Gear Ratios: Comparing 2×10 versus 1×11 Mountain Bike Drivetrains

1x11 versus 2x10 gear ratio comparison chart

Curious how switching from a 2×10 drivetrain to a 1×11 group like XX1 will affect your gearing? Thanks to Scott at Switchback Bikes, wonder no more. The chart above (click to enlarge) shows how the different XX1 chainrings with that oversized 11-speed cassette stack up, helping you choose the right front chainring(s) for your riding. It was used on their website, by way of a forum post by Daryl Smith.


Mike Hare - 03/28/14 - 8:45pm

Makes me (very) curious how many out there are not familiar with Sheldon Brown’s web site and his gear calculator

Personally, I’m addicted to playing this kind of game, so I’m putting together a “proof of concept” bike on a CX frame with 1×10 gearing. Would not know where to start w/o Lennard Zinn’s column. I’m using a Wolf 38t DropStop and an 11×34 10 speed XT and 700c x 35 cx tires.

Intended to be an everyday bike, rain or shine, run errands, play, etc.

Brantley - 03/28/14 - 11:11pm

Or do a 1×10 36t cassette with a 30t 104bcd Wolf Tooth ring… quite inexpensive compared to an XX1 conversion.

Shreddie - 03/29/14 - 12:58am

Yea and then you get a similar range that you could achieve with two front chainrings and a 14-28 cassette.

The 10-42 (and in particular, the 10) is what really makes the xx1 (and now xo1) shine.

iperov - 03/29/14 - 1:09am

1xMOUNTAIN BIKE ? hell no
DH bike – ok.

Desert - 03/29/14 - 3:03am

uhhhh…. where have you been? 2x 10 has been the norm for years. 1×11 offers the same range while eliminating front shifting.

No front derailleur = WIN!

MissedThePoint - 03/29/14 - 3:29am

Dunno how 1×10 people and single speeders do 3000 ft of climbing over 20+ miles. Do you even ride actual mountains?

drakche - 03/29/14 - 4:50am


Well, we usually pedal :)

That’s great, you get a 1 tooth lower gearing on the bottom of the range, and then you get a 28T chainring and You basically don’t get squat benefits. only thing that is good the top of the cassette is that you can run a 36T up front and have a bailout gear, but IMO 1:1 ratio is more than enough for anything.
So a 11-40 10sp cassette or 11SP tat goes to the current hub body would be awesome, and more than enough, without forking more than your entire paycheck on a whole grouppo.

Mike - 03/29/14 - 7:03am

The pedal circle is approximately half the radius of the tire, so at 1:1 gearing, you’re still working twice as hard as just putting your feet on the ground and walking the bike forward. On some extreme grades, that’s about the gearing I need.

Personally, I prefer the challenge of looking ahead to see if I need to clank it into the small chainring before a steep part.

Chriso - 03/29/14 - 7:11am

@missedthepiibt not everyone lives on a goat track. That’s why you can still buy 2x or if you are really keen 3x. Have you looked at the table in the article and do you understand what it’s showing you?

I live in a relatively flat country where the overwhelming majority of riders are moving to 1x because it suits our riding conditions. I guess 1×11 just isn’t your cup of tea.

What? - 03/29/14 - 7:33am

Missed the point – you must be a very poor rider. If you are good enough you can SS anything a geared bike can.

fraser - 03/29/14 - 8:58am

I like the idea of a nice clean 1×10 drivetrain, but on an testride with a xx1 bike I managed to drop the chain twice. The shop owner told me, that he had a couple of peaple switching back to 2×10 drivetrains because of that.

Tyler Benedict - 03/29/14 - 9:14am

Fraser – I’m surprised you’ve dropped the chain, I haven’t had any problems with either XX1 or an X0 Type2 rear derailleur with Absolute Black chainring unless a) a stick flew into my chain and bumped it off or b) I wrecked really hard.

All – assuming it works for your riding conditions, don’t forget that a 1x set up drops about half a pound or more from your bike.

skinewmexico - 03/29/14 - 9:31am

My problem with the 1x system is the big gear jumps. I’ll still probably get on some day.

Dan Eitman - 03/29/14 - 9:34am

Look up Vision Quest and Counting Coup. 1×10 ghetto and 1×11 was the norm for 50% of the field. Then tell me 11k of climbing over 55 miles (or 8k of climbing over 44 for the short route) aren’t real mountains.

pornitswhatlwouldratherbmaking - 03/29/14 - 9:34am

l live in Eastern Nebraska and the 1-10 works great!

Scott - 03/29/14 - 11:01am

@mike hare….yeah that was a resources we used to get the ratios on one chart to simplify it for peeps… the Sheldon Brown calculator. Gotta be careful it can be a Time Vampire if you’re not careful :)

James S - 03/29/14 - 11:15am

Do people really find it so hard to divide two numbers? Do you really need this chart or Sheldon Brown’s calculator to do it? Wow. ‘Cause that’s all this chart is – a list of what happens when you divide two numbers. The fact that this is worthy of any attention whatsoever makes me incredibly sad for humanity.

Luke - 03/29/14 - 11:41am

@MissedThePoint I live in Montana and do all my training and racing on my SS. Regularly do 5000-6000ft rides on. Lots of others out here doing the same thing. Helps with the fitness.

chasejj - 03/29/14 - 12:20pm

I was a staunch 2×10 guy, being (OAF=Old as F*ck) and not nearly as fit as most HC riders are and living where almost every ride is pretty steep climbing.
But after spending time on a gear calc looking at the range I could get I gave it a shot (1×10) Wolf Tooth 32 and 42 rings were fastened up.
Surprisingly there is a real advantage in psychology of this switch. Rather than bail to my low 22/24 x 36 on every climb I push the 32×42. There is fitness benefits as a result and measuring my HR average over the identical loops on separate days I notice a small change +3-4 beats on average over the same loops (admittedly anecdotal).
I ordered a RF Next SL crank which allows me to run a 26/28/30/32 in front for real options when I go to the high altitude Sierra climbs.
DH speed is never an issue and I don’t ride on the road to get to trail so high gears are never an issue either. If I had lots of road sections I may want slightly more range of the 2×10.
I am so sold on the 1x now I ordered up 4 other Wolf Tooth sets for the whole families bikes. Casual riders really LOVE the lack of a FD.

Brad at KirkLEE - 03/29/14 - 3:37pm

Confession from a hold out — Ed at SRAM told me how great XX1 was but I stuck to my guns about big mountains and small gears, I want dual front rings. Well, I just switched from XX (38×27 chainrings) to gripshift XX1 (34t chainring) and I was wrong. It is pretty damn nice.

I ran the gear calcs to select a front ring… but from riding feel, I do not think I have as tall/low of a gear at the extreme ends of the cassette but it is fractional and does not make much difference. What does make a difference is not having the front D, losing a pound, cleaning up the cockpit, no dropped chains, and one less thing to think about when going fast.

I have no intentions of putting a front D on any of my personal MTB’s in the foreseeable future.

Padrote - 03/30/14 - 12:15am

It’s possible to drop the chain with XX1 or X01 but not many people ride hard enough to make it happen.

That’s a pretty dumb reason to switch back to 2x though. Top guides are what like $50? Front derailleurs are the worst.

F FDs - 03/30/14 - 2:21am

My OneUp Components equipped 11-42 cassette is just the ticket. I won’t be putting a FD back on.

swill - 03/30/14 - 3:45am

SA narrow wide chain ring combined with a clutch style derailleur should make is almost impossible to drop the chain provided correct chainline is created by correct use of bottom bracket spacers, placing the ring on the inside of the spider, and cutting the chain to the correct length.

alloycowboy - 03/30/14 - 11:09am

Where you really loose out with the 2×11 and 1×11 drive trains is on long high speed descents as we no longer have the 44/11 (4.0) drive ratio that woud give you a speed of 48kph at 90 rpm. With the 1×11 and 2×11 your in coast mode as soon as hit a down hill.

Mud Cycles - 03/30/14 - 5:41pm

@Padrote, I’d disagree with that.
In my shop we end up putting chain retention gear on almost all of them as most of the riders are not smooth enough to not drop it on rough stuff.

Daryl Smith - 03/31/14 - 2:04pm

I was the one who posted this to mtbr and this got posted to Bike Rumor without giving me credit? My name is Daryl Smith and just out of common decency any time you pull charts from other people it is fairly standard to at least credit them for doing it?

My original post on MTBR is below.

Switchback Bikes - 03/31/14 - 2:51pm

I owe MTBR member @drolling an apology. The gear ratio chart was built by him, I didn’t realize it was his chart he had posted here

I also owe Tyler and Bike Rumor an apology for not doing my due diligence to make sure the chart was used with permission from @drolling

Thanks, Scott

Tyler Benedict - 03/31/14 - 3:55pm

Daryl – absolutely, and as Scott mentioned in the comment above, it was a mistake. Hope it’s OK to leave it up here with the revised credit. If not, let us know. Thanks for the heads up.

Daryl Smith - 03/31/14 - 4:30pm

I posted it last year on MTRB so that everyone else could see it and just wanted to be recognized for doing something cool that people find useful.

When I first got xx1 I looked at all of the gearing calculators but they were annoying to use and with my chart anyone could eyeball what they wanted in 30 seconds and figure out what worked for them. The people in the comments section who are criticizing it don’t realize that explaining a complex math relationship in a simple chart can be very helpful.

Daryl Smith - 04/01/14 - 6:38pm

MissedThePoint if you look at the chart you will see that if you do a 28 in the front you get the same climbing gear as you get with a 2×10 and lose maybe 2-3mph at the very top end. With that setup I can do 22mph until pedaling maxes out. With a 34 tooth in front I can do maybe 25mph. Don’t forget that the power needed to overcome wind resistance is a cubic function so the power needed to overcome your speed increases dramatically with each incremental mph of top end speed. Personally I have a lot of friends who have gotten seriously hurt going fast downhill. My motto is fast uphill and slow downhill. I have four kids and they need their dad to be mobile.

I regularly climb 20 mile sections with 3k feet in Marin county and have no issues with xx1. I personally dont think Sram knows how to make a front derailleur but they make fantastic rear derailleurs. Eliminating the FD makes a perfect machine which has less parts to break and is practically no maintenance.

Jeff - 04/02/14 - 5:53am

lol… I’ve been wanting to go back to a 3 ring front setup. I would like to try 1×11 out though.

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