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Discussion Starter #1
I'm a mountainbiker at heart for well over 30 years. I already have a "gravel" bike, it's my third mountain bike, a 1991 Trek 6000... which is actually too small for me (has been decades) so I really don't like riding it.

I'm in the market for a gravel bike (next year) and my budget is $1500. No intention to race other than the occasional fun century and the likes but I want one I can take up on bumpy logging trails and steep hills.

Last year I converted my 2013 mountain bike from 2x to 1x and it's been one of the best upgrades ever. So naturally I have been looking at 1x gravel bikes such as the Salsa Journeyman Apex1 or the Rocky Mountains Solo 30 but I also realize that most gravel bikes, including high end ones are mostly fitted with 2x drivetrains.

The other criteria I do want for sure is the ability to fit "fat tires" so 650b/2.1+ wheels.

So what are the pros and cons of 1x vs 2x on a gravel bike?
 

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The list of pros and cons are the same as they are for mtb, but with different weighting. For example, 1x will have wider gaps between adjacent gears than 2x. This is less important on mtbs than it is on road/gravel riding. 1X has simplified shifting which is more important on mtb where you're more often in dire need of the correct gear than you are in road/gravel riding. etc.

You said switching to 1x on your mtb was the best upgrade ever. Why?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
You said switching to 1x on your mtb was the best upgrade ever. Why?
Basically for the reasons you mentioned. No need to think about two gears or adjusting the front before adjusting the rear and half of the time picking the wrong combination. With 1x I just go up and down all the time one handed as the terrain demands, it's so much simpler and faster (and a bit of weight saving too).
 

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2x: potentially more range, closer gear spacing, less cross chaining
1x: simpler to adjust, potentially lighter

To me, the gear spacing makes 1x a non-starter for anything with drop bars. I actually prefer a triple (fewer front shifts because you're not between the two rings all the time), but since triples are going away, a 2x with both of the crank rings in a useful size (like 46/30) is what I would do now.
 

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I'm a bit older but have had similar mtb experience-I love my my old 1x9 for simplicity and shifting performance. Last year I bought a Salsa Fargo with the 27.5 plus tires and a 1x drivetrain. I love that bike but wish it had double in front. I'm too cheap to convert it. I wish I had more top end gearing for the gravel. The roads in Iowa took abuse last winter/spring and are still not totally up to speed. The plus tires have been nice.
 

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asshole roadie
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I'm one of those people for whom close ratio gearing just doesn't matter, though I 100% understand why people prefer it. But my other gravel/road bike is a SS, so that's as sub-optimal as you can get from that perspective. My geared road and gravel bikes are both 1x. I like the simplicity you mention, as well as having one less part to maintain.

Replacement costs are higher, since cassettes and chains will wear out quicker. Not so bad if you're sticking middle range and standard cassette sizes. Can be significant if you have a love for light weight XD cassettes.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Nice article indeed. I never found the larger gap in gears to be an issue on my mtb. At first if feel different but once you are used to it there is no coming back to 2x, but I can see it more problematic on a road bike. I never dropped a chain either since I ride 1x (Deore XT derailleur), while I do on occasion with my road bike (105 groupset) and it's very annoying so I dismiss gravel bikes fitted with compact road groupset.

Hope we will see more bikes fitted with GRX in 2020, I'm still learning towards a 1x for gravel.
 

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I just bought a salsa warbird with 1x 42, 11-42. It’s good enough 97% of the time. And on the granny side I have just gotten used to pushing a little harder up the hill. Gear spacing dose not matter to me, mostly range is a concern. SRAM already advertising the Eagle 1x12 with gravel bikes. Just right now the only compatible drop bar shifter is the Wireless axs. Hopefully a more economical ones come out. But those wireless ones do look sweet.
 

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If you only have a mtb background, go for the 1x, you'll never know the difference. If you have any roadie background at all, you'll hate 1x on gravel as the gaps between gears are way too big. As mentioned previously....1x on a drop bar bike is a non starter.
 

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^^^ some road pros have been racing 1x. Not sure why. I find I need close spacing mainly in fast group rides on flat terrain. When air drag dominates, power required goes as the cube of speed, so you need close spacing. Climbing, power required is linear with speed so wider spacing is fine. Also, on the mtb, I'm never in a gear that long, so if it's not perfect I'll soon be shifting anyway. In fast group rides on the flat, I might be in a gear for some time, so it better be the one I need to keep up.
 

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If you only have a mtb background, go for the 1x, you'll never know the difference. If you have any roadie background at all, you'll hate 1x on gravel as the gaps between gears are way too big. As mentioned previously....1x on a drop bar bike is a non starter.

I ride quite a bit on the road with a traditional 2x and have no problem using 1x on gravel.
 

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My 2x setup was for a while a 1x, cause my 50t needed replacement. Replaced my 50t and back 2x and I prefer it way more for downhill gravel and for flat on-road surfaces.
 

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1x11-speed on an MTB took me a while to get used to vs 2x and 3x 9/10-speed. Gears seemed too easy or too hard with nothing in between. One of the main reasons I went to 1x on the MTB was smaller chainring=more clearance to negotiate technical trail features (TTF's).

Since TTF's are not so important on gravel bikes, I'd say 2 rings are fine- especially in terms of redundancy. Let's say you are on a multi-day excursion and waste your rear derailleur so that you are unable shift. Having two chain rings would come in quite handy.

I run 2x10 on my gravel bike and shift with no problem between rings compared to 1x11 on the MTB (or zero shifting on my single speeds lol).
 

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I've had a 1x 42x10-42 gravel bike for three years now and the only time I want more gear selection is in a paceline at races where I don't get to choose the speed that suits me. Otherwise, it really doesn't matter. I do love the simplicity, easy access to all the gears without thinking and zero chain drop.
 

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I rode my CX today on a mix of pavement and gravel, it's a 2x and I'm glad I had it as I used the full range, over and over. I really wouldn't mind a little lower gearing, I don't think CXes are really geared for some of the climbing I do.
 

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I have 2x on my road bikes, 1x on all my mountain bikes and gravel bikes. I frequently ride my 1x gravel bikes on road rides and miss very little. Only when I'm ripping a fast flat section @ 28+ mph do I really spin out. Love 1x for most any application.

Sent from my SM-G965U using Tapatalk
 

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Live Free & Ride
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1x is great for both dedicated gravel and singletrack on drop bars, no doubt. It's when you venture into more road and faster group rides, 2x makes more sense imo. Close spacing is important in those instances when fast shift make a difference. If you plan on just easy going and solo gravel rides 80% of the time, then go 1x.
I run a Praxis 32/48 crank with an Ultegra 11/34 cassette and rear mech 11 speed. So far, its been great for all around gravel and road group riding! :thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I'll now answer my own question...

I stumbled upon a slightly used 2019 Salsa Cutthroat Apex 1 Sus at the Pro's Closet and it was too good of a deal to let it go so I bought it. Not a big fan of the SRAM gear switching system, I think Shimano is much better but it works fine after a little getting used to.

I think 1x vs 2x comes to speed vs dirt mostly.

If you want a simple, more rugged system that's easier to maintain and will see a lot of dirty environment, the 1x is the way to go.

If you want to go fast, the 2x is the way to go, hands down and the new Shimano GRX group looks awesome.

Last night I went riding with a group of coworkers, they were all on road bikes and I took the Cutthroat. On flat sections I could easily follow between 18 and 22 mph but as soon as we hit a small hill they would leave me behind instantly without even trying. On downhill sections, above 27 mph I would run out of gears and could not push any faster.

Other than on flat sections, I never had the right gear to keep pace with them, either my cadence was too fast and I was not moving or had to push too hard and I was not moving either, either way they were much, much faster.

So 1x or 2x really depends on your expectations.
For me the 1x is perfect because I wanted a gravel bike for confortable slower paced rides (the Cutthroat rides incredibly smooth) and I have a road bike if I need speed. For gravel racing on the other hand, a 2x would be the better choice, it's just way faster.
 

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I have the rigid Apex Cutthroat. Putting a 38T chainring up front makes a pretty decent difference on top speed before spinning out, FWIW. Relatively cheap and easy update that required no other changes (there's enough chain to accommodate the larger ring).
 
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