SRAM 1x Drivetrain (Rival 1, Force 1) Review
article & images by Nick Salazar
Mar 11, 2016
At TriRig, we've long had a fascination with single-chainring drivetrains, also called "1x" drivetrains. 1x is pronounced "one by," short for "one by eleven" in the case of an 11-speed cassette (one ring in the front, 11 cogs in back, or 1x11). I built my first single-ring setup a few years with Project Liberty, and have always loved the simplicity of the group. In the last year or so, the industry at large (but specifically SRAM) has begun to wake up to the idea of single-rings on road bikes. Even some pros have begun to warm up to the idea, running 1x setups in training and at high-profile races. Yet there seems to be a bit of controversy and perhaps a lack of understanding by consumers as to the benefits and drawbacks of a 1x setup, and whether it's worth the switch. That's what we want to explore in this article, to help better educate the reader about what a 1x setup can be.
But more specifically, we'll be looking at the SRAM Rival 1 rear derailleur. Right now, SRAM makes the only purpose-built 1x road group out there. It's available in Force and Rival classifications, though the main component (the rear derailleur) appears to be about the same weight and spec in both. SRAM also has, in my opinion, the best mechanical tri shifters (the brilliant R2C shifters), which make for a potent combination with the new 1x derailleurs.
The punchline to this review is this: after I installed my first Rival 1x rear derailleur, I immediately went out and bought three more to put on other bikes. It's that good, and (for now) has gotten me to shelve my Di2-equipped bikes in favor of this little mechanical miracle. So let's take a look at why.