Let's face it, modern road bike drive trains work great, but most people still don't understand how to shift from the big ring to the little ring. Never mind shifting, what is trim, and why can't I ride in the big ring in the front and the big ring in the back? Mountain bikes starting moving towards 1X drive trains a few years ago and now we are seeing it on the road. SRAM has introduced the Force 1X group and this summer a yet to be named entry level 1X road group will be available. We have been test riding the Force group for a while now, and we are very impressed.
The clean look of no front derailluer.
The new wide range 11 speed cassettes give drive train manufactures the ability to give you the same high and low gear range of a traditional double. For instance, a 48 tooth front chain ring paired with an 11/32 cassette gives you the same range as a 52/36 with a 12/25 cassette. Even more compelling is a 46 tooth front ring with an 11/34 cassette, which duplicates a 50/34 with a 12/28. You can now even buy 11/42 cassettes, giving super low gearing. Thanks to the new wide narrow chains and front chain rings, it is next to impossible to drop a chain!
The 1X specific clutch rear derailluer keeps the chain from falling of the front ring.
Why get rid of the front derailluer and small ring? Honestly, it's simpler and cleaner. You shift one lever to make it easier and one to make it harder, repeat. No drop chains, no worrying about cross chaining, no front derailluer to trim, and now you don't have to wonder which ring to be in from the upcoming hill. Your 1X drive train is quiet, smooth and reliable. Removing two moving parts and one cable means a lot less time adjusting your bike. We love it for racing or riding in the country. Crit racers might prefer a 50 tooth front ring with an 11/32. This gives you the same combination as 53/39 with a 12/25. My country bike has a 46 with an 11/32 and it works perfectly, even on Ragsdale or Pig Schoolhouse.
One shifter and a brake lever is just simple and clean.