Meanwhile, the giant, with his shield covered in unnecessary ‘innovations’ in front of him, kept coming closer to SRAM. He looked SRAM over and saw that he was little more than a bike parts manufacturer, glowing with health and but no golf club division, and he despised him. He said to SRAM, “Am I a tiny kitten, that you come at me with a ball of twine? Where is thy fishing reel division? Didn’st thy stock manager tell you about diversifying your portfolio?” And the giant cursed SRAM for it’s penchant for buying up small 90’s bike companies. “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your narrow stock portfolio to the birds and the wild animals!” SRAM put a 1x drivetrain in a sling and hurled it the lumbering giant Shimano. The giant tried to shield itself, with layers of R&D armor and generic slogans, but SRAM prevailed, striking the giant in the head with a wide range cassette (even gear jumps be damned) which sunk into his forehead. The giant fell down, writhing on the ground, his chain mail armor dissolving into a 1000 obnoxious & poorly engineered chain pins. Thusly, SRAM stuck its own thumb to its own nose and made a noise with a likeness to PWFFFFT!
Actually, SRAM is a pretty big company, so this myth is probably apocryphal.
We love 1x drivetrains. I especially love the irony that for years the justification for more and more gears was for closer gear ratio spacing, and now, NO ONE talks about that any more, because it’s not convenient to the market. Think about that, next time you consider whether a new innovation exists because there is a need or because someone told you you need it.
1x drivetrains are simple, relatively easy to maintain (not as easy as a 2x8 friction system, but still, relatively easy) and they are (or can be) relatively affordable. Making a 1x mountain drivetrain is easy, from a shifter / brake lever perspective. Just ditch the left shifter and front derailleur. However, for a road style integrated shifter/brake lever, you have to make a dummy left lever, with no shifter. It has to look the same as a shifter / brake lever, and feel the same, but no shifter guts. Sounds easy, I know, but apparently this concept literally blows the minds of the engineers at Shimano, along with concepts like reach adjustment that doesn’t use the brake lever equivalent of a woodshim. SRAM has eaten Shimano’s lunch with the 1x drivetrain. The SRAM derailleur clutch works better, and it’s simpler. The derailleurs can shift over a huge range of gears. The road levers match each other.
SRAM makes road drivetrains in 4 different levels. Apex (also the name of an adult theater in Baltimore), Rival, Force, and Red. Rival is the best. It’s not the most expensive, but it’s affordable and uses aluminum brake levers not carbon. The guts of all of the SRAM shifters are the same design. Unlike Shimano, who not only changes the ergonomics on all of it’s levers from level to level, but also uses totally different, often proprietary shifter guts at each level too. This is because Shimano wants to lock you into a specific complete group of parts. That way, when your shifter wears out, and Shimano no longer makes it, they can force you to buy a whole new drivetrain. SRAM’s Apex shifters shift almost as well as Red shifters, at a fraction of the cost. We like the Rival levers more, they feel a bit more solid. Barely a difference, but for the extra few bucks, we say go Rival.
Analog is a fan of really wide range gearing systems. Even our 1x set ups are as wide as you can go. SRAMs Rival rear mech can push ultra big cogs, 50t, even 51t. You can run an 11-50 cassette with a Rival rear derailleur while using drop bars. Perfect for bike packing, gravel grunting, or really, anything except road racing or road touring. Stick with a front derailleur for those.
In short, get the SRAM Rival 1x levers if you want comfortable, relatively affordable integrated shifting. 11 speed.
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