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  1. #1
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    1x Gearing for Gravel/Commuting Bike

    Hi all,

    I'm considering building a gravel/commuter bike. Can't find one set up exactly as I want - most have double cranks and pretty wide/burly tires. I really want a 1x and narrower 700x30 tubeless road tires (but want the option of swapping bigger tires for gravel/trail riding). So, I'm thinking Niner RTL frameset mated to a Sram Force 1x11 group. I like the geometry of the Niner (fairly high stack/short reach - looking for something more upright), and it can fit racks and fenders.

    I was hoping to get a little help with gearing. Most of the riding will be rolling roads very rarely more than a 5% grade. I can push up to 35 mph on my daily commute with some effort with the compact double crank I have now, but don't usually do that. I'm happy to coast down the hills at 25 mph. More interested in having an easier gear to get back up.

    I'm just not sure what size crank ring to match to a 10-42 cassette. I'd like something that gives me almost as much range as the compact crank I've got now - willing to sacrifice a little high end speed for easier climbing. 50t? 52t? 54t? Any ideas? Sorry, this just always confuses me - and I'm still relatively new to 1x setups (but am hooked after getting a 1x MTB last year!).

    Thanks for your input.

  2. #2
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    If the roads are rarely more than 5% grade then I'd think a 42t on the rear would be too large/not needed. If you're fine with coasting downhill then perhaps a max 36t on the rear with a 40/42t up front (the larger, the faster on the flats you'll go).

    I ride a 38t up front (fastest on the flats about 40km+) ; its only on the grades approaching 11%+ that ideally I'd like a 36t chainring to give 1:1.

  3. #3
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    Start with something like a 38t and see how it goes. Chainrings aren't terribly expensive. You can always gear up or down after you have a feel for the system.
    Last edited by Finx; 07-12-2018 at 08:16 PM.

  4. #4
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    I don't see how a 1x makes any sense based on what you've written. You'll have some serious gaps.

    Not sure how you're defining "wide/burly tires" but if you are looking at 'gravel bikes' of course that's what you'll find. Gravel bikes are still good for doing riding other than that which requires wide(er) tires but you'll most likely need to put small(er) ones on yourself rather that get a bike that comes with them.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the replies. I finally wrapped my head around this - not sure why I thought it was so puzzling - and think I'll start with a 11-32 in the rear and 42t on the front. I plan on speccing this bike myself, so I'll be able to go with narrower tires (700x32) for road riding. I'll have a second set of wheels/tires for off-road riding.

    I want to go 1x because I really fell in love with the 1x shifting on my MTB. I've only recently gone back to road riding and just don't like shifting front chainrings anymore. Given my commute and riding style, I think I can get away with it.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by SBH1973 View Post
    Thanks for the replies. I finally wrapped my head around this - not sure why I thought it was so puzzling - and think I'll start with a 11-32 in the rear and 42t on the front. I plan on speccing this bike myself, so I'll be able to go with narrower tires (700x32) for road riding. I'll have a second set of wheels/tires for off-road riding.
    oh, I had assumed that's what you were seeing on bikes and calling wide.

    I would think you'd be able to find a gravel bike that comes with those, or real close, but whatever.........if you commute and ride on regular roads and play off road you'll be switching tires anyway so it probably doesn't matter which comes stock. If you plan to to use bigger make sure the frame will take them of course. A lot of gravel bikes, I think, top out around 32.

    But the way, if you are going to commute on one tire and play off road with another bigger one.....long term consider a second set of wheels. You'll probably want different gearing for the different types of riding as well. Just switching wheels instead of tires and cassette is a nice luxury to have if you'd be doing it with any frequency.

  7. #7
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    My "gravel" bike has an 11-42 cassette with a 42t chain ring. That gearing was alright for normal gravel riding and commuter but the lack of a top end gear was noticeable. If I was to race this bike more I'd put on a 44t or 46t front ring.

    You're probably full of yourself if you think you need a bigger gear than that.

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