1x vs 3x: The Maths


Retro Wizard
A couple of other points - gear spacing is a big difference.
A triple is a pragmatic way to keep small gaps between gears AND a big range. Otherwise it's either-or. Probably this matters more riding on the road or with a touring load. Similarly road compact doubles 34/50 have a horrid jump between the two ranges.

Most of all I'm remain unconvinced by the poor chain line running 1x at low gears.


Senior Retro Guru
Interesting thoughts. Tyre size is probably more informative than wheel size, but obviously that adds too many potential values for the variable.
Indeed. Tyre size is more informative but then you have to consider tyre deformation too and it all starts to become very complex. A professional racing team might need that level of detail, however. The nominal wheel sizes are enough to get the general principles though, I think.

@FluffyChicken @hamster I didn't look at 2x mainly because the flat bar gravel bikes tend to be 1x not 2x. However, I would be happy if there were some 2x offerings even though I agree that the change between rings can be brutal.
. . .
1x, 2x, or 3x, I don't care, ride what you like :)


Old School Grand Master
I find 1*12 so much easier and therefore more enjoyable to ride than 3*6/7/8

I love my retro bikes but modern 1*X 29ers are great to ride.

Having said that 2*X on gravel bikes if probably a good shout if you ride chunks on road as part of mixed riding


Senior Retro Guru
If I was still mountain biking I'd be happy with a 1x system - I rarely used the largest chainring when I rode trails in the early 2000's because the trails were steep and really rough making climbing gearing more important than descending gearing and dropping a chain was a reality and a hassle.

I'm pretty happy with 2x on my gravel and road bikes for the most part. I am running 3x on a couple of old 7 speed 26'ers and its fine as well as long as I plan for the climbs well in advance.

Prodigal Son

Retro Guru
If your bike can´t have a front derr. then go w/ 1x. Otherwise you pay more for less durability . 1x is not simpler; friction shifting is simpler.
If your bike is a 29er mtb or gravel w/ short chainstays chances are there is no space for front shifting. 1x was made to solve that. A 1x on a 26in mtb makes no sense.


Gold Trader
MacRetro Rider
I dont want to get into gear inches, repetition etc. Just a note that I reckon 1x puts too great an angle on the chain. 2x would be better.
When you think about how a 1x chain routes from the ring to what is a gigantic low speed cog. Its angled upwards and far over to the side. To my mind this ,especially with the huge cassettes means the chain is more prone to wanting to come off.


Bin Monkey
BoTM Winner
PoTM Winner
GT Fan
You forgot about tires!

A modern 26 Annoyed Andrew tyre has the rotating diameter of a 700c road wheel