1X11 gearing for TR

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:

The only thing is that on dumb trainers where you cannot adjust the resistance (e. g. fluid trainers), the most suitable gear combinations depend on your trainer’s resistance curve and your FTP. Be that as it may, gear range is not an issue with my TrainerRoad workouts. (50/34 with an 11-25 cassette has pretty much the same range as 1x with 10-33 or 11-36 cassettes.)

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Dumb trainer here as well (Tacx Booster at max resistance). 300+ W FTP. 50/34 and 11-25.

Unless standing, I’m in the little ring. However, I really don’t like having more than one cog difference between gears in the cassette. It’s really annoying when I’m at the limit on long intervals to be between gears. So I wouldn’t like the huge spacing between gears in a 1x system on a dumb trainer.

Two things: first of all, the spacing between the cogs of SRAM’s 11-36 cassette aren’t huge, on the climbing end they are exactly the same as on SRAM’s 11-28 and 11-32 cassettes. Sure, they are larger than on an 11-25 cassette, but I don’t ride an 11-25 cassette outside either. On a dumb trainer, there is some logic to using a more finely spaced cassette, though.

Secondly, there is something to be said to using the same cassette outdoors and indoors. Outside I have to vary the cadence just the same if I want to stick to a certain power target.

If you’ve used TR before, which gears are you using now? You can work out if you’ll have the same range with a 1x by looking at bikecalc.com or similar. Will depend on the chainring and cassette on the 1x.

The other issue is the steps between gears, but that comes down to personal preference.


I do that without shifting - smoothly slow down the cadence to let the trainer catch up and increase the resistance to maintain power, then stand up; slowly accelerate cadence back to normal afterwards. It’s part of the “rewards” I give myself during recovery between demanding interval blocks. “You’ll get to stand and stretch for a moment. Later. Just push now and stop whining”.

Yeah you can do that but it just doesn’t work as well especially if you’re in the middle of an SST, LT, or VO2 interval. You may not be able to spin the trainer back up once you bog yourself down by letting your cadence drop in that gear. I also prefer to mimic what I would do on my road/gravel bike actually outside.

Obviously some personal preference there but it really is much better to me to use 2x.


Agreed. The “slow down your cadence” or “speed up your cadence” to deal with low cadence work and standing in particular, never sat well with me.

I discovered the shifting “trick” and never looked back. It’s funny really, because the shifting is exactly how we handle these similar efforts (for standing anyway). We shift up to get the gearing to work best with a standing cadence. That usually means 2-3 shifts on the cassette, or a small to big ring jump.

I have used that since I started in ERG training back with my PowerBeam Pro around 2015. Works a treat and is MUCH faster to handle compared to the slow-down/speed-up recommendations. I even wrote an article on it because I wanted to make sure people knew of a better way.

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Correct - I meant during a recovery between intervals, not during one.