322 S Union St.
Traverse City, MI 49684
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August 15, 2017, 12:00 am

Especially in Northern Michigan, the single ring, 1x11 drivetrain is absolutely perfect. It still offers plenty of range for those short, steep climbs on the Vasa without sacrificing much on the long fast sections of Iceman or Peak2Peak. The low-maintenance, smooth shifting and hassle-free luxury of life without a derailleur are all perks of the movement. 

But for riders looking to go 1x on gravel or drop bar adventure bikes, nailing the right gear ratio can be tricky. A lot of it comes down to personal preference and paying attention to what you're already on. For example, if you run a 50-34 crankset and hardly ever hit the small ring, you can usually split the difference and safely bump up 2-4 teeth, running a 44 or a 46t single ring. If you're always bouncing between the big and little chain ring on a 50-34, you may consider using a 38 or 40t, just to be safe. 

There's plenty to be gained out back, too. Depending on your derailleur, you can go from an 11-28 cassette to as much as an 11-42! To cover that much gear, you'll need a long cage derailleur, which will also feature a clutch. These are also called a Type 2, and offer more spring tension to help keep your chain tight across the full block. You tend see SRAM Apex, Rival, and Force drivetrains offering these long cages with a clutch, as well as a few mechanical options from Shimano. 

If you've got the rear derailleur, you can start to address your gears themselves. We recommend the HTML Gear Calculator. You can change every variable to account for wheel and tire size, cadence, and the differences in most SRAM and Shimano cassettes. 

The HTML Gear Calculator is a huge tool in determining everything from chain ring size to cassette, and looking to ensure that you select a drive train that lets you use the whole cassette without lingering in (and wearing out) just a couple of cogs. 

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