this bike has an 11-42t Microshift cassette with
typically previous 9-speed drivetrains used an 11-34t cassette
which was updated to 11-36t
However these were typically accompanied with a triple or double chainset.
Recent Shimano 9 speed MTB chainsets are 40/30/22 triple or 36/22 double
This resulted in a range of (40/22) * (36/11) = 5.95 for the triple 11-36, and 5.36 for the double.
This 1x has a range of only 3.82x.
So your bike loses on maximum top speed (if you can pedal fast enough), or on easiest gear, or both.
The chainring at the front is a 32t, so the maximum top speed is effectively 20% lower.
At 100rpm your bike will do 38kph in top gear. https://www.bikecalc.com/speed_at_cadence
As far as the bottom goes, you have a 32/42 easy gear, which is about 24% harder than the 22/36t on a triple or double setup. In addition, if you consider the easiest three gears on the 1x9:
- 32/28 = 1.15
- 32/34 = 0.94
- 32/42 = 0.76
with a triple or double setup:
- 22/20 = 1.1 (or 30/26 = 1.15)
- 22/23 = 0.96 (or 30/30 = 1)
- 22/26 = 0.85 (or 30/36 = 0.83)
- 22/30 = 0.73
- 22/36 = 0.61
So you can see in effect that the bottom three gears on the 1x9 correspond to gears 2, 4, 5 on the 3x9 or 2x9.
The other negative features of the 1x drivetrain to note are:
- larger chainrings with larger cogs are more efficient in friction terms (e.g., 44/22 is more efficient than 22/11), though this is likely not significant at this level of bike
- there is a larger cadence gap between the 15t and 18t cogs than the 15t vs 17t on the 3 or 2x setups
- the cassette will wear out more quickly, since whereas you might have pedalled 40/20 before and a larger cog wears out more slowly, now you will be pedalling a smaller cog on average, which will wear out more quickly
- the cassette, being larger, is more expensive to replace
- there is no front derailleur to help keep the chain from falling off the front chainring
The positives of this setup are:
- for children who do not understand multiple gear ranges, 1x is easier to understand
- it may reduce manufacturing and labour costs for the manufacturer
- 1x setups are 'on-trend', and may be easier to sell, even though at this price point the setup is less than optimal (more expensive 1x systems will use even larger and more expensive cassettes that have a wider range)
- for much more expensive bikes with dropper posts and fork remotes, the extra clutter of a front shifter may be a negative; on such a bike as this one, this isn't a big concern
- there may be a very small weight saving (a heavier cassette, but no front derailleur, shifter or cable) - this should not be a concern on such a cheap bike.
This is not a bad bike per se, but this is what manufacturers are selling now. You might struggle to find a bike with a traditional 3x setup, and if you do find one it might have very low-grade components on it, as manufacturers are trying to put 1x on all MTBs. So if you don't like the 1x, make sure you have a well-priced alternative with suitable components.
I personally ride MTBs often on-road over a long 1% downhill gradient of several km, and I would find a 32t chainring quite limiting as I prefer to grind more than spin, especially at 100+rpm. But if you are riding exclusively off-road and without high speeds then you should not find this a problem. Also for children and others cycling at leisure speeds then this would not be a limiting factor.