15 Jan Preview: SRAM XX1 MTB Drivetrain
When my work started “pre-selling” the new XX1 group I knew this is what I had to have for my new hardtail race machine. Not only is it the latest and greatest, which doesn’t always appeal to me on my own bikes, it was very tested and several pro racers I know whispered in my ear that it REALLY was the bee’s knees.
Setup of XX1 Reviewed
Shifter: Trigger shifter
Cranks: 175m, 32t, 168 Q
Cassette: 42 x 10 (with 11 speeds!)
Benefits of SRAM XX1
Rear Derailleur – Redesign of the rear derailleur. With an offset of the upper pulley, larger pulleys and a “straight parallelogram” that takes away ghost shifting and making it easier to shift. This derailleur also has the Type 2 clutch which keeps your derailleur from bouncing when you’re going down hill.
Chain– I can’t even begin to explain the chain, so I’ll show a photo!
Cassette– 10x42t. The cassette also has larger gaps to clean out better.
Cassette body– due to the size of the cassette going down to 10t, you have to get a new freehub called XD. I picked up a set of SRAM Rise 60 wheels (preview to come at a later date) and had to do a freehub swap. Super painless, and the freehub feels awesome. I haven’t had it on technical uphills to test out the engagement, but it feels good at most the trails I ride. A bit of a warning that there isn’t a ton of selection yet on freehub bodies.
Shifters– One shifter, pick your poison, either Grip Shift or Trigger. (I went with trigger, long term when I build up an all mountain bike I’ll switch the trigger to it and get Grip Shift for the race bike.)
Pimp. I’m a bit biased as I’ve always preferred how SRAM shifts. I’ve ridden XX, I’ve ridden XO and XTR. This by far takes the cake. The range I get out of the rear cassette is amazing. There is no cross chaining and it performs perfectly throughout the range.
My crank setup is a 32t chainring with 168 Q-Factor (going to be the most popular option.) I plan on picking up a 36t chainring closer to XC season but right now on the road I spin out the 32×10 at roughly 27mph. Your speeds my vary and my legs can only spin so fast! The biggest reason I want to go up on a chainring is so that I’m using the middle of the cassette more. Currently when hitting the few off-road intervals I’ve had in the off season I have been riding lower in my cassette, which (in my experience) wears out parts faster. PLUS, I like to have more wrap on my cassette when going down hill so my derailleur /chain are under tension a bit more. Yes, you can tell me that is what the Type 2 derailleur does but I still like what I know has worked for years.
If you are in the market for new parts, building up a new bike or simply like the best. I would recommend giving this a spin, if you can find it. As a rep my bike is always in my car, and most shops that I have visited have NOT seen XX1 themselves. At least not mounted on a bike that can be test ridden. The first group sets have been out in the market for a few weeks (I believe the started shipping the beginning of December.) I’ve seen some Specialized S-Works coming out of the box with XX1 too. Give it a couple months for more shipments to come from SRAM and I’m sure it will be more readily available at your favorite bike shop. If you see me, you can take mine for a spin, BUT not moments before a race, just a warning.
$1450 is a pretty penny for a drivetrain only setup, if you are looking to take yourself and bike to the next level you won’t regret it with this.
Once I need to replace my chain I will chime back in with a full review of wear and long term thoughts.
Disclaimer: I purchased this drivetrain out of my own wallet. This wasn’t given to me, and my opinions will always be honest.