13/09/2012 | 2 comments
SRAM confirmed that its latest cross-country groupset would have but one chainring and 11 sprockets back in July. At Eurobike, we got to see what it looks like in the metal.
What leaps out at you is that really freaking huge big sprocket. It is quite frankly e-bloody-normous.
To put it in gear-weenie historial context, this is the biggest rear sprocket that we’re aware of ever being offered commercially. The previous record was held by SunTour, the derailleur company that went bust in the early 1990s not today’s fork maker.
SunTour made a screw-on freewheel with a 38-tooth large sprocket back in the 80s, and Richard and Nicholas ‘Coast’ Crane used them when they rode mountain bikes up Kilimanjaro in 1985.
The Cranes were after a super-low bottom gear so used their enormo-sprockets with triple chainrings.
SRAM’s aim here is to give as wide a spread of gears as possible with just one chainring, so there’s a tiny 10-tooth sprocket at the other end. That gives a 420 percent range, less than the 618 percent of a 44/32/22 triple with an 11-34 cassette, but plenty for racers and fit trail riders.
Chainrings to fit the XX1 chainset will be available in two-tooth increments from 28 to 38, and we’re willing to bet fans of 2 x 10 systems will be experimenting with 2 x 11 to get fuss-free wide-range gears within minutes of XX1 hitting the shops in October.
For example, combine a 40/26 chainset with the XX1 cassette and you’d have a 646 percent range with a lower bottom gear than a classic triple. We haven’t asked SRAM if they’d approve, but we’re willing to bet they wouldn’t.