After getting the scoop on Rotor’s new 1×13 hydraulic shifting single chainring 13-speed road, gravel & trail bike groupset last summer, we knew it was going to be unique. What we didn’t realize, was that with no wires to route no batteries to charge, it was going to offer one of the lightest possible complete road bike groupsets at just 1785g. That will make it easy to build up a complete disc brake road bike under the UCI’s 6.8kg weight limit when it is available in just over a month. And you can probably do the same for cyclocross or gravel too…

Rotor 1×13 single chainring, 13-speed hydraulic drivetrain

Rotor 1×13 single chainring, 13-speed hydraulic drivetrain

If you haven’t ridden a Rotor road / dropbar groupset, there are few key things to be reminded of. One, Rotor uses a closed hydraulic shifting design with mineral oil that is substantially lighter than either traditional housing & shift cables or any wired or wireless electronic setup with its batteries – no cable adjustment, no charging. Another point is that Rotor makes everything in-house in Madrid, Spain. That means Rotor leans a lot on what they do best, precision machined aluminum & steel.

Why 1x road, and why 13-speeds?

So why 13-speeds (instead of the 12 of Campagnolo or now SRAM AXS)? Rotor thinks that adoption of 1x systems will revolutionize road bikes just like it has for mountain bikes. 1x is more simple, more aero, more reliable, and just lighter with fewer components. The biggest obstacles to real road 1x adoption beyond cyclocross and adventure gravel has really just been available gear ratios and consistent cadence.

So Rotor developed 1×13, taking a wealth of pro & amateur rider power meter data into consideration to evaluate optimal cadence & gear ratios for a wide range of disciplines. Their thinking was that with a single chainring, 13-speed groupset, Rotor could deliver the best gearing spread & most consistent gearing steps in the industry with four different cassettes (10-36, 10-39, 10-46 & 10-52) and a simplified setup with only a rear derailleur.

To make it work they needed 13 cogs, so Rotor maintained the 12-speed cog-to-cog spacing (to maintain compatibilities) but just added a 13th cog. For now that means that you need a set of Rotor Rvolver hubs to complete the group. But also as a stopgap, the new group will work with any 12-speed cassette (including Rotor’s versions that use the same ratios minus the 10T) on wheels with current Campagnolo or SRAM 12-speed ready hubs. Then, when the time comes to update/upgrade your wheels you can add on that 13th cog.

Rotor 1×13 groupset pricing, claimed weights & availability

Rotor 1×13 single chainring, 13-speed hydraulic drivetrain

We go into greater detail in a separate article about the component-by-component breakdown of weights & prices. A complete groupset of shift & brake levers, brake calipers & rotors, and the new 13-speed rear derailleur sells for $1830 / 1667€ (cranks, chainring & chain excluded). Add in another $415 / 380-400€ extra for the 13-speed cassette (plus the need for a specific hub) or $365 / 334-350€ for a 12-speed version to work with your existing Shimano freehub wheels.

Rotor 1×13 single chainring, 13-speed hydraulic drivetrain

As to the weight, Rotor’s claim of 1785g complete includes both shift/brake levers, brakes with 160mm rotors, the 1×13 rear derailleur, uncut hydraulic hosing, a 10-36 13s cassette, and an uncut KMC chain. For availability, Rotor says to reserve a group from your local shop or online from them with a 500€ deposit for April 2019 availability.

RotorBike.com

50 COMMENTS

  1. I would really be interested in trying this, but a (4th? 5th? I’ve lost count) cassette standard and own brand hubs are a deal breaker for me. Come to think of it, I feel the same way about their new cranks without a 110bcd option.

    Make an xdr or microspline or even campy spline compatible cassette and we’ll talk.

      • My point exactly. There are or soon will be other 12s options on road and off that use hubs that to are less likely to be orphans.

        • But at the end for all of those possible future options, our (ROTOR) cassettes, as they use classic Shimano style freehubs, will fit “every” wheel you may have right now (of course not the campy freehubs)

          • Hey Pablo – I agree with your team’s 1x philosophy and see promise in the hydraulic approach. If shift quality, durability, and reliability can be demonstrated to be on par with mechanical 1x drivetrains (which are excellent when set up properly), if maintenance doesn’t prove too difficult or costly, and if system cost can be brought down over time, I could see hydraulic shifting being optimal for many cycling disciplines. The challenge would seem to be integration of various components (lights, sensors, displays, regenerative braking…) over a wired bus eliminating most of downsides of batteries, and the tendency of computer controlled electronics to reduce exponentially in price over time. Kudos for innovating. Hope to demo soon.

  2. Such a shame this talented people from rotor are wasting time and money in something that will never be bought. Hidraulic is a pita, and this is very expensive and unique for anyone to pay attention to. I would have happily purchased a rotor rear der if it had the same cable pull as shimano or sram… but…

    • Hydraulic is superior to cables & housing, just about everything is. The other manufacturers have resorted to batteries and the exorbitant engineering efforts (and cost) necessary to make it reliable. Hydraulic is simple, sealed and environmentally reliable (which is why it’s used for commercial aircraft controls). It’s a little unfortunate that it was Rotor to bring hydraulic shifting to market, because it’d cost half as much if Shimano or even SRAM did it with the kinds of volume they would be able to sell at OE.

      • Commercial aircraft (not all of them) us a combination of cable and hydraulic. The reason hydraulic was not pioneered by Shimano or SRAM is because using cables was the better solution in this particular application.

      • FWIW, most new commercial aircraft designs are fly-by-wire (e.g. Boeing 777, every Airbus since the A320). Some older designs also run fly-by wire with hydraulic/cable backup. While I don’t argue that the reasons aircraft have moved to fly by wire control apply to bikes (i.e. allowing computerised assistance to keep the plane in a safe envelope), it’s no longer a valid argument to suggest that use of hydraulic control in aircraft proves that it’s more reliable than electronics.Similarly, a major reason that hydraulics became preferable over cable actuation of control surfaces has to do with the length of cable runs required leading to friction and cable stretch, compromising control. Even on a tandem bike, this barely applies, and cables can be set up to work just fine with very little maintenance. TLDR: Cables work fine. Hydraulics work fine. Electronics work fine. Use whatever you please.

        • Finally, another person that gets it. With all the hullabaloo about cables/wires vs wireless, everyone seems to forget that, until wireless debuted, shifting wasn’t really an issue. It still isn’t. Marketing often drives demand, and this time proves that again.

          Bikes are SMALL compared to really anything that requires precise control, and only in specific cases will the merits of new systems overcome the ubiquity of current proven cable systems.

          If you use relatively current and decent bike parts, chances are you’ll be pleased with the experience.

          • “until wireless debuted, shifting wasn’t really an issue. It still isn’t. ”

            This statement only holds up if you ride your bike only in clean, dry conditions. Ride your bike in anything more challenging then that and neglect maintenance/replacement, and shifting problems are not a matter of “if”, they’re a matter of “when”. Heck, do any racing or group riding and listen to all of the missed shifts & chain drops on otherwise clean, well maintained bikes.

            Cable shifting is simply the devil we know, so we accept its deficiencies as normal.

    • Because it would be inferior to their current offerings. And, it wouldn’t be maintenance free, but more like a different kind of maintenance.

      • Probably not. Setup would be different of course, probably a little more involved, but I’d bet most anything there’s less maintenance once it’s up and running. Cables and housings wear, hydraulic lines don’t, and shifting wouldn’t put any heat into the system, so unless it’s really poorly made, it wouldn’t require bleeds or fluid changes after the first one.

        The big players don’t do it because people are willing to live with the performance and maintenance of cables. And/or they’re invested in electronic shifting as the future.

        • Yeah, ‘i’ got it right, just look at hydraulic disc brakes, it’s so stable now that the only maintenance are the pads which is very easy to change, even bleeding is dead simple, so I really wished Shimano and Sram would go hydraulics, the joy of not having to worry about my electronic groupset battery level is totally gone with hydraulics!

          • Uhh… fluid in ANY dynamic system needs to be periodically changed. Any time there’s movement, there’s wear, even if it’s gradual. Shimano brake fluid darkens over time, and it’s caused by movement at either end and slow water ingress. I have personally watched as water droplets are pulled from a Shimano caliper. The water will slowly corrode the interior of the caliper or lever and the seal gland. Dust and dirt between the seal and the piston will wear the seal and piston.

            This isn’t often addressed since most riders use their bike infrequently and only for moderate use. Get your brakes bled! Change your suspension fluid! Oil your chain!

            • From my experience, the only time you’ll need to re-bleed your brakes is when there’s air bubbles in it, which makes it feel mushy. Other then that, you could, but it’s not needed.

            • And why are we talking about changing suspension fluid? Since we’re talking road bikes here, and yeah, definitely oil your chain and most importantly clean it!

            • No, sorry. that’s wrong. Brake fluid discoloration is caused by heat. Suspension fluid degradation is caused by heat. End of story. No heat, no degradation.

              This sounds like typical bike shop employee that thinks he’s an engineer, but can’t think in numbers and can’t tell the difference between 2mm of motion at nearly zero load, very low pressure and nearly zero speed, and what brakes or suspension experience. There is no comparison.

              • So what you’re saying here, is discolouration which happens, will cause the brakes not to work? As my point being that even if there’s discolouration, the brakes still work albeit not at the optimum performance which doesnt matter as regular joes doesn’t change their bike chains as often as professional bike racers (if you’re talking about optimum performance).

  3. Love this, I dont really care for 10t sprocket so I’ll just run the 12speed version. 11-39? Sounds like a perfect spread for 1x.

  4. OK, so they added space on the cassette to accommodate the 13th cog – what does that do to the wheel dish? I’m also not a huge fan of the cross chaining you get at the extremes of the cluster, you can’t convince me that riding the smallest cog (9-10 teeth?) won’t lose efficiency compared to a big ring/11T set up. 1 x is great on a MTB where you actually want bigger steps between gears, while also controlling the pivot reaction for the rear suspension, but all this 1x for road or gravel is no good.

    • For the 13 speed the dish of the wheel on the drive side comes in a bit. That’s the downside to 13 speed IMO: a weaker wheel. Not a huge deal for road use in my opinion but a deal breaker for off-road use. Personally I’m intrigued by the prospect of having a usable 1x setup for road use. The 11-36 and 11-39 cassettes look perfect for road use (at least for me). I’m also intrigued by the concept of the 11-46 12 speed groupset for my mountain bike. The cassette is darn light, don’t have to buy a new XD driver, and I like the prospect of not having to worry about cable tension.

  5. It’s cool on paper. I also wonder if rear wheel dish is worse than a regular hub because a regular hub is already not that good in that respect. About all the hate with road 1x it’s really dumb in my opinion. I’ve owned and raced all combinaison of ring on asphalt and dirt and 1x simply is the best. Sure some 2x setup work well like Shimano with monocoque ring but it’s always more problematic than rear shifting. Also many criticise the chainline when it is probably the best part of 1x. On a 2x setup most of the time you’re either a bit fast for the small or a bit slow for the big (close to average speed) so you cross chain a lot of the time. Also the crossing is worse because ring obviously have an offset. Finally because you’re often in that middle zone you constantly would see if you should shift that ring or hammer to finish that hill. 1x is not like that you never wonder what’s the right combination, you just ride.

  6. According to an older Lennard Zinn article, Rotor settled on hydraulic shifting for its Uno group because patents by the big component makers blocked it at every turn in developing either cable-actuated or electronic shifting.

  7. Does the lack of clear photos mean that there’s a flat-mount Magura caliper in the wings? I think that the Uno group used post mount. That’s kind of what it looks like in the top couple of images.

  8. Rode UNO 2×11 last year for 11k miles. Worked extremely well. People who think hydraulics are more complicated need to educate themselves. Can’t wait to ride 1×13!

    • I’m going to try 2×11 next as I felt the difference when I tried it on my buddy’s. If it really feels good, I’m gonna consider that 1×13.

  9. The big difference electronic shifting brings is that the speed your hand moves no longer affects the shifting. The derailleurs move exactly the same every time. Cable and hydraulic both vary depending on how you move the lever. But cable is the only one you have any chance of fixing on the road side. Lots of trade offs to contemplate.

    That said, Rotor should be commended for their backwards compatibility by providing the 12sp upgrade path. The new AXS etap is compatible with nothing, not even chainrings (chain appears to have a different roller diameter).

    • How do you fix cable actuated shifting on the roadside? Do you carry a new cable with you? I don’t mean this in a sarcastic way, I’ve just never seen anything done that didn’t involve new parts. It sounds like a myth. Something that’s always touted as a benefit, but rarely if ever executed. I figure if your cable breaks between the shifter and derailleur, and you don’t have a way to shorten the housing, you can’t reuse it.

      • Ended up with a two speed bike when the cable snapped last month. Could have threaded a new cable at the road side (had a spare at home that I’d been meaning to pop into the saddle bag after a club mate had similar before Christmas). Agree not many would do this – and after winding the end stop in to get 15t it wasn’t too bad getting over the hills for the 20 miles to home.

        • I’ve had Uno for about a year now and 12k miles. The hose for the shifting is super durable, you can kink it a million times and it will still work, no leaks. That being said if somehow the lever lost its function this is the only groupset where you can set your derailleur on any gear you wish without using tools.

  10. What about friction in cold weather? And I don’t mean 10 degrees Celsius, but as low as -5, -10.
    At -2 degrees, my fork almost stops working, and the breaks becomes really hard due to oil density.
    Rotor would by a nightmare i cold condition, and over in Poland temperatures below 5 are for 4-5 months.

    • I’ve ridden UNO in -3, no issues what so ever. I’ve also experimented with using antifreeze in the system, that will definitely not have issues even in colder weather but its viscosity is so low that the seals can’t handle it long term, it only lasts about 3 months before enough leaks through the seals that you can’t shift anymore. The good thing is that it’s a sealed system so bleeding it is super fast and easy. I almost never have to deal with freezing temps where I live so I’m going to try water next, but there is definitely a difference in feel between mineral oil and antifreeze in the system, they’re both consistent in different temperatures though.

  11. Wonder if they’ve solved their issues with their hubs. Or changed their marketing/advertising. One or the other would have to have been fixed.

    The hubs I got in for a customer failed to meet the customer’s expectations. The customer had been attracted by the initial wave of marketing and articles talking about the fancy magnetic ratcheting mechanism leading to nearly silent coasting, drag free coasting, and nearly instantaneous engagement. All of this done without the weight penalty of an Onyx hub.

    The hubs delivered on being light, and quick to engage (but still obviously not Onyx-level quick). However, the cacophony of noise was deafening – perhaps the only thing louder that I’ve built with would be Profile Racing hubs – easily out -noising the usual suspects of DTs with upgraded star ratchets, CK, Industry9. And the drag was shocking. The drag in the freewheel was enough to spin the cranks in the stand if you spun the wheel. And out on the road the chain would sort of bunch up near the top of the chainstay.

    I as a wheelbuilder had some gripes with the hub flange design or at least technical communication available on them. The fact that the spoke holes were not evenly distributed along the circle that is the spoke hole diameter is fine – except that Rotor provides no details about spoke dimensions (no diagrams, hub dimensions etc), and when asked if they had a suggestion for accounting for the unusual hub design (like a correction factor on spoke length) they just sort of said something to the effect of “do you not have calipers?” which was not particularly useful. I eventually just kinda winged it to account for the difference in spoke length created by the sort of paired spoke hole design, but it took two shots at to get the “right” length spoke. Additionally the endcap on the drive side was not quite long enough to allow the use of some cassettes (SRAM Red) without the lockring rubbing on the frame. That is to say, the lockring would stick out beyond the most outboard part of the “shoulder” of the endcap.

    • I should say, however, that I really, really like the way the UNO group worked. A couple years ago their traveling tech rep came and brought a bike by for us to ride. I rode it for a while, loved it, and ordered an UNO group that day (I was told that several were in stock and set aside for shop guys to get their hands on)….then Rotor’s goofiness and disorganization made it so that I got strung along for a few months with them telling me they’d get me a groupset, and eventually they admitted they weren’t bringing any in at that time and they were re-thinking their launch strategy. I went with an Ultegra Di2 hydro disc groupset instead. It’s a shame that the Ultegra Di2 works so well and hasn’t had any issues – otherwise I’d have tried to get an UNO groupset again..

    • multiple edits/comments to my own comment. (borderline /r/oldpeoplefacebook meterial right here)

      I should point out that the hubs I built with are/were j-bend, whereas the ones in these images are straight pull, so that issue with lacing may be solved if they’re now all straight pull.

  12. i hate ‘compatible’ terms.
    i prefer ‘designed for’.
    i will not buy it because 13 is a bad number.
    12 is enough.
    cycling should be fun.

  13. Anyone found the tooth counts for the cassettes? All I can find is the min-max, and I’m too lazy to count all the teeth from pictures.

    • Rotor 13-speed cassette gearing options:

      10-36: 10, 11, 12, 13 , 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 24, 27, 31, 36

      10-39: 10, 11, 12, 13 , 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 24, 28, 33, 39

      10-46: 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 22, 25, 29, 34, 39, 46

      10-52: 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 22, 26, 31, 37, 44, 52

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