The 1x Cyclocross Drivetrain Refined, SRAM debuts CX1

SRAM_Force_CX1_Group_set

Let me preface this article by explaining I’ve been sick all weekend….some kind of sore throat and massive all over body aches. And random involuntary sleeping. Apparently this weekend past was when we should have rolled clocks forward. My iPhone and Mac did this automatically, but the other clocks in the bedroom and kitchen don’t. In and out of sleep, I kept waking and trying to figure out how long I’d been out. Sometimes it seemed like I had woken before I actually went to bed; I’d thought I’d been dislodged from linear time flow. I didn’t discover the clock discrepancy until this morning. Why am I telling you this? Because I’m rather irritable, and thus I have little patience for bullshit. And to a certain extent, bullshit is the very currency of media releases. It’s all conceptual names and talk about “user experience”, when really it’s a bunch of parts that you’re gonna grind and sweat on. Marketing is like when you come home from a long day’s work, and the girlfriend asks you what role play do you want to do tonight: teacher/student, shipwreck survivors, or maybe princess/knave? And you’re like, how about we just f**k and then we can watch Doctor Who while I give you a back massage?

So to SRAM’s marketing department: I apologize for going through your CX1 media release with a chainsaw, but you’re the ones who choose to release it the morning of my agony, not me. And to readers: I’m going to try to answer all the really relevant questions before you can ask them, so read slowly so you don’t miss it.

SRAM CX1! It’s here…sorta…or rather, yes and no. If you’re a cyclocross techno-nutter, you may have already noticed riders like Ryan Trebon sporting the prototype gear at CX nationals and worlds, but SRAM is giving July 2014 as due for availability.

That’s all fine, Mark, but what is this CX1 and why should I care? CX1 is SRAM’s concept name for a group of products developed for single chainring/rear derailleur-only drivetrains, targeted (primarily) at cyclocross. The advantages to a single chainring setup include a more robust drivetrain (since front shifting can be dodgy during cx racing), lighter weight, and better mud clearance. Any moron can remove the front derailleur and one chainring from their bike, but it is another thing entirely to make that work consistently in the chaos of a cyclocross race without dropping the chain. SRAM does this by borrowing features from their groundbreaking XX1 mtb group, SRAM’s original 1x11 system.

The two key technologies for both CX1 and XX1 are the chainring and rear derailleur, both of which use tech-sounding acronyms with ALL CAPS: X-SYNC and X-HORIZON….because lower case just doesn’t suffice for SRAM.

SRAM Force CX1 X-SYNC Chainring - 42T

X-SYNC chainrings have a distinct profile with tall teeth that alternate in thickness between standard width and something rather thicker. The thicker teeth are too wide to fit the chain at the links formed by inner plates but exactly fit between the outer plate links. This reduces the chain’s lateral freedom of movement on the ring, keeping the chain from derailing from the ring without any sort of guide or deflector. Even though SRAM invented this narrow-wide tooth profile for their XX1 group, a ton of other manufacturers have straight up copied them. I mean, if X-SYNC was blink182 (circa Enema of The State), then last week’s Taipei Bike Show was the Warp Tour, 8 years later awash in pop-punk wannabe acts. Which tells me that SRAM’s patent department is slacking off compared to Shimano’s aggressive preemptive strike strategies. It is said that Shimano has obtained a patent for shift-by-thought technology just in case humans evolve to have another frontal lobe.

SRAM X-SYNC tooth detail

SXSW 14 Photos

Our SXSW gallery on G+ has great photos from our photo editor, David J. Schloss, who shot everything from a Lumia to DSLR. The photos include these I selected and more I’m editing that were shot with the Sony A99 and with lenses from our friends at Glazers.

Burnt meat covered with caramelize sugar

Burnt meat covered with caramelize sugar

Bike racks in MJs

Bike racks in MJs

Tacos Good

Now that’s a taco

Lots of work to keep the bikes running

Lots of work to keep the bikes running

Meet spot

Meet spot for the Mobile Social

See our other posts about SXSW 14 and our ride recap soon.

Ride For A Cause Without Changing A Thing

Thanks to the SXSW serendipity-distortion-field I found myself chatting in the lobby of the Hilton with the developer of an app called Charity Miles. Here’s the elevator pitch, which is really all you need: you launch the app when you’re going to walk, run or bike and pick from a list of charities. You earn $.25 a mile walking or $.10 a mile cycling. There’s nothing more intrusive than an ad behind the pedometer/bike mileage meter and when you’re done working out you find out how much you earned for a charity. Just testing it walking around Austin a bit I earned 1.5 vaccinations for puppies or kittens with the ASPCA.

Here is a quick link to the app for iOS and for Android. Charity Miles

There’s an initial pool of $1,000,000 from sponsors funding this charitable giving. We talked a lot about the gamification of health tools—Strava and MapMyRide being early examples—during SXSW and how the next step is for these tools to empower better health for the user or better conditions for society. Charity Miles is the first such app we’ve seen that takes the act of collecting exercise metrics to the next level.

Chadder Box

I figured everybody else was getting sick, I might as well join the fun. And while I’m convalescing, a friend put me on to hip hop artist Chad Nikoz making music as Chadder Box (formerly as Mister Nik). My friend explained that he’d been a messenger at the same time as Nikoz years ago in Seattle, and Nikoz has been involved with the local racing scene from long ago. You can find a ton of tracks on SoundCloud. References to cycling are scattered through a number of the songs, but that isn’t going to be why you’ll listen to his music.

Listen to Wyrd. It’s a mellow, smooth trip hop track with a Miles Davis trumpet. Also check out Alligator. Really good stuff, and so professional it could be ready for prime time.

Chadder Box

Southby Moments

Terns in town

Riding around rain or shine on Terns

A fleet of bikes, riding around Austin, speaking about tech and photography sure, but it’s the Southby moments that make the SXSW event experience. Like this guitar player with a twangy Tiny Tim voice serenading two hipsters taking pictures of each other at a food truck lot.

Cowboy singer serenades photo-taking hipsters

Cowboys and Hipsters

Or Chris Distafino being in the moment at Mellow Johnnys after sharing a bit of industry gossip

Distafino

Chris multitasks like a boss

And a well-dressed Asian women riding a Tern on a Powertap trainer in front of a video wall in our space with Nokia.

Having fun

Booth space fun

It was Terns and tacos for us yesterday, riding quickly to and fro in the rain. Today is the Mobile Social and we’re watching the weather.

Tacos

Mmmm, tacos

We’re shooting at both sides of the dial while here with Lumias and new full-frame Sonys. Uploading as time allows to G+ with more stories to follow.

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