Bike advice required - 1x or 2x for ultrarides, audaxing and bikepacking


I am in need of expert advice on picking a bike.

Some background: I’ve been doing my audaxing and bikepacking on a Specialized Sequoia for a couple of years now, and while a pretty decent bike (except the original wheelset, the rear wheel of which literally disintegrated), I feel it is time for an update.

I have been eyeing the 3T Exploro Race for some months now, and can’t really decide between the Force AXS 2x or 1x versions (they also have the EKAR now to confuse me further). I ride both road and gravel, there are no mountains to speak of where I live (Estonia, EU), but once travelling becomes the norm again, I’d like to visit the occasional mountain range.

1x seems more reliable for longer trips/tours, but with a loaded bike, the granny gears on the 2x seem tempting as well.

So, any advice?

I would go for 2x as it gives you more options if you do come across any steep hills in the future.


The 3T Exploro is a great bike. I have test ridden the previous version and thought it was really nice, especially once you have two wheelsets for it. So not matter what groupset you get, I think this is a good choice for what you have in mind. And 3T is smart enough to give customers the choice.

Let’s talk numbers first: if you are worried about climbing gears, don’t, both have the same lowest gear (within fractions). The Force AXS 2x has a taller top gear, though, roughly equivalent to 50:11 whereas the EKAR tops out at roughly the equivalent of 50:12. So measured on a compact chain set, you are missing one gear at the top.

However, if you want to do super long distance rides, I am quite certain that this won’t matter, especially if there are no mountains where you live. Even in mountains, you are mostly limited by traffic. So in terms of gear range, I don’t think you will feel this limitation. The EKAR cassette has its tallest jumps at the climbing end of things, which is IMHO sensible. Even on road rides, I rarely use my 50:11, I can spin happily at 50 km/h if wind permits in my 50:13.

A lot of long-distance riders and bike packers go 1x (e. g. Rides of Japan). For example, if memory serves one of the recent winners of the European Transcontinental Race was on a humble 1x11 SRAM Apex1 drive train. I couldn’t find a link, but I think he just had a bog-standard 11-42 cassette in the rear.

One more thing about 3T: they are willing to customize your bike. I’m going to order a Strada very soon that is quite custom, and I will just have to pay the price difference. So if you e. g. want to have SRAM’s gravel crank (43/30), I think they can make that happen. That’ll give you even lower gearing and still plenty at the top end. Or you could ask them to put in Campagnolo’s 10-44 cassette.

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I’ve gone for 1x GRX for my adventures. It’s got a low enough range (and with goat link I could get a 50t cassette on) and loaded up I can’t see myself spinning out on long hills down.

It’s pretty simple and fun, plus it’s seems like using the 1x a bunch I’ve improved my average cadence which is nice.

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For me, the question of 1x vs 2x is not one of going fast or slow, but of preferred riding style and cadence.

With sram axs, you could quite easily spec an eagle 10-50 rear mech and cassette and you wouldn’t lose much in the way of granny gears or top end road speed when compared to, say, a double chainring with an axs 10-33 at the back. What you will however lose is some of the smaller steps between gears that may disrupt cadence and find you spending more time searching for the “perfect” gear on a climb. This depends on how sensitive you are to riding at a very particular cadence.

Reliability plays such a small part that I wouldn’t choose 1x or 2x based on that. We never really talk about reliability of rear mechs that do a lot of work, yet its often touted as a good reason to ditch a front derailleur - which does very little work in comparison. Especially with axs where you dont even have to worry about snapping a cable.