1X road bike?

bompington Posts: 7,674
edited February 2013 in Road general
I last had a single front chainring in about, errr, 1982. But in the MTB world the idea seems to be getting common again.

And now the Rusty Raleigh, on which the front mech was the only surviving original moving part, has recently had a torrid (but not steamy, as the temperature was well below freezing) encounter with a pothole hidden in the snow, which wound up with the front mech bent, twisted & turned through 90°, and the chain broken and wrapped around both the mech and the chainrings. Not to mention two bent wheels.
Spent half an hour trying to bodge something together but had to give up when I couldn't feel my fingers any more and called for the team car.

Now the thing is, I've been riding the bike since by taking the front mech off completely and just running it on the small ring, it looks a bit comical coming down the hill into Perth at a cadence of 150 or so but otherwise seems to work quite well, although it has had the chain jump off a couple of times.

I was thinking that it was time for some new drivetrain bits anyway, so now I'm thinking - why not a single chainring? Will the chain slip off without some kind of catcher/guide? If that's a problem, why didn't it on old 5 speed bikes?
If it's feasible, what kind of ratios? (I was thinking 44 X 11-28 would cover it).

Does anyone have, or has anyone had, this kind of setup?

Thoughts and advice welcome.