Ridden and Reviewed: SRAM’s Force CX1 Single Chainring Cyclocross 1x Drivetrain

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It's finally here: the SRAM Force CX1 single chainring cyclocross group. There's really only two specific items needed for the CX1 drivetrain - the chainring and the rear derailleur.

It’s finally here: the SRAM Force CX1 single chainring cyclocross group.

After months of rumors and spy photos, the day is here. SRAM’s long-awaited single chainring CX1 cyclocross group is official.

SRAM's new Force CX1 single chainring cyclocross drivetrain on our Felt test bike made for a fun, challenging mountain bike ride at Press Camp but we kept up. © Cyclocross Magazine

SRAM’s new Force CX1 single chainring cyclocross drivetrain on our Felt test bike. © Cyclocross Magazine

As of the exact minute this post went live, the embargo muzzles have been lifted and we’re allowed to give you the full breakdown of the Force CX1 single ring component offerings, as well as our riding impressions (yes, we’ve touched it, photographed it, and ridden it way back in January). First a quick summary…

SRAM Force CX1 Cyclocross Component Group at a Glance:

    • Level: Force CX1, as the name suggests, will be a Force-level component group, and will share many of the exact same components as SRAM Force, including right shifters, cassettes, chains and crank arms
    • New Components: There are four CX1 components:
      1. The Force CX1 crank arms (same as Force 22 compact, but with CX1 graphics)
      2. The Force CX1 X-SYNC chainring, with wide/narrow teeth and mud-specific cutaways, in 38, 40, 42, 44, and 46 tooth sizes, with 110mm hidden bolt BCD
      3. The Force Cx1 left brake lever (a gutted DoubleTap shifter)
      4. The Force CX1 Type 2 rear derailleur (short and medium cage)
    • Weight: Force CX1 will save about 170-180g over a double chainring Force 22 group on average
    • Brakes: Only mechanical DoubleTap/brake levers for now, HydroR implied and any road 11-speed DoubleTap lever (Red, Force, upcoming Rival) should be compatible with the rear derailleur. Force CX1 does not include brakes, but would be paired with Avid Shorty Ultimate cantilever brakes or Avid BB7 S or SL disc brakes.
    • Cost: SRAM says the Force CX1 will cost a few dollars more than a 2x Force group because of the more complicated rear derailleur that more than makes up for the savings from skipping the front derailleur and shifter (see our price table below). The CX1 crankset with a ring will cost about the same as a Force double crankset.
    • Speeds/Compatability: The X-SYNC chainrings and Force CX1 rear derailleur will be backwards-compatible with 10-speed shifters and chains, but rings are built for SRAM cranks (Red, Force) featuring the hidden chainring bolt, yet should be compatible with any 110BCD crankset after removing the hidden bolt nut, according to SRAM. XX1 and X01 11-speed MTB rear derailleurs are not compatible with the Force shifters, and Type 2 mountain bike derailleurs are not substitutes for the CX1 rear derailleur. X01 DH rear derailleurs should work but lack barrel adjusters. The Type 2 rear derailleur will not work with two chainring cranksets.
    • Availability: Summer 2014

 

Got all that? If that piqued your interest, keep reading for component specifics, details full photo galleries and pricing.

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35 comments
craigmacintyre
craigmacintyre

I keep reading on the interweb about how 1x11 is the second coming ... uh, not so fast there SRAM.  First, it is awesome for XC or downhill mountain biking but is the big suck for trail/endurance riding.  Or maybe I need new legs ... I suspect that it will return most cross racing to 1x (like I remember it from the 80's) for all but some seriously sick courses.  Gravel - maybe... I do single speed so I am no reference but on mountain gravel races the lack of gear spread will be a hindrance.  The one that made me laugh was triathlon.  Time trials?  Maybe depending on the course profile but triathlon?  Seriously ... perhaps SRAM should work on an electronic tri group (something actually useful) before making this claim.  Go try and ride Great Floridian, Branson, Lake Placid, LeadMan, the old Silverman course, etc ... with a single ... that will make for some SLOW run times.  Sure IM Florida or AZ  but most others .... NOT.


I read a slick hands on review at "Peleton" and it seems that this works like butter ... very cool and may be a great upgrade for my cross bike ... but I think the buck stops there.


Final note: anyone see the (very cool) irony in SRAM being the first to market with a WiFli style setup and simultaneously marketing 1x11 as the future for just about everything??? ;)  I LOVE TECHNOLOGY.

Hemanth Shenoi
Hemanth Shenoi

Seriously contemplating this drivetrain for the 2014 Cross season. Hell I never seem to shift out of the big ring anyway with my puny power, may as well loose some weight/complexity!

briscoelab
briscoelab

Hopefully this won't be as botched as the brakes.


But, seriously... how about one product that actually works and is available before pumping out more "new and improved"? I guess they are preying on the people that are too foolish to realize they can just buy a narrow-wide style chainring and have the same functionality for $40. Throw on an x9 type 2 short cage, if you want to spend a bit more money. Most people can take the internals out of their left lever is so desired ;)


How in the world can this setup be more expensive than a regular 2x11 force setup? 1 ring on the crankset, no FD, and no shifting internals on the left lever. So, they are basically saying the RD is more expensive than all of those things. 


Not trying to be a hater here. I just wish they'd get one thing right... then move on to the new products. I'm sure that in 6-10 months they will release a new version and make all of the early adopters mad anyhow :)

David Ugarte
David Ugarte

Why would a wookie, an 8 foot tall wookie, want to live on endor with a bunch of 3 foot tall ewoks?

David Ugarte
David Ugarte

Talk about Pricey! I bought the retroshift 1x10 setup brake lever/shifter and 10spd derailleur.. Then I got a 105 cassette and chain, also I bought a race face narrow wide chainring and the total for everything was like $350

gest24
gest24

@cyclocross it's meh... Wolf tooth 110 ring with a type 2 rear mech is cheaper than a whole new drivetrain.

Cyclocross Magazine
Cyclocross Magazine

"Almost all bike companies will have a SRAM Force CX1 model for 2015" -SRAM's CX1 product manager

warx
warx

I just built a 1x10 with an MTB RD, 11-36. This I see has two advantages. First it does indeed go to 11 but remains road-shifter compatible (why did SRAM move away from their MTB-road compatibility now?). Second the crank being 110bcd but taking a wide range of rings. I'm on 130mcd red GXP crank (since I also use single speed Beer EBB) and it's pretty limited. 


I think 11spd makes sense my 10spd 11-36 feels like it has some big hops in it! I'm also on hydro brakes so this still won't work for me either. 

Pablo Cuevas
Pablo Cuevas

Kiero esooo en mi ciclaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!!

Cyclocross Magazine
Cyclocross Magazine

Daniel Wade, no hydro version yet - but if you read the post, there's nothing CX1-specific about the levers anyway besides the left DoubleTap guts removed. So future HydroR 11-speed levers should work fine. CX1 does not include brakes of any kind.

Daniel Wade
Daniel Wade

Show us the brakes. Are they hydraulic or what? Those shifters show otherwise, but surely there's a hydro version.

Kyle Warras
Kyle Warras

"3. Cost savings." However this is more expensive than the double group, and it doesn't even have a $400 cassette. SRAM already engineered a similar derailleur for XX1, so what makes this one that much more expensive?

Michael Edmonds
Michael Edmonds

other than 11spd and maybe some weight...what advantage does this have over my current setup: Rival shifters, wolftooth chainring, X9-type2 RD? I haven't dropped a chain yet, and I don't care about disc brakes.

cyclocross
cyclocross moderator

@briscoelab  The ring is also more expensive (and has more go into it) than just a standard chainring. 

cakebikecake
cakebikecake

@waterrat77 I like Shimano, but I wouldn't 't go as so far as to say that SRAM is made by Beelzebub's little helpers :-)

cyclocross
cyclocross moderator

Daniel:

  • Brakes: Only mechanical for now, HydroR implied and any road 11-speed DoubleTap lever (Red, Force, upcoming Rival) should be compatible with the rear derailleur. 

    No reason you won't be able to use 11-speed HydroR levers when they're available again. 

craigmacintyre
craigmacintyre

@cyclocross @gest24The problem is that this is one of the most expensive derailleurs made.  I get that it is going to be better than just a Type2 (big pulleys with wide narrow, different movement path) but I suspect that for 95% of us, there will be no functional difference (with running a wide/narrow and a type 2).  If you are a Shimano guy, you are just out of luck.

craigmacintyre
craigmacintyre

@gest24 And you will have to put an inline barrel adjuster in but that is no big deal

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