|SRAM AXS FORCE|
Besides offering up my opinions on gearing here, I get asked about gearing much of the time as well. Recently I was asked about low gearing for gravel/back road riding where you have to winch yourself up some steep grades. I was dismayed to have to answer that the bicycle industry has largely abandoned those who want to conquer steep, long climbs under their own power and then want to burn up the flats and down hills with higher gearing. At least this is the case for the type of bicycling many are doing off-pavement all the way up to the edges of mountain biking.
Manufacturers like to talk in terms of 'range' now. This is only a part of the story. Gearing range can be wide, and that is a good thing, but where does that 'range' start and stop? Is that 'low' enough for you? Maybe it is, but for many folks, only the gearing range that used to be offered by a triple ring crankset matched with a decently wide ranging rear cassette really worked. You could dip lower and go a bit higher with gearing that way than you ever could with a double or a 1X set up. And again- I'll say it for the umpteenth time- 1X is very inefficient.
As mechanics we are seeing this more and more. 1X systems are failing at shifting while still measuring okay on traditional chain measuring tools. The trouble is, chains are wearing out laterally instead of the traditional way, and shifting is negatively affected. Not only that, but now, due to the extreme chain lines induced by 1X systems, front chain rings, chains, and cassettes often have to be replaced all at the same time and more often, or shifting suffers. Good timing for all of this as well what with the parts shortages we are seeing.
Most of this is stuff I predicted when 1X started coming out. The gearing range is one thing, but the system would be limited as to how fast or how low that gearing could be. Parts would wear prematurely due to the extreme chain lines and smaller cogs in many cases. Now the parts shortages, that I did not see coming!
Triple chain ring crank sets are really a great idea. You'll find out some day when one of the big companies comes out with a new set up that has automated front shifting so you won't have to think about it anymore. Young folks will think it is 'new' and that this new efficient way to scale steeps and blaze down hills is way better than that old geezer 1X stuff their parents were riding. Well, that is if the youngsters are after a 100% human powered experience. Right now the industry would be perfectly happy to ditch derailleur drive trains and go with motorized bikes with gear boxes, like, you know.....motorcycles? It is 'progress' you know. Who needs to work that hard anyway?