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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been out of MTB racing for a few years and looking to jump back in this year. I'm going to be on a 26" hardtail and am having a little trouble deciding between 1x and 2x gearing. I'm in Minnesota and will just being doing races here and in WI, not much for big climbs or descents. Back when I used to race I always ran a 22/32/42 with an 11/32 cassette and lived in the middle ring 99% of the time.

I'm for the most part a roadie so I'm used to spinning 90ish RPM's but I'm also 6'3" and can generate some power when I need to get up a steep climb.

I've never had a 1x bike but the idea of not having a front derailleur/shifter really seems appealing due to the simplicity. It seems like less can go wrong.

What am I missing? Is there any reason not to go 1x10?

Part II, what's the preferred crank for 1x10 set up? Am I better off starting with a triple and just mounting a ring, a double drink with only 1 ring or a direct mount? Starting from scratch which is the way to go?

I guess I'm just thinking out loud but would love some opinions.
 

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I'm also in mn and raced a 1x10 last season. On a 29er, a 30t with 11-36 cassette was about right for me at the time, but I will be going up to a 32t this year.

What category are you riding? I think a 32t would be a good starting point on a 26".

For this area, I am always perfectly happy with 1x10. There's not any time I've been out when I wanted more gears

As far as cranks, I would go with a dedicated single ring crank if starting from scratch. I have mine mounted on a 2x sram x7 crank and have no complaints, other than the chainline being slightly less than optimal
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I was thinking of going with a 32 11-36, maybe a 34 if I can get my climbing legs into shape.

I'll be racing sport class, Cat 2? In my younger days I raced expert but I don't have the training time for that anymore.
 

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I was thinking of going with a 32 11-36, maybe a 34 if I can get my climbing legs into shape.

I'll be racing sport class, Cat 2? In my younger days I raced expert but I don't have the training time for that anymore.
I think 32 would be a good choice. The good thing is the narrow wide chainring aren't too expensive so you could get a 32 then go up to 34 as your fitness improves
 

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1x10 is perfect in the midwest. Been using it for years. 34 with 11-36 works well at most places, 32 if you are a needing a bit more help on the climbs.
 

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1x10 is perfect in the midwest. Been using it for years. 34 with 11-36 works well at most places, 32 if you are a needing a bit more help on the climbs.
This. I've been running 1x9 and 1x10 for 4 years. 32t has worked well for me. But, I'm single speeding this year, so, I may put a 34t on my geared bike if I make some strength gains.
 

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I'm on a 29er and running a 1 x 10 XT set up with a 32 Wolftooth and a 12-36 10 spd. so the gearing is even higher than for a 26. I have a lot of steep fire road and technical ST climbs and it works great for me. I learned to get out of the saddle a bit more for some of it. I never am spun out with the 32 unless its downhill pavement. A 34 would be too much for me.
 

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I'm about to do this with my old Ellsworth Joker. I think an 11-36 rear cogset and a 33 T chainring will be about just right for me. Most of the coastal trails I ride have climbs that I can make on my single speed, geared at 32X17.
So I think a 33/36 low gear ought to be plenty for all but the longest climbs.
 

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If I were you I would focus on acquiring a 29er rather than sinking money into the drive train on a 26er. I race quite a bit in the mid Atlantic region in the north east and I can tell you from experience that the # of 26ers you see in a typical race these days is in the low single digits and often in the sport class I run there will be no 26ers. This is not just coincidence or everybody drinking the same 29er Kool-Aid. A 29er is just a faster bike on the vast majority of XC race courses in the US and given your height you are a good candidate for a 29er. If you plan on endurance racing again nearly all the competition will be on 29ers but you will see more full squish vs. HT. If your on a budget look for a used 29er with decent 2 x 10 componentry (1 x 11 would be even better but will be more $). Just doesn't make sense to spend money on converting a drivetrain on a bike that is not competitive to begin with. Just my 2 cents.
 

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If I were you I would focus on acquiring a 29er rather than sinking money into the drive train on a 26er. I race quite a bit in the mid Atlantic region in the north east and I can tell you from experience that the # of 26ers you see in a typical race these days is in the low single digits and often in the sport class I run there will be no 26ers. This is not just coincidence or everybody drinking the same 29er Kool-Aid. A 29er is just a faster bike on the vast majority of XC race courses in the US and given your height you are a good candidate for a 29er. If you plan on endurance racing again nearly all the competition will be on 29ers but you will see more full squish vs. HT. If your on a budget look for a used 29er with decent 2 x 10 componentry (1 x 11 would be even better but will be more $). Just doesn't make sense to spend money on converting a drivetrain on a bike that is not competitive to begin with. Just my 2 cents.
Awesome, way to turn the discussion into a wheel size debate. Round of applause for you.

There are still many people racing 26ers on all levels here in MN. In fact they tend to do well in the tight twisty woods
 

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Awesome, way to turn the discussion into a wheel size debate. Round of applause for you.

There are still many people racing 26ers on all levels here in MN. In fact they tend to do well in the tight twisty woods
Not sure what triggered your snarky response and not I'm not trying to start a wheel size debate. Was only offering up my own honest advice which I stand by. I don't disagree with you that a 26er has an advantage in <b> very </b> tight twisty single track but super tight twisty single track makes up only a small % of a typical XC race course. As I'm sure you are aware the vast majority of pro US MTB riders choose a 29er for most XC courses and this fact is consistent with my own personal racing experiences stated above. Just saying that if someone wanted to get back into XC racing I would not recommend a 1 x 10 drivetrain upgrade on a 26er as the place to start for equipment upgrades. Unless he / she is having major problems with their FD you aren't really gaining anything. Also, TBH is you really want to <b> fully </b> exploit a 1x setup you need a frame that is actually designed only for 1x use which will have shorter chain stays ... but that's another whole can of worms :) .
 

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I'm on a 29er and running a 1 x 10 XT set up with a 32 Wolftooth and a 12-36 10 spd. so the gearing is even higher than for a 26. I have a lot of steep fire road and technical ST climbs and it works great for me. I learned to get out of the saddle a bit more for some of it. I never am spun out with the 32 unless its downhill pavement. A 34 would be too much for me.
Unless you got one of the new 40T or 42T cogs to turn your 12-36 into a 12-42 cassette...
 

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If I were you I would focus on acquiring a 29er rather than sinking money into the drive train on a 26er. I race quite a bit in the mid Atlantic region in the north east and I can tell you from experience that the # of 26ers you see in a typical race these days is in the low single digits and often in the sport class I run there will be no 26ers. This is not just coincidence or everybody drinking the same 29er Kool-Aid. A 29er is just a faster bike on the vast majority of XC race courses in the US and given your height you are a good candidate for a 29er. If you plan on endurance racing again nearly all the competition will be on 29ers but you will see more full squish vs. HT. If your on a budget look for a used 29er with decent 2 x 10 componentry (1 x 11 would be even better but will be more $). Just doesn't make sense to spend money on converting a drivetrain on a bike that is not competitive to begin with. Just my 2 cents.
There's a lot less money to be "sunk" into a drivetrain than a decent new bike.
 

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There's a lot less money to be "sunk" into a drivetrain than a decent new bike.
Depends. Especially if considering an all new 10 speed or 11 speed (Wow on the 1 x 11 speed drivetrain prices!!!!). One could pick up an entire new 29"er Scott at REI for $599, $699, or $1099.

I understand Cusco's recommendation for the OP who mentioned he was 6'3". Could be a worthwhile upgrade for a rider at that height who was planning on spending some coin to begin with on a new drivetrain, or at least worth a demo ride or two to see for the OP. Agree, the discussion is not about wheel size - but Cusco's observation was not far off the mark.

In terms of Biking VIIking's post.....I can only think of one XC race course in the Minnesota series that is really tight and twisty - the Singletrack Escape at St. Cloud. Pretty flat course, and not very kind to taller riders at all. Fingers, shoulders, heads, knees, etc...are all fair game. Narrow bars (as narrow as one can control) are a prerequisite, and the smaller wheels to spin up coming out of the labyrinth of turns may indeed be the ticket on that course. Certainly favors shorter riders unless things have changed on that course in the past few years. Fun trail to ride since it provides variety from the other courses, but no where to open it up and go fast. Probably not a course that ends up with a lot of 6'2" - 6'5" guys taking podium spots no matter what size of wheel they are running.

I guess I did the cheaper conversion by just using my existing drivetrain and morphing it into a 1 x 9 (34T ring with 11-34 in the cassette) and a Roholff Chainguide was the only thing I could find or figure out that would work for the chainline I had. It didn't feel so good to me on extended climbs last year due to my riding weight, but seems just right this year after trimming off about 14 pounds. So my cost was for the chainring and the chainguide (the weight loss was free).


I would imagine that a clutch derailleur by going to 10 or 11 speed would be a better solution, but I was trying to keep costs down and so far so good. The chainguide keeps things together up front and only weighs something like 50-60g. I have another bike with a 2 x 9 drivetrain which would be my choice for the Mont Du Lac course in Superior with that long AXX fire road climb.

Anyway, point being the OP could easily covert to a 1 x 9 or 1 x 10 or 1 x 11 depending on much he wants to spend. Ring choice up front and cassette choice for the rear opens up plenty of options to dial a range to handle the courses in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
 
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