I bought a new bike that has:

  • 11-speed SRAM NX cassette.
  • Single chainwheel: 36 SRAM NX teeth
  • 11 / 42 cog.
  • KMC X11 chain with quick-release.
  • Rear derailleur: SRAM NX 11-speed.
  • Anti-derailment ring.

When doing my first ride, I tested all speeds and on the highest one (the one where the chain is on the largest plate in the cassette = the configuration for step hills) I see that the chain is really pushed away from the plane of the front plate:

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Is this acceptable and expected? I do not plan to use that configuration ever (my concern is rather on the other side = not having enough resistance on flat roads or going down, I do not have any hills that would be that steep).

I understand that there are no miracles but was rather concerned about the wear of the chain when using that configuration (it pushes perpendicularly to the teeth), and the general sturdiness of this solution.

  • Regarding sturdiness, do note that 95%+ of mountain bikes sold these days use this drivetrain configuration. Rest assured it's perfectly safe to use and isn't some kind of hack.
    – MaplePanda
    May 28, 2023 at 15:41

1 Answer 1


Yes that's completely normal.

You have one chainring and it has a fixed position.
You have 11 gears on the rear, and only one of those could have "perfect chainline" All the rest are compromises in angle.

Ideally, your "normal" or preferred gear selection would be the one that is straight (and thus most efficient) and all the others would be on either side, but that depends on the bike's frame and geometry.

I suspect your cassette position is biased toward the higher gears, because this allows better tyre clearance having the chainrings further outboard.

Does this increase wear over a perfect chainline? Yes.
Does it matter? No, not really.

Everything's a compromise, and a good chainline in the exact middle of the cassette means the higher gears where you spend most of your time are less optimal.

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