When you run 1x, aren't you basically force to cross chain?

  • 3
    Cross-chaining used to be bad, on a 3x5 setup with a wide chain. Hasn't been for a long time. – Daniel R Hicks Aug 17 '18 at 18:26
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    Possible duplicate of How bad is cross chaining? - Google "The gorrilla story", cross chaining is still considered bad because there are gorrilla's riding bicycles. – mattnz Aug 18 '18 at 3:15
  • bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/44422/… is worth a read. – mattnz Aug 18 '18 at 3:19
  • I'm not sure this is really a dupe. The answers to the other question don't even agree about whether cross-chaining is bad, and they certainly don't address differences between 1x and front-derailleur systems. – David Richerby Aug 18 '18 at 9:15

One key difference is the design of the chainring. A traditional ring is made to allow shifting, which means there’s specially shaped teeth and protrusions that will pick up the chain and help lift it in to the next gear.

Cross chaining with traditional rings will put the chain in the angular region where it ‘thinks’ you want to shift (ie. these mechanisms will start hitting the chain plates).

On a 1x system a narrow wide ring is typically used, or a similar device, that meshes more completely with the whole chain link. Since it doesn’t have to worry about shifting, it’s only worried about retention, so it can ease the chain into a consistent position from a wide variety of angles.

As for the rear derailleur, they’re designed to rectify the angle as well, with SRAM opting for a more eccentric pulley position relative to the pivot, and Shimano using differently shaped parallelograms. Both these systems keep the pulley a consistent distance away from the sprockets, so the whole system can accommodate wider chain angles.


If the single chainring was located in either the 2x large or small ring positions, to either side of the nominal chain-line that would in fact be the case. It isn't though, it's positioned on the chain-line so it lines up with the center of the cassette - pretty much like the middle ring on a 3x system.

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    Upvoted, right answer, but would be better if it had the term 'chainline' in there. Also perhaps a note that getting your front chainline dialed for 1x isn't automatic and requires either parts made to do it or some kind of hack setup involving spacers or whatever. – Nathan Knutson Aug 17 '18 at 18:31
  • The problem with cross-chaining is the chain rubbing (noisily) on the FD plates and/or on the inner side of the of the large chainring when in extreme positions. Noise = wear and annoyance. With modern systems (electronic or carefully designed) chainrub is greatly reduced. – Carel Aug 17 '18 at 20:37
  • Did you consider that some 1x chainrings have varying offset depending on teeth count? – Klaster_1 Aug 18 '18 at 4:17

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