Converting 2×10 to 1×10

My current full suspension 29er (I also keep a 29er single speed in the stable at all times) is a 2012 Salsa Horsethief. I never thought I could like a bike as much as my Niner Jet 9 that was stolen from my garage a little over a year ago, but with the conversion to 1×10…I might be 95% the way there. Let’s take a look at how it happened.

1×10 – The Parts List

1x10 drivetrain
With several options available for converting your bike to 1×10, I decided to go with the following parts:

I purchased everything at Amazon (links above) since they were cheaper than anywhere else (even eBay). Price was a prime motivator for the chainring especially.

While there are several options for the chainring, I went with the Race Face because it was inexpensive and had solid reviews. Tip: When converting to 1×10, be sure to get steel chainring bolts so you can torque them down nicely without having to worry about stripping them.

I was also very excited to try out the Type 2 “clutch” rear derailleur. I had read some negative reviews about this SRAM model specifically, in several forums, but it turns out that there were a few duds when they first came out and also (largely) people weren’t sizing the chain correctly (more on that in a minute).

What is a Type 2 Clutch Derailleur?

SRAM X9 Type 2 Clutch Rear MechThe SRAM X9 Type 2 rear derailleur features a roller bearing clutch. This clutch controls the chain tension over bumpy terrain. A Type 2 clutch is essential if you plan on running your 1×10 without a chain guide.

Type 2 rear derailleurs also have a “cage lock” which allows you to lock the mech (toward the pedals) so you can easily remove the rear wheel.

They feature a 36T cassette capacity, weight is 250g (medium cage), and snap like an alligator with shifts. Delicious.

1×10 Chainring Selection

When it came to the chainring, I knew I wanted a 32t. As mentioned, I do plenty of single-speed riding, so I didn’t really have to guess when it came to amount of teeth. 32-36t are the most popular options, depending on your trails, leg strength, and your testicular fortitude.

Brand wise, there are sexier options like Wolf Tooth Cycling Drop-Stop chainrings or even the North Shore Billet chainrings, but in the end I chose the Race Face for pricing reasons.

The Race Face narrow wide tooth profiling ensures ultimate chain retention and the stiff 4mm plate thickness and I-beam construction transfer loads without flexing.

1×10 Conversion Steps

1. Remove the chain. 99% of the time, this is easy. However, if you are stuck on the Powerlink removal, see these steps here and then switch to KMC MissingLinks like I did. Never had a problem since.

2. Remove your front shifter

3. Remove your front derailleur

4. Remove all your geared chain rings

5. Install your new singles-speed-specific chainring

6. Install your new rear derailleur with a clutch mechanism (Shimano’s Shadow Plus or SRAM’s Type 2). Note: most people run a medium cage, but I chose to run a short cage. I like the added clearance and believe it to shift crisper.

7. Grab a beer and enjoy not running a chain guide

1x10 meme

This next step is the most important step, and the reason you see so many issues in the forums. Shortening your chain to the correct size is vital.

8. You of course want to now remove links to prevent any chain slap and poor shifting. The normal rule for sizing a chain is “big-big (big chainring and largest cog on the cassette) + two (meaning add two chain links).” This is also WITHOUT running it through the rear derailleur.

For this 1×10 conversion, you want to use the same process, but add FOUR chain links instead of the normal two. If you are on a full suspension frame, you’ll need to let all the air out of your rear shock when performing chain sizing as well.


How Much Weight Do You Save Going 1×10?

Some people might be wondering how much weight savings you can achieve when going 2×10 to 1×10. I was curious myself, especially since the Horsethief is so portly.


The old parts weighed 1.4 lbs and the new parts weighed .65 lbs, so that is a nice 3/4 of a pound savings!

1×10 Before and After Pictures

1×10 Cranks Before and After
1x10 cranks

1×10 Rear Mech Before and After
1x10 rear mech

1×10 The Final Product

1×10 Ride Report

This project exceeded my expectations. On the first ride I bombed down a rocky downhill section that would occasionally throw the chain on the old 2×10 set-up, but no issues whatsoever with the new set-up.

Shifting was improved, but it wasn’t life changing or anything like that. Just crisper shifts.

On a scale of 1-10 I’d give this upgrade a solid 8 on ride improvement and a full 10 on ROI.


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