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. Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 18:26
  • 1
    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
    Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 3:15
  • bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/44422/… is worth a read.
    – mattnz
    Commented Aug 18, 2018 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. Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 9:15
  • 1
    Manufacturers also disagree about cross-chaining. SRAM explicitly state that their double chainring systems are designed to give 22 usable gears, and cross-chaining is not an issue.
    – John M
    Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 10:02

3 Answers 3


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.


On a 1x drivetrain, if the single chainring was located in either of the positions of the large or small ring on a 2x or 3x drivetrain (to either side of the nominal chain-line), then yes the chain would be 'cross-chained' when on either the largest or smallest rear sprocket.

However, on a 1x system the ring is positioned on teh nominal chain line so it more closely lines up with the center of the cassette - like the middle ring on a 3x system. This obviously reduces the lateral angle of the chain when on the largest or smallest rear sprocket compared to the classic cross-chained state.

It is true that the lateral angle of the chain is a little greater compared to the smallest sprocket - large ring and largest sprocket - small ring configurations.

  • 1
    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. Commented Aug 17, 2018 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
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 20:37
  • Did you consider that some 1x chainrings have varying offset depending on teeth count? Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 4:17


The more you deviate from a perfectly straight chainline, the more friction you will experience, and the smaller the rear cog you are driving, the more friction you will experience.

1x drivetrains exist because the cycling industry makes more money reinventing the wheel to lower production costs, while forcing consumers to buy into new standards.

Without continuously changing, marketing hype, and designed incompatibility, many more cyclists would be able to hobble perfectly good used parts together into functional bikes, and new bike sales would decline.

  • 2
    Did you read Argenti’s answer, which indicated that 1x systems position the chainring between where 2x chainrings would be?
    – Weiwen Ng
    Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 23:51
  • Also, there’s a logical disconnect between the fact that 1x drivetrains have higher average drivetrain friction than 2x, and your assertion that 1x exists only to force consumers into new standards. Also, you could make the exact same assertion about the evolutions in 2x drivetrains. E.g. SRAM and Shimano both require new freehub standards for their 12s systems (applies to both 2x and 1x).
    – Weiwen Ng
    Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 12:44
  • I downvoted the answer because claims made in it regarding "cycling industry" have no substantial basis and are very speculative. I am not a part of "cycling industry" in any way. Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 6:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.