I was once a die hard Single Speeder. I wouldn’t buy a bike unless I could make it go down to one gear. It began when I became so frustrated with how sensitive 9 speed Shimano was to imperfections. As a bike mechanic I dealt with bent derailleurs, sticky cables and housing, beat up derailleurs all just left me with no patience for dealing with it on my own bikes. I tried the Rohloff Hub and it was good at some things and not so great in some ways, wanted to like it, just never fell in love with it. I was back to one gear, it worked out, I did ok in a bunch of long hard races. It was simple, light, cheaper and I just learned to deal with walking sometimes and spinning like mad and still getting dropped. When 10 speed came out I just laughed and resigned to giving up being a wrench, I mean 9 speed was sensitive enough, right? But then I jumped into the new age and got a carbon bike with 2×10 Sram XO, 20 speeds? Had I lost my mind? Well I loved it. Rode practically all of 2012 with that set up, I even won the Colorado Trail Race with those lovely gears. It was that race where I first saw 11 speed.
Jesse Jakomait was rocking the XX1 set up for the CTR. I thought this is crazy, silly, maybe dumb? But after the race I got to talk to him a bit about it and he said it worked flawlessly. 500 miles of Colorado, rough trails, rain, mud, dinosaurs and all. Hmm? Got me to thinking. My right hand you see contains a few misplaced bones, bone fragments, and just isn’t all that happy much of the time. With the use of twist shifting I could use a 1x drivetrain and put all the shifting on the left so my crunched up hand just has to brake and hold on, no shifting too. I tried 1×9, 1×10 and it worked but more range would be more better.
So broke down sold a bike and got me some XX1. So far just one ride on it, but it works, works well. The twist shifter can drop or gain almost the whole range of gears in one motion, I used every gear in that cassette, but so far didn’t look for more. Quiet, smooth, kind of like my single speeds, except less walking. Of course time will tell on these questions; durability, wear life, is it enough range, high and low, how will it handle mud, grime, lack of maintenance? I plan on finding my own answers as I hope to ride the crap out of this system this season.