My 1x: Belgian Style My 1x: Belgian Style

My 1x: Belgian Style

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

All photos courtesey of Balint Hamvas,

Just as we’ve taken a look at SRAM cyclocross riders’ Force 1 drivetrain setups in the U.S., here we’re taking a comprehensive look at their European counterparts’ 1x gearing setups for the rigorous cross courses of Belgium. 

We’ve put together a complete spreadsheet below that shows what Telenet-Fidea and Young Telenet-Fidea pros are riding so you can get an idea of what gearing you might need to tackle the ‘cross courses in your neck of the woods. The Telenet-Fidea team serves as a good case study of what gearing you might need because they are one of the largest, most diverse teams racing at the World Cup level with Elite Men, Elite Women, and U23 riders.

One conclusion that can quickly be drawn looking at the spreadsheets is that a wide range 11-32 cassette is universally popular. Known for long stretches of sand and mud interspersed with steep climbs and descents, Belgian cyclocross courses require a wide gear range. The slightly bigger jumps between gears, when compared to a more traditional 11-28 cassette, becomes an advantage on courses like this because the 11-32 cassette requires fewer shifts in order to get to the gear required at any given moment.

However, some riders change their chainrings depending on the course profile. Often this comes down to how muddy the course is. For example, Men’s U23 World Cup series points leader, Eli Iserbyt, switches from his standard choice of a 42-tooth chainring to a 40 on especially muddy days. So if your races tend to be muddy, you’ll likely need a slightly smaller chainring than a rider that typically races in a dry climate.

An option to consider when assembling your 1x groupset is that if you feel that you need a wider gear range than these pros use, or want to use the same chainring regardless of course conditions, SRAM makes an 11-36 cassette that mounts on a standard 11-speed freehub body. This allows you to run a chainring that is one size larger than you would with an 11-32 cassette while gaining a lower bottom end and higher top end gearing. 

Another take away from this chart is that there is a correlation between crank length and chainring selection. Riders with shorter crank lengths tend to choose smaller chainrings and spin at a higher cadence. The converse is true as well, especially at the extremes, as we have seen with American, Ryan Trebon’s 46-tooth chainring and 177.5mm cranks. So pick a smaller chainring if you are a spinner.

When examining the spreadsheet, the overarching conclusion to be drawn is that no matter what size you are or how you ride, there is a 1x gearing option that will work for you. If you’d like to explore some gearing charts to compare your current cross or road setup to a SRAM 1x groupset, take a look at for an interactive, easy to use gear calculating tool.

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