Components, Drivetrain, Eagle, SRAM -

SRAM Eagle 1×12 drivetrain review

Our test Hightower in Plus and Eagle garb.

Our tester Santa Cruz Hightower looking good in plus and Eagle garb.

Lowdown: SRAM Eagle 1×12 Drivetrain

At this point we’ve all grown a little tired of new mountain bike standards, but just like disc brakes and tubeless tires, if it proves its benefit the tribe embraces it. This is the key question we’ll attempt to answer in this review. Does SRAM Eagle 1×12 provide a significant riding benefit, what is it, who benefits? The other question is, how well is it engineered and manufactured to perform the task? Will it survive the demands of aggressive mountain biking? Read on for answers. Also be sure to check out our First Ride Review and get up to speed on all Eagle’s tech specs here.

Stat Box
Number of gears: 12 Price: XX1 $1417, X01 $1193
Gear Range: 500% Rating: 5 Flamin' Chili Peppers 5 out of 5
Weight: 1456 grams, 1502 grams

  • Huge gear range with consistent jumps
  • An occasional pop in the rear chain and cassette
  • 300 grams lighter than 2x with similar range
  • No current option below X01
  • Light and strong cassette
  • 50t ring color calls attention to itself
  • Seamless shifting
  • Not compatible with current 1×11 systems
  • Same range as 2x and 3x systems
  • Ground clearance on par with 1×11
  • Light, push-button like shifting
  • Uses existing XD driver freehubs
  • GripShift option available

Review: SRAM Eagle 1×12 Drivetrain

We’ve ridden the SRAM Eagle 1×12 on about five different bikes in all kinds of conditions over the last four months and the experience can be summarized in one word: Seamless. It just performs without calling attention to itself.

The XO1 group in all its glory.

The X01 group in all its glory.

The most remarkable quality of Eagle is the final shift, the big jump from the 42t to 50t, happens without any drama. There is no hesitation or additional pressure on the trigger shifter. Likewise going down from the 50t to the 42t. How this occurs so smoothly is a true engineering marvel, because we’ve experienced the struggle with other ‘mega’ range systems before. In fact, with Eagle, we’ve often looked down at the gear cluster and asked, “Did that big shift really just happen?”

Ace racer and mechanic Duncan Riffle paid us a visit in Santa Cruz to do a pro install of the Eagle.

Ex-pro DH racer turned SRAM PR man, Duncan Riffle, paid us a visit in Santa Cruz to do the install of our test Eagle group.

The shift quality rivals 1×11 or even 2×10. And in the Mtbr forums some have even said it’s better than their SRAM Red, or Dura Ace, or even Campy. It just works.

X01 Eagle cassette weighs in at 354 grams.

The SRAM X01 Eagle cassette weighs in at 354 grams.

Ground Clearance

This is the common pre-ride complaint, as new users are concerned that their rear derailleur will get ripped out since one theorizes that the derailleur hangs lower. But SRAM has figured out how to tuck the derailleur tighter and they say the ground clearance is the same as with 1×11 systems. We certainly had no issues.

X01 cranks come in at 526 grams with a 32t ring.

SRAM X01 Eagle cranks come in at 526 grams with a 32t chainring.

In our experience, there has been no issue with the derailleur getting caught at all. We’re sure it will happen to someone some time, but not at a frequency more common than on 1x bikes. The other factor to note is the derailleur is at its lowest point when it’s on the 50t cog. But that’s typically when speeds are low, as the bike is usually crawling up a hill. At ballistic speeds, the derailleur will be tucked in at a higher gear.

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