1X11 gearing for TR


I am curious if anyone is using a 1x11 drivetrain on their trainer? I am considering purchasing a cyclocross bike and also using it for my trainer workouts. Usually I use a regular road bike with a 53/39 or 52/36 crankset giving me a good gear range.

If anyone has used both a single ring and double ring setup on TR, how do you find the differences?


It doesn’t matter if you’re using ERG mode

Well, it MIGHT not matter in ERG mode.

  • Some trainers have issues with power ceilings and floors. It’s possible that a bad chainring and cassette combo could lead to issues for some trainers and users.
  • So, depending on the trainer (as well as the rider’s actual FTP), there might have to be a particular choice of cassette to get an appropriate max/min for work and rest intervals.

Not to mention that we don’t even know what trainer the OP is using. If they have a dumb trainer, they may need something different than a typical smart trainer.

If the OP can include what trainer they have, as well as the typical cassette on the road bike, and maybe their FTP, we can get a better look and this for safe recommendation.


If it’s CX I’m sure the lowest gear will be lower than most road bikes.


Maybe. I’ve seen 10-36 up to a 10-42 used on typical CX bikes. That is a big difference on the low end, and might matter, again… depending on their current trainer.

I have a 46/36 double, but use 36x17 on the Wahoo in erg mode and never use the big ring. 1x is fine.
EDIT to add: my 2 cents is only for Erg mode on a smart trainer.

Fair enough…my response was pretty generic. My most extreme setup is my TT bike w/ 1x11 58T and my trainer has an 11-30 cassette. On a 2017 Kickr I haven’t had any issues going sub 100w, but results may vary. I’d think that you’d have more of an issue with a power floor than a ceiling with a smart trainer.

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Right, because the Kickr is free from ceilings and floors.

But for those with the Tacx Flux or Elite Direto trainers (to name just two, and many other dumb trainers) there are real limits to what can be hit at the top and bottom depending on the gearing. It is very common for riders to have to shift, even in ERG mode, to hit the highs and lows of some workouts.

My main point is that there are very notable and likely limits for some trainers and users. Blanket answers can lead to confusion, so I was adding some clarity to cover the issues that we have seen in other threads here.

The floor vs ceiling issue is very dependent on the user. Someone with a 125w FTP may well have a different limit than someone with a 250w FTP.


OP here,

My apologizes I realize I did not include enough info.

I am using a dumb trainer (kinetic road machine). Yes I know a smart trainer is better but I already bought a new road bike this year so that’s not in the budget.

On the trainer in the past I used a 11-23 cassette and a 53/39 crankset.

My FTP is approx 326 if I am in shape, 280 out of shape. Right now I am in shape.

I’ve found on TR that my intervals are usually no lower than 140 watts during recovery.

I’m set up with a 40t chainring and 11-28 cassette on a dumb trainer. Does the trick for everything buy HUGE sprint efforts—which I don’t do on the trainer.

I have a Kinetic Road Machine too. I suspect you’d be fine with 1x11 CX gearing for a lot of workouts, but you’d run out of resistance for highest power sprints or intervals calling for low cadence at reasonably high power. (And I say that from my experience with an FTP in the 200-230 range. With your 280-326 you’ll hit those limits sooner.)

Added to the range problem though, you may also find bigger jumps between gears makes it harder to find a good cadence/power combo more often.

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I use a 52/39 and a 12-25 cassette with a dumb Elite turbo muin and I use it as a 1x as I never use the big ring.
The only time I might use the big ring is doing workouts like Spanish needle where there’s a massive change in power in a short time. But even for those I normally stick in the small ring.

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Chad, as an Elite Direto user, could you expand on this a bit? I think I know what you are talking about (I sometimes have to shift into lower gears on recovery intervals to hit target numbers), but just want to confirm.


@DaveWh made the following chart that covers the issue to some degree. I have not gotten into it more than this. You may be able to get better clarification from him, since he seems to be the leading expert I have seen on the topic for the Direto.

OK, with that trainer, there is some good info related to wheel speed and resistance power.


So, you can use a gear/speed calculator to find the max and min wheel speed and see how it relates to the resistance range.

As mentioned, you may find issues with steps and cadence if you have a medium to wide range cassette. All manageable, but you may find that you are “in between gears” and having less than your perfect cadence.

Thanks…that aligns with my experience in general (will study the numbers a bit deeper).

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There is another thread like this from like a year ago I think. I’ve used both and I don’t like 1X on a trainer and here’s why.

If you are NOT in ERG mode: To do any kind of sprint you need a bigger ring than the 1X provides unless you have a smart trainer and crank up the resistance. If you crank up the resistance then in between efforts you’re having to shift from smallest cog to the biggest cog to be able to ride easy. It sucks. On a 2X you can ride easy in the small ring, then shift to the big and down two cogs in the back and stand up for a few seconds like you would on the road. To do that in 1X you’re having to shift 4-6 down the cassette to be able to stand up for a few seconds to unweight your butt.

In ERG Mode: Kinda doesn’t matter BUT, same thing. It is nice to shift to the big ring and stand up for a few seconds with a lower cadence and then shift back and sit down. Once again this takes 4-6 shifts on a 1X to make it happen and it just doesn’t work as well.

I would recommend buying a cheap bike and setting it up on the trainer and leaving it there. I have an old CX bike with no brakes that I leave on the trainer full time set up with 2x shifting. It is perfect and I don’t ever have to mess with taking it on an off. You can find something for really cheap that works for this type of set up and I highly recommend it.


Yep, I have been for a couple years, got a Roadmachine X for trainer.

Even with many dumb trainers, that’s fine. I have a compact crank and a 11-32 cassette. On my Elite Volano I never go lower than 34:25 = 1.36 and I am not sure whether I have used 50:11 on my trainer yet, so I could easily get by with a 1x setup, too.

My road bike is 1x11, 50 & 11-32, goes fine on my dumb direct drive trainer (no ERG mode)

CX & gravel bike is 2x11 46/36 & 11-32, also goes fine. Don’t need to overthink it IMO :slight_smile: