MTB Drivetrains: 2x10 vs 1x11

2x10 or 1x11?

Don't worry, we aren't revisiting primary school maths. But tackling a discussion that burns brightly in the mountain biking world. Visit any MTB forum online and you will likely see some healthy debate around which drivetrain set up is the way forward. These discussions are usually ignited by someone seeking advice on which set up is the best upgrade. 

In this article we take a look at some of the arguments for and against the use of 2x10 and 1x11 and discuss which is the best.

Why 2x10?
The 2x10 drivetrain has been a popular option amongst riders for some time. Allowing for the expansion of the gear set up, offering more options in terms of top and bottom gears. 
In terms of situation, using the 2x10 set up will work better for those that regularly jump between lower and higher gears. For example, for new mountain bikers and those that are regularly tackling steep gradients and downhills the two front gears allow for a quicker, smother jump between gears with high and low resistance.

Why 1x11?
Although 1x set ups are in no way new, they are beginning to become increasingly popular with manufactures. This is because it frees up space at the front of the bike which they can use to improve the overall set up. These types of improvement were previously impossible in 2x set ups.

Using a 1x11 set up also provides other advantages to the rider. Namely, the loss of parts at the front of the bike means that handlebars are less cluttered. We also see some minor weight loss advantages which are noticeable on higher spec bikes.

This type of set up allows for linear gears, meaning less thought is required on behalf of the rider as to which gear to change next. This results in less chance of issues with the chain or slipping gears.
Practically, fewer mechanical parts means there is less to go wrong and less parts that need adjustment. This can save time and money in maintenance and servicing.

Our Conclusion
It is clear that there is no real answer as to whether 2x10 or 1x10 is the best drivechain set up.

A more sensible way to approach this question is to ask which set up is most suitable for the type of riding you do. For those that are just starting out or those that are regularly tackling steep inclines and downhills, the nature of 2x10 is likely to work better. However, for those that are tackling more varied terrain the nature of 1x11 will provide simplicity and weight savings. 
I've just taken delivery of a new 1x11 Deore XT groupset, so I'll let you know how I get on with it compared to the ol' 2x10...‚Äč
Where possible, test riding both systems will give a much better understanding of how well they work for you. Alternatively, try noting which gear combinations you use on your current set up. By working out which ratios you are using most, you can then compare that to what is available on the 2x10 and 1x11 set ups.

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