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I'm going to upgrade my cyclocross bike with new 1x11 dedicated components. Currently bike has old 105 5700 groupset and cantilever brakes. Those mechanical brakes are the main problem - I don't want to go on hydraulic discs because I've got quite new and good wheels for rim brakes and not compatible frameset.

I see 2 solutions, but non of them seems to be ideal;

1. Buy GRX 1x11 group and mix them with road ultegra shifters. Is it possible to use front 2x11 shifter for 1x11 drive? (I don't see any problem with using only brake lever, and have shifting unnecessary)
Do you think ultegra shifters are ok for off-road? Maybye something from other shimano group is better? All I know is that GRX has special design which should give more comfort

2. Buy SRAM Apex 1x11 for mechanical brakes - seems to be easy solution but I have already road bike with ultegra and I'm not very convinced that using different shifting in 2 bikes is a good idea, especially when I participate in races both on road and CX.

I'll be very grateful for any ideas/suggestions

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    I’d go for option 2. In option 1 the unconnected left shifter would feel bad. – Michael May 12 '20 at 11:52
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    How did the solution for the setup turned out ? I am facing the same right now. – Michael Holz Jan 3 at 18:41
  • I've decided to go into Apex 1 for mechanical brakes. Shifters and derailleur work great with Sunrace casette and Absolute Black oval chainring. I didn't have any problems with gettiing used to Sram double-tap shifting. No mistakes after switching from ultegra road bike and vice versa – Cymonello Jan 4 at 21:52
  • I have standard Ultegra shifters running a GRX 1x11 setup. It works well and I don't notice any bad feel of the unconnected shifter. – Paul H Jan 5 at 14:52
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The 2019 European Champion thinks Ultegra is quite fine for off-road https://www.cxmagazine.com/bike-profile-yara-kastelijn-stevens-super-prestige-cyclocross even for the 2019/2020 season. And yes, she is using 1x, although with hydraulic brakes and Di2 (electronic shifting). Many professionals are using Dura-Ace with 1x.

There is a difference in the brake lever (perhaps only the Di2 lever, see the comments) in the GRX shifters to allow more efficient braking from the hoods, but it is not considered essential yet. Many people do without. All other top non-GRX shifters should be pretty similar as the Ultegra.

I do not know if the the unconnected left shifter would feel weird, as Michael suggests, but GRX would be the same. You have the option to connect the GRX shifter to your dropper post. But if you don't have one...

As for the Apex, the front part of the groupset is independent, so you can have it and as long as you are only using it for braking the only wierd thing that remains is having two shifters with a different shape o one bike. It might feel or look strange. If you change everything to SRAM, you would have to be switching shifting between bikes, but many people manage with that.

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    Vladimir, I think that the higher pivot point may only be present in the Di2 version of GRX. It's not always made that clear in reviews, but multiple ones I've read do specify that the higher pivot point only applies to the Di2 levers. gravelcyclist.com/bicycle-tech/… – Weiwen Ng May 12 '20 at 14:16
  • @WeiwenNg Interesting, I did not know that. – Vladimir F May 12 '20 at 16:39
  • Neither did I at first! It's something a lot of people skim over. – Weiwen Ng May 12 '20 at 16:46
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For gravel riding, why not consider remaining on a 2x drivetrain? You would get more range and less friction due to a better chainline compared to a 1x setup. Don't get me wrong, I use 1x on my MTB, but for gravel riding I think having a larger gear when doing road rides is very much welcome.

Also the first option can be a bit cheaper if you would just use 105 R7000 mechanical shifters.

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  • It’s going to be on a CX bike, which is primarily used for CX racing. A 2x is unnecessary complexity and weight for that purpose. You’re not doing 50km/h+ descents in a CX race. – MaplePanda Jan 5 at 16:12

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