1x vs. 2x drivetrain

Are you a cycling enthusiast wondering whether to go for a 1x or 2x drivetrain? The decision between these two popular drivetrain options can significantly impact your riding experience.

Understanding the differences and benefits of each setup is crucial in selecting the one that aligns with your cycling style and terrain preferences.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll delve into the features, advantages, and best applications of 1x and 2x drivetrains.

By the end of this post, you’ll have the knowledge you need to make an informed decision and optimize your cycling performance.

Join me as I explore the world of drivetrains and help you find the perfect gear ratio setup for your biking adventures.

What is a 1X Drivetrain?

The number in 1x or 2x represents the number of chainrings in a bike’s front crankset. Chainrings are the large sprockets toward the bike’s front and attach to the cranks.

A 1x drivetrain comes with one chainring up front, and all gears are in the back on the cassette. The chain is placed on the same chainring at all times. Therefore, it doesn’t have a front derailleur and shifter.

1x drivetrains use wide-range cassettes to make up for the lost gears. Most 1x drivetrains come with a 10, 11, or 12-speed cassette. For instance, a bike with a 1×11 drivetrain has one chainring in the front and 11 cogs on the cassette on the cassette for a total of 11 gears.

1x has gained popularity among riders in the near past. This is fueled by the rise of Enduro racing and technological advances making it possible to hit a working 1x setup.

The main advantage of the 1x drivetrain is its simplicity. Since you only have a rear derailleur, you will have free space on your handlebars and shift gears with one hand, leaving the other free to enjoy the ride.

The best thing about the 1x drivetrain is that it allows you to focus on your ride instead of constantly shifting gears. Moreover, it’s less likely that your chain will drop off the front since it’s fixed to one chain ring.

Pros of 1x drivetrain

  • Simplified gear shifter
  • Provides you with more frame design and tire options
  • Prevents chain drops during bumpy rides
  • It doesn’t have a front derailleur that can hold mud when riding on sticky and damp trails.

Cons of 1x drivetrain

  • It requires several sprockets on the rear
  • More expensive than other chainring types
  • The chain and sprockets have a shorter lifespan

What is a 2X Drivetrain?

A 2x drivetrain has two front chainrings along with a front derailleur. A 2x drivetrain is the best for mountain bikes when climbing. The front derailleur provides seamless transitioning and gear variety, making unfamiliar terrains and mountain ascents more manageable.

However, the double chainring system works well with a technical rider who understands the whole aspect. The extra gear lever and front derailleur add weight to the bike, and the chances of the chain falling off are high.

Why choose a 2x drivetrain?

If you want to perform better on climbs, a 2x drivetrain is the best bet. A front derailleur gives you a wide gear range that offers a smooth transition between gears, making it easier to climb on steep ascents. A 2x drivetrain also gives you more confidence to challenge unknown terrains.

Pros of a 2x drivetrain

  • Greater biomechanical efficiency
  • High gear option for downhill rides
  • Low gear range for steep climbs
  • Closer gear spacing

Cons of a 2x drivetrain

  • Higher chances of chain drop
  • Extra complexity of a front derailleur
  • It has an extra gear lever on the handlebar

Go for a 1x if:

Weight saving is your top priority

Looking for a lightweight climbing bike? A 1x drivetrain with no front derailleur and one front chainring will save you some grams. If you want to cut weight on your bike, a 1x drivetrain is the best place to start.

You’re new to gravel riding

Shifting a 1x drivetrain is easier for beginners to operate and understand since they only have to deal with the rear derailleur.

You ride in inclement weather

Less mechanical parts mean fewer things to deal with, especially when riding in a muddy area.

Go for a 2x if:

You want the power to climb everything

A 2x drivetrain comes with a wider gear range that gives sufficient power to tackle the most challenging terrains. The climbing gears will make climbing easier, while the descending gears will help you ride on steep, fast descents. With several gears, 2x tends to have powerful gears capability.

You ride your gravel bike severally

Having a bike that guarantees smooth transition between shifts with minimal cadence changes will give you a comfortable riding experience as you climb up and down steep roads or gravel ascents. If you like riding on pavements and hillier terrains, a 2x drivetrain will give you a road-like shifting experience.


Ultimately, the drivetrain you choose boils down to your personal choice. If you like riding steep terrains and hills, a 2x drivetrain is a great choice. If you’re a rider who prioritizes flatter surfaces, you can go for the 1x groupset.

The bottom line is, choose one that will give you the smoothest and most efficient ride.

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