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  1. #1
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    2x or 1x? Hydro or cables brakes?

    Well, this is going to be a hot topic thread, recently picked up 2013 Salsa Vaya rolling chassis and I'm trying to decide which route I wanna go with the drivetrain and brakes. The bike will primarily be used as a commuter, but I do have a few bike packing trips planned with it later on this year.

    At the moment, it doesn't have a drivetrain. The freehub is 11 speed and the brakes are BB7-ST's.

    I was thinking about putting my Sram Apex group on it with a 11-36 cassette (will need a SRAM GX rear derailleur) paired with my current Rival 52/36 crankset. It seems Sram's road cranksets are meant for bikes with 130 mm axle spacing, the Vaya has 135, will this be an issue for the chainline?

    Alternatively, I can go 1x but I haven't decided on what chainring I want to pair with an 11-42 cassette yet.

    I've also noticed that I have some hand pain when trying to modulate brakes these days, this may be worsened when I take the bike bikepacking with some cargo. Naturally, hydraulic brakes have much easier modulation, with the trade-off being not field repairable, is it a worthwhile trade-off?

  2. #2
    Adorable Furry Hombre
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    2X versus 1X. You can get the same gearing range now fairly easily on both...the giant caveat to that statement, is that nixing the FD in 1x means much larger gear spacing until 14-speed 1x is a thing....also even with narrow-wide chainrings you'll need/want a catcher for the chain anyway. The larger the gear spacing, the more you have to compromise with your body's motor on cadence. Which is an entirely "you" kind of decision. I personally think 1x is a fad and a kludge ATM, unless you're using a "1x" IGH system with a 14-speed Rohloff.

    I love my hydraulics...having played with mechanicals and HyRd calipers on shop bikes--I'm still surprised how bad even "good" mechanicals feel compared to good hydraulics like Shimano Ultegra.


    I don't do SRAM so cannot vouch for chainline compatibility. I'd think it would work. But that would be a question for cxwrench who's a wrench who knows his SRAM.
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  3. #3
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    Good point on the spacing between cogs in a 1x setup.

    I've built up a road bike with a 1x setup (52t crank, 11-36 10 speed cassette) and I can definitely see where the jumps are an issue when riding with a group. When I'm riding solo, it doesn't bother me as much. For comparison purposes, my current commuter is a 2x 52/36 and a 11-26 10 speed cassette, the top and bottom end are the same on both bikes just bigger gaps.

    The simplicity of a 1x setup for gravel/commuting does seem appealing from a simplicity and ease of maintenance perspective. On the other hand, the added range of a 2x is also nice, but this is probably more of wishful thinking than practical (how often will I need a ultra low range vs 52+11 combo? I guess it just boils down to which I should prioritize.

  4. #4
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    Personally I see no advantage to 1x, I like the tighter spacing. Not having to use the long DR can be advantageous in some environments where it's exposed to more debris like muddy gravel. As far as brakes, I would not be concerned about field serviceability, they are robust and shouldn't cause problems and they WAY outperform mechanical brakes.
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  5. #5
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    My opinion:

    2x or 1x - Your choice

    Hydro or mechanical - HYDRO, hands down!
    "With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important."-- DCGriz, RBR.

    “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” -- Aaron Levenstein



  6. #6
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    I’m still happy with 2x... other than saving the cost of 1 shifter and FD, I see zero benefit. Gear range is one thing to match, but I weigh versatility as a bigger benefit... sure I may race cross almost entirely in the small ring, but having the big ring and tighter spacing in the back is a benefit on almost every other ride...




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  7. #7
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    Hydro - yeah, no debate.

    2x or 1x - yeah, debatable. I recently went the 2x route at the same time was building a 1x mtn bike. Full disclosure - I regularly ride the following road bikes: two 2x11s, a 1x11 and a single speed. I get the cog gap thing.

    When planning out the gravel bike, it seemed that category has the biggest range of required gearing. Sure the MTB has steeper climbs, but no 25 mph paved sections. The road has lots of fast sections, but no 15% FS road switchback climbs.

    I went with an r8000 2x11 - 50/34 and an 11-34 cassette.

  8. #8
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    I am a 2x kind of guy. I really like the 50/34-11/34 combo. I haven't really tried the 48/32 or 46/30 setups though. I am definitely into hydro as well. Never going back to cable only.
    Every climb has its end, for verily with difficulty there is relief...

  9. #9
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    to echo what has been said re 1x vs 2x: with a bike that will see gravel and pavement, I want both gearing range AND reasonable gear spacing, so I don't see myself going 1x until they come out with 14 speed cassettes (I can to that number independently of the first poster that said it).

    I like the idea of 1x, though, and will be going that route for my mtb, where I am fine with (even prefer) the wider gear spacing.

    Regarding Hydro vs Mech on the brakes.... I have both on my MTBs, and slightly prefer Hydro for that, but I decided to go with mechs for the road/gravel bike. Both are plenty powerful for road and gravel use, but Hydros definitely feel nicer. The reason I went with mechs is because after 15 years of using both on my MTBs, my experience is that while hydros are near-zero maintenance when everything is working as it should, they can occasionally be a huge PITA, and have cost me several days of missed rides, and 2 rides finished short one brake (both things that have never happened with mechs). For MTB the hassle is worth the performance benefits to me, and the bike I run them on is high maintenance anyway (full suspension). For road/gravel use.. not so much.

    One difference between road/gravel and MTB with the mechs: I find that on road and gravel use, the wear is slow enough that the ongoing mech brake fiddling on my gravel bike is a lot less then is is on my MTB with mechs.

    I went with BB7s, simply because I was so familiar with them from MTB use. In retrospect I might have gone with Spyres instead.

  10. #10
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    2x for sure.

    If you go with cables for brakes, cable actuated hydraulic calipers is a very sweet way to go.

  11. #11
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    Its been a while since I've been on here. I ended up with a 3x9 groupset from a friend with bar end shifters. Sadly on my 4th day of riding, I crashed into a trailer with it. Didn't break anything, but I took a month off due to a very wet September and easing back into riding in October. The bike was sturdy enough to only lose some paint and dented the head tube. The shifter broke when the shift cable caught and ripped off.

    In the 88 miles that I managed to put on the bike, I'm not sure if I'm gonna keep the bike. Just feels too sluggish and heavy all around.


    In other news, I picked up a 2016 GT Grade X with a Sram Rival 1 Hydro drivetrain. Originally I was going to swap it onto the Vaya, but I think I prefer the ride of the GT more and may end up keeping that.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by zephxiii View Post
    If you go with cables for brakes, cable actuated hydraulic calipers is a very sweet way to go.
    I never quite understood this. It seems like all you would get is two items of maintenance rather than just one.
    "With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important."-- DCGriz, RBR.

    “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” -- Aaron Levenstein



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jason124 View Post
    In other news, I picked up a 2016 GT Grade X with a Sram Rival 1 Hydro drivetrain. Originally I was going to swap it onto the Vaya, but I think I prefer the ride of the GT more and may end up keeping that.
    The GT Grade is a nice bike and I was considering it. What I didn't like about it was it only had room for 35mm tires and it comes with a 52/36 crankset rather than a 50/34. I ended up going with the Jamis Renegade Exploit.
    "With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important."-- DCGriz, RBR.

    “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” -- Aaron Levenstein



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    I never quite understood this. It seems like all you would get is two items of maintenance rather than just one.
    You get to keep cable brake levers with improved hydraulic brake performance. But when you can get a full set of Shimano Ultegra-level shifters/brakes for $250 or so (then sell your cable brake shifters), they don't really make much sense. There's potentially a cost savings with the hy/rds, but it's not very big.

    Anyway, I'm a fan of 1x and hydraulic. My 29er "gravel" bike has a 38t with an 11-28 and Shimano 685/785 shifters/brakes.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    I never quite understood this. It seems like all you would get is two items of maintenance rather than just one.
    Well it's better than full mechanical, but you don't have the full hydraulic system to setup and deal with. There's not much to do with caliper other than adjust it and replace pads.

    The reason I got it because I was tired of fiddling with adjustments of the Shimano Ultegra mech brake caliper. Having to deal with inboard/outboard pad adjustments, centering, cable slack etc. There's a small window of annoying adjustment to get it just right so that there's no drag, but minimal slack to get full brake usage.

    I was done with dealing with it so i bought a Yokozuna Motoko brake caliper and couldn't be happier.

    Sure I could have bought a full hydraulic system..but **** that it was way easier and quicker to replace it with a Motoko. And I really like having a cable actuated hydraulic brake, it really seems like there's just less to it.

  16. #16
    Slowski
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    My experience with mechanical disc brakes is pretty limited to the borrowed CX bike my son is using. Based on that experience however, I would never own a mechanical disc brake setup. I have hydro on my CX bike, and it is a night and day difference. Sure there could be issues with the setup of the borrowed mechanical system, but the lever effort and feel is terrible compared to my hydro discs.

  17. #17
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    An important thing to keep in mind is that any meaningful evaluation of mechanical disc brakes must be done using compression-less brake housing. It makes a big difference.

    They will still fall short of hydraulics, but the gap will be smaller than with standard brake housing.

  18. #18
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    From my time with cable disc, it is definitely better (and noisier) than standard rim brakes. But in the few days that I have ridden hydraulic, there is no comparison.

    As my friend described it "hydraulic disc is like a 4K television, you don't need it but it sure is nice and you will definitely notice a difference when you go back to 1080p"

  19. #19
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    Hydro brakes are great
    I really like 1x on my gravel bike. I also take it on the road, including a couple of 300K rides. Like the rear derail.'s clutch mechanism because it keeps the chain under tension on rocky descents and 1x is nice in the mud. Nothing wrong with 2x but 1x works for me.

  20. #20
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    I’m late to this thread, but I just built up my first 1x bike and put a few hundred miles on it, so thought I’d share my 2 cents.

    1. I ride a lot in groups. Therefore, like many posters here I was concerned about the jumps in gearing on the 1x, but I haven’t found it to be a problem at all. The key point is that for group rides, the speed range that matters is fairly small – about 18-23 mph for me and the groups I ride in. If you do the calculations in an online gear calculator you’ll see that the difference in a standard road 2x setup in that speed range and a 1x is really pretty minor. On the 2x I am looking at 2 teeth jumps near the upper middle of my cassette whil in the big ring. On the 1x I am also looking at 2 teeth jumps closer to the middle bottom of the cassette. And that’s been my experience – it really just hasn’t been a problem.

    2. There are also advantages to 1x if you are not just riding the bike but wrenching on it. Since I do all my own wrenching, it’s a real benefit not to have to worry about the FD.

    3. Having run bikes with mechanical and hydro discs, I don’t think this one is a question any more: today’s hydro setups are SO good, so easy to set up, and so cheap, that unless you just happened to have the mechanical components lying around, there’s no reason to choose anything but hydro.

  21. #21
    your god hates me
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    I have never seen anybody on a recent groad bike set up with a 1x who can actually keep up with a group once they hit the pavement (at least not without looking like a circus clown).

    Perhaps more importantly, I have never seen anyone with a 2x suffer from more FD chain drops when riding off-road than they would riding pavement.

    So I'm firmly in the camp that believes 1x is a solution in search of a problem, and a poor -- or at least limiting -- choice for a contemporary gravel bike.

    And I'm gonna buck the trend and say that, at least for now I'd much rather have cable-actuated brakes than full hydro. I like being able to adjust my brakes using tools and/or skills I already possess. I suppose if someday Shimano or SRAM comes out with the equivalent of a Fisher-Price My First Brake Bleed kit I might change my mind.

    I also suppose that hybrid hydros -- where the hydraulic reservoir is located down by the caliper and is cable-actuated up to the lever -- might be a better idea than either "pure" alternative...or it would be if the iterations weren't so damn fugly.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
    I have never seen anybody on a recent groad bike set up with a 1x who can actually keep up with a group once they hit the pavement (at least not without looking like a circus clown).
    How fast do your groups ride? And who, exactly, are you dropping (people on 38mm gravel tires)?

    In my group ride last week we had sustained speeds of 27–32mph over a 3 mile stretch – it was about 2% downhill and with a tailwind. And I had no problem keeping up and looking normal. I don't spin out my top gear on the 1x until about 34mph, and at that point I can do more to speed up by tucking. That ride also included plenty of rolling hills, with some really steep sections; the group DID break apart in those sections, but I wasn't the one being dropped.

    The big gearing gaps in most road 1x setups occur in gears that translate to 9–14mph. Those aren't group speeds.

    Seriously, look at the gearing charts and you see that the number of gears and size of gaps on a 1x setup in the 17–25mph range are just not that different from today's standard 2x setup.

    I realize that "back in the day" people rode with 12–25, or even 12-23 cassettes. And there ARE bigger gaps on a 1x setup compared to that, but most of the posters around here talk about how much they love their 11-30, or 11-32, or 11-34 cassettes. And if you look at the gearing on those a standard compact 11-28 and 50/34 2x setup, the gaps are just as big as on a 11-36 and 42 1x setup.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by fronesis View Post
    I’m late to this thread, but I just built up my first 1x bike and put a few hundred miles on it, so thought I’d share my 2 cents.

    1. I ride a lot in groups. Therefore, like many posters here I was concerned about the jumps in gearing on the 1x, but I haven’t found it to be a problem at all. The key point is that for group rides, the speed range that matters is fairly small – about 18-23 mph for me and the groups I ride in. If you do the calculations in an online gear calculator you’ll see that the difference in a standard road 2x setup in that speed range and a 1x is really pretty minor. On the 2x I am looking at 2 teeth jumps near the upper middle of my cassette whil in the big ring. On the 1x I am also looking at 2 teeth jumps closer to the middle bottom of the cassette. And that’s been my experience – it really just hasn’t been a problem.

    2. There are also advantages to 1x if you are not just riding the bike but wrenching on it. Since I do all my own wrenching, it’s a real benefit not to have to worry about the FD.
    Having ridden a bunch of solo gravel miles and in pairs or trios at the largest, I can say that I never felt large jumps to be an enormous issue on a 2x 11-28, but more than once at the edge of my abilities I was already searching for “the right” gear to keep the wheel or fight the wind alone.

    I’ve not recently had a major problem adjusting a front derailleur, and haven’t even had any issues with either of my road front Derailleurs in something like 5 years. And that’s with SRAM, which are apparently finicky. Now my mtb is still 2x and has always had minor to serious issues with the FD.


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  24. #24
    your god hates me
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    Quote Originally Posted by fronesis View Post
    How fast do your groups ride? And who, exactly, are you dropping (people on 38mm gravel tires)?
    Going downhill, between 35-45mph depending on who's pulling and/or who's feeling spunky. And yes, people on gravel tires...some 32mm, some 35mm, some 37, 38, 40. But I'm talking about when the group gets back on the pavement.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
    Going downhill, between 35-45mph depending on who's pulling and/or who's feeling spunky. And yes, people on gravel tires...some 32mm, some 35mm, some 37, 38, 40. But I'm talking about when the group gets back on the pavement.
    That's fair. The groups rides I do just don't have much terrain where we are riding in a paceline at over 30mph. At about 36mph I'd get dropped in my 1x.

    On the other hand, people showing up to a fast group ride on 32mm+ gravel tires – they deserve to get dropped. ;) My point is just that those folks aren't telling us anything about 1x setups for the road.

    Quote Originally Posted by kjdhawkhill
    Having ridden a bunch of solo gravel miles and in pairs or trios at the largest, I can say that I never felt large jumps to be an enormous issue on a 2x 11-28, but more than once at the edge of my abilities I was already searching for “the right” gear to keep the wheel or fight the wind alone.
    Me too! However, there just isn't much difference at all between a 2x 11-28 and 1x. If someone out there is riding a 12-23 wants to criticize 1x as having too big a jump in gearing, then they are absolutely right – more power to them. But for everyone who is riding a more typical cassette today – 11-28, 11-30, or even bigger – then they've already moved over to larger jumps in gearing, and the 1x just isn't that different.

    I'm not suggesting that everyone should switch to 1x. My main bike for fast rides on the road is 2x, and I'm not planning to change it. But the OP was talking about a new build and I think the criticisms of 1x are a bit overblown, especially since so many of those criticisms come from people who haven't ever ridden 1x. I only know about 4 local cyclists who have really given 1x a try; they all LOVE it, and none have gone back to 2x.
    Last edited by fronesis; 12-11-2018 at 08:05 PM.

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