[How To] Build A Mountain Bike 1X Drivetrain Made Easy – 1×9 1×10 1×11 1×12


mountain bike 1X drivetrain guide
mountain bike 1X drivetrain guide

In this article I aim to give you some tips and product suggestions on how to build up a single front chainring 1X drivetrain (1×9, 1×10, 1×11) for your mountain bike. I hope to make this a simple journey by letting you know my personal selections for the best options and letting you decide which brands and parts would work best for you.

When it comes to mountain bikes these days it seems like everything is getting more complicated and technical. Have you seen the dizzying array of bottom bracket standards and headset choices available? How about trying to dial in fork and shock tuning?

While these new complications are often for the better, because they make our parts stronger, more adaptable, and often lighter weight, they can bog us down mentally and take some of the simple fun out of riding. This is where 1X or single chainring drivetrains come in. The concept isn’t totally new, but these days there are quite a few modern products that make running a single ring drivetrain a lot more easy to set up and ride efficiently.

Why would I want to run a 1X Drivetrain?

  • Lightweight – By getting rid of the front shifter, front derailleur, all of the cabling, and 1 or 2 chainrings you’re going to take quite a bit of weight off your bike. As a bonus this also declutters your handlebar a bit.
  • Simple – Now you can focus on riding and only worrying about shifting your rear derailleur. You no longer have to fear bad chainring combinations and deciding which front ring is going to work best for the next section. This mental stress can get a bit fatiguing and now you can just focus on attacking the trail.
  • Lower maintenance – Without the front derailleur and shifter this a few less components to have to adjust and maintain. You also get to save a bit of money by only replacing a single ring vs. a whole set when they wear out.
  • More ground clearance – When setting up a 1X drivetrain you usually use a much smaller front chainring than a typical multi-chainring setup. This offers greater ground clearance allowing you to clear obstacles more easily.
  • Quiet drivetrain – With the advent of clutch type rear derailleurs (SRAM Type 2 and Shimano Shadow Plus) chainslap is heavily minimized because the derailleur does not move as freely. The chain is also shorter and has more tension in a 1X drivetrain, which also helps on noise with riding over rough terrain.

What cassette should I run for my 1X Drivetrain?

Since you are only running a single front ring you’ll want to have the most range you can get in your cassette. Typical cassettes that a lot of riders use are 11/12T-34/36T  but extended cassette ranges are coming out each model year. SRAM and Shimano both offer a wide range of modern cassettes in 9 to 11 speed models. Check out the cassette extenders at the bottom of this section for options to increase the range of your cassette up to 40T/42T with a special cog.

In 2020, due to the popularity of the 1×12 drivetrain, we’ve updated this article to include these components.

9-Speed Cassettes

Shimano's XT level M770 cassette is an excellent 9-speed choice
Shimano’s XT level M770 cassette is an excellent 9-speed choice

If you’re looking to buy a 9-speed cassette online I suggest checking out JensonUSA.

10-Speed Cassettes

Shimano Cs M771
SRAM’s CS-M771 is a super affordable 10-speed cassette suitable for most builds.

If you’re looking to buy a 10-speed cassette online I suggest checking out JensonUSA for the best selection and prices.

11-Speed Cassettes

Sram Xg 1199
SRAM’s XG-1199 11-speed cassette is super lightweight, strong, and a must for the proper 1x system! Nine of the cogs are CNC machined together out of single block of billet steel for weight and strength.

If you’re looking to buy a 11-speed cassette online I suggest the SRAM XG-1199 at  JensonUSA for the best selection and prices.

12-speed Cassettes

SRAM’s XG-1299 is the premier 12-speed cassette to get if you’re serious. It gives you full-range without the need for a front derailleur.

SRAM has many of our favorite models for 12-speed cassettes. These are some of the recommended models:

What options are available to expand the range of my cassette for 1X drivetrains?

There are several companies that are offering products to expand your cassette range to 40T/42T at the big cog. To do this you typically slide out your 17T cog and add in the new cog at the end of the stack. Some companies (OneUP) even provide a new 16T cog to replace your 15T and 17T cog for smoother shifting. Be sure to make sure the cassette expander cog you choose if made to be compatible with your cassette brand.

wolf tooth cassette expander
Wolf Tooth’s cassette expanders are made in the USA and are available for Shimano and SRAM cassettes
Twenty6 Products cog
Twenty6 Products also offers an American made cassette expansion cog that you can purchase from Competitive Cyclist

If you’re looking for options for a cassette expander cog for your cassette check out the prices and selection at Competitive Cyclist first.

What size and type of rear derailleur do I need for a 1X drivetrain?

When looking at rear derailleurs you’re going to more than likely need a medium cage derailleur. Since you’re not shifting front chainrings, chain growth is not as much of an issue allowing you to run shorter chain lengths as well as using medium or even short cage derailleurs (if your chaingrings/cassette combo allows). Shorter derailleurs also have the side benefit of being more out of the way from rocks and other obstacles that can damage long cage derailleurs more easily. On cassettes with 42 tooth cogs I’d probably stick with a long or medium cage derailleur.

I would suggest looking at getting a clutch type derailleur if you can for a 1X drivetrain setup. These new style derailleurs called Type 2 by SRAM and Shadow Plus by Shimano don’t have the free play in the cage like older derailleurs. They keep tension on the chain much better, making it much harder to drop a chain. Since these derailleurs don’t shake up and down they don’t make hardly any noise, keeping the drivetrain quiet over rough conditions.

9-Speed Derailleurs

Shimano XT M772 rear derailleur
Shimano’s XT 9-speed rear derailleur is a high performing model with a good weight and performance

If you’re looking to buy a 9-speed rear derailleur online I suggest checking out Jenson USA for the best selection and prices.

10-Speed Derailleurs

Shimano XTR M986 Shadow Plus rear derailleur
Shimano XTR M986 Shadow Plus rear derailleur is a great performer but so is the cheaper SLX and SRAM’s offerings work well too.

If you’re looking to buy a 10-speed rear derailleur online I suggest checking out Competitive Cyclist for the best selection and prices.

11-Speed Derailleurs

SRAM XX1 rear derailleur
SRAM’s XX1 rear derailleur was the first 11-speed model available but since then SRAM has put out a more affordable X01 and Shimano has came on board with their own 11-speed offerings.

If you’re looking to buy a 11-speed rear derailleur online I suggest checking out Competitive Cyclist for the best selection and prices.

12-Speed Derailleurs


SRAM is the early market leader with 12-speed components. Shimano should be releasing their line, but we haven’t seen or heard of it yet.

How do you make your Shimano derailleur shift better with an extended cassette?

While having an extended range cassette offers a wide range of gear options to tackle varying terrain, shifting into these different gears can sometimes not be as smooth as you’re used to with a Shimano derailleur. Thankfully there are a couple of companies out there that are making some products to allow for better shifting performance and chain wrap.

OneUp RadR Derailleur Cage

OneUp has designed a new derailleur cage for Shimano Shadow Plus derailleurs that repositions the upper pulley to allow the derailleur to properly shift into the largest cog on an extended range cassette.

OneUp RadR derailleur cage
OneUp RadR derailleur cage

You can pick up the OneUp RadR derailleur cage online through Competitive Cyclist.

Lindarets x Wolf Tooth GoatLink

The GoatLink is made in the USA and changes the mount point for your rear derailleur to improve shifting and chainwrap on 10-speed Shimano derailleurs paired with an extended cassette.

Lindarets X Wolftooth Goatlink
Lindarets X Wolftooth Goatlink

You can purchase the Lindarets x Wolf Tooth GoatLink directly from JensonUSA.

What size and type of chainring should I use?

Chainring technology and sizes have changed a lot with the advent of 1X drivetrains. Most riders are using single ring specific chainrings because they are often built more beefy and have different tooth profiles that are better at retaining a chain. The most advanced chainrings available are designed to be ran without a chainguide using a clutch type derailleur.

The critical piece of hardware in this decision will be your cranks. You’ll need to know your crankset BCD (Bolt Circle Diameter) by measuring it yourself or checking the specs with the manufacturer. If your cranks are a standard 104 BCD then you’ll have the most options available for chainrings. If you have SRAM cranks that have the splined interface (eg X9/X0/AKA/OE S1400/ OE S2210), or XTR M985 cranks with a 88 BCD you’ll have some other options.

Once you’ve ironed out the type of chainring that fits your cranks you’ll need to decide on a tooth count. Most riders feel something in the range of 30-32T is a good size for general trail riding. You can, however, find smaller sizes down in the 20’s that work with some cranksets. If you don’t do a lot of climbing a 32-38T chainring may be what you’re after.

Suggested chainrings

  • Wolf Tooth Components – These rings are made in the USA and designed to be used without a chainguide with a Type 2 or Shadow Plus rear derailleur
    • 104mm BCD | 30-36T
Wolf Tooth Components 104 BCD chainring
Wolf Tooth Components 104 BCD chainring
  • North Shore Billet – Chainring designed to work on SRAM splined cranks. Simply remove the spider and mount the chainring. These chainrings are made in Canada.
    • SRAM spline | 27T-36T
North Shore Billet SRAM spline chainring
North Shore Billet SRAM spline chainring
  • MRP – MRP makes rings for standard 4 bolt mount and SRAM spline mount. Their Bling Rings and Podium chainrings are made in the USA.
    • 104mm BCD | 30-4oT
    • SRAM spline | 28-36T
MRP Bling Ring SRAM spline chainring
MRP Bling Ring SRAM spline chainring
  • RCR Fabrication – RCR is fairly new to making bicycle products but have had great reviews. These chainrings are also made in the USA.
    • SRAM Spline | 32T or 34T
RCR Fabrications SRAM X Series chainrings
RCR Fabrications SRAM X Series chainrings
  • Anderson Machines – The mounting for this chainring is a bit unconventional and you need to do a little bit of filing to your crankset. These chainrings are made in the USA.
    • 104 BCD | 30T
  • Blackspire – They make single speed/1X specific chainrings for a wide array of BCD’s.
    • 104mm BCD | 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39T
    • 94mm BCD | 30, 32, 34, 36, 38T
    • 110mm BCD |  34, 36, 38T
    • 102mm BCD |  32, 33, 34T

All of these companies also make great products with at least a 32T chainring:

  • Niner
  • RaceFace
  • Hope
  • e.thirteen
  • Renthal
  • Gamut
  • Straitline
  • Chromag

You can pick up these chainrings online from JensonUSA. They have the best selection and prices on 1X chainrings.

Do I need a chainguide?

For most riders a chainguide of some sort is going to be a really good idea. As I mentioned, there are some chainrings being made that are designed to be ran without a chainguide. Personally I’d rather sacrifice a little weight to have the insurance that I’m not going to throw a chain hauling through a rough section of trail.

There are a lot of great single ring chainguides on the market. Most of these guides just guide the chain across the top of the chainring but some options offer more protection. How you want to mount your chainguide is going to be a decision you’ll need to make that fits your bike best. Options usually include bottom bracket mounts, seattube mounts, or even direct mounts on some newer frames.

Suggested chainguides

  • MRP – 1X, Lopes SL, AMG
(left to right) MRP 1X, Lopes SL, AMG
(left to right) MRP 1X, Lopes SL, AMG
e.thirteen XCX+ chainguide
e.thirteen XCX+ chainguide
Paul Components Chain Keeper
Paul Components Chain Keeper

What type of chain do I need?

There isn’t really anything special to think about when buying a 1X drivetrain chain unless you’re going with SRAM XX1. You just need to make sure it is 9, 10, or 11 speed compatible with your cassette. Make sure you do fit your chain correctly. You’ll want to make sure the tension is set properly so you’re less likely to throw your chain due to being too loose.

Suggested Chains

KMC X10SL chain
KMC X10SL chain

9-Speed Chains

  • KMC X9SL
  • Shimano HG73, HG93
  • SRAM 971, 991

If you’re looking to buy a 9-speed chain online I suggest checking out Jenson USA for the best selection and prices.

10-Speed Chains

If you’re looking to buy a 10-speed chain online I suggest checking out Jenson USA for the best selection and prices.

11-Speed Chains

If you’re looking to buy a 11-speed chain online I suggest checking out Jenson USA for the best selection and prices.

12-Speed Chains

Commission Disclaimer

Any links to retailers from this article provide a compensation commission back to OldGloryMTB.com for referring customers to their site that buy products. This helps keep us out on the trails checking out new gear to write about here on the site.

I hope this guide has given you a lot of helpful information and suggestions. Let me know what your experiences with 1X drivetrains have been like in the comments.

103 thoughts on “[How To] Build A Mountain Bike 1X Drivetrain Made Easy – 1×9 1×10 1×11 1×12”

  1. JA, this is a great article and very helpful. I’m trying to put together a 1×10 setup and the only thing I can’t figure out is the cranks. SRAM has their XX1 and X01 but these are made for 11 speed. There’s an SRAM Truvativ X0 DH setup that looks like it can take a 1×10 setup, but their site is vague if this is a 10 or 11 setup.
    Wolftooth shows an XX setup but this is meant for a 2×10. Are they just leaving off the smaller ring?
    Thanks for your help

  2. Can I use Shimano XT M780 cranks and change the remove 2 of the 3 chain rings to just one with 32T? I’m building an Intense Carbine AM rig.

    I agree, the section on cranks in this article needs more explaining about cranks for a 1×10 setup, especially using Shimano cranks as this is a common brand that only fits certain bottom brackets.

  3. A quick question, I have a Shimano XT FC M782 crankset with a 104mm BCD and I was going to order a Wolf Tooth 32T chainring, I just wanted to make sure the crank was compatible for a 1×10 if I have a Shimano XT M770 | 11-32T on the back.

  4. Is it worth it to run a wolf tooth chain ring without a clutch RD? Frankly I don’t want to deal with the expense of a complete change over to 10 speed (I used to work in a shop, and man does paying retail now stink…). They suggest a 10 speed chain, will that run smoothly with a 9 speed cassette? The old bike mechanic in me says no way, but perhaps you’ve got better insight than I do. Also, I’m planning on riding Moab and Fruita this coming year, to give you context of where my bike would be most relied on to function without a hitch.

    The set up would be, M772 RD, 9 spd XT cass, 9 or 10 speed Shimano XT chain, 32T 104BDC Wolf tooth chanring.

  5. I don’t think running a Wolf tooth without a clutched rear derailleur is bullet proof enough for desert riding like that. I’d still with a lightweight chainguide from e.13 or MRP and not have to worry about it.

  6. I used your page to rebuild my new Jamis exile frame that Jamis gave me when I broke my original one, They included a new fork and BB – very generous. I made a 1×10 with E-thirtheen 34t ring which I mounted on my old Shimano 105 crank, Shimano M675 Shadow Plus and 11/36t cassette and Shimano Deore shifter. I did not get a chain guide and to date I have had no problem with losing a chain. The only thing I might try different is a 32t ring, I find myself looking for that one extra gear seeing I love those hills. I built this as my winter bike and it has been a lot of fun to ride and to build. Thank you for your acticle, I obviously took full advantage of it.

    Jon Shuttle, Warner, NH

  7. Hey, I am going 1×9 with a 2007 hardrock I would like to know if I run a mid ring from a triple (the 32)
    With a chain guide (home made one) would that hold or be a complete waste of time? Also do I need to shorten the chain if I have no big 42 up front? Thanks from Israel with a tiny budget ( solder in the idf makeing about 125$ a month)

  8. Anyone building up a 1x? these days should consider the benefits of the OneUp conversion. This extra 42t sprocket allows you to retain a decent “granny” even with a 32t or 34t front chainring. Compared to purchasing one of the 1×11 SRAM options, it’s quite affordable.

    I currently have XO-1 (with 34t chainring) on my Santa Cruz Bronson, and it’s truly a new mindset. So, I’m now building up my new 650b hardtail with an XT 11-36t cassette (with OneUp conversion), SLX long cage rear derailleur (with clutch), SLX shifter, RaceFace Narrow-Wide 34t chainring, mounted to a RaceFace Turbine crank.


  9. Hi There J.A

    I’ve been runing a 1×9 with 11-34 cassete with a 30 NW Race Face front ring and i love it, but i’m lacking a grany gear.
    Since i’m using a shimano Zee reer mech i could not use the 42 Cog, but now One Up, wolf tooth and Hope all came out with a 40 Cog and 1up states it suits fine with Zee mech. thinking of cassete and adapter cog change…

    What’s your thoughts about that?

  10. I’d go for the 40. I think it’d work fine once you’ve got your tension adjusted. I personally haven’t tried this exact setup but it sounds like OneUP has.

  11. Hi,

    would it be possible to combine a XTR (M985) crank with a wolftooth chainring and a SRAM X11 cassette ?



  12. Are any of these setups compatible with road STI shifters, either Shimano or SRAM? I am trying to see if its possible to put together a 1 x 10 or 11 setup with something like a 11-34 cassette with a single 34T chainring for a touring bike with drop handlebars. Thanks for any help.

  13. Hi,

    Great article :-)

    I have a new bike with thenew Shimano 40/30/22 carnk.
    Unfortunately, this crank comes with 96BCD and there is no compatible narrow/wide chainrings in the market (yet).

    I was wondering if I could use the original mid range ring (30T) + a chainguide (I already have a clutch rear mech). will it work?

  14. As others have pointed out already, this is a great article!  Not many common folk can pluck down the greenbacks for an entire 1×11 group at once, I imagine.  So here's what I'm looking at… I have a 2013 Giant TranceX 29er on which I immediately upgraded the drivetrain to X9 (except for the front derailleur, which is still x7).  I have seen the X01 crank on sale for just a little over 200 bucks.  Could I simply swap out the existing crank with the X01, a 32t or 34t chainring, shorten the chain and go to town?  My x9 rear derailleur is the type 2 with a long cage.  My typical riding is pretty much all mountain.



  15. You should be able to upgrade your existing crankset with a chainring designed for 1X drivetrains. I’ve suggested a few in the article. No need for the X01 crankset.

    The tooth profile of the chainring and the Type 2 derailleur should keep the chain on, but you probably should get a chainguide for added insurance since you ride more rugged terrain.

  16. Thanks for your quick reply! Yes, I didn’t actually catch that on the first read… nowhere do you mention swapping out the crank for a 1x unit. My initial concern was that with my current 2x crank, shifting to the opposite cogs might be problematic. Have you found that to not be the case? I figured a 1x crank, like the X01, would have the centered chainring and would provide much more reliable shifting. I worry about this because with my current X9 type 2 2×10 setup, riding on the big chainring/big cog and small chainring/small cog causes some missed shifts.

    Thanks again!


  17. I’m building a 1×10 on a 2012 BlkMrkt Killswitch. I’ll be running a 32t NW RaceFace chainring on RaceFace Respond Cranks. I’m pairing a Saint shifter with a Zee rear and running a basic 11-36 cassette for starters. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Thanks for the great article!

  18. Hi Mate,
    I am looking to convert my 2013 Carrera Kraken to run a 1 x 9 set up,.I am a complete novice and wanted to see if i could run this with the same cranks and BB. Cassette:SRAM 12-32t/SRAM Cranks:SRAM X5 42/32/22/SRAM , Thinking of a small chain device on the front with wolftooth front ring ( what size would you recommend) I actually wanted to add the shimano Zee front crank but dont know it this would fit my square tapered BB. Also wanted to add the Shawdow 10+ rear derailler. Would i be better just replacing the full groupset?

    Thanks, superb website.

  19. If I understand what you have currently correct you will probably need to run the same crankset but you need a new derailleur (clutch type), a wolftooth chainring, and a chainguide. Zee front crank won’t work with square taper. I would go with a 30T chainring up front.

  20. Superb mate thanks,
    So keep my same cranks – remove the chainrings – Add the new wolftooth 30t up front with chain Guide.
    Remove the front mech – front shifter.
    Add the new rear derailleur – I am going with the shadow 10+ ( clutch)

  21. Could you recommend a rear derailleur that would work best with this set up?

    Cassette:SRAM 12-32t – Wolftooth 30t front ring – and chain device?

  22. I’d stick with SRAM. X9 or X0. If you’re sticking with 1×9 you can’t get a clutch style 9 speed derailleur. You can google some people that have taken a 10 speed derailleur and made it work but with a chainguide and that sprocket you shouldn’t be dropping any chains. Just make sure you choose a chainguide with top and bottom guides like the Lopes from MRP or e.13.

  23. Do ihave to extend more my chain for my rd will at is original tensioN?nrunning a 30teeth front

  24. Emmanuel Estrella

    Hi. I have shimano m980 race 104bcd and an e13 32t. Ha ing trouble finding a screw
    that would fit that will also retain the cover of the crank..cn you suggest where
    to get these chainring screws?

  25. Hi, I currently have a Shimano XTR (2012 season, 10 speed) 2x on a 2014 Santa Cruz Tallboy LTc. I almost never ride in the larger ring, always the granny ring (28tooth). The drivetrain came off of a previous bike and the big ring has almost no teeth anyways…so the question is, for a 1X setup, why not just remove all of the front derailleur and shifter pieces? Or do i really need to keep the front derailleur in place for a chainguide of sorts?

  26. I would keep the front derailleur. It’s only on the newest 1x drivetrains that you don’t have to use a chainguide or front derailleur to keep the chain on the front chainring. The tooth profile isn’t designed to work without something to keep it in place on the older cranksets.

  27. Hey! Building a 1×7 from a 3×7 on a beloved older Trek 800 (63mm shell). Removed the old Shimano crankset with triple ring (BB spindle approx 123mm). Wanna run a SRAM S600 single ring 33t with guard. Needs to use a Truvative Powerspline BB but not sure what spindle width would preserve a good chainline? They make others but 113 and 118mm seem the more common. Can you suggest or predict a good spindle width from what I’ve provided? I understand I may need to reconsider the long cage Shimano derailleur and also a chain guide, but most pressing prob is spindle width/chain line. Any help much appreciated! Link to crankset and BB below:


  28. Hard to find good info..great resource!

    I’ve got a 3×7 to 1×7 conversion on a beloved older Trek 800 mtb with 63mm frame slot, using a square-tapered BB with approx 123mm spindle. Any idea what spindle width Truvative Powerlink BB I’d need to preserve my chain line approx where old middle chain ring used to be? New crankset is a SRAM S600 single ring 33t, 175mm, 104 BCD with a guard. I know i may need to reconsider my long cage Shimano RD and also perhaps a chain retainer, but stuck until I know which BB spindle width. I see they have 113 and 118 commonly available but have others as well. Any idea? I’ll include the link below. Thanks!


  29. Hi Guys

    Would be grateful if some of you tech build advice?

    Im building a Intense Tracer T29 most of my riding will be done around Glentress,
    I already have a rear Sram Derailleur carbon 9spd that I wish to build on, The tracer uses a high direct mount front Derailleur, which I believe sram do x9 3×10 or x0 2×10, this is where I get a little bit lost :-(
    Could any of you guys give me ideas of good combos for a setup obviously using sram crank set whether it be double chain ring or triple chain ring, also advice on rear cassette ratios would be a huge help, I am a relatively fit guy on up hill climbs if this helps in regards to ratio advice.

    Forever Grateful


  30. Cool, I am planning more or less the same build but I’ll put it onto a specialized enduro:) What length on the chain are you using? Also, do you use a chainguide or maybe just a bash?

    Kindest regards,

  31. I have a 9speed hg-61 12-36..Can I convert it to 10speed by adding a 42t cog using a shimano zee rd and shifter?

  32. Good afternoon!

    I would like to start out by saying that this is an awesome article. I have not see this much solid information on 1x in one place anywhere else on the web. Thank you!

    I just purchased a used 2014 Specialized Crave Pro 29er that was converted to a 1×10 using a Wolf Creek 34t 104BCD chain ring. I love the frame and setup except for one thing. It came with the stock Specialized 175mm crank arms which I want to swap out with 170mm crank arms. Ideally I would like to spend as little as possible on this change. I have an awesome set of FSA K Force Lite 2X cranks that I would love to use, but it is 94BCD. I only see one (Blackspire Narrow Wide Snaggletooth) that supports 94BCD, but I am not sure if this is even a compatible match. Alternatively, I could go buy a new crank that supports 104BCD (which there are plenty of) and just use the Wolf Creek chain ring which so far has been completely awesome.

    Any recommendations would be appreciated.


  33. I have been doing exactly this for the last month on a 1×9 setup using a regular ramped 32t middle ring from a triple ring setup (9speed raceface race ring). I also am using a custom fabricated chainguide at the top of the chainring (made from a dishwasher bracket-the thing that keep diswasher from tilting forward when the door is opened, bolted to the braze on for an E-type front mech) and a regular XT Rear mech. It has worked perfectly so far. Shorten your chain to proper length to maximize chain tension. In largest rear cog the rear dérailleur cage should be at 45 deg-or close to it. Also account for fact that suspension fully compressed can increase effective chain stay length (it does not on my specialized fsr bike). You should probably add a couple of links if you notice the derailleur cage pulling forward when you compress the suspension. Park tool has a great section on chain length. Peace.

  34. Also, don’t forget to get some shorter single speed (6mm) chainring bolts for converting the triple crankset to single. Or you can use washers on your existing chainring bolts. Or you can grind down your existing chainring bolts with a belt sander-be careful though.

  35. Hi!
    I tried to use RF NW 34T on shimano FC-M675 with XT 11-36T cassette (without 17T but with Hope 40T-rex). There is no spacer on the left side of my bottom bracket and there are ISCG-05 tabs and shimano 2.5mm spacer on the right side of BB. The bottom bracket width (with ISCG-05 tabs) is 73 mm.
    The chain falls outside from the cassette when shifted to 11 in the rear.
    I have to put spacers between crank and the RF NW, am I right? Could you adwise me- what size of spacer should I use?

    Thanks and the best regards,

  36. Emmanuel Estrellaa

    Hi. I am using an xtr with 32t nw e13 single chainring + sram xx rd
    at the rear with 11-42t one up + xo shifter. When shifting 36–> 42t…i hear
    a short grind before going to 42t..do i need a longer b screw? Thanks.

  37. Nice piece J.A. I don’t know if you have heard of XKM Chainring but they are quite an affordable alternative to if you can’t get any of the USA made parts on sale.

  38. JA I am trying to convert my 2013 rumblefish. I bought a 34T NW raceface and attempting the replace the chainrings on my SRAM X7. I picked up a MRP G2 Mini but I guess my bike doesn’t have a bracket to attach that. Is this a decent set up with the 11-36 cassette in the back? I do climb a lot and spent most of my time climbing in my 33 chainring. I also need helping finding a chain guide that fits my rig.

  39. I tink 34 x 36 in the back should be pretty good. I’m not sure what cassette you’re using exactly but they have the single 42t cogs you can buy for your cassette if you think you need it down the road. Your chainguide probably needs to be a bottom bracket mounted version since you don’t have ISCG tabs. Just return the G2 you have now and get one that is designed to be BB mounted. Take off your drive side bottom bracket cup and the correct spacers and put the G2 on and then your BB cup back in.

  40. This article has become one that I read about every other week… I’m itching to pull the trigger and go to a 1×11 setup and am wondering what your thoughts might be on the following setup:

    32t AbsoluteBLACK Chainring (Cannondale Hollowgram Cranks)
    XTR Di2 Shifter, Display, Cables, and Rear Derailleur
    XTR 11s Cassette 11-40
    KMC 11s Chain
    No Chain Guide

    Do you think there are any special considerations I might need to make?

    BTW, the bike is a Cannondale Scalpel 29er Black Inc.

    Thank you for your thoughts and consideration of my project.

  41. I am busy with a 1 x 10 project , I have a 30t Wolftooth 104 front chainring on a SLX Crank , I purchaced a 42 Wolftooth rear cog to add on the existing M771 cassette , I removed the 17cog to make way for the 42 , Will a Shimano RD-M986 GS Shadow Derailleur suit this set up ?

  42. Hi there,
    Finally an article that gives answers.
    Sorry for my bad English, but I am Dutch speaking.
    I ride a handbike with a X9 9 speed and a 36 cassette. The smallest front chainring is a 22 for climbing. Last hear I rode the MontVentoux but felt that the gearing was just a little to big, wich caused me to stop from time to time to give my shoulders some rest. OK, I should train a little bit harder, but note that I am not dissabled and need to train my leges too in order to combine climbing the handbike, racebike and running in one day! Do
    you think it is possible to mount a 40 or 42 t so I could keep on going and lose less time white resting?

  43. Hi

    Thanks for the great article and advice.
    I currently have a Shimano XT (2×10 speed) on a 2013 Anthem X 29er.
    Rear cassette 11/36 XT, Crank 2x (28 tooth small ring) I almost never ride in the larger ring, always the 28 tooth ring.
    I want to change to a 1×10 setup but am not sure what the correct setup will be to maintain my present configuration.
    I plan on using a MRP chain guard.
    If I go to a 32 front ring and maintain the 11/36 will the effect be evident? if so what would you suggest?
    Does Shimano make a 32 tooth main chain ring (I cant seem to find one online)
    If I add a extra ring to the cassette (1×11) will I need to change the shifter and derailer?


  44. Yes there will be a bit a difference between at 28t front and 32t front but not horrible. You should look at all the single ring chainring suggestions in this article you won’t find one made by Shimano themselves. Any of the companies I suggested make a chainring that fits your cranks. Yes you would need a new shifter and derailleur to increase it to 11 speeds.

  45. To explore gearing

    I am considering a Stumpjumper fst 29″ with a 11-36 and removing cogs 15 and 17 and installing 16 cog then using a 40 or 42 for granny gearing and up front a 32 t
    Plan on using the stock XT derailleur with the 2015 stumpy comp.

  46. I have a 2014 Specialized Hardrock

    I am wanting to go 1 x 10 and have absolutely no idea what goes with what… Most I know is I’m looking at the SRAM X9 Type-2 10speed derailleur. Will I be able to use the Wolf Tooth 104mm BCD chainring and what other components would I need so it works with my bike?

  47. Hi I am new to all this bike maintenance. I have a pivot mach 429 2014 model. It has XT components. 2 by at the front 10 at the back. I wold like to make it single gear/cog at the front. I ride mainly cross country BUT a little down hill. I am not sure on the specifics of the derailuer etc. Do I eed to by a clutch derailluer or is mine already a clutch derailuer? Also I notice that some front cogs are almost hollow and some have a small diameter centre?

  48. Not wanting to spring for a new crank set, I finally pulled the trigger and picked up a Blackspire Narrow Wide Snaggletooth 94BCD chain ring to put on my FSA K Force Lite cranks. With regard to the SRAM slanted Blackspire 94BCD chain rings fitting on the FSA cranks it works perfect. The tolerances are about as tight as you can get without it being off. I have a 36T chain ring and just ordered a 32T chain ring to give me options.

    I also picked up a Wolf Tooth 40T and 16T clog to put in my cassette. I am waiting to install when I get a new cassette and chain I ordered.

    With all this I should be able to have it all where ever I am riding.

  49. Any thoughts on adding a spacer to the crank to effectively move the position of the chain ring closer to the center of the bike? I am thinking that this will position the chain better when in the lowest gear on the casette.

    Is this necessary? Thanks for your advise.

  50. Hi I’m happily running sram xo cranks with the wolf tooth 42t conversion on my 10 speed cassette. My question is this. Can I simply use a 11speed cassette, my wheels can do the hub conversion, with the 10 speed derailleur? Obviously I will have to use a sram 11 speed shifter. This will save so much money on the 11 speed rear mech. Oh and I’ll have to run an 11 speed chain

  51. No you cannot effectively run the 11 speed cassette with a 10 speed derailleur. It all needs to match. Why not just get a cassette expander cog in 40 or 42T instead. It gives you more range and then you can use everything you already have. I just updated a couple of good options in this article from Wolf Tooth and Twenty6 Components.

  52. Great info throughout!
    I’m building a 2012 Trek EX9 frame. Its a blank slate right now. I want to build it with an 11 x 42 cogset. It requires a BB92 or GXP bottom bracket. What crankset would you recommend that wouldn’t break the bank ? Also which derailleur would you suggest as the best? What type chain guide if any will work with this BB set up?

  53. If I use the RADr cage do I need the Goat Link and conversely if I use the Goat Link do I need the RADr cage?

  54. Shimano XT level or SRAM X9/X0 are going to be the best value to performance value in parts selection. If your bike has ISCG tabs that would dictate your chain guide. If you don’t have tabs then just get a BB or seattube mounted chainguide.

  55. Does anyone know if you can use mix a wolf front chain ring with shimano cranks with a sram cassette? Have some XTR cranks with the wolf 88 BCD and want to use a Sram cassette

  56. J.A I want to convert my 2012 XTR 3×10 with Wolf 32 1x is that possible and do I keep cassette at the back the same?

  57. Hey,
    Want to convert a FSA K Force Light 2×10 to a 1×10 not sure as to whether a 104bcd single ring will bolt straight on without some sort of gear changing issues due to chainring being offset as its originally a 2×10 crankset or should I opt for a x1 crankset?


  58. I am trying to set up a Sram XO or XX 1X10 drivetrain with a 40 tooth rear big cog ring but all the Sram 10 speed deraileur say max 36. Do you use a SRAM 11 speed rear deraileur with a 10 speed XO or XX shifter and just adjust the limiter screw for 10 speed? or is there any SRAM XO or XX 10 speed that will work with a 40 or 42 tooth rear cog?

  59. Or go xtrm970 triple blackspire 28t granny + original ti carbon middle 32t + blackspire 36t outer with 11-32 cassette and have a mad bike

  60. I’d like to go 1 x 10 and currently have sram x5 fat crankset 22/34t and X9 rear derailler with 11-36t cassette. I’m looking at RaceFace or Wolf Tooth 104mm BCD . Can I kept my current Crankset? Are these components will work? What other components do I need for this?

  61. Seems alot get into single chainring, anybody consider hammerschmidt crank?
    22T with 32 cog have lower gearing than 30×42
    Second hand crank cost about 200 I guess.

  62. J.A. – Nice article… I am in the process of building a throwback 2001 Specialized Hardrock Sport. Going 1×10.
    I am looking at a Shimano ZEE Crankset and trying to figure out what Cassette to pick as well as my derailleur. How can I tell if this bike is Chain guide compatible… I just stumbled onto this article which I am glad i did but shoot me an email freshman.ryan@gmail.com. I am new to bike building but didnt want to tear apart my nice bike and thought this no newly powdercoated throw away frame would be a fun project.

  63. I’m liking the new XT 11 speed cassette and derailleur, but a bit worried that 30T chain ring up front won’t be enough for the longer steeper climbs we have. So I’m trying to figure out the least expensive crankset that will at least give me the option to put a 28T chain ring up front. After reading a bit, I guess I understand that the best solution would be a crank with a direct mount chain ring; either Race Face or SRAM cranks. So to make a long story short, is it possible to purchase X7 or X9 SRAM cranks without rings and spider and put on a NW direct mount chain ring? Will X7/9 give me the proper chain line for direct mount chain ring? And could you please tell me the difference between SRAM GXP and BB30 cranks? Which one to buy? Thanks for any help getting through this technical mess!

  64. To make this simple I was just stick with the 30T chainring. It’s easier to deal with and you should be able to climb fine with a big gear out back. The GXP vs BB30 would depend on your bike. You need to know what bottom bracket you have currently. BB30 is press fit vs GXP that is threaded.

  65. OK I have a 2×9 set up now full suspension fsr can I put a 30t-32t on the front and leave the back like it is for now until I’m ready to up grade to the 11 rear. I have a sram cassette on there now can put the xx1 11 on without having to use an adaptor.

  66. I am interested in building a 1×11 setup, 34t race face front single gear, 11t-42t , with 18t-45t conversion from one up. The bike shops are says I need a different rear hub. I currently have SRAM X7 hub. What are you thoughts?

  67. You can use an expander cog with a 1×9 set-up? Everything else I’ve read on the net says manufacturers of these cogs all state they will only work with 1×10. Clarification anyone?

  68. I bought a SRAM 30T NW 94BCD chainring for $16 on e-bay and just filed down the feet to fit my FSA crank.

  69. I did the same thing with my bike, 1 X 9 ( 32 Font X 12/34 Rear) removed the front D, the large & small chain ring, shortened the chain. Worked well but you do have chain drop on the front because of the ramped teeth (made for shifting) on the extreme top and bottom gears on the back. I changed to a “single speed” 32 on the front and never had any problems with chain drop since, not using a chain guide but I did install a “3RD Eye Chain Watcher Chain Deflector” from Jenson Bike $7.50

  70. Thanks for great info here. Any thoughts on running the Shimano xt m8000 with an oval ring up front and 10 spd cassette in back? The m8000 is listed as 11spd and i cant find anything saying it wont work with a 10 spd cassette. Should this be an issue in your opinion?

  71. currently my wife’s fat bike has SAMOX ALLOY CRANK 175mm WITH BCD104 4 ARM, EB2401 BB SET FOR 9-SP and I am ready to gut this and convert her to a 1x; any recommendations also the rear cassette and derailer are shimano cs-hg20 9-speed 11-34 with a Shimano RD390-L Acera SGS 9-speed; I am wanting this to be a 11 speed upgrade, torn between shimano and scram; recomendations? I just had new wheel set built using DT swiss big ride hubs.

  72. Hi I have xt m771 10 speed 11-34 cassette and I want use this cassette with oneup 16 and 40t cog. Can I use this cassette with 40t in 1×10 system?

  73. I have a 2016 giant atx, i casnt find the bcd, and i have no clue if the parts i want to buy would be a nice set up, i want somthing durable and i want a 10 speed cassette and a 30-34 chain ring, any help on what would be a nice set up? Thanks! -Alex

  74. Hey guys, I managed to build a 1 x 10 drivetrain for 82.5 dollars, I used a shimano deore 10 speed rear deraileur (29$ plus shipping which could be even cheaper if you live in the states), a chinese branded Sunshine 36-11t cassette(20$) that is really cheap and seems to be fairly good for the price and works with shimano components and a 10 speed shimano deore shifter, only the right one (33$), i already have a chain ring but you could get a chinese branded one for like 15 bucks. Enjoy :)

  75. Wow! Great read. I had some doubts when decided to go with one ring. First i started riding without a front derailleur but with a chain guide and few months later i decided to get a zee derailleur with a clutch and never looked back. This was the best upgrade I made in my bike.

  76. Thanks for the article. I want to change my wife’s 3×9, to 1×10. If like to gear it with, 30 chainring & cassette with a 46.
    Any thoughts?


  77. Great article. Very simplified and straightforward black-and-white thank you very much. I am in the process of converting my 1998 Santa Cruz Heckler to a 1X. Excited to change it up and make it even more lighter at 26 pounds this will shave off some more weight dropping the front components. Great article and I agree the vendors you mentioned have great prices and availability especially now as we enter the summer of 2021 and the mask mandate has been lifted so most of the coyotes pretty dogs and bighorn sheep on the trails now they are not wearing masks at all which is completely amazing. Take care. Matt Colorado

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.