One chainring or two? Shimano helps you decide

New drivetrain advisor makes choosing simple

As with nearly every mountain bike technology, the options for gearing have gone from basically one choice to a plethora. To help offset the confusion, Shimano has created a drivetrain advisor to steer you towards either a single-ring or two-ring drivetrain.

Shimano has created a website to make choosing your drivetrain easier
Shimano has created a website to make choosing your drivetrain easier

Simple questions

The seven questions Shimano poses to reach your drivetrain "truth" are pretty simple. The first question asks what type of bike do you ride? The following questions ask about your fitness level, if you ride the same terrain or different trails often, what kinds of trails, the elevation, ride length, top speed, lowest speed, and finally how important are gearing gaps to you.

Does it work?

I've played around with a handful of different riding scenarios and Shimano's suggestions seem to make sense. In addition to the advice, Shimano breaks down the pros and cons of each system but, interestingly, doesn't touch on chain management as that typically falls into the 'con' category for doubles. 

For those curious in the gearing differences, the mini-site clearly shows the gear ranges as well as the highest and lowest ratios. 

The website goes into detail why certain riders pick one or two rings
The website goes into detail why certain riders pick one or two rings

Of course, the site includes a section to highlight Shimano's technologies. Additionally, there's a part detailing how riders decide on their solution, which includes both professional and amateur riders. 

No matter if you're destined for a one-by or two-ring set up, I applaud Shimano for offering choices and commend them for sticking with and continually refining the front derailleur. 

Russell Eich

Tech Writer, US
Russell fell head over heels in love with bikes in the '90s, and has been involved in the bike industry ever since. Between wrenching in bike shops, guiding professionally, and writing about bikes, Russell has honed an appreciation for what works, gained knowledge of what doesn't, and can barely contain his enthusiasm for what comes next. His two-wheeled passion continues in the Rocky Mountains high above Boulder, Colorado.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: High altitudes, forgotten singletracks, bike parks, roads without cars
  • Current Bikes: Custom Meriwether steel hardtail, Specialized S-Works Enduro 29, Kona Jake the Snake, Trek 69er, and a bunch more
  • Dream Bike: Yeti SB5c, Intense Tracer 275C, Black Cat custom road
  • Beer of Choice: Gin + Tonic
  • Location: Rollinsville, CO, USA

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