Convert Your Bike To A 1x / Single Chainring Setup!

– Now, ranking up there in
conversations in cycling, along with gravel bikes and
tyre pressures and widths, certainly has to be the
1X drivetrain system. What is that exactly, then? Well, it’s when you
have a single chainring on the front of the bike, and then on the rear of the bike, you tend to have a wider range cassette. That’s certainly for
off-road applications. And then, on a road bike you can get away with a closer range, depending on, obviously, the terrain on which you’re riding. Today however, we’re gonna look at how to hack your way to a 1X drivetrain system. (upbeat music) Firstly, you are going to need to make up your mind if 1X is definitely
the way you want to go. Personally, I’m a little bit unsure of it, hence why I’m gonna
hack my way to it today. Now, you are going to need some special parts here. And obviously, you are
going to need a bike, as well as the components to turn it into a 1X bike. Luckily, I’ve been digging
around in the attic and I found a frame and also some old components there. So, I’m good to go on this, but, you can do it with an existing bike. How about then, the special parts that you’re gonna need? Well, firstly, you’re
gonna need one of these, which is a derailleur hanger extender. And that’s gonna allow you to run a standard road rear mech using a wider spread ratio cassette as opposed
to a mountain bike rear derailleur, which does in fact have a longer cage and can accommodate those extra teeth on the
cassette a lot easier. How does it work then? Well, it simply bumps onto
your existing mech hanger and then you put on your
current rear derailleur onto this thread instead. Now, no manufacturer out there actually recommends using these, and after all, this is the hack or maybe botch version. So, that’s why we’re gonna be using one of these today. (upbeat music) So, we want to make sure that chain stays on as good as possible. After all, this is the hack version rather than the perfect one. So, our mountain bike friends, well, they use narrow wide chainring such as this, to help keep the chain on because they’re riding
over really bumpy terrain. And obviously, we’re not using a clutch rear derailleur on our bikes. So we need every little extra, don’t we, to keep that chain in place. How does it work then? Well, every other tooth is narrow and every other tooth is wide. So, that meshes in the chain on your bike, which, if you look at it from above, you will notice that
the plates are thinner and wider alternately as
you go around the chain. So, you need to make sure, obviously, that the narrowest one
is on the narrowest tooth and that the widest is on the widest. Logical, right? Good. And you’re still with me. So, we also need to make sure that it fits on the chain set correctly. So, in this case I’ve really, really hacked this bike together. So I’ve got a Campagnolo groupset and I’m actually gonna
use a Shimano chainset which I’ve had lying
around in the workshop. So, this one is gonna
fit on it just perfectly using a 130 BCD. Now to attach that chainring
onto your chainset, well, I’m using a standard
road double chainset. So, normally you’re gonna have an inside chainring on
there and obviously, we’re getting rid of that. So, the chainring bolts, you’re actually going to have a little bit of slack
and that chainring is not going to be attached onto
the spider perfectly. So, in this case I’ve actually got myself some shorter chainring bolts. So, something like you’d find on either a single speed or a BMX bike, would be absolutely fine. Failing that, you could get yourself some quite thin washers
and slide those over either the bolt or the nut and actually take out that slack. Now for the cassette. This is where things do get little bit more complicated, because naturally, I’m gonna be running a
single ring at the front and I’m gonna need a wider spread ratio to get over any hills
that I may well encounter. So, in this case I’ve opted for 1132 because I’ve looked at my gear charts, and I’ve figured that that, paired up with a 50 tooth chainring, is fine for most things. So, using this type of rear derailleur which has a short cage, it isn’t able to actually
be able to accommodate the 32 tooth sprocket very well. In fact, it can’t at all. Hence, the reason why
I will be fitting this derailleur hanger extension to get the rear mech just a couple of centimeters lower so that upper jockey wheel can clear the 32 tooth sprocket. And I reckon, actually, once I fit it, it’s probably gonna be enough room for maybe even a 36, too. So, hey, if I’m gonna
gut the angular route, maybe that’s the answer. 5036. Now it’s time to just fit this narrow wide chainring. So, I’m going to remove
the existing chainrings using a five-millimeter Allen key and one of these, which is a chainring peg tool. Now, it simply slots
into the rear of the nut to hold that in place. And then using a
five-millimeter Allen key, you release the actual bolt itself, saving you, hopefully,
from skinned knuckles. So, the final piece of the jigsaw is to fit your chain. As you can see, I’ve just loosely put it in position. The narrow wide teeth
of the chainring there are matched in perfectly with the profile of the chain. Then, on the rear, as you can see here, it’s wrapped around that lowest cassette sprocket, so the 32 tooth. Now, the idea behind
this before I join it, I just want to actually make sure that the chain is the correct length. Too short and the chain is obviously gonna be in a really extreme position and too long, well, you’re gonna run the risk of it actually coming off of the chainring. So, let’s have a little cheeky look and that looks absolutely spot on. So, I’ll get that joined up and then we’ll actually have a look at the chain and the chainline and see how secure it is on there. So, there we are. It’s actually ready to ride. Now, obviously, you do have to put some proper pedals on and some handlebar tape. Like I say, this was an absolute hack. Which, hence the reason why I’ve got a zip-tied
outer gear cable on here, because this frame is
actually designed for DI2 only, so I’d like to say, I’ve made it out of bits and pieces found in my shed. Now, on initial look, the only thing I’m a little bit worried about is actually the tension on the chain, because obviously, it’s not a clutch rear derailleur and I don’t have a chain keeper deliberately in store, because I just want to
see how it does function. So, there is a little bit of slack here. So when I’m out riding that first time, I am gonna have to take it a little bit gentle, just in case it does dislodge, because who knows? Anyway, I will report back to you in due course and let
you know how I get on. Now I hope that you’ve enjoyed this and also, if anyone at
home has done a hack or a bodge of a 1X drivetrain, do let me know, because I’m very keen to read it. And has this maybe even inspired you to do similar? Let me know about that too. Now, do remember as well, to like and share this video with your friends. And also, don’t forget
to check out the GCN shop at And now, for another great video, this time Si showing you how to make your road bike into a gravel bike, click just down here.