I’ve been riding my hardtail cross-country 29er with a 1×9 drivetrain for nearly 2 years now and I love it. The set-up is lightweight, simple, and lower maintenance than a 2-derailleur system yet still offers more gears (8 more to be exact) than a single speed drivetrain. One disadvantage, however, is mine seems to drop chains like Jay-Z drops the f*bomb. Even with a short cage derailleur I got fed up with losing my chain on rocky descents so I turned to the e*thirteen XCX chain retention system (CRS).
Downhill riders may already be familiar with CRS devices but for XC mountain bikers it’s sort of a new concept. The XCX has actually been used by e*thirteen riders and employees since 2004 and in 2009 the XCX became the first CRS to podium at an international World Cup cross-country event. Like the 1×9 drivetrain itself, the XCX is durable, simple, lightweight, and low maintenance.
The XCX backplate is machined aluminum and fits tightly between the bottom bracket and bottom bracket shell (extra spacers included). The wearplate is made from lightweight plastic and comes in either black or white. As you can see from the photos white may not be the best choice for those who don’t degrease their drivetrain regularly. Once installed it’s simple to adjust to fit almost any chain ring (from 32T to 42T) and you won’t need to remove the XCX if you decide to swap rings. The included gold anodized hardware is blingtastic PLUS it should resist corrosion.
At just 56 grams this CRS won’t add much weight to your rig thanks to lightweight materials and the super-efficient silhouette. After the ride, just hose the XCX down and wipe it dry. And did I mention it’s made in the USA?
On the trail
The XCX performed exactly as advertised and I really haven’t had to think about it since installation. Earlier this summer chain drops were a routine occurrence for me despite having a chain catcher and a short cage rear derailleur. With the XCX I haven’t dropped my chain once and I don’t imagine I ever will again. It’s so lightweight I can’t tell it’s there and I haven’t had to touch it to make a single adjustment – how’s that for set-it and forget-it? For months I couldn’t trust whether I’d be able to pedal out of a turn or chattery descent but with the XCX I’ve regained complete reliability and confidence. I just wish I would have bought the XCX when I got my bike 2 years ago.
For enlightened XC riders who rock a 1×9 drivetrain, the XCX ($50 MSRP) is a must-have to prevent annoying dropped chains. This solution has been proven at the highest levels of competition thanks to its reliable performance in a lightweight package. Pop the XCX on your 1×9 XC race bike and don’t look back!