SRAM Force CX1 ‘Hop-up’
SRAM Force CX1 ‘Hop-up’
Is it time to down-size your gears with the SRAM Force CX1 set-up?
Take your average ‘cross bike fitted with a normal double chainring groupset. Run it through an hour of mud, grass, leaves, twigs and barrier tape; then subject it to violent accelerations, crashes, badly timed gear changes… And you’re surprised it seizes up? Perhaps it even self-destructs, leaving you to walk the walk of disappointment, head down trailing broken bike and broken dreams back to the changing rooms. If only there was a solution…
Well maybe there is. Single chainring setups are hardly new; riders have long been creating their own, running single chainrings on normal double cranks, with guides fashioned from old, worn chainrings. Although they were simple, still had places for the gloop to collect and carried the risk of a dropped chain, they clearly demonstrated the benefits of a single chainring setup – lighter weight, more reliable gear changes, easier cleaning in or after a race, easier maintenance and so on.
Although Force CX1 can be bought as a complete groupset, if you are already running one of their road groupsets and have a crankset with a 110BCD, SRAM have made it easy to go single chainring; you can “hop up” to a single ring setup with the simple addition of a X-HORIZON rear derailleur and their X-SYNC chainring. The X-HORIZON borrows from SRAM’s mtb know how to produce a derailleur that helps eliminate chain slack and bounce, ensuring that the chain stays where you want it. The X-SYNC chainrings uses alternating wide and narrow teeth, that again help keep the chain on the straight and narrow and allow mud to clear away.
SRAM’s X-HORIZON derailleur uses a clutch mechanism to help keep the chain taut, stopping it from flapping about and jumping off the chainring. A larger 12 tooth X-SYNC pulley, SRAM’s 1-1 Exact Actuation technology and X-HORIZON ‘straight parallelogram’ design are all intended to keep shifting crisp and stop any mud induced mis-shifts.
With a new frameset on it’s way and the ground getting softer, I figured it might be time to try out this new, old fangled way of keeping my bike running through the winter gloop. Already having a SRAM Force road groupset, I can take SRAM’s “hop up” route and with just the addition of the X-HORIZON derailleur and X-HORIZON chainring. It should mean that I can set up the new bike with a minimum of fuss with no messing about with chain guards and keepers, which just become extra places for the mud to collect, defeating one of the major benefits of a single ring set-up.
The X-HORIZON chainring comes in 38T, 40T, 42T, 44T and 46T with a 110BCD and is both 10 and 11-speed compatible. CX1 will work with any of SRAM’s cassettes, which means I could use one from their MTB range. That raises the possibility of using an 11-36. With that I should be able to get up pretty much anything! Running only one chainring does mean I’ll need to think carefully about which size I actually go for and it might make sense to have more than one available. That way I can change to suit course conditions on the day.
SRAM have also produced a left hand brake lever, so you could replace your existing left side “brifter”, to save weight if you’re a weenie. I think I’ll stick with both my current shifters, to keep this within budget.
And how much is a “hop up”? Well a quick look on the web shows derailleur and chainring coming in at around £220, a new chain and cassette would be about £60. Of course some people will already have these last two items. I hope to have the SRAM “hop up” fitted soon and once it’s on, will let you know how it performs in the mud and gloop of the rest of this season.
Have a look at SRAM’s video below on how their Force CX1 groupset has been received in the US…
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