Mountain bikes with 11 gears are becoming more popular now. They used to have 2 or 3 chainrings and now they have one. So I decided to search for the reasons for the change.
Why do mountain bikes only have 11 gears now? Many mountain bikes have 11 gears now because its simpler, lighter, and quieter. There is only one chainring, you only need one shifter on the right side of the handlebar. Shifting is more efficient, better cadence, and it offers nearly the same gear range.
Let’s take a closer look at the reasons for going to an 11 speed system, so you can enjoy those benefits to.
What Are 11 Gear Mountain Bikes Good For
- Lots of mountain bikers like to keep things simple and uncomplicated. With an 11 gear setup there is less risk of having something go wrong. Less maintenance and repair is always preferable. More things can go wrong with a two or three chainring system.
- Using only 11 gears means you only need one chainring which makes everything lighter. Going from two chainrings to one may not be very much of a difference in weight. But if you ride a three chainring bike and you go to one chainring then the difference in weight can be as high as 300 grams.
- Having one chainring means you don’t need a front derailleur. Front derailleurs are not always reliable. While shifting this can increase the risk of your chain falling off the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd chainring. Having one chainring eliminates this risk.
- When you want to shift using an 11 gear system you only need one shifter on the right side of the handlebars. This frees up the left handlebar. On the left handlebar you could put a dropper post remote on it, this allows you to move the seat up or down. Do this while going up or down a hill for better control and power for pedaling.
- When shifting with a two or three chainring setup it is better to slow a little to make sure the chain shifts properly. The front derailleur does not shift as efficiently as the rear. With one chainring that risk is gone. Shifting with one chainring is quicker which is better for mountain biking when you may need to shift at a moments notice, compared to riding on pavement.
- Pedaling cadence is important for maintaining speed and power. The teeth on the one chainring system are thicker and longer with no release points for shifting. This also creates a more durable drivetrain. Your chain can handle more powerful pedaling and won’t fall off.
- On a two or three chainring system the teeth are shorter and there are release points. This design is so it can help in shifting. There is more of a chance for chain slippage, or for it to get stuck. The 11 gear system, one chainring setup eliminates this risk completely.
- When using the 1×11 gear design you will not be able to use as many gear as those with two or three chainrings. But the difference is not really that great. You can increase or decrease the single chainring size making it easier or harder to pedal.
Are There Any Disadvantages To Using a 1×11 Gear Drivetrain
One drawback is you won’t be able to use as many gears in between your highest and lowest gear. This is not too much of a problem for mountain bikers because when you are riding on the trail there is not need for such precision gear riding.
Success in mountain biking is more about how you handle the bike over different types of terrain. The other issue related to this is you can run out of gears when you are going very fast downhill. Your pedals will start to free wheel or spin because you can’t pedal any faster.
If you are using SRAM then you can get a larger or smaller cassette such as a 12 speed. You can also get a bigger or smaller front chainring. They are very easy to take off and on. You only need to remove a few bolts.
The last disadvantage is the chainline is not so straight because there is no front derailleur. But this only happens when the chain is at the top or bottom of the cassette. In this position if you need to back pedal the chain sometimes can derail on certain bikes. But, how often do you really need to back pedal.
How To Install a Single Chainring 11 Gear System on Your Mountain Bike
- The first thing you will need is a narrow wide chainring. This will increase the chain security so it will stay on better. This type of chainring sticks to the chain better and prevents the chain from bouncing off.
- If you race or ride very aggressively you can use a chain device for even more security. Aggressive riding is riding fast on rough terrain over rocks and roots. This causes the bike to shake a lot jarring the chain up and down quickly.
- You should use a 10-42 cassette because it will give you the biggest range of ratios. The larger the ratios the faster you can go.
Chainring size is mostly based on personal preference. It is a good idea to choose between 32 and 36 teeth on the chainring. 34 is the most common. If you are a strong rider choose a higher number like 36 for more speed.
- First remove the front shifter and the front mech, this will help to make the mountain bike lighter.
Make sure the chainring fits the cranks. So when you go to buy a chainring be sure to bring the cranks with you so you can find the right fit before you buy.
- Find out what the BCD is, the bolt circle diameter. Match the BCD of the chainring with the BCD of the crankset.
- Play around with the chainring so you get a good fit on the crankset. This is important so you have a good chainline to the rear of the bike. Try and place the chainring in the same position as the previous chainring.
- For the rear use a 1 by 11 drivetrain gear setup. Be sure to use a clutch mech, it will help with chain retention. Use a 10-42 cassette so you get the most range.
When Should You Not Use an 11 Gear Setup For Mountain Biking
Cross country riders that ride on long uphill trails will not want to use the 11 gear drivetrain. Unless you are a strong rider you will want to be able to accurately choose the right gear for each specific incline you bike up. Beginners will want to do the same.
If you are riding on singletrack and the trail is pretty smooth, there isn’t a lot of rough terrain then not using a 1 by 11 is fine. There is no issue of the front of the chain falling down due to bumps.
Also if you go downhill and the hill is smooth then a 2 by is good so you can pedal faster using a higher gear.
How To Improve The Chainline of Your Chainring For a 1 By 11
The first thing to do is to check how much room you have left between the chainring and your frame. If you have space then you can use a 2mm space and insert it between the chainring and the chainring spider. This will move the chainring closer to the frame. Now the chain will not fall when you pedal backwards the top of the cassette.