Helping Find the Right Drivetrain for You.
SRAM has always been known for their innovation in mountain bike components. When you choose a SRAM-equipped bike, you are choosing quality manufacturing and bleeding-edge design. Not only do SRAM’s drivetrains consistently offer a great price-to-performance ratio, but they also offer unique drivetrain options that simply don’t exist from other manufacturers.
SRAM’s claim to fame is their commitment to technical performance, lightness and durability, tied together with a focus on customizing a drivetrain to the individual. SRAM has loads of cross-compatibility between their components, allowing the rider to truly tune their drivetrain to their specific needs and budget.
The 1x Revolution
SRAM changed the game when they pioneered single ring specific drivetrains, and now offers 1x (pronounced “one-by”) drivetrains for anyone. Benefits of 1x drivetrains include a simpler shifting pattern, less drivetrain noise, reduced weight, cleaner handlebar setup and fewer wear parts compared to double- or triple-chainring drivetrains.
This buyer’s guide introduces you to SRAM’s MTB product line. SRAM divides their products into different groupsets that cater to specific price points. Generally, as you go up in price, the components will get lighter in weight, and will also improve in precision and longevity. When set up properly, all these groupsets will function more than well enough for anyone, however, higher-end components be more durable and have a smoother, more precise feel due to the higher-precision mechanisms, and of course will build into a lighter bike. We hope this guide will bring you closer to making the best choice!
SRAM XX1 Eagle Drivetrain
Don’t just raise the bar. Soar over it.
SRAM XX1 Eagle
SRAM XX1 Eagle was SRAM’s first 12-speed MTB drivetrain. Eagle set the bar high with an incredibly wide-range 10-50T cassette, truly allowing you to climb and descend anything in your path. Combining the overall range of a typical triple chainring drivetrain with the simplicity of a 1x setup, Eagle is the most optimized MTB drivetrain SRAM has ever developed.
With millions of trail miles and torture testing of their 1x drivetrains taken into account, SRAM redesigned the group entirely to further refine what they believe the ultimate 1x drivetrain could be. Not only did they add an extra cog, but they made improvements in the design that increased the life of the chain, chainring and cassette components to last up to 4x longer than the previous generation. By shaving weight from the cranks, the group is only a scant 50g heavier than the previous 11 speed group, but with a much improved gear range and durability.
XX1 Eagle is the product of incredible engineering and testing and has already been put through the wringer by many of SRAM’s pro mountain bikers. It has smooth, lightning-quick shifting, quiet running and zero ghost shifting thanks to SRAM’s X-HORIZON technology. As such, it certainly commands a high price. For the racer or the rider who demands the best, Eagle is the finest choice available.
SRAM X01 Eagle Drivetrain
SRAM X01 Eagle
SRAM X01 Eagle is the best choice for the enduro specialist or the rider who needs a hard-wearing drivetrain and doesn’t need to shave every gram. Whilst it retains much of the performance of XX1 Eagle, it makes some changes to improve durability and decrease price. For example, X01 goes with a foam-core carbon crankset instead of fully hollow crankarms, amongst other minor tweaks to use more affordable materials at a very minor weight penalty of around 60 grams over XX1 Eagle. It also has stealthier styling than XX1 Eagle, and comes in stealth black or Black/Red (shown). X01 Eagle is likely to be the best choice for many riders who want great top-end performance from a 12-speed drivetrain that doesn’t break the bank.
SRAM XX1 Drivetrain
SRAM XX1 changed mountain bike design when it was the first single-ring-specific XC/Trail drivetrain ever developed. 1x drivetrains had existed before in the realm of downhill racing, but they were heavy and used clunky chainguides. With XX1, SRAM proved the 1x concept could be used for all types of riding with a radically new design that introduced many important features for single-ring drivetrains, including a lightweight, super-wide-range 11 speed 10-42T cassette, the narrow-wide X-SYNC profiled chainrings for maximum chain retention and a clutched, single-ring-specific rear derailleur. The newest iteration of XX1 includes direct-mount chainrings for improved weight savings and the option to swap to smaller chainrings for big days in the mountains. The biggest selling factor is weight savings and simplicity. It saves a half pound to a pound of weight off your bike compared to other groupsets.
XX1 was and still is the gold standard that 1x drivetrains are compared to, and is a benchmark of durability and performance. It’s been ridden to the top of MTB podiums across the globe, and is the choice of racers who desire the finest!
SRAM X01 Drivetrain
X01 is designed to be at a place where cost, practicality and performance start to converge. While it still uses incredibly high quality materials and manufacturing, X01 is geared towards the trail rider who needs equipment that can take a beating. It trades ultralight materials for more hard-wearing construction and a lower price. Many would not be able to tell the difference between XX1 and X01 with their eyes closed. The difference between the two mainly comes down to weight and aesthetics. With X01’s stealthier black look, it has been extremely popular with hardcore riders that want excellent performance, who need their equipment to look good and perform longer than a couple seasons.
SRAM X01 DH Drivetrain
X01 DH is the downhill racer’s choice when fractions of a second count. SRAM knows you need complete confidence in your drivetrain when tackling the gnarliest of downhills, and with feedback from World Cup pros, developed a 7-speed X01 group worthy of World Cup performance. Downhill pros often don’t need 11 speeds on their bike, opting instead for a simpler, more stable 7-speed block with tight gear spacing, making up the leftover space with a guard to prevent the chain from bouncing into the spokes. Not only does it improve stability of the chain, but the tight gearing allows for a shorter derailleur cage to prevent the derailleur from smacking into an obstacle. X01 DH is for the downhiller who needs the ultimate performance from their machine.
SRAM X0 Drivetrain
X0 sets the standard when it comes to 2×10 groupsets. Combining lightweight components with a very wide gear range creates a very versatile groupset. Not every rider wants a 1x groupset. For many, the 2×10 setup not only gives a great gear range and gear spacing, but also greatly simplifies the shift pattern compared to a triple system, requiring fewer shifts to get to the gear you want. You won’t “spin out” on descents or run out of easy gears on climbs. X0 is easily customizable depending on what you want out of the system. For example, it is easy to pull off the double chainring and crank spider and go to a 1x direct mount chainring if desired. X0 type 2 derailleurs contain a clutch to minimize chain slap. Finally, X0 is lightweight with carbon cranks, derailleur cages and shifter bodies, and performs very smoothly, getting all the finest touches available from SRAM.
SRAM X1 Drivetrain
For riders looking for the great performance of a 1×11 SRAM drivetrain without spending a big pile of cash, X1 is here for you! The primary difference between X01 and X1 are comprised with weight and material differences. The crankset is alloy instead of carbon, the derailleur contains more steel parts instead of alloy, but is still respectably light. The chain is considerably more affordable as well compared to the XX1 chain, but lacks hollow pins. The X1 cassette is the biggest difference, with a completely different style of construction than XX1. Instead of being a single piece of machined billet, the cassette utilizes separate steel cogs riveted together with steel pins, which adds a bit of weight but is considerably less expensive. All this adds up to a significant cost savings over X01 and XX1 without sacrificing great performance. The only downside is a weight penalty of about ½ lb over the higher end groups. Many riders and bike companies spec a mix of X01 and X1 taking advantage of part cross-compatibility between the groups.
SRAM GX Drivetrain
GX is a product family built for the rest of us! This is one of SRAM’s most configurable drivetrains; able to be run as 1×11, 2×11, or 2×10 if you’re feeling old school cool. This was the group that brought a SRAM 1×11 drivetrain at an very affordable price point. A budget price with killer performance is the name of the game. The primary difference between X1 and GX comes down to minor finish characteristics and some small material differences. Remarkably, GX and X1 come in at near the same weight, despite the price difference. GX1 is a incredible choice for riders who want the maximum bang for the buck. Like it’s fancier 1×11 and 1×12 siblings, GX utilizes the XD driver body for the connection between your hub and cassette. If you want 11 speed range (11-42t), but on a Shimano-style HG freehub, you will need to look to the PG-1130 cassette from SRAM’s NX group.
SRAM GX 2X11 Drivetrain
For riders who want the ultimate in gear range without it costing a pile of money, GX is SRAM’s premier 2×11 drivetrain. Riding in real mountains is no issue on a double system paired with a 10-42T cassette! SRAM’s proven double front shifting is smooth and effortless, and the clutched rear X-ACTUATION derailleur keep chain slap at bay in the rear. GX covers all the bases.
Furthermore, with GX 2×11, it’s easy to easily swap between the default double setup to a 1×11 setup depending on the needs of the ride by disconnecting the front derailleur and swapping out for a direct mount 1x chainring in the front, giving you a drivetrain with considerable flexibility and more gearing options over the 1×11 specific drivetrains.
SRAM GX 2x11 Drivetrain
SRAM GX DH Drivetrain
For DH shredders that know fancy lightweight parts are just going to get abused on the trail, SRAM designed a more affordable GX-level version of their incredibly popular X01 DH groupset. The primary difference lies in less expensive materials, a marginal weight penalty and less polished finishes. The 7-speed cassette with integrated chain guard is not XD driver-specific, but mounts to a standard 8/9/10/11 speed freehub for easy compatibility with almost all wheels on the market. This saves the cost of having to purchase an aftermarket XD driver for your wheels or a different rear wheel.
SRAM NX Drivetrain
With NX, SRAM finally made the 1×11 system anyone can afford. While it is the least expensive 1×11 system on the market, years of trickle-down technology and manufacturing advances have made it incredibly affordable to still deliver great performance at a rock-bottom price point. The primary difference with NX is the cassette. It is not a SRAM-specific XD driver-based cassette, but rather mounts to the standard 8/9/10/11 speed SRAM/Shimano freehub body, meaning you don’t need to shell out for an XD driver to mount it. While you lose some of the top end range compared to 10x42T, this makes the cassette much more affordable and makes it possible to go 1×11 to almost any bike!
NX might not win a lot of fashion contests, but it delivers at a killer price point. If you want to be able to throw a rock-solid groupset on a bike that you know is going to get a thrashing, don’t go with the blingy parts. Go with NX!
SRAM X9 Drivetrain
SRAM X7 Drivetrain
SRAM X5 Drivetrain
SRAM X9, X7 and X5
SRAM’s X9, X7 and X5 are all 10-speed MTB systems that are available in a variety of configurations. X9 is very similar to GX, except it is a 10 speed system instead of 11 speed. Furthermore, these groups are the only place you will find a triple crankset in SRAM’s product lineup. These 10-speed groups are all cross-compatible with each other, but are not compatible with the 11-speed X-ACTUATION groups. X9 and X7 both have clutched Type 2 rear derailleur options; X7 does not. X9 has a removable crank spider and is compatible with direct mount chainrings; X7 and X5 are not. Furthermore, X9, X7 and X5 come in older, 9-speed variants that do not incorporate clutched derailleurs.
SRAM has built out an impressive and comprehensive line of drivetrain options for riders to choose from. Each offers a variation on performance, budget, and weight. If you don’t see a perfect combination of those factors within a specific group you can pick and choose various parts to mix and match to create your ideal setup. There are some nuances to compatibility, but we are here to help! Give our gear advisors a call or email to help you dial in the details of your perfect build.