First Ride Review: SRAM GX Eagle – 12-speed drivetrain for the masses!
It was only a year ago that SRAM set a new drivetrain benchmark with the XX1 Eagle and the X01 Eagle. With the new SRAM GX Eagle, the technologies of these exclusive 12-speed groups are now affordable for everyone! We’ve spent several weeks on the brand new € 519 groupset and here’s what we think:
The SRAM XX1 was the first MTB drivetrain specifically developed for 1x use – and five years after its introduction, the niche product has become a mass movement. Many manufacturers ditch the front derailleur mount from their bikes these days and the acceptance in the bike community has grown steadily over the years. SRAM’s theatrical eulogy for the front derailleur dropped more than a year ago, but now it’s more appropriate than ever – with the GX Eagle, SRAM’s top technologies become affordable for almost everyone and 1x critics are robbed of their one last arguments.
Back to school – Why should I go 1x?
For most of us, this question may already be old hat, but many riders are still on two or even three chainrings, so we’ve decided to summarise the advantages of a 1x setup once again. By eliminating the front derailleur there’s not only weight saved, there are also fewer parts that wear out or break. As there’s only one shifter, changing gears becomes way more intuitive and allows riders to focus on more important aspects. The unique tooth profile of most 1x chainrings reliably keeps the chain in place, and a chain guide can be dispensed with in most cases. This results in an additional advantage: 1x drivetrains are much quieter on the trails.
The elimination of the second shifter results in a tidy cockpit, the freed space is increasingly occupied by the control levers of the dropper posts, such as the new 1x remote lever for the RockShox Reverb. Last but not least, the loss of the front derailleur gives bike manufacturers more freedom in the development process and rear kinematics can be optimised to better eliminate drive influences – no wonder that an increasing number of new bikes don’t offer a front derailleur mount anymore.
SRAM GX Eagle Introduction Video
All the buzz for one additional gear?
Yes, the Eagle drivetrains are 12-speed, but reducing SRAMs new one-way systems to this feature would be a tragic mistake. Many parts of the new groups have been optimised in detail and provide for better shifting performance, lower noise and longer durability. All the essential features of the more expensive groups have trickled down to the GX Eagle, costs are only cut with material selection and processing.
For many, the calculation of gear ratios still seems to be a mystery, but those who make the effort will find that you don’t only get one, but basically, two additional gears compared to SRAMs 11-speed groups. An Eagle drivetrain with a 34T chainring, for example, has a lighter lower gear than a 1×11 setup with a 30T chainring but retains the highest gear found on a 1×11 with 34 teeth up front. We felt sizing up two teeth when switching to an Eagle drivetrain to be the best compromise for most riders, resulting in a noticeably extended range at both ends of the spectrum.
Prices and Weights – The Hard Facts
The entire groupset is about 250 g heavier than the SRAM X01 Eagle and 300 g heavier than the SRAM XX1 Eagle, whereby the weight differences of the crankset and the cassette are the most pronounced. Compared to the 11-speed GX group, the GX Eagle has gained a mere 40 g, because the heavier cassette is offset by a lighter crankset. Before complaining about the few extra grammes, you should remember that the SRAM GX Eagle group is still somewhat lighter than a Shimano XT 1×11 with an 11-46t cassette.
|Weight||XX1 Eagle||X01 Eagle||GX Eagle||GX 1×11|
|Crankset (GPX)||465 g||495 g||628 g||680 g|
|Shifter||122 g||126 g||122 g||122 g|
|Derailleur||264 g||276 g||290 g||265 g|
|Cassette||360 g||360 g||450 g||394 g|
|Chain||250 g||250 g||270 g||259 g|
|Total||1,461 g||1,507 g||1,760 g||1,720 g|
SRAM 1×11-groups are currently available in five price categories: XX1, X01, X1, GX and NX. The Eagle lineup forgoes the X1 level, resulting in a massive price difference of € 780 between the € 1,301 X01 Eagle and the € 519 GX Eagle. The street price is likely to settle quite a bit lower over time, making the SRAM GX Eagle an attractive aftermarket option. Tip for bargain hunters: If you already have a SRAM crankset that is compatible with direct mount chainrings, you can easily upgrade to an Eagle chainring and stick with your current cranks. All Eagle groups are compatible with each other, so XX1 and X01 riders looking for more affordable parts can rely on the affordable GX components from now on.
|Price||XX1 Eagle||X01 Eagle||GX Eagle|
|Crankset (GPX)||€ 463||€ 458||€ 145|
|Shifter||€ 170||€ 145||35|
|Derailleur||€ 304||€ 240||€ 110|
|Cassette||€ 458||€ 392||€ 200|
|Chain||€ 92||€ 66||€ 29|
|Gesamt||€ 1,487||€ 1,301||€ 519|