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  • Spencer Martin

    Riders were using 34x32t gear ratios in this year’s Vuelta a Espana. How are the Aqua Blue Sport riders going to match that with a 1x setup? With steep climbs getting more and more popular among GTs in an effort to neutralize the big-budget SkyTrain, I don’t see that problem going away anytime soon.

    • James Huang

      Like I said in the article, there are many questions in that area still left unanswered, which is why I’m waiting with such anticipation to see what 3T has up its sleeve come the 2018 season.

      • Spencer Martin

        Agreed, I am excited to see how they mold the 1x setup to deal with the fluid complexity of competition.

      • Bob

        a rolling up of that sleeve might reveal a two speed hub

        • James Huang

          Now that certainly would be interesting, although also likely quite heavy. That said, Vroomen is well-known to be a strong proponent of the importance of aerodynamics over low weight, so I wouldn’t put it past him. Time will tell.

          • Bob

            I can see it, carbon shell, wireless activation from a blip….not so much internal stuff so wouldn’t be TOO heavy, that would be a massivey cool thing. Never thought I’d say it, but that would take me to 1x

            • James Huang

              That sort of thing would normally be really tough to pull off what with all the restrictions equipment sponsors normally place on teams in terms of going off-script. But in this case, it sounds like Aqua Blue will have far more freedom.

              • Bob

                no no wait, I got it, you jump off and flip the wheel for the other gears. soooo retro :-)

        • Warwick

          Or a planetary drive crankset like the Truvativ Hammerschimdt. They’d just have to carve 1kg off the weight of it!

          • Bob

            I don’t want to limit myself. I’m waiting for the Inter-planetary drive.

      • caliente

        I’m waiting for another hammerschmidt crank, :)

  • winkybiker

    There seems to be very little thermal mass in those rotors (which is contrary to how Shimano are approaching the issue). I wonder how they handle repeated hard braking into hairpins on a steep mountain descent.

    • James Huang

      The bike pictured is built with a SRAM groupset, and isn’t the actual team build or livery (which is yet to be revealed).

      That being said, whereas Shimano 140mm-diameter rotors for use front and rear on the road, SRAM recommends going with a 160mm up front.

      • winkybiker

        I’ve specced my new bike with 160mm up front and 140mm at the back. I would maybe even have gone 180/120 if it was readily available in road groupsets. Having the same rotor size at the front and back is always wrong. It means that the either the front is too small or the back is too big.

        • Sunny Ape

          Both my bikes have dual 160s. Yeah, having a larger rotor at the back doesn’t add extra capability, as it’s always the one you lock up first under emergency braking. The back brake is more for stability and balance and can easily be 10-15% smaller than the front. What poops me though is that 140 rotors are often 50% more expensive than 160s. Probably supply and demand at work.

          • winkybiker

            Yikes. I wasn’t aware of the cost difference. Makes sense since MTBs don’t really use 140mm much? I would expect to replace the rear rotor less often though?

            • Sunny Ape

              Yeah. I wear out my front rotors at approx twice the rate as the rear. For commuting, I get about 3.5 years out of a front rotor with resin pads. I suppose you could balance the wear by rotating the rotors once a year, but that then becomes the same argument about rotating tyres…. can you be bothered or just replace them when needed.
              Currently trying out Shimano IceTechs on my nice wheels on my club bike. Being a steel / alloy sandwich means they are lighter, but you won’t get as much mileage out of them before you grind through the outer layer and into the alloy. With all steel rotors you can keep going until they are wafer thin… then you can re-purpose them as pizza cutters.

        • James Huang

          I generally only run equal-sized rotors on my trail/enduro bike, mostly because there are times when I actually do want to lock up the rear on demand. On the road, though, I definitely prefer a 160/140mm setup for the reasons you describe.

          • winkybiker

            I don’t have any trouble ever locking the back wheel up, but on long technical off-road descents, yes, the brakes can be dragged/finessed/locked/released etc for a long period of time and some extra security at the back might be in order.

            On the road, once braking is at all serious, the lion’s share of the duty shifts to the front, and the back brake is really just for feel and stability. Under heavy braking, locking the rear can be the first indication that it is getting light, and that care needs to be taken if even more front brake is required (get your ass back on that seat!).

        • Velt

          What if you just like the symmetry that the same size rotors gives?

          • winkybiker

            Then you’re going for form over function. But that’s fine, I do it all the time.

  • Gerard Vroomen

    Just one correction, that the team will not ride special frames has nothing to do with the business model of the title sponsor. Aqua Blue Sport sells bikes and bike components of all brands, not just what the team rides. So it doesn’t matter that much for that business model. 3T won’t be making any special frame for the team simply because it doesn’t believe in that.

    And with regards to the seat stays, they would be fine with quick releases too but that’s irrelevant since the whole bike is designed for thru-axles. So of course all testing for strength and stiffness is done that way too, not with quick releases. It’s obviously true that quick releases are less stiff than thru axles.

    • jeebsters

      Will 3T also be supplying new TT bikes to Aqua Blue? Excited to see what you come up with!!!

    • James Huang

      It may not be critical that, where applicable, the items sold are exactly what the team is riding, but personally, if I were shopping the site and knew that the team was riding some specially modified version of what was being offered, I would find that off-putting.

      • Gerard Vroomen

        I agree, I think it’s important that what is shown in the peloton is exactly what is on offer (and that unfortunately is rarely the case, something people usually only learn about when the product breaks in the peloton). I just meant to say that for Aqua Blue, their business model does not depend on selling 3T bikes in particular, they sell everything, from any brand, whether it’s in the peloton or not, custom or not, 1x or not.

    • OR_biker

      I’ve seen you reply on some comments sections before, and I just want to say Thank You! I think James does a great job and I love the interviews here on CT, but it’s so nice to get clarifications or extra nuggets of info straight from the source! This has definitely become something I’ll be paying close attention as the season starts up next year; really interested in seeing how this plays out and where it may lead the industry if it’s successful.

      • Andrew Richardson

        +1 for that. In my opinion James is one of the best cycling journalists around and to have the designer himself comment on the story is icing on the cake. Gerard, I was intrigued by the 3T but hadn’t considered it as a genuine replacement for my Madone until the Aqua Blue announcement. I’ll be watching closely. Best of luck next year!

    • Oh… I was going to ask what you meant by “And nobody is asking Sky if they will continue to be prepared to deal with the limitations of their Di2, that require Froome to change bikes four times during the Tour de France.” didn’t realise I’d get the opportunity to have you answer directly?

      What exactly are the limitations are you talking about? It’s not something I’ve heard about.

      • Spider

        well, I believe he’s referencing the fact the Froome had to swap bikes 4 times in the tour due to mechanical issues with Di2….but now one asks how someone deals with that limitition (that it keeps breakin and the race has to be nullified because Froome is in yellow)

      • Gerard Vroomen

        It was more tongue in cheek, but yes, pretty much what Spider said

  • D-Rock

    Raced half a season on a 1x drive train and can tell you this will be a hindrance to the time. Even at the cat 3 level I found that cassette options were way to gappy when things got pointy. Sure in solo efforts, sprinting, and climbing when I was dictating pace I found the group to be OK, and it was fantastic in crits but when you’re covering a gap or some skinny climber ratchets it up on the steeps and you’ve got to put out a good solid 5-600 watts to hang on the suboptimal cadence was a killer. Now obviously these riders are ridiculously stronger than me but I really think this is going to be a hindrance for them in competing at the world tour level. I would also ask why not just make this bike with a removable FD hanger, if this bike is about pragmatic aerodynamics then why shoehorn a rider into one groupset?? Also Chris Froome was using Osymmetric chain rings which are notoriously bad for dropped chains, Ive standard shimano chainrings with a mix and match 6800 group (5800 chainset) and have never dropped a chain inward on the 13000 miles I’ve put on the build.

    • James Huang

      Keep in mind that 3T has strongly hinted here that Aqua Blue won’t be on 1x drivetrains as we currently know them. Exactly how they will look is still a mystery, but it sounds like there’s some sort of solution in the works, as opposed to the riders having to put up with the compromises.

      Interesting times, indeed.

      • OR_biker

        Planetary gears inside the chainset? Not sure if that’s even UCI-legal :-)

        • winkybiker

          When people are putting oversized ceramic-speed idlers on their derailleurs, or sending their chains away for custom lubrication to reduce mechanical drag there is NO WAY that they will tolerate the drag of a fully loaded internal transmission, no matter how well-engineered. I also wonder how much drag the fat teeth in the 1X chainrings add when the chain is at any sort of an angle. A front derailleur adds no mechanical drag whatsoever, and only minimal aero drag and perhaps weight (although those 1X pie-plate rear cassettes and long cage derailleurs are presumably heavier than conventional, too).

          • Ashok Captain

            “I also wonder how much drag the fat teeth in the 1X chainrings add when the chain is at any sort of an angle.” WB, you hit the nail on the head! Also how much (more) friction/ drag increases when the chain is at either extreme (max high, or max low). . . 1 x definitely looks neater/ is easier to clean. I had it for a while on a ‘monsoon mtb’, but much prefer 2 or 3 X so I can use gears at the extreme ends without excessive cross-chaining.

        • ebbe

          Or, alternatively
          – a road version of this https://www.bikerumor.com/2016/03/02/first-look-vyro-amen1-a-shifting-crankset-alternative-to-gearboxes/
          – a two speed hub gear
          – swap bikes… a lot
          – etc

      • DaveRides

        Maybe the solution will be as simple as an adapter to allow a front derailleur to be mounted via the seat tube bottle cage sockets? Would fit with Vroomen’s claim that frames won’t be changed.

      • D-Rock

        It will most likely be 12 speed rear cassette on an XDR driver. Still not going to resolve the massive failings of a 1x drive train at the world tour level.

    • Doubtful Guest

      “I would also ask why not just make this bike with a removable FD hanger, if this bike is about pragmatic aerodynamics then why shoehorn a rider into one groupset?” Because Gerard says no! You can have comfortable tires, but not a comfortable cadence. Because.

      You have to admire the stubbornness of someone who said “every pro taking their profession seriously and wanting to get to the finish the fastest should ride [aero frames] at all times.”

      I just wish my 2011 R3 had the tire clearance he’s a proponent of nowadays.

  • Emil Holt

    Enter SRAM XD-R freehub bodies and 12 or 13 speed cassettes?

    • James Huang

      There are lots of possibilities here, and that’s just one. That said, that’s where I’m putting my money.

      • winkybiker

        Thus further compromising the engineering of the rear wheel and guaranteeing sharp chain angles for a greater percentage of the time. No thanks. I really don’t hate my FD that much.

        • Seeing as Schurter did the XC perfect season on 12sp SRAM eagle, I don’t the compromises are worth worrying about.

      • Aren’t we due a new XTR soon? 12/13sp perhaps?

        • pamountainbiker

          Rumor is that Shimano is going 12 speed in XTR and they’re going to employ a new proprietary freehub body similar in concept to an XD Driver but Shimano specific (of course). The issue with road though is that the cogset’s largest cog will need to be large enough to cantilever over the freehub body. So at what size does that start? 34T, 36T, 38T? Said another way if you wanted to have 12 or 13 speeds from 9T to 21T it still wouldn’t fit on an XDR because the largest cog would still not be big enough to hang over the hub flange.

      • NEcyclist88

        For someone that doesn’t understand what an XD-R freehub body is and how that would alleviate some of the 1X issues, would you care to explain? Really enjoyed this article and also reading all of the comments, but I’m not the biggest tech nerd out there and this is where I got lost! Thanks!

        • James Huang

          Sure thing!

          SRAM introduced the XD freehub body when it first launched the XX1 11-speed off-road groupset. It’s sort of similar to a standard Shimano/SRAM driver body in that it uses a splined interface, but in this case, the splines are abbreviated and most of the body is left completely smooth (here’s a primer: http://www.xddriverbody.com/).

          Whereas a standard Shimano/SRAM freehub body only allows for an 11T cog, XD’s smaller outboard diameter will go down to a 9T. This means you can get a greater overall cassette range without having to resort to massive cogs on the inboard side.

          SRAM currently is able to offer its 12-speed Eagle mountain bike drivetrains on that body because the largest cogs are cantilevered inward over the driveside hub flange (taking advantage of the angular path the driveside spokes take from hub to rim). But since road cassettes are smaller, there isn’t as much spoke angle that can be utilized to shoehorn a 12th cog into the system. XDR is basically the same as XD, but slightly longer so there’s more room on the driver body itself.

          • NEcyclist88

            Very helpful, thank you for the response!

    • Spider

      bingo, give the man a dollar.

  • OverIt

    I admire the “out there” approach, but there is no way I’d ride a bike with that little tire clearance to the frame/fork. Does it even comply to ISO standards?

    • James Huang

      Keep in mind that the images are a bit deceiving. The cutouts are concave, so in side view, the edges look closer to the tire than they really are. Also, those are 28mm Continental tires mounted on wide rims there, and the actual width is nearly 32mm.

      Nevertheless, yes, a smidgeon more wiggle room would still be nice!

      • DaveRides

        Concave cutouts will run the risk of the bike being rejected when a commissaire tries the credit card test.

        • Altimis Nuel

          What is credit card test?

          I heard “gap of cigar”, how credit card?

          • DaveRides

            A curved seat tube is not allowed to partially enclose a wheel, a commissaire must be able to pass a credit card through the gap from one side to the other without it bending.

  • Il_falcone

    Isn’t it wonderful how the mechanisms of hyperbole marketing still work so effectively in the bicycle market? Congrats, Gerard, well played, chapeau!

  • Marc Lindarets

    While the peloton has for the past couple of decades led the cycling market, it feels like there is less and less of a connection between what pros ride (or what competitive amateurs demand) and what the bulk of the market seems to be embracing. Comfort geometry, wider tires, compliant frames, and of course disc brakes are all examples of where recreational cyclists differ from competitors- and where the bulk of riders benefit.

    While 3T’s example *is* slated for use in professional competition, I see one-by road as another example of this trend. Those who for one reason or another aren’t overly attached to a narrow cadence window will benefit by the reduced complexity, redundancy, cost, and weight inherent in multiple-chainring drivetrains. Yes, there are issues to be resolved around acute chain angles, the correct balance between tooth count and drag, and where (and how) gearing steps should be distributed- but 12s should address at least some of these concerns. Given how little time I personally spend maxed out in my 50×11, I’d be more than alright with the added drag in a similar-top-ratio 42×9 or 45×10.

    It’s no secret that you’ll find me at the front of the queue when 3T’s Bailout cassette becomes available.

    • Il_falcone

      Does talking about (those really marginal) aero gains achievable by frame designs and eliminating the aerodynamic drag of the FD – wait I still can’t write that down without LOL – but then claiming that “a little more drag because of a 9T cog” is perfectly acceptable already qualify as a symptom of schizophrenia?
      Aerodynamic drag is of course most important at racing speeds. The faster you go the more important it gets. But unfortunately going faster also means using smaller sprockets. Even more so if you have only one chain ring in front. So go tell the sprinter of your team that it’s important to wear the skinsuit and the hot but oh so aerodynamic helmet and ride the uncomfortable but oh so aerodynamic frame because he needs to compensate for the additional drag that 9T cog will cause him when he’s going to sprint for the win.

      • Marc Lindarets

        Seeing as your comment was in response to mine, I’ll say that mechanical drivetrain losses (9t or 10t vs 11t) are quantifiable, as are aero gains and those tiny weight loss gains- so it should be straightforward for anyone (with the right equipment) interested in quantifying the tradeoff to do so. I haven’t seen anything beyond supposition so don’t know how many watts are lost to a 9t when compared to an 11t- or what the removal of the front derailleur and second ‘ring will net aerodynamically. Maybe there’s a publication somewhere that would like to pull a series of tests together?

        • Robert Merkel

          One thing we do know about drivetrain frictional losses is that they are sublinear – the more watts you’re putting out, the smaller the fraction of the output you’re losing to frictional losses.

          By contrast, aerodynamic drag is proportional to the cube of the rider’s velocity.

          When do you use your highest gear? In a sprint, where both speeds and rider power output are at their greatest.

          Therefore, it’s at least plausible (not certain, but plausible) that a bike with a 1x drivetrain is as efficient in its highest gear as a 2x drivetrain in the conditions where this actually matters.

          That said, no way in the world would I run a 1×11 drivetrain for racing anything other than dead flat terrain. Efficiency or not, I’m most comfortable with my cadence in a fairly narrow range and the gaps in any plausible 1×11 cassette for hilly races will ensure that I’m not in that range for considerable parts of the race.

          • Carlos Flanders

            Do people sprint in a 53*11? I’ve only ever used the 53* 11T in a strong tailwind or a fast extended downhill. Way too big a gear to push on the flat.

            • James Huang

              Amateurs? I can’t say. But top pros do it regularly. In almost every flat stage, in fact.

              • Rigo (a climber no less) won a stage in the TdF this year in the 53×11. Not because he wanted, but still.

                • James Huang

                  Ha, very true!

      • Larry @CycleItalia

        C’mon, you’re assuming all this is based on logic instead of a) making whatever you ride now obsolete and b) getting those who have been uninterested in cycling to this point to click on the “BUY NOW” button on their smart-phone. The front derailleur is pretty much the only thing that hasn’t been made idiot-proof, so a mature market (where everyone who wants one already has three) needs to fix that in order to capture ever more sales. The pros will do whatever they’re told and ride whatever they’re given – that’s why they get paid. When they retire and nobody will give them free bikes anymore, what do they BUY if they still want to ride? Rarely the newest-latest, whiz-bang thing the industry is pushing.

    • Lieblingsleguan

      “Comfort geometry, wider tires, compliant frames, and of course disc brakes are all examples of where recreational cyclists differ from competitors- and where the bulk of riders benefit.”
      I can’t see competitive amateurs demanding that. Recreational riders, yes, but why should their needs be connected to those of the pro peloton?

      • Cameron

        I believe Marc was saying that competitive amateurs demand equipment similar to the pros, and that the bulk of riders (recreational ones) derive a greater benefit from the equipment outside of that.

  • 9T-32T!

  • MattyP

    Any word on when/if Shimano releases a road 1x groupset(s)? As a rider (not racer) am very interested. SRAM have them. Shimano have 1x in mtb , but not road…?

  • Wily_Quixote

    I am confused that a 1×10 gear set, that is with 10 usable gears, can be perceived as ‘pro-threatening’ when for much of the 70s & 80s and possibly 90s pros had less, or the same, usable gears than this setup.

    is this because pros are now used to having a wider spread of gears than the pros in the 80s with their ‘corncob’ gears? If so, i see no reason why pros can’t adapt to narrow spread, small steps between gears that eddy merckx used to race on. Didn’t see the pros in the 80s and 90s complain that they had no bailout gear.

    I am not arguing for 1×10 but i think that pros will just adapt to having them. I don;’t see much science that a cyclist cannot adapt to providing sustained power output at varying cadences.

    • Lieblingsleguan

      Jean-Claude Leclercq is commenting on Eurosport in Germany and during the Vuelta he was talking about how some of the modern short and steep mountain stages wouldn’t have been possible for the bulk of the peloton in his days and how he would have liked to use something else than a 42-21 on mountain stages. Actually, his DS did allow the 42-23 only one day of the year (can’t remember the climb that he was allowing it for) ;-).

  • It’s worth noting that MTBers have been running around on 1x drivetrains for a few years now… and many similar arguments were made as made above.

    Does that mean I’d go to a 1x drive train? Hmmmm not sure, but I’d certainly consider it. Getting the right size front chain ring with cassette would be quite liberating, especially when you consider how much time you spend in one cog in a 2x drivetrain anyway.

  • Velt

    You can all ready run 1x Di2 without hacking though right? People having been doing it in cyclocross for yonks. Even with XTR clutch derailers.

    Based on the hints that have been dropped in the article money is on some shimano 1x specific making some sort of appearence alongside new 105.

    • James Huang

      Your comment made me realize that there was something that I had completely forgotten to mention in the article! Yes, current Di2 groupsets can already be run in 1×11 mode. What I meant to point out more explicitly is that Aqua Blue may be running a 12-speed setup (or even a 13-speed one???) next season. None of the current groupsets (either electronic or mechanical) can easily be hacked to go that route, however, which would one of the big three is involved with the development if this is where things are headed.

      • Pedro Rocha

        I’m a bit disappointed, yesterday I was more than half an hour to write a text with some questions and opinion on this topic, the same was published, and subsequently disappeared, I think maybe it was deleted. Would I like to know why? since I even had to make some effort to write in english because i am not a English write regularly is a lack of respect if it has been deleted.


        • James Huang

          Oh no! I doubt it was actively deleted. We’ve had some issues with Disqus before. Your comment is likely recorded in the system, and I’ll check to see if I can resurrect it.

          • Pedro Rocha

            Thanks James! You are always a nice guy. May be its doing the discus issues. if you can resurrect the post.

            • James Huang

              Sorry, I just looked in the system and there’s no missing comment :(

              FYI, we’ve had issues a few times in the past where, for whatever reason, Disqus sometimes doesn’t seem to like comments that are unusually long.

  • Steel

    Genuinely one of the most interesting tech developments in recent memory.

    Love that a team is willing to put it on the line to see if it works as a complete system in the real world. Well done Acqua blue Sports

  • Anthony O’Toole

    How about the wear rate on a 9 or 10 tooth cog and on the chain? It will always be cross chaining to a considerable degree on those small cogs and rotating in a very small diameter.

  • dllm

    This is a must read thread about this bike.


  • Patrick Murphy

    Not knowledgeable to offer technical insights but I really do like the look of road bikes with a single ring. You see it all the time in hill climbing season, it just makes the frame standout and much less cluttered. Going to be interesting to see how this plays out in live situations.

  • HamishM

    Is it just me or is that frame awful? Particularly the seat tube.

  • Sam

    There’s something about the aesthetics of this frame/set-up that appeals to me. It’s ugly but striking at the same time. Any info on availability in Australia?

    • Cameron

      Echelon Sports is the Australian distributor.

  • GVA

    The one front ring concept will never work in the pro peloton, if you want to win races…then again Vroomen either backs losers like Vaughters or dopers!

  • massarob

    “Bike companies continue to roll out new disc-equipped models that only
    barely meet the UCI’s minimum weight regulations, but none have been
    used in any critical climbing events”
    Kreuiziger won the Pro Ötztaler 5.500 (where 5500 are the total meters of ascent) on a Scott Addict disc.
    Not a strong field (yet?) or big names..but lots of climbing for a disk bike :)


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