MTB frames still compatible with front derailleurs

Do you know any new/latest models that still allow for mounting a front derailleur? MTB has gone all in on 1x, but I prefer my 2x (and thankfully Shimano still makes high end 2x drivetrains). It would great to have a database of compatible frames that are in production (as opposed to hunting down NOS older models).

Why do you prefer 2x over 1x? Is it range or do you want more closely spaced gears? If you are after the latter, I’m afraid 2x won’t help you much. The first 8-9 gears of Shimano’s 10–51 and 10–45 cassettes are identical. So practically speaking, a 2x drivetrain only gives you more range these days.

Back to your question: I’m not aware of a single mountain bike comes with a 2x drivetrain.

1 Like

Manufacturers have used the 1x setup to modify the geometry of bikes. They can shorten chainstays and also fit wider tyres without falling foul of legal constraints (there has to be a minimum 6mm gap between chain and tyre for example)

You could fit a front derailleur to any of these frames as you aren’t constrained by those rules but you’d have to be prepared to fit a narrower rear tyre should there be interference. It would have to be a “band on” FD as there’d be no bosses on the frame for direct mount.

When I went 1x I reckon I lost three ratios in range. As it happens I rarely use either the top or bottom cogs with the 1x so I’ve probably only lost one ratio. A 30T chainring with an 11-46 cassette gives a range of ratios from 0.65 to 2.72. A 2x with 36/24 up front and 11-36 out back gives a range of 0.66 to 3.27. So there’s a bit missing from the top end, whether that’s important or not is up to you.

1 Like

Closely spaced gears indeed (I really don’t need bigger jumps between cogs, while I’m finicky about my cadence options). I currently ride 2x10 XTR with 36/22x11-36. I find the spacing of the 11-36 quite satisfactory. My wife’s bike came with 11-spd Shimano XT with a 11-40 cassette, which she uses with a modded 36/24 (officially not supported, but replacing the 26T OEM chainring with a 24T one has not led to any shifting issues), which is also fine.
I don’t necessarily need 2x12, would happily stay with 2x10 or 2x11. Never had any problems with adjusting the FD or dropping chains (even without switching the RD clutch on). On the other hand, I really don’t want to use a heavy 12-spd cassette to increase rotational weight on my rear wheel. The lightest 12-spd cassettes (Eagle 1299 or Leonardi) are just (but not quite) as light as, say, a 10-speed Shimano XT 11-36, but of course, they cost at least six times as much.

In any case, it seems that Liteville (small German boutique brand) still allows for FD mounting on some of their latest bikes. The discontinued Knolly Endorphin had the mount too, not sure about the new Knolly models. The previous generation Santa Cruz Tallboy (pre-2019) had it too, but it seems to be sold out.

Thanks. I use 2.5-2.3 tires in the rear (29ers, light trail/XC touring), so there should be no issues there. But I’m a sucker for carbon frames, and the shape of the seat tubes (especially on full-suspension bikes) is most likely not compatible with the round FD clamps that much. Not to mention the absence of FD cable guides or internal channels.

1 Like

FWIW rotational weight makes more of an impact away from the center: a heavier rim or tire is going to have more of an effect than a heavier hub or cassette. I ride Eagle and I never feel like I don’t have the gear combo I need for the situation, personally.

1 Like

Then I am afraid sticking with 2x will achieve pretty much nothing, because for some strange reason Shimano decided to only space the last four climbing gears differently.

I currently run a 3x10 Shimano XT setup on my mountain bike, so I know the gear spacing of the 11-36 really, really well. But I have ridden bikes with 10-42 cassettes. On all mountain bike cassettes that start at 10 teeth, save for Rotor’s cassette, the only real difference I felt was when going from the 12-tooth cog to the 10-tooth cog. Everything else feels quite similar.

Lastly, let me add that there is a very good reason why pretty much no mountain bike comes with a front derailleur: it gives frame designers much, much more freedom to design the bike, especially for frames with rear suspension. Simply put, omitting the front derailleur allows bike designers to build substantially better handling bikes. And the trade-off is well worth it. The new generation of XC full suspension bikes run circles around mine. If I were you, I would not try to fight the tide. You’ll get used to 1x very quickly.

3 Likes

Weight plays no role IMHO. Bike weight increased when we went from 26” bikes to 27.5” and 29” bikes. Why? Because the trade-off is well worth it.

Even going from a triple to a double you are losing range, especially at the top end. My largest chain ring on my triple is 42, and 42:11 is mighty tall on a mountain bike. Probably too tall to be useful off road. Even on road I feel I am limited by rolling resistance. The longer you go, the less I think you need a tall gear. I had a rental mountain bike with a 28-tooth chain ring and a 10-42 cassette. Even with such a low top-gear it was fine. In fact, I wish I had another climbing gear back then :sweat_smile:

1 Like

Have a play with http://gear-calculator.com/ you can compare two setups so a 2x vs 1x.

TBH I’ve never found the “big gaps” to be an issue. Logically the gaps are midway between the small and large rings on a 2x. If you want one of the in-between ratios then it’s a case of move the FD then two or three changes at the back, that’s assuming that there is an in-between ratio.

1 Like

OP mentioned weight which is why I brought it up but I agree I think weight is largely overhyped in cycling overall, road and MTB alike.

2 Likes

Thanks, I’ve been using that calculator for years. It’s one of the best :grinning:

Sure, at the end of the day, I’m no weightweenie either. BUT: one major argument in favor of 1x has consistently been that you drop weight (FD, shifter, cables), and the people who make this kind of argument often forget that the weight lost at the front is added in the back (especially with cheaper cassettes). And with pizza-size large sprockets the rotational weight is also moving further out from the hub towards the rims.
At the moment I’m still happy with my 6-year Stumpjumper FSR running 2x10 (btw. it has the E-type FD mount, which is not a bad compromise from the point of view of frame design) and it came with a factory-equipped chain guide. Tire clearance is not an issue either with burly 2.3s (2.4 could be tricky though), and I run it more like a light trail/downcountry bike. I was musing about potential options in case ‘upgrade-itis’ got the better of me in the near future. Of course, I will most likely go with a 1x-only frame when the time comes :thinking:

My 29er hardtail still has 3x10 Shimano XT (40/30/22x11-36), which is great for long rides with extended tarmac sections included. I was thinking of converting that into 12-speed 1x Shimano, but it’s not really worth the cost

If you’re happy with 2x10 or 3x9 or whatever then rock on. It seems like you’re reasonable enough to understand some of the benefits of 1x, I certainly understand some of the drawbacks, but in the end I think it’s a net win. My 2018 FUEL EX had provisions to mount a FD, the 2021 does not. MTB is very dynamic so not having to think about what ring I’m in makes life easier, I just have one button up one down. Also as mentioned the 1x setups have improved MTB design overall and if I want to really get petty, “it’s one less thing to break/maintain”.

Weight wise my Eagle X01 10-50 cassette is 355g
Shimano XTR 2x11 cassette 11-40 is 330g

Eagle GX 10-50 is 450g
SLX 11-46 is 494g

Seems insignificant at best when we talk about heavy 1x cassettes

A Salsa Cutthroat comes in 2x. It’s more of a gravel bike but really it’s a drop bar mountain bike.

https://salsacycles.com/bikes/cutthroat/2021_cutthroat_c_grx_810

Whoa! That’s a pretty nice bike! Definitely pushes my thinking in the direction of the proverbial “N+1” (I do have a gravelized cyclocross bike already).

The Cutthroat really changed my view on gravel. I have a very light weight S-Works Crux converted to gravel. It’s a fantastic biks and I had no complaints until…

I moved to NM for a couple of years and three of my friends had the Cutthroats. Even though I beat them by far on weight, they kept up with me on flats and climbs but then whenever the terrain got rocky or sandy, they just simply road away from me like I was standing still.

For a full-suspension bike, 1x has allowed for better pedaling and suspension characteristics. Prior bikes had to make a compromise between ring sizes, they basically had to design for one, and most would err more closely with the “middle ring” or 32T, with compromises for the smaller ring. With 1x, it’s all but guaranteed, so they can design the appropriate anti-squat and pedal kickback, without compromise. The pedaling and suspension has improved tremendously since the 1x became popular.

Truly riding off-road, I don’t miss 2x on a mountain bike, never had a problem where the terrain is not steady at all and cadence varied immensely between a few pedal strokes. Only on a groadie do I find cadence to be a problem.

On a full-suspension I would definitely give up the 2x chase and go 1x.

On a hardtail, suspension is irrelevant, so a 2x is fine there, but can’t say I know of any bikes, don’t really pay attention to hardtails.

2 Likes

Sure, that makes sense to a certain extent, though the main reason is that if your chain ring is roughly level with the (main) bottom suspension pivot, pedal bob is reduced. However, that’s not really an issue with my 2x Stumpy either, as the 22T small chainring is in fact level with the suspension pivot above the BB, and it is exactly this small chain ring that gets used on most (extended) climbs, where pedal bob could be an issue. On the other hand, don’t forget that 1x is also often touted as a do-it-all system where it’s easy to swap out chain rings (thanks to direct mount) to fine tune the bike to different terrains (rolling hills vs bike park trails etc.). But once you swap between, say, a 28T and a 32T chain ring, or, to give another example, replace the factory installed chain ring (which is presumably optimized for the suspension pivot position) with a different size because one needs higher or lower gears at either end, this theory is out of the window :slight_smile:

Not at all. It’s really not a “kinda” thing. It is, with a single ring vs two that you switch on the fly. Without the default compromise that exists in every build kit, you now have something that probably works for 90% of the riders as is.

Its oversimplifying and exaggerating with extremes to try and make a point that’s not true (the point being that it didn’t help suspension design due to swapping parts and your 22t is fine). The fact remains that 1x greatly improved suspension design because of the compromise for the small ring. If you need to go and find an off-brand 28T, we’ll that’s on the rider. A 28T compared to a 22T is also quite different.

Pivot height location, while important, isn’t the sole consideration.

The range needed is partly why there’s a 52T and 51T big cogs, while maintaining support for the 10T at the high end. Meaning the small chainrings aren’t really needed much these days. I’d estimate that 30T would work fine in most cases as it is shipped on some bikes as stock ring. The kinematics from 32t to 30t isn’t big, but a 32t to 22t is.

I also don’t agree that the 22T on a stump jumper had no issues climbing. We can probably dig up the curves on that which will probably show anti-squat dropping immensely. The stump jumper has never really need a great climber. Not meaning that as a dig, just all the reviews it’s had over a few generations. It relies heavily (IMP) on platform shocks and the brain to make up for lacking kinematics, to create a firmer platform that the suspension design can’t manage.

Lastly 2x10, can’t think of the year on that. Probably, at the latest, 2014? Weren’t the seat angles still slack then? So you more of the suspension compressed by going uphill as well. It’s not just about pedal bob but the dynamic height as well.

1 Like

Agreed.
Id like to add one more thing to your list: with my old school fully I need to lock and unlock the suspension to manage pedal bob. On a good current-gen XC or even 130 mm trail bike that isn’t necessary anymore, you can leave the suspension open or semi-open (if your damper has a middle position). Plus, these bikes will be vastly superior on descents, too.

Suspension tech (which includes the frame as a crucial element) and frame geometry have made huge leaps forward. And eliminating the FD made that easier.

2 Likes