JensonUSA bicycle mail order sponsors Bikerumor Interbike 2017 coverage

Go ahead and count ’em, Phil Wood has crammed 13 cogs into a gravel road bike. Sure, it’s a custom frame, but they’ve managed to do it with only a few hacks and mostly off-the-shelf 11-speed drivetrain parts from Shimano and OneUp Components. Here’s how:

prototype 13-speed phil wood gravel road group drivetrain

Their 13-speed prototype setup based on a standard 11-40 Shimano cassette plus OneUp 45- and 50-tooth cogs tacked on behind it. They made it happen by having SyCip build them a custom gravel bike with a 150mm downhill standard axle spacing. The hub has a custom freehub body that Phil Wood machined, but flange spacing is normal, hence the wider axle.

prototype 13-speed phil wood gravel road group drivetrain

Other than the custom hub parts, the thing that makes it work is this small adapter on the rear derailleur’s cable input. It moves the contact point upwards by more than a centimeter, giving the rear derailleur enough movement to span 13 cogs. This one’s a simply block of metal, but they’ll be refining it at the shop once home from Interbike. They say a Saint derailleur works better, but wanted XTR for the show.

prototype 13-speed phil wood gravel road group drivetrain

prototype 13-speed phil wood gravel road group drivetrain

As shown here, it needs a chainguide to hit the 13th (largest) cog, but they didn’t get a guide in in time for the show. Or, it could work with taller chainring teeth. As is, it wants to pull the chain off the teeth once on the largest cog, almost like it was being shifted inboard. That said, they’d probably use a different chainring because this one’s pretty expensive. They machined down one of their track bike chainrings’ teeth so they were narrow enough to fit an 11-speed chain. They want to make the whole thing work with 11-speed parts, and hopefully with Boost 148mm rear axle spacing. Word is they’re almost there.

prototype 13-speed phil wood gravel road group drivetrain

The shifter is a Gevenalle friction shifter, which eliminates the worry about making a 13-step indexed shifter. Originally they thought they could machine new internals for the shooter to add two more index points, but turns out there’s exactly enough room for 12.5 indices, not 13. So, small hurdle, but they’re working on it.

Eventually, they hope to sell it all as a hop-up kit so you can make your own. Or maybe they won’t. Depends on interest. Let ’em know in the comments.

new phil wood 40-tooth ratchet ring upgrade for hubs

On their hubs, they have a new 40-tooth ratchet ring that replaces the 25-tooth version. This is possible because last year they went to a new 5-pawl design with inidividual springs, which are user serviceable since each is held in place with a set screw. All new hubs come with this design, and older hubs can be sent in for the 40-tooth part upgrade for $45.

phil wood press-in inch and a half tapered headset

Lastly, they’ve also added a new press-in threadless 1.125-to1.5 tapered headset. It’s shown in the foreground, but will be available in all the colors seen in the background.

JensonUSA end of season road cycling and mountain bike clothing sale offers deals on cycling gear and apparel


  1. vv on

    When the largest cog is bigger than the rotor (…and probably sharper) might as well get an IGH. 1×9 works fine for me, or 2×11, or whatever else really.

  2. Marin on

    What nonsense.
    Wouldn’t Sram 11s with bigger aftermarket alu cog work better and provide basically the same range and you could have proper indexed shifter with rear force cx1 derailleur.

  3. Mac on

    So dumb. Why the hell would you bother with all this when you could just use that shifter with eagle parts on a 142 frame? The range would be better too.

  4. Diego on

    Make it 11-44 based on a ultegra 11-34 and adding 38 and 44 cogs. It would make much more sense for me to have closer gear ratios with added grany gear. Would be great for many applications and nothing like that exists.

  5. Ride n' stuff on

    Go Phil! Sure 1x may not be for everyone and going beyond 11 may seem crazy but without innovation and crazy ideas we wouldn’t be where we are today in terms of bike technology.

    I personally like 1x having a lovely 1×9 hybrid I built up and two 1×1 fixed and single. I wouldn’t give up my front derailleur’d bikes but for certain situations it is nice. Plus having more options for that lovely little red script Phil logo is always nice!

    Ride a bike with whatever drivetrain you want, just enjoy the ride!

    • Tim on

      I don’t think this is very complicated. I’d say it’s definitely cobbled together, but not complicated. It has fewer moving parts than a front derailleur setup (it has one shifter, one cable, and one complex parallelogram derailleur less than a traditional setup).

  6. Alex on

    Finally we will have a better gearing for those of us that love single rings up front and more choices out back! I gotta say I am really liking the Gevenalle friction shifter!

  7. Allan on

    It’s comforting knowing 1x road will never be more than a niche market for people who can’t figure out a front derailleur, and those who are slave to the latest “cool” trends.

  8. JBikes on

    it doesn’t even really work. Chainline is such an issue that you WILL pull your chain off without a chain guide. That seems horrible.

  9. Matt on

    People need to stop entertaining this 1x nonsense just because SRAM couldn’t figure out how to make a front derailleur that works. You know what’s better than shifting through a bunch of gears on a cassette (that weighs a ton) to get to your proper ratio? Shifting a front derailleur once.

    • skip on

      I was always surprised by the overall “you’re too dumb for a front derailleur” feel the ad campaign had to it.
      Not only was no one offended, but in fact, everyone bought it.
      And everyone merrily traded doped out stainless carbon laminate chain rings and ft der’s, for aluminum chain rings, and chain catchers that looks exactly like a ft der, but do nothing.
      And the whole finalized mess was somehow more expensive.

  10. Cowtowncyclist on

    This takes fugly in a whole new direction. I get the desire to max out the gear range, but from a company that makes such pretty and elegant kit to make this…

  11. marissahenry on

    An option to shimano and SRAM is always good. The amount of “out of the box” engineering and creativity
    is refreshing. I mean a smaller company says lets try this. Plus if Phil Wood makes it you know the quality will be very high. Derailleur optimization, cassette spacing, shifter modification… A lot is going on here. Any and all of these can lead to viable products. This is all moving towards “eagle” road, say 550-600% range.

  12. Brad Comis (@BradComis) on

    Shimano 11-40: 11-13-15-17-19-21-24-27-31-35-40. Phil wood road 11-13-15-17-19-21-24-27-31-35-40-45-50. With what a 53 up front? So bizarre. Gravel bike or easy/casual road cassette sure, but not for intense or road racing. All this to get rid of a cable and a derailleur doesn’t make sense, but you know what would make sense? A 12 or 13 speed 1x road ELECTRONIC budget groupset. Imagine SRAM wireless with half the electronics and Force level hardware. Now that would be intriguing because it would be affordable and there might actually be some weight savings plus the setup and maintenance would be even easier so you’d really be seeing some serious benefits. Oh, and then combine that with some actual road cassettes. Will road 1x ever cut it in the mountains or in serious racing? I doubt it, but it could be good for casual riders on flatter terrain.

  13. Crash Bandicoot on

    This is such a mess, Phil has been teasing this for a while, it’s a bitter disappointment 11 speed group with 2 massively spaced bail out gears getting 454% range in comparison with the 500% range available from a legitimate product and retaining minimal tightness in gearing ohh and you now have to change axle spacing and ohh let’s not forget you need a chain guide to prevent the chain from dropping’s in the biggest gear. Mock ups like this deserve to be in a collegiate or high school science fare not professional trade shows. Ohh wait this is interbike, disregard the “professional” part.

  14. i on

    If you want an setup that’s one kludge on top of another, that will never shift that well (due to the one up cogs – which don’t shift as well as anything factory even when used as intended; I can’t imagine they’ll work better off-label. Plus friction shifters bringing early ’80 shifting performance), has weird gear jumps, and will probably cost a fortune if it ever makes it to a product you can buy, I’m sure this is just the ticket.

    For someone who’s whole business is machining aluminum, I’d think Phil could make some parts that fit together to at least look like something that would work (like, say cogs with spacing that made sense); other than that box with a hole in it to space out the cable anchor.

  15. uzurpator on

    I like the thinking, but the practical application is pretty weird. 1x road on current cassettes misses top gears, not bottom, and I’d wager that 99% of people would be fine with 11-36 to 11-40 cassette, but with tighter top. So it would make more sense to replace the smallest two cogs on the XT with four cogs from an ultegra or whatever. This way there would be five cogs separated by 1 tooth, which gives the precision, and the whole thing would be much lighter. THe contraption on the picture weighs north of 500grams to be sure…

  16. cole on

    I just wonder how high the number of gears will get before it dawns on everyone that the logical conclusion to this progression is infinite gears. (Literally the logical conclusion, see mathematical induction).
    After riding a NuVinci I can honestly say that a 1 tooth (or otherwise strictly whole numbered) jump is a far cry from ideal; nothing compares to a seamless, instant, silent, arbitrarily sized shift. Gear range, efficiency, and weight will only get better.
    It’s only a matter of time before the first frame integrated CVT gearbox arrives, and I can’t wait.

  17. Jon on

    I agree with everyone defending front derailleurs- makes riding so much more fun (for me) working both shifters in concert. Still fun to push the envelope- if only to learn along the way.

  18. ELEVEN_g on

    Have people become *that* soft…?

    Not saying I am anywhere near a*hardman* but I happily accept I need to ride, so that the riding becomes ‘easier’…. not cop out and buy something that is *easy* to ride.

  19. Blair O'Malley on

    It is a prototype.
    I’m amazed as wrench on how conservative mechanics are in this industry.
    Forward and ahead.
    If it works, cool. If it doesn’t, well, that’s cool too. It doesn’t hurt to try.
    It’s not like they are trying to make a Ford Pinto into a Ferrarri.
    How many of you still use Edison light bulbs?

  20. Jack on

    I might be wrong but in the picture the hanger looks bent! On a more serious note, I really think this would create way more problems than it solves. And….. what problem does it solve?

  21. MaraudingWalrus on

    What varieties of headset cups; the one in the foreground looks to be zerostack. Do we know if they’re going to be doing ZS lowers also?

  22. Jörg Thomsen on

    Please, combine it with THREE chainrings and an XXXL derailleur cage for a whopping 49 gears…
    THATS what I need on my “road bike”…

    To go up hill on 30% and downhill in a bob track at 150km/h +

  23. Mint Zebra on

    How is this a Phil Wood product?
    They took an existing cassette, added 2 existing aftermarket cogs and turned an existing shifter to friction mode.
    And who has a gravel frame with a 150mm rear end? Or even a 148mm rear end?
    This is a non product

  24. Mark Rhomberg on

    I love the clutch derailleur. It has totally changed the “off road” experience. I remember talking to one of the DH guys about the difference it made to him? He said he used to use the chain clatter as a guide for his speed, with the clutch the bike was silent. It took him a while to get used to how quiet his bike was. I feel the same way about the addition of the clutch. It is 1x. It is what makes the whole thing work.

    As regards 13 gears I say YES. Would I go out of my way to buy this? Hmmm maybe next bike, since it looks like it needs Boost.

  25. Frippolini on

    Is this not the same discussion that has taken place every time someone ups the ante in number of gears? Is this not the same complaints we have seen through time going from 6 to 7, 7 to 8, 8 to 9, … etc.?

    Stop complaining, it’s useless; let technical innovation and market economics sort it out for you instead. If you are happy with 11, stay with 11. If you prefer 9 or 10, stay with 9 or 10. For as long as you want (and can). Enjoy your ride instead. Be happy that your future bike will be better than the one you have today; but don’t let that take the joy out of your riding, unless of course the bling factor of your bike is more important than your ride and health?!

    For anyone searching for a better/nicer/newer product, I say go ahead, 11, 13, etc., take whatever flavor your prefer.

    I’m personally on 10 speed. Next bike will probably be more, but until then, no problems. 🙂

  26. Mikel on

    The whole one-by thing really seems to be taking off, especially with the XDR (road) from SRAM likely to be announced soon. This is cool tech from Phil as well!

    • John on

      If SRAM didn’t announce XDR at Interbike it’s not coming next year.

      I’m thinking 12-speed 10-46T Di2 XTR might be perfect for 1x gravel, we’ll have to see how long it takes Shimano to ship such a thing…

  27. Bern on

    Relax – it’s a concept – not a product (yet).
    I’ve a wife who might dig it – big range and no front derailleur.

    Disclosure: worked for Phil for almost 20 years (70’s/80’s)

    Disclosure the second: I’m riding 5 & 6 speed freewheels for the most part…

    Disclosure the third: I really do not care what anyone else thinks.


COMMENT HERE: (For best results, log in through Wordpress or your social media account. Anonymous/fake email comments may be unapproved or deleted. ALL first-time commenter's posts are held for moderation. Check our Comment Policy for full details.)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.