Bike build/preference question … 1x/Electronic vs 2x/Mechanical, etc

Hoping to take an informal poll and tap into the collective wisdom of the bike hive … I’m beginning the process of a new gravel bike build.

2 questions:

  1. Has anyone gone from a 2x to a 1x and regretted it? If so, why?
  2. Has anyone gone from mechanical to electronic shifting and regretted it? Again … why?

Bonus question:

Frameset preference (death is not an option) … 2022 S-Works Crux or Open U.P.P.E.R

Thanks for any feedback :metal:

I just built one up myself and had the same questions. I’ve only used 2x on my road bike, and have 1x on cross, other gravel, and several MTBs.

I thought I would go 2x for this build (gravel race specific) in order to have smaller jumps between gears. This may be nice in a pack when you want to be able to use your preferred cadence but also don’t get to pick the speed/effort. Otherwise I rarely find myself unhappy with the jumps between gears on my 1x bikes. Your mileage may vary especially if you come from lots of road riding with a small range cassette.

Regarding range, you don’t really lose much going from 2x to 1x, but you might lose some depending on groupset. SRAM 10-44 or GRX 11-46, for example, have less range than a compact double.

I ended up going 1x with a 12-speed 9-46 cassette from eThirteen. This works with my Force AXS wide RD (not officially supported but it’s fine). You could get similar range with an Eagle AXS rear derailleur and the SRAM 10-50 MTB cassette. Or you could accept less range with the standard gravel cassette options. I’d mostly be happy with SRAM 10-44 and a 40T chainring, except for the very rare occasion when I’m spun out on a fast downhill and somebody attacks.

Electronic shifting is amazing. I’ve gone that way on my mountain bikes, and now on this gravel build, and no regrets.


I went 1x for my first gravel bike, and now switched back to 2x. I use the same bike both for indoor and outdoor, and I found the limited range on the 1x super annoying on the trainer.


I bought a 1x gravel bike and sold it to go back to 2x. Too many gaps in the gearing for me, especially on paved sections.

I vastly prefer electronic drivetrains for the simplicity for home mechanics. Even people who were afraid to index mechanical gears can do it in seconds with electronic derailleurs.

For the Crux vs Upper, I would just buy the one with the geometry that meets your needs (taking availability into consideration)

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I’m loving my 1x Ekar on my gravel bike so much that I think I could almost manage with it on my road bike… almost.

If there was an electronic version I’d get it - although I’m not sure electronic gears are as much as a big deal on 1x groups - I think it’s the front mech that benefits the most from electric shifts in my opinion.


that Open Upper is a great bike if the fit and geometry is right for you. I just built up an Open Wi.De and really like it. Feels like an endurance road bike which is what I wanted. I built it up with the Mullet - Rival AXS plus XX1 AXS. I had 1x11 on my old gravel bike and liked the simplicity. 1x12 gives me slightly more top end 10 vs 11 and more gears for climbing (50). I considered 2x but couldn’t get the gear range I wanted and and the Wi.De is 1x only. Between Eagle and Xplr I preferred the Eagle ecosystem. I can swap chainrings from 38, 40 or 42 in about 5 minutes to shift my gearing for the particular terrain. I love the AXS electronic shifting. On a long gravel ride a few weeks ago I shifted over 1,000 times due to constant rolling hills. Great having the AXS.

Riding solo the 1x is no issue. Trying to ride in a group can occasionally be a slight issue. you can find yourself with a cadence that is not quite optimal to match speeds. I find the advantages outweigh that small issue for me. I had the 1x on my old gravel bike for 5 years and still wanted 1x on this one.


Just fyi to the OP, since @jmm mentioned Endurance bikes and fit, here are the stack numbers:
Upper Size L - 580
Crux Size 56 - 578
Wide size L - 595
Diverge 56 - 610

I share this because I too wanted an Up, but when I looked at the geo, it absolutely did not work for me. When I ride gravel, I want to be comfortable first and fast second. Obviously, ymmv.

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Lord no. Your bank account, on the other hand, may regret it. Once you break that ceiling you can’t go back.


Another +1 for Ekar. I have two wheel sets. The road I have the 9-36 cassette and the gravel I have both the 9-42 and 10-44 depending on need running 40T up front. If I were younger and faster, I’d run it with a 42 or 44T front. But for me at 55, the 40T works just fine.

Never had electronic.

No experience with Upper or Crux


Yeah … the stack on the Crux/UPPER is close, but the reach on the Crux looks aggressive to me, and I’m reticent to go lower on the stem than 90mm … I don’t like a twitchy ride, especially on gravel. On the other hand, I like the tire clearance on the Crux, but I would say I’m leaning towards the UPPER.

I’ve never bought a frame and built it up on my own before … I think I know what I’m talking about, but I fear I don’t …

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I went from 2x11 Ultegra to 1x12 Force eTap AXS on my road bike and from 3x10 XT to 1x11 XTR on my mountain bike. Since the bikes you are considering are drop bar bikes, I’ll focus on the former.

I could have gone 2x for my new aero road bike at essentially the same price, but I really dislike shifting chain rings. And for me 1x12 delivers. I live in Japan, i. e. I have access to tall mountains (I can go from sea level to 1,700 m within one ride easy). I have done group rides, raced a crit (due to Covid I only raced once in two years), climbed tall mountains, zero issues.

I went for a 42-tooth chain ring and a 10–36 cassette. It has all the gears I need. My cassette chain ring combo gives me a slightly easier gear than 34:29 = 1.17 and a 42:10 = 4.20 = 50:12 top gear. That’s plenty. I only lose one gear at the top, my 50:11, but I was only using that gear on descents anyway as an overdrive. My 10–36 cassettes essentially has the same steps between gears as my 11-speed 11-32 cassette, just that I have one more gear to shift in. So anyone arguing that the steps are too big, at least if you go up to 10–36, I don’t find that to be true. And before you ask: I don’t really miss the 50:11 either.

I was deciding between Campag’s Erkar and SRAM eTap, and I only went with SRAM for two reasons: (1) I don’t like Campy’s shift UI and (2) the impeccable Quarq DZero power meter. At the time, Campagnolo had and still has a clear leg up when it comes to gearing, though. Electronic vs. mechanical was not directly part of the equation, apart from the fact that I simply couldn’t go for a SRAM 1x12 drive train.

However, I reckon you are looking at the 10–44 or 10–50/10–52 cassette options. On a gravel bike, I feel 10–44 should be enough. However, two things: first of all, given the bikes you are considering, I reckon that you might also want to get two wheelsets and you could put two different cassettes on it, 10–36 for road riding and 10–44 for gravel rides.

As for electronic vs. mechanical, I like electronic, but I would have gone for 1x12 mechanical if it existed and were substantially cheaper. Being able to shift by pushing a button is really nice, as is adjusting your rear derailleur while riding without stopping (sooooo much quicker and nicer). Batteries have not been an issue in practice. If I had time to ride a full day outdoors regularly, I’d probably get a second SRAM eTap battery just in case. I’m already carrying a spare coin cell for my power meter and shifters. That being said, electronic shifting is a luxury I could (and can) do without.

Overall, I am super happy with my 1x12 SRAM drive train on my aero road bike. If either Campag had gone for DoubleTap-like shifters or I could get along with Campag’s shifters, I probably would have gone for that and gotten Favero Assiomas since my bike is an aero road bike. Lastly, I was also considering Rotor’s 1x13 groupset, but I was advised by someone in the know that they don’t work as well as they should. Pity, I think Rotor has by far the best gearing of all drive train manufacturers, hands down. And 13 speeds is enough.

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Such a great and informative response … thank you!

In regards to your comments, I have a dedicated road bike, so this would be a dedicated gravel rig. And, I am looking at a 10-44 cassette… I was thinking about pairing it with a 44t chainring …. In my lowest gear on my current 2x gravel bike my ratio is 1.06 and a 1.0 gear ratio would be easier (right?) and at 44 in front I wouldn’t sacrifice as much top end speed … with that being said, it seems like most people on this board either do a 40t or 42t front ring on a 1x setup and I wonder why that is. Is there an advantage I’m not considering in doing a 42t vs a 44t front ring other than top end speed?

I’m not the strongest rider on the planet, but I’m pretty decent with ant FTP consistently hovering slightly over 300w. I feel like I’m missing some data point in thinking I would prefer a 44t front ring ….

What terrain do you plan on riding on? I have a 2x with 31-34 as my easiest gear, live in Colorado, and am 3.low w/kg. Works fine for most terrain I ride. If I was 3.hi w/kg, I’d probably be fine on 44-44.

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Midwest gravel … and by Midwest, I mean Michigan. Short punchy hills (1-4 mins), no altitude… I’m 4+ w/kg most of the time when I race. Would you do 44?

If I was getting 1x for gravel for where I live, I’d get 10-50 and a 44 chain ring.

If I was 4 w/kg and riding Midwest, I think a 44 chain ring and 10-44 would be fine.

I used to live in Chicago and rarely used my 50 tooth cassette cog on my MTB. Here in Colorado, I use the 50 tooth cog a lot.

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more paved riding go towards 2x. If more grit than road or true real off-road terrain go 1x.
Also the way you ride - if super punchy or racing with sprint finishes go towards 2x.

Always go electronic unless you are pinching pennies or doing something for vintage restoration reasons. I don’t think you will regret electronic shifting

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Because such gearing is IMHO useless on a gravel bike meant for mere mortals. I’m a relatively fit rider (last season’s peak was FTP = 342 W, 4.7 W/kg), and on an aero road bike even with fair winds and on a false flat, I rarely go much faster than 50 km/h, more like 37–40 km/h. I’m then in 42:14 to 42:12. I rarely use 42:11 and then use 42:10 much more often as an overdrive gear when my handlebars point downhill. I thought about gear ratios a lot before going 1x, and I paid close attention to my preferred gearing on the flats. The SRAM eTap app confirmed this numerically. The only thing I should add is that I am a bit spinnier than average, I like to do 95–103 rpm on the flats. I spin out at about 120 rpm, so with my setup I can reach up to 65 km/h while pedaling — faster than all speed limits. If I want to go faster still, it is usually better to tuck in and minimize drag. Plus, I have a wife and kids, and have no plans to become an organ donor anytime soon.

On a gravel bike with slower tires (as they have a profile and are wider) I don’t see any reason to get a larger chain ring. In fact, I’d probably go for a 38-tooth chain ring and think about a 10–36 cassette. 38:10 = 3.80 = 42:11 = 50:13 is plenty if you ride gravel. Yes, you might spin out at 46 km/h at a conservative 90 rpm, but how often are you going faster when you aren’t going downhill. Even when going downhill, how much faster to you want to be?

If you want to add gear ratios, I’d almost always advise people to add more climbing gears. So if you think 38/36 = 1.06 is too hard for some hills you are riding, that’s a good reason to get a bigger cassette. 38:44 = 0.86 is about 22 % easier than 1.06 = 38:36. Put another way, rather than grinding away at 60 rpm, you would do a more knee friendly 73 rpm with the larger cassette.

300 W is decent, so don’t sell yourself short. If you are unsure, pay attention to the gears you are riding. I have a hard time imagining you — or anyone else for that matter — are doing anywhere close to 45 km/h on gravel on a regular basis. Yes, perhaps you will spin out on the downhill, but think about it practically: how fast do you want to get and how much risk do you want to take?

The only other reason to opt for larger chain rings is efficiency, but also here I would say that this doesn’t matter for regular riders. Wearing tight-fitting clothes and learning to be in an aero position for longer will be infinitely bigger factors for us mere mortals.

PS One thing to add: I would stay away from Shimano. Their line-up doesn’t offer a lot of gearing options for gravel and you are forced to make weird choices. SRAM, Campagnolo and Rotor are much, much better in that respect. Especially SRAM can serve your needs 1x or 2x, and it is just up to you what you pick, they are agnostic about that. All of their choices are excellent, and it is really just up to you what you want.

Here is what I would go for if you went with SRAM:

  • Red 1x crank with a 38-tooth chain ring
  • Quarq DZero power meter
  • SRAM Rival eTap Explore rear derailleur (which can also accept the 10–36 cassette)
  • Rival eTap everything else

This combo is relatively affordable, yet you save a lot of weight with the Red crank. I think @WindWarrior has a setup like this on his road bike. (I wanted a Red crank as well, but couldn’t as it wasn’t available for another 2–3 months on top of the 4 months I had to wait for my bike.)

Even if you are wrong, you can still put on a different chain ring and/or cassette later.

With Campy, I’d go for the same gear ratios: 38-tooth chain ring and 10–44 cassette.

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I have a similar setup but with Rotor. Two wheelsets. One for road with 10-36 and one for gravel 10-46. I use a 46 tooth chainring.

For the context I live in the Netherlands in a part where it’s a little bit hilly.

But going 1x13 has been the best choice I’ve made. The simplicity and even jumps are great.

But choose your gearing setup wisely. Make sure when you are at “cruising” speed your chain is in a straight line. Since that is where your chain will spent most of it’s time (depending on terrain).

And the argument that people miss the smaller jumps with 2x is a non discussion in my book. When you want to have the smallest jumps with 2x your are constantly changing gears front and rear. And nobody does that. They change only at the front when they run out of cogs at the rear. And in that case when you compare my 10-36 (10-11-12-13-14-15-17-19-21-24-27-31-36) to a 11-28 (11-12-13-14-15-17-19-21-23-25-28) the jumps are almost the same. Especially at the smaller sprockets.

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Out of curiosity, what is your experience with Rotor’s 1x13 groupset? On paper it looks perfect. (I already professed my love for Rotor’s choice of gearing.)

I can only compare it to mechanical groepsets. But I like it a lot.

Some reviews of online media they didn’t like it that the groepsets did not give feedback with multi upshift. And I understand that, it requires some learning and muscle memory.

But besides that. It always shifts when I want it. Under load, at high cadence etc. It does what I want it to do. And very quick as well.

And some functions of the derailleur like the back to origin button are very useful. Especially when you switch between wheelsets.

The only real issue I had with the set was the kmc chain. I have it waxed together with 3 shimano xtr cn 9100 chains. And the shifting is worse on the kmx chain. And it also appears to be slightly wider. So when it is getting muddy it “hangs” on the cogs left or right of the actual cog it is on. It feels like it wants to shift because it no longer fits between the cogs. I don’t have this issue with the shimano chains.

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