothing- not even belt driven drive trains- in real world use have been proven to be more efficient. There are many more examples of this which I could share. So, when we tweak out one area of the system, some other part suffers. We are tinkering with a device that was honed to its zenith over a 100 years ago.
|SRAM's solution involves an articulating chain ring system.|
The public perception is that "front derailleurs are bad", so marketing has asked R&D to solve the inefficiency issues with these patented ideas being shown again today on the blog. Now, I want you to consider, if you will, what this would look like: Imagine there had never been a front derailleur before. Let's say one was introduced tomorrow. I guarantee we would all be ditching 1X in a heart beat. Why? Because with a front derailleur, we could keep our chain lines more straight, and thus- more efficient use of our energy would result. But that isn't what happened.
Instead, we have forgotten that 2X and 3X drive trains require skill and understanding to operate efficiently. To be sure, we have the very best front derailleurs we've ever been able to get now days. We have the very best chain rings to allow for front shifting to happen. We have the best chains we've ever been able to get for front shifting. That doesn't matter. We still see 1X road and gravel set ups being touted as "better". 1X MTB for everyone is thought to be "better". I'm saying it isn't always better, and it is mostly due to marketing and that people don't understand multiple front ring drive trains.