First Ride: SRAM Eagle XX1

SRAM introduced the first ever 12 speed mountain bike groupsets in March with the announcement of their Eagle XX1 and X01 drivetrains. While the Eagle X01 drivetrain is suitable for all riding styles up to and including Enduro racing, the Eagle XX1 is geared towards cross-country with the use of light weight materials.

SRAM Eagle XX1 1.jpg

 

The Technology


Cassette

 

In order to fit in the extra 12th gear, an entirely new cassette had to be built with the cogs spaced closer together than its 11 speed counterparts. The first 11 gears mirror SRAM's 11 speed cassette (10-12-14-16-18-21-24-28-32-36-42) which means an easy learning curve for those already familiar with SRAM's 1x drivetrain, there is simply a bigger cog at the end of the range. The dedicated 12-speed spacing makes compatibility an issue with the crank being the only part that can be carried over from SRAM's 11-speed system.

 


SRAM Eagle XX1 3.jpg

SRAM Eagle XX1 6.jpg


With the addition of the 50-tooth granny gear, riders will need to jump up a chainring size or two to take full advantage of the cassettes 500% range. SRAM Eagle with a 36-tooth chainring will give you the same top-end and low range of a 39/26 2x drivetrain running an 11-36 cassette. The Eagle XX1 cassette weighs a claimed 355g (87 grams more than 11-speed XX1) and is constructed using SRAM's X-Dome technique, where nine of the cogs are machined out of a single piece of steel billet. Two of the three remaining cogs are made separately from steel, and the final 50-tooth cog is aluminium.

 

Chainring

 


SRAM Eagle XX1 4.jpg

SRAM Eagle XX1 2.jpg


SRAM claim that the new X-Sync 2 chainring tooth profile lasts much longer than than existing X-Sync rings and that the new tooth shape has more mud clearance. Cutouts in the material also prevent chain suck as the teeth on the ring wear. In addition, the new X-Sync 2 distributes load over more teeth to reduce wear and the trailing edge has been removed to quieten release at the bottom of the stroke. The chainrings are direct-mount only and available in even number sizes from 30 to 38.

 

Derailleur

 


SRAM Eagle XX1 5.jpg

SRAM Eagle XX1 7.jpg


The new 12-speed derailleurs feature a larger 14-tooth X-Sync lower pulley (two teeth larger than its 11-speed sibling) to accommodate shifting across the extended range and sport a quieter, smoother Type-3 roller bearing clutch mechanism. The B-knuckle (the portion of the derailleur that is threaded onto the hanger) has been tweaked to help keep the mounting bolt from unthreading itself. SRAM have also added a bushing around the mounting bolt, allowing the derailleur to pivot forwards and back without bringing the bolt with it. The XX1 Eagle derailleur gets a carbon fibre cage and a titanium spring, allowing it to weigh in 12 grams lighter than the aluminium cage on Eagle X01.

 

Further updates see the Cage Lock button relocated away from the front of the derailleur to better protect it from impacts

 

Shifter

 

The shifters have been updated to include a 12th gear and improved to enhance trigger feel, precision and durability. The position-adjustable shift lever and the top cover are made from carbon fibre to reduce weight. There is also a Grip Shift option for those who prefer them over a more traditional trigger shifter.

 

SRAM Eagle XX1 8.jpg

 

Chain

 

The Eagle chain links have a smooth radius, with no sharp edges or chamfers, which yield a significant reduction in noise, friction and wear on chainrings and cassette cogs. This design also allows for a flatter plate, which means more consistent chain riveting and greater overall strength. The plates have smooth, rounded edges, as well as chamfers at the rivet holes, so the rivets sit flush with the outer plates. Hard Chrome technology extends the chain’s optimal performance life and a Titanium Nitride coating decreases corrosion and further reduces friction.

 

SRAM Eagle XX1 9.jpg

 

SRAM claim that the Eagle chain is the quietest, strongest and most wear-resistant chain in the world and that its unique design also provides significantly improved wear resistance on Eagle cassettes and rings. The chains are made in SRAM's own factory in Portugal giving them full control over quality. In their quest to design a quieter, longer lasting drivetrain, SRAM built all-new machines and utilized new processes in the development of the Eagle chain. It is not just narrower.

 

The Eagle Power Lock chain connector was also redesigned with Flowlink technology that provides better chain-guiding and increased longevity. Flowlink is marketing talk for ultra-smooth inner-plates that are completely devoid of square edges, resulting in a chain that engages the cassette and chainring with far less friction, for quieter performance and better wear life. The design allows a narrower overall profile that can withstand greater angles, and also allows for a flatter outer-plate, which means more consistent chain riveting and enhanced overall strength.

 

Crankset

 

SRAM Eagle XX1 10.jpg

 

The new Eagle XX1 crankset features a special hollow internal architecture, combined with SRAM's proprietary Carbon Tuned lay-up, that has enabled them to build a crankset that is said to be the lightest, stiffest and strongest on the market. This hollowed-out design however limits it to cross-country and trail duty only.

 

On the Trail


In preparation for my time on Eagle, I took my 1x11 equipped bike out for a couple of rides as I felt it would give me a good point of reference to the changes in design and extended range of the Eagle system.

 

SRAM Eagle XX1 11.jpg

 

Knowing that the biggest jump in number of teeth was from the 42T to the new 50T Granny, I shifted between these cogs under varied circumstances, but each time the chain slotted into place without any drama or a feeling that it was a stretch for the drivetrain. Overall, the shifting experience was "positive" with no ghost-shifting or delay in engaging when shifting up or down.

 

However the first thing I noticed when I hit the trails on the Eagle equipped Niner R.I.P. 9 was just how quiet and smooth the drivetrain is. There is a distinct lack of drivetrain "noise" especially when in the upper extremities of the cassette. So much so that I went back to our launch article just to double check what was done to achieve this.

 

SRAM Eagle XX1 1-2.jpg

 

The biggest on trail benefit was the fact that the test bike could run a 36T chainring compared to my own bike's 32T. As mentioned, above, this gave me the same top end range I would have had on a 39/26 double chainring configuration. This meant there was no comical spinning out of gears when things turned downhill. I could comfortably put in a couple of pedal strokes when needed even with speeds in excess of 45km/h. At this stage my 32T 11-speed would have been reduced to freewheeling.

 

Gear Ratios 1.png
Range comparison between a 10 speed drivetrain running 39/26T chainrings with a 11-36T cassette and 12 speed Eagle using a 36T chainring with it's 10-50 cassette.

 

If however you are after the extra breathing space when climbing, chances are you will still be able to jump up one chairing size and score at both ends of the spectrum. The table below shows running a 34T-50T combination will give you a lower granny than running 30T-42T. In fact, you would have to go down to 28T-42T to beat it, without the drawbacks that would come with running 28T-10T on the flats and downhills.

 

Gear Ratios 2.png
12 Speed Eagle compared to an 11 speed drivetrain showing how the 50T granny gear impacts on chainring size selection.

 




64 Comments

Skinnyone, Aug 23 2016 12:02

Glad to the test bike had a vertical shock otherwise the review would be skewed and not very scientific...

 

 

 

 

HAHAHA kidding...good review.

Lighthouse, Aug 23 2016 03:58

Price?

ZXR, Aug 24 2016 07:56

Can I have mine without the gold please???

Purnjap, Aug 24 2016 08:47

Price?

R28k. Counter revolutionary.

Spoke101, Aug 24 2016 08:56

R28k. Counter revolutionary.

and to think XX1 was R9k 5 years ago :blush: .

Heel Drop, Aug 24 2016 09:23

but its gold what did u expect

karma, Aug 24 2016 02:55

that Niner though...

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, Aug 24 2016 03:00

Can I have mine without the gold please???

Just get the X01 Eagle cassette & chain and you're on to the black...

Mongoose!, Aug 24 2016 03:11

wonder what it will cost to replace only the cassette :ph34r:

Heel Drop, Aug 24 2016 04:04

wonder what it will cost to replace only the cassette :ph34r:

probably around 7-9k depending which one and that probably only last 4-6000km - so twice a year if you ride allot - that is crazeeee money

Heel Drop, Aug 24 2016 07:35

they just preped us with XX1 now we think XX1 is cheap :ph34r: what comes after eagle will be even more expensive

Wolfie1, Aug 25 2016 09:41

Boom !!! R22500 for eagle xx1 :(
http://bikemob.co.za...eagle-groupset/

sometime, Aug 25 2016 12:40

So after 5 years at last a 1x system offers the range of a 2x system but at what cost?

 

This review is incomplete with no mention of what it's like to have an 8 tooth ramp between the 42t and 50t cogs and before that the 6 tooth ramp from 36t to 42t.  This is one of the most obvious and serious shortcomings of any 1x system and too often I hear of riders complaining of being between gears.

Meezo, Aug 25 2016 12:44

So after 5 years at last a 1x system offers the range of a 2x system but at what cost?

 

This review is incomplete with no mention of what it's like to have an 8 tooth ramp between the 42t and 50t cogs and before that the 6 tooth ramp from 36t to 42t.  This is one of the most obvious and serious shortcomings of any 1x system and too often I hear of riders complaining of being between gears.

 

Knowing that the biggest jump in number of teeth was from the 42T to the new 50T Granny, I shifted between these cogs under varied circumstances, but each time the chain slotted into place without any drama or a feeling that it was a stretch for the drivetrain. Overall, the shifting experience was "positive" with no ghost-shifting or delay in engaging when shifting up or down.

 

 

EmptyB, Aug 25 2016 12:46

But has Die Muishond tested it?

Heel Drop, Aug 25 2016 07:41

I am really wondering how many people can afford it at that price point - and that brings me to the question of how expensive cycling is. I think a large contribution to this is that cycling is a "PARTS" business.

 

Frame

brakes

groupset

tryes

 

and one can mix and match as you want , but this makes it expensive as the complete bike is mostly put together by expensive parts and every "parts" manufaturer wants their profit.

A motorcycle is also parts put together but is mostly sold to the consumer as one article and yes you can change the parts but in general its bought as a single unit from one manufacturer.

 

The industry has trained us to be willing to pay for expensive parts - what is so much different from the XX1 to the Eagle that makes it WAY more expensive , one more casette ring ? I like the idea , but I am not willing to spend that much money on consumables

Heel Drop, Aug 25 2016 07:43

Boom !!! R22500 for eagle xx1 :(
http://bikemob.co.za...eagle-groupset/

 

Evobikes its R27000 for the EAGLE xx1

Iwan Kemp, Aug 25 2016 08:15

So after 5 years at last a 1x system offers the range of a 2x system but at what cost?

 

This review is incomplete with no mention of what it's like to have an 8 tooth ramp between the 42t and 50t cogs and before that the 6 tooth ramp from 36t to 42t.  This is one of the most obvious and serious shortcomings of any 1x system and too often I hear of riders complaining of being between gears.

 

To be fair to the reviewer it does  say "First Ride" and "Three days with a whole new drivetrain does not equal a full review in our eyes." ;)

 

To understand and really feel the impact of that jump you need to ride seriously varying terrain. If the terrain is very steep the jump may not feel that big as chances are the terrain requires it. Unless you're very fit and / or strong. Maybe even not. If you're unfit and or tired the 50T will be heaven regardless of how big the jump is. Then again if the terrain is less steep and you only need or want a bit of a break for your legs then the jump may feel big. So it depends. On you, on me, on the terrain, on the time of day even. 

Koei, Aug 25 2016 08:16

http://www.bike-disc...ch?q=sram eagle

 

R19000 after banking fees, conversion, tax, etc.

 

It's a lot.

 

But when you see 15 year olds on R100k bikes you know that the high-industry is not struggling.

Koei, Aug 25 2016 08:20

Here:

http://www.bike-disc...rade-kit-544102

 

R10 500 for the "cheaper" XO1 upgrade. (shifter, RD, chain & cassette)

 

Or just wait for shimano to come up with some sort of 12x(1/2/3) setup.

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, Aug 25 2016 08:26

Here:
http://www.bike-disc...rade-kit-544102

R10 500 for the "cheaper" XO1 upgrade. (shifter, RD, chain & cassette)

Or just wait for shimano to come up with some sort of 12x(1/2/3) setup.


Remember, X01 is XTR level, more or less. XX1 is a bit above in the hierarchy stakes

FCH, Aug 25 2016 08:59

more bling than a Corolla in Chatsworth main road.

FCH, Aug 25 2016 09:05

a rhetorical question; did Nino use his 12th gear a single time..... the entire season.....

 

(ps- its not to compare any of us (the peeps I know anyway) to his caliber, more a reference to commerce in general, let the worlds best roll and swear by it.... yet they don't actually even use its supposed added benefit.

Vetseun, Aug 25 2016 09:06

II want one for my Single Speed

BenReaper, Aug 25 2016 10:25

Saw this groupset being fitted to a bike at my Lbs today. Must say it looks quite the part in the flesh.

It gives a real clean look to the bike as all 1 × systems do, and the Gold cassette and chain looks awesome.

Even though the top and bottom gear supposedly gives you the same range as a 2 x10 system I think it will have gaps between gears somewhere as mentioned by someone else previously.

On the weigh saving front it ain't so big either, the bike was equipped with older XTR 3×10 and by moving to the 1×12 XX1 Eagle managed to lose only about 200 grams.

IMHO this groupset is not suitable for everyone, I would stick with 2×10 or move to 2×11 for marathon riding.I think this system will be more suitable for trail or XC type riding.

Just my 2 c

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