Mods. This is the good stuff.
At this stage of the project, my passion for customization and modification was in full swing. As a habitual tinkerer, I couldn't resist diving into the finer details that set this build apart from a standard bike.
GEARING: 48 / 32 front chainrings + 10-30t rear cassette
I settled on using SRAM Rival AXS, and if you looked closely at the photo in the previous section, you would have seen a front derailleur and a 1x crank. The reason: I planned to use non-SRAM-approved rings. Based on my experience, I knew I wanted a 48t big chainring. Although I don't typically spin out a 46t during regular riding, a 48t allows me to drop my cadence in preparation for a sprint. The usual SRAM pairing is a 48/35t front ring combination, which, combined with the 10-33t cassette, offers great range and spacing. However, the 48/32t paired with the 10-30t provides the same range with more tightly stepped climbing gears, at the cost of an extra compensation shift when changing the front ring – a trade-off I'm willing to make.
CRANKSET: Rival 1x + Standard Power Crank
A significant advantage of the Rival AXS system is its spindle-based power meter, which is accurate and cost-effective. Its design allows for use with direct mount chainrings and various spiders with different BCDs, enabling more chainring options. The challenge is that SRAM's 2x systems use a drive side crank with a built-in spider, while the 1x system with the standard SRAM 8-bolt interface only comes with the longer "wide" spindle. For a road bike designed with "standard" chain lines and q-factors, this posed an issue. However, by combining the standard length power crank with the 1x drive side, an 8-bolt power road "standard" crank can be created, costing an extra $30 but allowing more chainring choices, including SRAM Force and aftermarket offerings from Rotor, Praxis, Carbon-Ti, and others.
CHAINRINGS + SPIDER: Praxis Buzz + Croder Spirit
I chose Praxis 48/32t chainrings, which I had previously used on my gravel bike. Shifting with the SRAM AXS flat-top chain is instant and smooth, often engaging on the first set of ramps and pins. In my opinion, it brings Shimano-level refinement to the front shifting, or at least is comparable to the stock SRAM rings. To mount them to the Rival AXS cranks, I needed a SRAM 8-bolt compatible 5x110 BCD spider. After some searching, I selected the Croder Spirit Spider, which fits precisely with the cranks, unlike cheaper alternatives. The Croder product even fits better than the Rival XPLR chainring that came with the crank!
To make the Praxis 48/32 rings work, I filed down the mounting tabs of the Croder Spirit Spider. This tab design is something that Cane Creek, Bingham Built, and Specialized have all built into their designs to allow the use of these specific Praxis rings. I removed almost half the thickness of the top edge of the tab, following the same dimensions as a Bingham Built spider I had on hand. This is a bit risky, so I will be monitoring this part closely during use. If you decide to do this, proceed at your own risk. Later, I used the spider as practice for my Cerakote application, which wasn't perfect but looks great when mounted.