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How do you make a splash in a world gone mad with addition cogs on the cassette? Add more, of course. At least, that’s what Phil Wood has done with their radical 1×13 drivetrain on a 222mm spaced hub. Pushing the 1x concept to the next level, Phil’s system shows what could be possible and while it may just be a concept at this point, we may see kits for sale in the near future.

How do you make a 13 speed drivetrain work with current components? Click through for the details… 

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Even though the drivetrain uses a custom Phil Wood hub, most of the components are standard. The rear derailleur is a normal SRAM XX1 model that has just been adjusted with the limit screws to work with the 11 speed chain on the wider range.

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The rear cassette is also off the shelf, but consists of two different Shimano Ultegra 11 speed cassettes that have been mixed and matched. The result is a full 13 speed gear ratio without any duplicates, though some of the gear jumps aren’t exactly ideal.

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In order to get through the gears, Phil Wood modified a stock SRAM XX1 grip shifter so that the first 11 gears are indexed and gear 12 and 13 are friction. Michael with Phil Wood mentioned the modification is fairly tricky, but can be done reliably.

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Looking at the rear hub you notice the huge offset between the disc and disc side flange. This was done so that the hub was perfectly symmetrical and uses the same length spokes for both drive and non drive sides. Remember, this thing is 222mm wide! The hub uses a 12mm thru axle at the rear.

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Built up to a fat bike, the frame set is able to run standard fat bike cranks in spite of the 222mm rear width which was chosen for proper chainline and chain and tire clearance. Phil Wood mentioned that 150mm rear spacing would be the smallest width they feel comfortable mounting the 13 speed system on, so it’s clear they are envisioning its use on standard mountain bikes as well. Currently just a concept, they are trying to figure out demand and how to package the kit for retail sale. Obviously, you would need a bike with a 222mm rear spacing, but custom frame builders should be able to accommodate.

What do you think? Is 13 speed the wave of the future?

 

38 COMMENTS

  1. At the moment I have a 2×9 system, so I’d need an 18 cog cassette–minimum. Although I would prefer an even 20 cogs. Even then, I still might keep my 2x front derailleur.

  2. Lars – not once you take into account the duplicated ratios in your 2×9 setup, you don’t actually have 18 usable different gears there.

  3. Why have 13 rear cogs on a mountain bike, much less a fat bike, when the overall range can be no wider than 11-32? How well can an XX1 rear mechanism work with a 32T when it is expecting a 42T big? Why bother with more than 11 cogs if the range doesn’t get wider than what XX1 provides already? All you need is 9 to get 11-32 on an MTB.

    There is no point in more cogs unless you get more range. This isn’t road racing.

  4. I bet getting a 10- 42 cassette is just a matter of shimano or SRAM deciding to create a new “standard” based on this design and forcing it down the distribution chain to the masses… After all a short/ medium cage derailler should be able to handle the 32 tooth spread without issue.

    Just wait until someone freaks together a 10-50 cassette…

  5. Been riding a triple for 20 years, yet to see a reason to ditch it. Works great, has massive range (22, 36,48). Just not heavy enough to even matter. Really couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve gone by someone with a 1x (or 2x for that matter) pushing up the hill cuz they’re out of gearing. And have done the same on the big fireroad decents. Don’t understand the love of ‘froome-ing out’….

  6. @craigsj the XX1 rear mech adjusts it’s upper pulley based on the amount of chain available to it, if you had a straight block of 15t cogs, it would shift right along them and the upper pulley would be lined up properly the whole time. that’s the main draw of the x-horizon parallelogram.

    using this knowledge, you don’t have to limit yourself to an 11-32 range, you could have someone like OneUp build some huge cogs.

    would anyone want it though? no way.

  7. @ scentofreason

    The two reasons often given are “clean lines” and a “clean cockpit”. When you pass those pushing up the hill, rest assured they’re not thinking about how they have to push up the hill while you pedal past. They’re thinking about how great that bike looks with one less cable, and two fewer chainrings. It’s progression. Enduro.

  8. We’re going to get to the point where it takes a couple of minutes to shift from one end of the cassette to the other! At this point cramming in more sprockets creates nothing but a list of negatives with no benefit whatsoever.

    I swear component engineers are determined to make me starting hating bikes. And I’m a guy that admires and often adopts true engineering advances on bicycles.

  9. “if you had a straight block of 15t cogs, it would shift right along them and the upper pulley would be lined up properly the whole time.”

    Or line up improperly the whole time. The upper pulley does not track the cog through the range, it pulls away from the smaller cogs. In the case of 15T, the upper pulley is very far away from the cogs, it would not be what you want. Sure, it would work.

    “using this knowledge, you don’t have to limit yourself to an 11-32 range, you could have someone like OneUp build some huge cogs.”

    That is unproven. Who has built and tested cogs larger than 42T with XX1? Where does the additional chain capacity come from? Lengthening the cage makes the upper pulley travel a shallower slope so shifting gets worse. Details get in your way.

    “would anyone want it though? no way.”

    Yes way. I don’t want more gears, I want more range. I’m not convinced, though, that >42T will work well. If it did I would buy it but 11 cogs is plenty. Going to 13 is worthless and limiting to < 42T adds insult to injury.

    The pluses outweigh the minuses if you can get rid of the front mech and there's no reason to double/triple shift all the time because of the worthless close ratios suitable for road rather than trail. 20% steps are fine on the trail. With 11 speeds that could yield an impractical 10-62 cassette. We don't need more cogs, we need sensible spacing and mechs that work with it.

  10. Cool.
    Front mechs are totally lame, once we have enough gears up back we can consign them to the history books where they belong (on road as well as MTB/Cross).
    Bring on the 16sp!

  11. I’ve got a 1×10 with a small cog and large cog adapter to give me a 13-42 range. I love it. Shifting into the two adapter cogs works like a charm, and I have basically all the range I need for all my trails. Some people may be sad to lose the 11T cog, but pedalling on the road to my trail is not important to me, and I virtually never pedal on decents. Having more gears is not a terrible idea, but I only care if it makes my shifting better and/or gives me a wider range. That said I’m not interested in a weaker chains to get those benefits as I’m already happy with my set up. Heck, I’d go back to 1×9 if I could get the range I want. Front DRs were always a bitch on my trails with all the short steep ups and downs. I basically stopped using it cause it fucked me up so much. On big long climbs or road bikes they’re a good option, though.

  12. @Jesse It always baffles me why people do this. An 11-36 cassette has virtually the same range as a 13-42. You didn’t add any more range than off-the-shelf 10spd, you simply shifted it lower. You could have accomplished the same thing by just going to a smaller chainring rather than creating a hodgepodge cassette. Cheaper, easier, and works better…

  13. @craigSJ,
    PDXfixed is correct. This is XX1, not the typical rear derailleur. The parallelogram moves the pulleys exactly horizontal. The vertical pulley-to-cog difference is accomplished by the massive offset between the upper pulley and the pulley cage pivot. It you had a row of 15t cogs, the gap between the upper pulley and the cog would be the same, regardless whether the cog was in the rightmost or leftmost position. There are plenty of reasons this is silly as it is. As a proof of concept, totally worthwhile, though. Cog sizes-custom! Someone call Action Tec.

  14. The pulley still moves in an arc on the horizontal plane.

    Now if you wanted true horizontal movement, you would use one of those ancient chainpull derailers.

  15. @scentofreason “Been riding a triple for 20 years, yet to see a reason to ditch it.”

    That’s fine. Personally I prefer the simple progression of the shifting on my 1×10. Just one lever and the gears shift in order, in either direction. That’s not to say 13 is necessary, particularly if the range isn’t expanded. As a proof of concept its pretty cool. And Sheldon’s 60 speed internal hub with cassette & front derailleur was cool as a proof of concept too.

  16. “PDXfixed is correct. This is XX1, not the typical rear derailleur. The parallelogram moves the pulleys exactly horizontal.”

    It does but so what? It doesn’t mean it magically adapts to whatever you want.

    If you look at the XX1 rear on the 15T cog it is quite far away. This is because the upper pulley doesn’t track the cogs at the same slope as the cogs themselves. You can make the slope steeper by making the cage shorter but then you reduce the chain capacity. Increasing the chain capacity by lengthening the cage will cause the slope to be shallower and will make shifting worse.

    It is invalid to assume that the XX1 rear will simply work with larger rear cogs and greater overall range. You could lengthen the cage AND relocate the upper pulley to provide a greater rate of change but you have to keep in mind that rear suspensions have chain growth that will cause the upper pulley to move. I think the SRAM engineers know more about this that the posters here do (or the tinkerers at Phil Wood).

    Why does anyone want more cogs anyway? I’d be happy with 8 or 9 as long as I could keep the 10-42. Give me a 10-50 10 speed if you can make that work. 13 cogs doesn’t solve anything.

  17. I’m no powerhouse, but I have been much happier with a 2x front after ~20 years riding with a triple crank. I rarely miss the bailout granny gear now that we can mount a larger range cassette, and chain-suck/ dropped chains are a bad memory of the past. The few times people do ride past me in a granny, they are usually walking about 10 meters farther up the trail.

    I haven’t been on a 1x, I suppose if you have the legs it is one less thing to go wrong. I’m looking at a cyclocross bike now, and I think 1x makes a lot of sense there. At some point, someone will develop a lightweight, efficient CVT (shaftdrive?!) as the complexity of engineering reliable 10,12 15, 18 gear clusters will get silly. The big companies like selling us cassettes at a couple hundred bucks each, so don;t hold your breath…

  18. The more gears the better. 1×11 just doesn’t have the range for me. Shimano’s 2×11 seems far more practical but I think the holy grail is still 3×9 or 3×10 (3×9 being less finicky). Yes there are duplicate gears but it’s much like Fox’s climb trail descend. Granny gear for heavy climbing, large gear for descending or smooth fire roads and the middle chainring for the other 80% of riding. The only downfall being front shifting performance but that was mostly to blame on the cheap and flexy front derailleurs low end bikes came with. When I first started riding I use to be on the 1x camp (back when people were making there own 1×9 setups) but the better and faster I became the more I realized how useful the other gears were. This is all location dependent obviously. My area is fairly diverse with a lot of ups and downs and its hot so fatigue is also a factor and extra gears make sense.

  19. What joy to shift through 12 gears when cresting a hill.

    So closely spaced. When does shifting 1 cog actually do the trick?
    I want more spread on a cassette, and ~25% upshifts. 11-13-16-20-25-32-40.
    Actually I tested this less the 40, and had a 33 in stead of 32. Loved it to bits.

    Gets you around a course real quick. Long sections need no shifting.
    Shifting is like scratching your back. If feels great but just keeps you from lapping as fast as possible.

    Off and on-road, you have a singlespeed gear for each main situation. 20 for singletrack XC. 16 for commuting. 13 for tail wind. 11 for downhill and pestering a road grouppetto.
    25 for lazy or steep climbing. 32 for the harder or longer stuff, 40 for Alpine grinding.

  20. (deleted)
    I couldn’t agree with Cloxxki more. Want to do something amazing? Make a slick new 7-speed hub, custom spec the cogs like he had, and push the flanges out to a respectable width. Every aspect of the wheel system changes in proportion to the hub flange spacing–improving when made wider [less rim stress from lower spoke tension to achieve the desired lateral stiffness]–getting worse when they’re brought in. Yes, you could try having your cake and eating it too, by prying the chainstays farther apart… until you have to start worrying about which trees you can fit between on the trail.

  21. Not the best use of resources.
    As a proof of concept it, kind of doesn’t prove anything except that adding more gear requires a wider drop out spacing. An 8 year old could work that out on a piece of paper with crayons.

    As a look-at-me publicity stunt… Well, it got me wasting time commenting on it so, I guess that’s a success(?)

    Give us a full functioning 8 speed 11-13-16-20-25-30-36-42 on a 10 spd chain width and I’ll sing your praises.

  22. 11 speed chain makes a lot of noise on the front ring out at the 11 and in at the 27 “crossing up”. I don’t see how the chain would stay on a 13 or 20 speed especially under a big load. The cross up would peel the chain right off the front sprocket.

  23. “Golly gee people riding any different setup than me are just plain dumb.”

    XX1 works pretty well for me and in a year or two will probably be available as X51 or something on $1000 complete bikes. But if you don’t want that keep using 3×9, 2×10, 1×10, 1×11, 2×9, nexus, rohloff, SS, 3×7, 3×8, 1×2 kickback, coaster brake, fixie, whatever. Go have fun on your bike and quit battering people on forums.

    Of course that being said, I will drop you all in the pisgah on 30×10-42 while wearing a fanny pack

  24. We all have different ideas of what is best for each of us. We all have different bikes that weigh different weights and all have different fitness levels and ride different types of trails. We all have opinions and that’s the beauty of life and of riding bikes. Cheers to Phil Wood for pushing the boundaries and stepping out of the box. That’s what keeps us all stoked to ride.

  25. I run a few different drive trains including a rohloff and I do feel that we will end up 1x(whatever ) in the future. The benefit of simplicity is the decisive factor. We will also end up with Electronic shifting on all but entry level bikes. Its the future. This is not to say that you cannot have a blast on any kind of bicycle, its just that progress is tending this way.
    There is a lot of great posts on this forum but I think most fears will be put to rest as material technology constantly improves.
    The great thing about 1x?? is that your chain stay can be shorter with better shape. Chain suck in mud is drastically reduced.

    DI2 Shimano 1×12 (9-42) with 30 front ring on a 29er is my guess.

    It wont cost the earth as it will become a standard.

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