Would You Rather: Road Tubeless or 1x Road?

For this week's question, we're dragging roadies into the future, kicking and screaming. You must decide: Tubeless tires or a 1x on your road bike? Pick one, and explain why!

Road tubeless vs. 1x gearing

Written by
Spencer Powlison

Published on

Posted in
Tech

Sometimes it feels like I'm living a double life. On one hand, my gravel and mountain bikes are equipped with cutting edge technology: tubeless tires, 1x drivetrains, not to mention disc brakes and electronic shifting. My road bike? Not so much.

And it's always been like this. Despite testing many a modern ride over the years, my personal road bikes have been very traditional. Metal frames, rim brakes ... certainly no tubeless tires or single-chainring setups.

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So that leads to this week's question, which might raise some hackles: You're in the middle of a hostage crisis — imagine "Die Hard" but not Christmastime and bikes instead of '80s Rolexes. The terrorists will let you go free, but only if you choose to ride either tubeless tires or a 1x drivetrain (a.k.a. one-by, single-ring, etc.) on your road bike.

Which do you pick?

Leave us a comment below with your answer and an explanation. Polls close next Monday at noon, and after that, a winner will be randomly chosen from the commenters. This week’s grand prize is once again a limited-edition TPC x Lead Out handlebar bag!

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Hands down, I'm going with tubeless tires, if you're forcing me to choose. The benefits of a 1x drivetrain are just not all that important if you're fixing to ride pure pavement. (Oh don't you dare say all-road ... this week's question is not talking about gravel, dirt, mixed terrain, or any of those other bumpy surfaces!)

Single-chainring drivetrains are all about chain security and the simplicity of sequential shifting. I don't need either of those on a road ride. The first is obvious: Paved roads aren't bumpy enough to unship a chain.

The second point is more nuanced. Off-road terrain tends to have more abrupt ups and downs. With a 1x drivetrain, you can click straight through the gears through those undulations. A front derailleur complicates the shifting logic. However, on the road, gradient changes are less severe and more predictable. So, the advantages of a wider gearing range and tighter jumps between cassette cogs outweigh the benefits of the single-ring drivetrain.

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As for tubeless tires, it is inevitable, people. Practically ever modern wheeled vehicle uses tubeless tires. It just makes sense. Flats are less frequent. Rolling resistance is lower. You have more leeway to adjust PSI as needed. Bike wheels and tires are getting to the point where setup isn't as messy and difficult as it used to be. So I think it is time to take the plunge.   

OK, now it's your turn. Maybe you've already got both tubeless and 1x on your road bike. If so, pick which one to keep. Either way, give me your take on the future of road bike tech — the good, the bad, the angry, whatever!

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