Right before the holidays, we highlighted the release of a new wide-range 11-36 SRAM 1170 cassette aimed at the CX1 racers looking for a lower gear for hilly courses or the long grinding climbs often found in gravel grinder races.
We’ve now got one on hand for review, and as part of our ramp-up on gravel content, we have an in-person look and first ride impressions of the 11-36 1170 cassette by SRAM.
Weight weenie details: Our cassette has an actual weight 368 grams: Just 2 grams more than the list weight. As a comparison, the popular 11-28 tooth version of the 1170 cassette weighs 256 grams, which is a full 112 grams lighter. To put that into perspective, that difference is more than the weight of a typical big chainring on a cyclocross bike, but less than the expected weight savings of also removing the front derailleur, cables, housing and shifter guts.
Why is such a weight comparison warranted? The 11-36t 1170 cassette is not only marketed to CX1 users, but SRAM has stated that this cassette will only be compatible with “a Force CX1 Medium Cage Rear Derailleur featuring X-HORIZON™ straight parallelogram shifting.” The new cassette is not intended to amplify the range of a 22-speed drivetrain, but extend that of a singlering system.
Gear ratio geeks: With the 36t cog, you can add a lower gear than what’s typically seen on a double chainring cyclocross bike. For example, if paired with a 42t CX1 chainring, a 42 x 36 ends up being close to a 36 x 31 gear, and lower than a 36 x 28, probably the most common low gear on a stock cyclocross bike.
The new cassette’s cogs are: 11-12-13-15-17-19-22-25-28-32-36
In Issue 27, we had an in-depth look at the SRAM CX1 group, along with wide/narrow chainring options from Race Face, Wolf Tooth, and Rotor. One downside to all the setups we mentioned was the gearing limitations for longer mixed terrain and gravel events, when the extreme high and low gears are needed on pavement and long climbs, respectively. At least with the new 11-36 cassette, the possibilities for finding the right single chainring gear grow substantially, especially if you’re fortunate to have several chainring options to pair with it.
Check out the table below of the 36/46t double chainring equivalents if you’re debating whether CX1 (or single chainring) can work for your offseason adventures:
SRAM CX1 11-36 1170 Cassette 36/46 Double Chainring Equivalent Gears
Installation and Observations:
If you’re swapping out an 11-26, 11-28, or 11-32 cassette for the new 11-36 cassette and keeping your same chainring, it’s a pretty simple installation. But there’s two adjustments you’ll likely need to make:
- Adjust the B-screw on the CX1 rear derailleur to ensure the top pulley clears the biggest cog.
- Add links to your chain as necessary to accommodate the larger cog.
We highly recommend checking the chain length before attempting to shift into the large cog, as a too-short chain can wreak havoc on your derailleur and derailleur hanger. You may be able to avoid lengthening your chain if at the same time you downsize your front chainring by the same number of teeth you’re adding in the back (or if you were already riding with a too-long chain).
First ride impressions:
You might be concerned an 11-36t cassette would have noticeable large jumps in gearing that would feel too big, and if you’re used to riding an 11-26t, that might be the case. But if you’re used to 10-speed cassettes, or reserve this monster cassette for longer, hillier, or more leisurely rides, you likely won’t notice the jumps. If you’ve let your racing form slide, or put on a few winter hibernation pounds, you’ll really appreciate the lower gear, as it extends the capability of a CX1-equipped cyclocross race bike for offseason adventures (or keeps you on your bike when you’re not motivated to run).
Adding a cassette of this range preserves many of the salient features of a one chainring system, with better chain security and a simpler drivetrain to adjust and maintain. Eliminating your front shift gives you one less thing to think about, regardless of the duration and terrain of the ride. The one benefit that largely gets lost by going to such an extreme large cassette cog is the weight savings. But we’re guessing it’s only a matter of time before there’s a lighter, 1190 version from SRAM.
Would the new 11-36 cassette be our ideal choice for a hilly, 100-mile paved and gravel event like the Lost and Found? No, but if a singlespeeder can finish in the top ten, the cassette certainly provides plenty of gearing options to help complete such an event. For shorter, less hilly gravel rides, the chain security and simplicity of the single chainring option might be ideal.
SRAM CX1 1170 11-36t Cassette Specs:
Weight: 368g actual, 366 list
Materials: Steel cogs, aluminum carrier on last three cogs
Compatibility: SRAM Force CX1 rear derailleur, not designed for SRAM WiFli rear derailleurs
More info: sram.com