With a new frame on the horizon and the mud beckoning, I was pleased to take delivery of SRAM’s Force CX1 “Hop Up” from distributor Fisher Outdoor. If you’re not sure what the heck a “Hop UP” is, then take a look at our previous article. So is SRAM’s Force CX1 “Hop Up” the way forward for single chainring ‘crossers?
If you’re thinking of running a single ring set-up for ‘cross, it should be pretty straightforward, right? Well yes and no. People have been running single ring set-ups for years. They will usually have some sort of single or double chain guard and maybe a chain keeper as well. SRAM’s set-up is a lot more elegant and also includes the Force CX1 rear derailleur, which came from their 1X MTB range. The clutch derailleur keeps the chain under tension a lot better than a standard rear mech. This, added to the specially profiled chainrings, keeps the chain where you want it, without having to add a potentially mud-catching guard.
Setting up a single ring drivetrain, assuming you’re already running SRAM, requires the purchase of a CX1 X-SYNC chainring, Force CX1 rear mech and SRAM say, for best operation, a SRAM chain and cassette. I ordered two chainrings as I wasn’t sure what I was going to need; mind you with SRAM’s 36t frankly monstrous rear sprocket, I should be able spin my way out of trouble!
First look at the Force CX1 components has me thinking “these are too pretty to be dragged through the muck and mire!” – but that is exactly what I’m going to do. The chainrings are matt black with silver highlights; the rear derailleur is a gloss grey and black with a touch of turquoise, shame to drag them through any mud…
I chose the 36t cassette simply because I’ve never seen anything that big on the back of a bike before! Surprisingly the cassette isn’t as heavy as I expected. The four larger sprockets are riveted to an aluminium carrier, with the others being loose. All the sprockets are machined to remove any excess material. The finish is a glorious ‘bling’ silver. I expect I’ll have to order in some extra elbow grease to keep this lot looking good.
On to the Force CX1 derailleur next, which is where the magic happens! This is a dedicated 1X derailleur, it uses SRAM’s 1:1 actuation. This means shifter cable travel exactly equals derailleur movement, which should make indexing easier. Larger 12-tooth jockey wheels and a “straight parallelogram” design – which limits mech movement to a horizontal plane – control the chain, preventing ghost shifting and requiring less force to change gear. All this should add up to an easy to set up and shift drive-train. The cage lock button sits just underneath where the clutch is housed. Locking the cage requires you to pull the arm forward while pressing the cage lock button. Unlocking is simple, just pull the arm forward and release. There’s a fair amount of tension in the clutch, so keep your fingers away when playing with the lock!
I’m not sure what performance would be like with a non-SRAM chain and cassette, they look to be standards items, with none of the profiling that the chainrings and jockey wheels have. Once I’ve tried out the SRAM items, it might be worth trying to see if there is any loss of performance…
So with everything fitted it’s time to see how the Force CX1 “Hop-Up” works out on the trails and mud.
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