Gear ratio question

Please help me sort this out. My maths are lacking today. With each setup which has the better low end gearing and by how much? I’m leaving heavily toward the 2x11 setup on a new Trek Checkpoint. Gearing options are as follows:

1x12: 40 up front w/11-44 cassette


2x11: 46/30 w/11-34 cassette

Am I gaining slightly more range at the top and bottom with 2x11?
I need all I can get on my local hills!


you could use a sram 11-36 or likely even a 11-40 most likely with the 2x11 setup

  • 40 / 11 = 3.636 High Ratio
  • 40 / 44 = 0.909 Low Ratio
  • 46 / 11 = 4.182 High Ratio
  • 30 / 34 = 0.882 Low Ratio
  • Yes, with the gears you listed, the 2x has a Higher HI, and Lower LO.
  • Notably, the low is not a huge improvement in the low end, but it is better by definition.
  • As mentioned, if you have the option for 11-36 or 11-40 with 2x, that will really make the low much more notably lower than the 1x setup you shared.

Thanks, I thought I was in the right track. 2x11 it is. :+1:

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I like this site for gearing comparisons, the graph helps visualize things for me.


Gear Ratio’s

I’ve always used this site.

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Gravel is closer to road than MTB. A lot of pedaling at reasonably steady speeds, unlike MTB where speed and cadence are all over the place. I think 2x makes sense for 95%+ of people for gravel.

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I’m pretty sure you are referring to a 10-44 cassette, because SRAM only makes a 10–44 and no 11–44 cassette. The difference in range is not as big as you think. You are missing half a gear at the top and the lowest gear is nigh identical.

The half a gear at the top that you are missing won’t be very useful on a gravel bike anyway. Even on my aero road bike, where I run a 10–36 cassette with a 42-tooth chain ring I don’t really use the top two gears, unless I am going downhill. At 90 rpm you’d do 48 km/h in the 40:10 ratio. In 46:11 you’d do 50 km/h (both speeds are on 40 mm 28” wheels). Either gear is academic on a gravel bike, you’d only be in that gear on the down hill. Even on the flats on road you’d never reach these speeds if you have gravel tires on: the rolling resistance will be too high.

Regarding your lowest gear, here it really depends on where you live. If you want to ride routes usually reserved for mountain bikes, neither gearing option is low enough. But if the hills are gentle, rolling hills, the easiest gear might be too easy. So I’d advise you to figure out what lowest gear you need. (I emphasize again, that the 40:44 and 30:34 are nigh identical.)

I’d say both gearing options are more than adequate for gravel riding, and I would not make the decision based on range. Instead, it is 1x vs. 2x. Whether you prefer 1x or 2x is just a matter of preference, I’m firmly in the 1x camp for myself. But it is just a matter of choice.


AFAIK the gravel community is quite evenly divided between 1x and 2x, certainly not 5 % vs. 95 %. Where I live most people who own gravel bikes ride 1x, but I reckon that depends on where you live. I have a mountain bike background who mostly switched to road riding. I’m just not as sensitive to differences in cadence, especially at lower speeds (compared to road riding) where wheel inertia isn’t as big a factor.

I agree with everything said. I have a Checkpoint with 1x12. Pro’s and Con’s you just have to live with. The 2x clearly has more range.

With that said the comment above about variability in terrain is spot on and makes 1x for mountain awesome. For gravel, if one’s local terrain edges towards more variable . . . then 1x might make more sense. If the terrain edges more towards the smoother side and less variable then 2x might make more sense.

One huge benefit in my opinion for 1x is the bike maintenance / cleanup is so much easier, as well less dropped chains. As for 2x, besides having greater range and smaller gaps between shifts, the other big advantage is friction. I have seen the data and 2x in every equivalent point to 1x on a tested chart will have less friction in the drivetrain. I believe my source is website, but it might have been elsewhere.

If I were to replace my 1x12 Checkpoint, I would likely go back to 2x.

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Just one comment: 2x does not have greater range than 1x. You get the greatest range with a 1x mullet setup and a 10–52 cassette, followed by a SRAM eTap AXS 2x setup of a 43/30 crank coupled to a 10–36 cassette. (The difference in range is negligible, though.) Also for all other cases, the range you get with the corresponding 1x and 2x setups is essentially identical.

Another comment about tight spacing: the steps starting from the middle of the 10–44 cassette and excepting the easiest gear are identical to SRAM’s road cassettes, e. g. its 10–33 cassette or the 10–28 cassette. You are only missing gears that are 1 cog apart at the top end of the cassette. So if you spend it in the middle-ish of the cassette, your gears are spaced literally identically to SRAM’s road cassettes. At gravel speeds, say 20–30 km/h, you are in the middle of the cassette where you have gearing that is identical to road bikes, at least if you compare SRAM’s 2x gravel solution to its 1x gearing.

True you can get bigger range with 1x with 12 speed you are correct. However, that was not the case with gearing selected by the rider up top for the comparison. The choices in the original post above - the 2x listed above is a wider range.

@OreoCookie - again you are correct, you can go bigger range on 1x or like I think you might have said somewhat negligible between the two. However, if using a 1x cassette with the big ring working as the ultimate granny gear, the rest of the cassette is essentially a 1x11 with noticeable jumps on regular terrain (at least to me). Not as noticeable on varied terrain such as in mountain biking or bumpy gravel like some of us have said, but I definitely notice the jumps on road and smoother gravel with my Checkpoint.

I do have the 10-52 1x12 AXS on my Checkpoint. I do not know if the original writer has that option? But yes your are correct that this big range like I have does exist on the market, Having this big range 1x12 affects the jumps happening in between (at least for me). We can swap math numbers all day. My experience with this gearing . . . I do like it. I am not at all saying it’s bad. Really, it’s great stuff, but at the end of the day I would likely go back to 2x on my next gravel bike. Mountain biking will always stay 1x for me.

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Have a look at Gear Calculator: starting from the 15-tooth cog, the gearing on the 10–44 is identical to SRAM’s 10–33 road cassette, save for the last two gears. In 42:15 with 40 mm 700c tires at 90 rpm you are traveling at 32 km/h, which is very brisk if you are properly off road. When things point down hill, typically you are in your tallest gear one way or another.

So I don’t think it is correct to say that this is 1x11 mountain bike gearing plus an additional gear (especially on SRAM). Just when you are climbing do you have one larger jump (32 —> 38 teeth, 19 %).

The situation is different for the two mountain bike cassettes, here the jumps are significantly larger.

You are probably correct on every detail and every math calculation, I cannot deny. But my experience is what it is. Please take it merely as opinion and not fact. Thanks

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Interesting. What are the roads like? Around me, the rate of change in pitch of gravel roads is nothing like MTB - a lot more gradual, closer to road. If riding dirt trails on a gravel bike or CX, I can see 1x being better. Guess it depends on the terrain.

I live in Japan in a coastal town, but you can get to proper mountains within a single ride (the road up the tallest mountain reaches 1,700 m of elevation). The standard application for a gravel bike is so that you can cross bad and abandoned mountain roads and mountain passes. Proper offroading in Japan is a niche and you need to get initiated into the local MTB scene. Trails are kept a secret, partially out of fear that if we cause too much of a ruckus the authorities will close them.

For gravel riding the pitch is relatively constant with some difficult bits in between. Typically you would start with a normal road, which would get progressively worse, you’d have to contend with debris, broken up pavement, etc. until you get to proper double track. Most of the people I know use an 11-42 11-speed cassette (it is Shimano country after all) and something like a 42-tooth chain ring. With road tires or narrower gravel tires with file tread, they can hang with many roadies. I do my road riding on a 10–36 cassette with a 42-tooth chain ring. I spin out more easily at the downhills, but honestly, I have a wife and kids, so I don’t care whether I can pedal until 65 km/h or 70 km/h. Just on some climbs it gets tough when I want to keep my power in check.

No, fair enough, I did not meant to offend.

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