With the release of SRAM‘s Red eTap AXS 12-speed group set, and our partnership with 3T  to stock their bike on the day of the groupset’s release, we would be remiss to make any other bike our bike build of the month for February.

Introducing AXS: What you’ll see is a brand new crankset, a 10t small cog, XDR freehub drivers to accommodate the 10t cog, a Flattop™ chain and a fluid-based retention system in the rear derailleur. In 2x drivetrains, you’ll also see a new set of smaller chainring options, and they’ll be machined out of a single piece of aluminium.

SRAM’s offering three new cassettes in the AXS line, the 10-26, 10-28 and 10-33. The chainrings for 2x systems will be 50/37, 48/35, and 46/33. With that being said, the rings are smaller than traditional 11-speed rings, while getting you more range on the high end and low end of the spectrum. In the hardest gear set-up, a 50/10 would be the fastest gear, equivalent to a 55/11 with the traditional 11t cog, while the easiest set-up allows for a 1:1 ratio at 33/33 for easy climbing.

Read more from SRAM.

Now, getting to the specifics on this particular 1x build, SRAM and 3T have delivered us a bike with a 46t chainring and the 10-33 cassette, which should be the go-to cassette for most people riding a 1x drivetrain. This setup gives you a climbing gear similar to that of a World Tour pro’s 11-speed bike at 39/28. SRAM is currently offering 40t, 46t, 48t and 50t chainrings in their AXS lineup, although we expect to see more options in the future.

While the range is important to most, we believe the best design feature of these cassettes is where jumps occur in the cogset. The hardest gears in the cassettes have one-tooth jumps. Smaller jumps in the cassette in that area allow for less abrasive shifting, and making it easier to “find the gear”, at a cadence suitable to you.

The 10-33t cassette has these cogs in their lineup. Notice the first five shifts are single-tooth jumps:

10 – 11 – 12 – 13 – 14 – 15 – 17 – 19 – 21 – 24 – 28 – 33

If you we’re to choose the 2x drivetrain option and go with a 10-28 cassette, you’d find that the first eight cogs have single-tooth jumps between them:

10 – 11 – 12 – 13 – 14 – 15 – 16 – 17 – 19 – 21 – 24 – 28

Read more from 3T.

Long story short, we think that the new 12-speed SRAM groupset pushes the envelope on 2x drivetrains, with smaller chainrings (read: lighter weight bikes) and better jumps in the cassettes (read: better shifting).

We also believe that 12-speed will be the driving factor for a lot more riders to take the leap to 1x drivetrains, with the extra cog to afford them that extra gear.