We all knew it was only a matter of time before SRAM Eagle 12-speed technology trickled down, so the real question was could it translate the crisp, quiet shifting to a group costing half as much as the next level up?
For the most part, yes. Which is a remarkable achievement, and one that’s making it harder and harder not to put SRAM on your mountain bike. We had GX Eagle in ahead of the launch for testing, here’s how it went, along with an actual weights comparison between the groups…
SRAM GX EAGLE ACTUAL WEIGHTS
The complete GXP crankset with a 32-tooth chainring installed on 175mm arms is 632g. Crank arms alone (with direct mount bolts included) is 555g, and 32-tooth chainring is 78g. (Yes, I left the little rubber bootie on the crank spindle because I didn’t want grease all over my scale, so subtract 2g if you want)
Rear derailleur is 290g, cassette is 448g.
Trigger shifter is 122g, chain is 262g, and GXP threaded bottom bracket is 107g. Here’s how that compares to our actual weights for all groups:
|GX Eagle||X01 Eagle||XX1 Eagle|
For pricing comparison, check our launch coverage here.
Starting with installation, the parts are straightforward and easy to install. The XD Driver might have originally meant an annoying standards switch, but there’s no denying how easy it makes cassette swaps and now that it’s available from virtually every wheel and hub brand, we’d actually like to see everything go in that direction.
When I installed XX1 Eagle, it took a little more time to dial in the shifting because everything’s closer together and tolerances are tight. Plan on spending a few extra minutes getting the shifting dialed, and pay attention to chain length and rear derailleur B-Screw adjustments. SRAM includes a tool for getting the rear derailleur’s upper pulley wheel’s position just right, but I found that getting the chain length mattered too.
Originally, I started with a four link overlap when wrapping the chain around the largest cog and chainring, but shifting just wasn’t getting as fast as I wanted. It seemed like it was either off at the top end or the bottom end, but I couldn’t get both ends dialed. I took out two links (one inner, one outer) and that seemed to do the trick.
Even on the first ride, it still took a little fine tuning at the shifter’s barrel adjuster. But speed of shifts, quiet operation and general smoothness was good as soon as I hit the dirt. In the workstand, I noticed the increased friction of a narrow wide system with the chain in the 50-tooth cog, which is amplified thanks its massive size. I notice that same friction on any wide range 1x system using narrow/wide tooth profiles, but it feels more noticeable here in the workstand. Oddly, and thankfully, on the trail, it’s less noticeable than some other 1x systems and aftermarket mashups. So, while it’s annoying when you’re trying to set up the bike in the first place, rest assured it’ll feel much better once you’re out riding.
Considering how much less this group costs than X01 Eagle, the performance is surprisingly close. Just before this group arrived, I’d been riding a lot of other demo bikes and traveling a ton. I hit the trails on my XX1 Eagle equipped bike and was reminded why I love it so much…it’s crisp, fast, light and just works so damn well. Switching to the GX Eagle group isn’t much different. Shifting is nearly as fast, but it’s slightly (and I do mean slightly) more finicky. I suspect the switch to stamped metal parts and less finishing work leads to a minuscule reduction in tolerances, but again, the word I keep coming back to is slight. As in, if you weren’t riding the groups back to back, you’d never know what you were missing. In other words, if you’re already riding GX level parts, this is a helluva upgrade. To put its performance into perspective, I swapped out the stock XT group (with Race Face crankset) to install the GX group and I have no reason to switch back.
All of the Exact Actuation 1:1 shifting performance is here, but I do like the higher groups’ ability to adjust the thumb lever’s position. I normally set mine a few notches closer in. Another installation point worth mentioning is that I still have a few of the Matchmaker mounts left over from 2x systems and use those to mount my rear shifter. If you notice that the shifter’s mounting bolt sits to the left of the clamp, that’s not how they come from SRAM. For someone with bigger hands, I like being able to space the shifter farther inboard so my thumb isn’t constantly knocking into the levers. So, SRAM, please start including both left- and right- offset mounts with your 1x groups.
Overall, first impressions are good. Considering their success with Eagle in general, you are sure to see this spec’d pretty much everywhere. If price was your holdout for switching, that excuse is gone now. And there are no other excuses, it just works so darn good. Freeeeedom!