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All the high-end MTB, and road racers seem to have somewhere between ... 6 and 12 gears. NO derailleur up-front, only a few to scroll through in back. I get the KISS principle behind it; I like having first gear made extra-extra large to make up for missing lower gear elsewhere. Seriously why is this so popular? All the $5000+ bikes have ONE deralleur and limited gears. Is it really better to design gearsets this way? Why? Is it faster? More durable?

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    I've noticed that this question was down voted write a bit. @Tappee7 that might be not as much due to the question per se, but due to the tone. It may sound to some as if you were stipulating people to be complete idiot's for choosing 1x over 2x (3x is as good as dead for various reasons). A more neutral text that puts the question first and leaves it the rant might receiver better approval. (However, it might very well still be a duplicate.) – gschenk Feb 2 '17 at 6:57
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    "All the $5000+ bikes have ONE deralleur and limited gears". I think you should probably do a bit of research @Tapper7. Although some high end road bikes use 1x systems, the vast majority still use 2x drivetrains. And although 1x is definitely more popular for mountain biking, you can still find some very high end bikes using 2x, especially for cross-county and endurance disciplines. – Drew Feb 2 '17 at 8:31
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    @gschenk The tone is obnoxious but, even if the question were edited for tone, the premise of the question is completely false. It simply isn't true that "all... road racers seem to have somewhere between ... 6 and 12 gears. No derailleur up front." It's also not true that any bicycle component bigger than a screw can be made for a third of a penny. Multiple reasons to downvote. – David Richerby Feb 2 '17 at 12:44
  • @drew /"all" wascatch all term for 'many' or most the Q is legit; the downvotes seem void now tht I removed bias. – Tapper7 Mar 11 '17 at 2:27
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Any less than 21 speeds for that kind of jack seems wasteful to me.

You must understand that what matters is not how much "speeds" drivetrain offers, but the available range and other factors (see below). Let's compare 3x7 13-30 24-32-42 and 1x12 10-50 36: 3x7 has 404% range versus 500% range of 1x12. That's a 96% difference! 1x12 will also be lighter by at least several hundred grams. The quality of parts will also be generally higher, given that there are no modern high end 3x7 complete groups. Even compared to a 2x10 11-36 28-38 444% 1x12 has a wider range.

Seriously why is this so popular?

Why people choose one-by:

  1. Similar or wider range with reduced simplicity.
  2. Weight reduction.
  3. Frees up bar space for remote control levers (suspension lockout, adjustable seatpost).
  4. Availability. SRAM does not offer 2x12 or 3x12.

And why not:

  1. Cost (in some cases).
  2. Maybe a reduced service life. A lot of factors contribute to this, I think it's a complex matter.
  3. Limited availability. Good luck finding a replacement 12 speed chain in third-world nowhere.

Is this a fad? Is it really better to design gearsets this way? Why? Cuz Shimano said? Is it faster? More durable?

It's a legitimate trend that offers benefits for some people at cost that other people might not find acceptable. A general advice would be to use what you find suitable for your application scenarios. Manufacturers might have their own reasons to reduce front gears amount, hype/trends and manufacturing costs being among them. Only companies are able to answer about particular reasons, but I doubt you'd hear anything beyond approved PR talk. Not like it has any different for a bike industry since always.

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    Possible further benefits: A linear shift pattern might be desirable as well. 2x requires in some mid ranges to shift front and rear at the same time in different directions. Which may be internalised but can still be inconvenient. 2x10 doesn't necessarily mean that 20 gears are practically available due to cross chaining, which leads to undesirable chain tension. – gschenk Feb 2 '17 at 6:41
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    Another claimed benefit is a reduction of the likelihood to drop the chain: A chain ring with alternating wide and narrow cogs. A chain retention mechanism called 'roller bearing clutch' is in at least one manufacturer's 1x11 road groupsets. – gschenk Feb 2 '17 at 6:50
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    Big benefit to frame designers is on Full Suspension bikes, removing the front mechanicals frees up space around the main pivot point. This allows better design with stronger, lighter and stiffer pivots in better locations. – mattnz Feb 2 '17 at 23:08
  • +1 @mattnz and I would say the chain retention is more than just a claimed benefit, for many people it's the bulk of the reason to convert to a 11-42 sunrace 10sp cassette or something similar when their existing 10sp 2x already has a similar range. but I have never seen any statistical evidence of reduced chain drops I suppose. – Paul Feb 3 '17 at 14:31
  • thx for the answer and not trashing my Q with downvotes...sheesh some of you need lives! – Tapper7 Mar 11 '17 at 2:33

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