Updated: Jan 2
Rotor 1x13 stands out in many ways from other big component brands, such as Shimano, Campagnolo and SRAM. Rotor 1x13-speed, specially stands out by their hydraulic gear shifting.
A cassette with 13 gears sounds really crazy and when I started cycling back in the 80’s, 12 gears where “the shit”! The difference back then, was that the cassette only had 6 gears and and then 2 big chainrings on the front, which gives you 12 gears in total.
Rotor has now made a 13-speed cassette with only 1 chainring on the front, 1x13-speed.
Over the last few years I got used to the electronic gear shifting, so why go back to mechanical/hydraulic shifting again? The answer is not quite simple, but over the last couple of years I’ve been considering riding only with one chainring, and I actually had it on my latest TT bike, due to aero(drag). But it wasn’t suitable for riding in the mountains, since I just removed one chainring from the regular 2x11 speed groupset.
When Rotor Bike launched their 1x13 groupset for both road bike and TT, I was ready to try it out. Mostly because Rotor Bike Components claims that 1x13s is the same as 2x11s because a 2x11s has many overlaps. Read more about this here: https://rotorbike.com/1x13-groupset-road/
MTB and gravel bikes already go with one chainring for many years now, so I assume that it’s possible for Road bikes as well.
So, when I had to change both of my bikes earlier this year, I decided to go with the Rotor 1x13 groupset on both my TT and road bike, although I was a bit skeptical. For that reason, exactly, I decided to write this blogpost, to help those who are considering buying a Rotor 1x13 groupset.
Rotor 1x13 gear shifting performance
The biggest difference from other brands, Rotor 1x13 has only one shifter on the right shift lever and only one shift-paddle which is used to shift both up and down.
Rotor’s 1×13 shifting works In practice much the same way as SRAM’s DoubleTap, with a small movement of the paddle shifting up a gear and a slightly longer stroke shifting down a gear.
It took some time to get used to it, going from an Ultegra DI2 groupset where you have 4 shift buttons. But you’ll get used to only one shifter on the right shift lever quickly. The big different is that when you go in a lower gear (up in the cassette), you have to press the shift-paddle to the bottom with a big movement, and when you go in a higher gear (down in the cassette), you have to press lightly with a small movement.
It took me some weeks before I nailed it every time I shifted and to be honest, I got a bit annoyed at the beginning !! But now I nail it every time! 👌😀
The indexing itself is placed in the rear derailleur and therefore it’s also very easy to adjust the gear. The adjustment takes place on the small combined thumbscrew/TX30 which is placed in the front of the rear derailleur. You can adjust it with your fingers, but it requires hard skin on the fingers, adn to be honest it is close to impossible. And I honestly don’t understand why Rotor chose a TX30 to this adjusting screw, because who brings a TX30 on their ride. But I never needed to adjust my gears during a trainingride – probably because the indexing is in the rear derailleur and not in the grip.
The shifting itself works perfect and it’s very quick in the reaction, even with a high load/resistance (when you push many watts in the pedals during a gearshift), so there is nothing to complain about! But be aware that it’s a mechanical groupset, so it’s necessary to have a little bit of shifting feeling in your fingertips when you shift.
The shift is 100% hydraulic and I was very surprised by how thin the hydraulic hose is, that goes from the grip to the rear derailleur. The advantage by the hydraulic gear shift is that there’s no maintenance like there would be with a cable on a traditional groupset – no worries about a cable that goes sluggishly because it’s worn out or needs to be lubricated. No battery that runs out of power during a ride.
At the time i ride this post, I have been riding with this groupset for 4 months without any trouble.
Rotor disc brakes collaborate with Magura
The Rotor 1x13 groupset’s brakes is made in collaboration with Magura and in my opinion the shifting-grips and the caliber look very good and the red ring on the calibre gives it a nice look. At the beginning it annoyed me that the grip was too far from the handlebar when you’re in the hook and you need to brake.
I thought that if I could barely reach the grip with my fingers, then how would it be possible for a women reach? But recently I discovered a small adjusting screw that was hidden very well. After the adjusting it’s now perfect! The brakefeeling is good, there is a fair bit of free stroke that is followed by a very pleasingly well-defined and sharp feel once the pads hit the disc. So enough breaking force on he fastest descents.
The height of the grip (i.e. where you have the fingers), is bigger than normal – Rotor is 52mm, where Shimano and SRAM are on respectively 45mm and 43mm. I don’t have any problem with the 52mm, but maybe a woman with small hands thinks it’s a bit too much?
Wheels were my biggest worry
I heard from others that Rotor 1x13 only works with Rotor’s own wheels, since the cassette is 4mm wider to make space to the extra gear, which makes the body 4mm wider as well. I also heard that the rear wheel would be soft as butter because of the spoke gradient is steeper on the side of the cassette.
BUT I have to say that Profil Design’s rear wheel was very stiff and more stable, even on the strongest sprints!!
And yes, it’s correct that the 13s cassette only fits on Rotor’s only wheel (Profil Design). Or you can buy Rotor’s 1x13 REVOLVER hubs and built your own wheel with the rims you prefer.
Since the indexing is the same on the 12s and 13s, you can use both 12 and 13 speed with the same rear derailleur. It’s only the backstop that has to be adjusted with a 2,5mm Allen key, which is very easy. And the 12s cassette fits on a 10/11 speed body.
That means that you can use Rotor's 1x13 as a 12-speed groupset on any wheels you want.
13 speed cassettes are available in the following editions: 10-36, 10-39, 10-46, 10-52
12 speed cassettes are available in the following editions: 11-36, 11-39, 11-46, 11-52
The Rotor 1x13 speed cassette i choose has the following rings 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 24, 28, 32, 36 and personally I could have used a 16 ring, because a 52/16 with 90 RPM is approx. 38-40 kp/h. Rotor told me, that I was thinking a bit too old-school by riding with 52 in the front – they recommend a 48 as a chainring in the front since I have a 10 in the back as the smallest, which actually makes sense since the gears then are getting closer(with 48t) and the smallest gear is smaller than normal. I’m still riding with a 52 though and hoping Rotor soon launch a 11-36 cassette so I can get my 16. :-D
The cassette comes in one piece without any loose parts.
Rolling hills and mountains with varying gradients.
How is it to ride with 1x13?
It’s amazing never to think about to shifting up or down on big and small chainring, especially when you’re riding in hilly terrain or mountains with varying gradients – forget about considering of staying on the big chainring or shift to the small chainring, just RIDE! That’s awesome.
All brands of groupsets makes noise when you ride in the outermost gears and so does Rotor 1x13 and the first few days it was a bit more noisy until the front ring was worn a bit, but honestly if you go for a silent solution you shouldn’t choose 1x13, because it’s a bit more noisy in the lower gears than a 2x11. But it dos not bother me at all.
With a 1x13 groupset you get something different and you get some attention by curious cyclists. And a groupset that never runs out of Power !!! 😉
- Factor O2 Disc Frameset, Peral White Size 52
- Rotor Bike 1x13 group set (52t - 10/36)
- Rotor 13speed casette, 10,11,12,13,14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 24, 28, 32, 36
- Rotor 2IN Power crankset (length 165mm)
- Ceramic Speed, Bottom Bracket
- KMC e12 Ti-N Gold chain (on the picture it’s e12 Black Tech)
- Pedals, Speed Play Zero
- Wheels, Profil Design 65mm back, 50mm front (13 speed specific hub)
- Disc Brakes is Rotor Bike (collaboration with Magura)
- Victoria Rubino 25mm tire (not a tire I would recommend. I changed it long ago)
- Black Ink water bottle cage.
- Black Ink seat post with 25mm offset.
- Handlebar, 3T SUPERERGO LTD 31,8 - 38cm
- Factor Bike Bartape
- Saddle is SLEAK 135mm from Secret Saddle Club
Weight: 7,3 kg