Are you looking for a cost-effective way to run a Shimano 1×11 speed mountain bike drivetrain on your drop bar gravel bike that uses cable-actuated disc brakes? If this is your wish, then this review is me granting your wish. Meet the Sensah SRX Pro shift/brake levers, the solution you were looking for.
Let’s say you’re building up a gravel bike and have a wheel that you want to use that sports a rear hub with a Shimano HG cassette body. Let’s say you also have an 11-46t XT cassette, and a Shimano MTB rear derailleur, like an XT or XTR, you’d like to use. You want your new gravel bike to have a wide range, like your MTB. You also want to use your cable-actuated disc brakes with the new build.
These 11-speed Sensah SRX Pro shift/brake levers will let you use your MTB drivetrain with your cable-actuated disc brakes without a single modification. That’s right, no rear derailleur cage swap, longer “b” screw, Goat Link, or need to rebuild the shifter with a mod kit to get the right amount of cable pull.
You can stop typing… I know there are quite a few options out there to pull off a functional 1x mullet drivetrain for your gravel bike. But, a lot of the brake/shifter combo levers are paired with hydraulic brake calipers, are expensive, electronic, and/or 12-speed.
If you have the Shimano MTB components I mentioned above, you can build a great mullet drive train for your gravel bike for well under $100. Not many other options (if any) will let you do that.
I’ve got close to 800 miles on these shifters and they’ve worked flawlessly. There have been some mis-shifts, every once in a while, but we’ll touch on why that happened a little later in the review.
The Sensah SRX Pro
The Sensah shifters shift using sort of a hybrid Shimano/SRAM style with a “double tap” actuation but with a single lever.
The levers themselves have reach adjustments to get them to the desired distance from the bars for the rider. That’s a nice touch for a shift/brake lever at this price point.
The shifters offer a nice high-quality, hearty, and positive “click” when shifting up or down the cassette. They give you the ability to push the lever all the way to the left and shift three gears up the cassette in one swoop. And then the normal single click at a time to come back down the cassette.
Sensah SRX Pro Installation
I received the Sensah SRX Pro levers from Velo Orange, who contributed them to my Masi Incanto Dream Build project. When I built my Incanto, I wanted to run an XTR rear derailleur and my Paul Klampers with drop bar shift/brake levers. And I wanted it to be a clean install, sans little doohickies to make it work right.
The installation went pretty smoothly. I Didn’t particularly love the shifter’s routing for either the brake or shift cable housing. Because of the cable-actuated brakes, I was running stiff, compressionless cable housing.
Getting the shift housing to make that first drop coming out of the shifter to the bar and dropping to the front, left side to go underneath the bar, was difficult. It required some stiff tape to hold it in place before wrapping the bar.
You can see in the picture above (top, left) that the shift housing is still not seated in the provided notch all the way. The other option would have probably routed easier, but put the housing to the outside right of the bar, and that seemed, at the time, a less desirable route.
600+ Miles with the Sensah SRX Pro
This was my first set of brake/shift levers that I’ve used that shift with one lever, so, I suffered a bit of a learning curve with that.
Overall the shifters shifted flawlessly. When I say flawlessly, I mean without one issue for over 600 miles of “not-so-kind shifting”. It was a positive shift to the correct gear every time. The “mis-shifts” I had weren’t about missing gears, but were more like accidental shifts, “user error” in most cases.
There is an automatic “brake lockout” built in to the right lever that helps prevent the accidental shift while the lever is actually pulled back into a braking position. But the action is so light, that sometimes I would accidentally make it downshift when merely reaching for the brake.
What About Egonomics?
The ergonomics of the SRX Pro shifters weren’t quite on par with the other big brands. It wasn’t a deal breaker for me but wasn’t quite the same either. Plus, with the light action and long-ish type throw of the lever when shifting up the cassette, it took a bit to get used to. It felt cumbersome at times. And the light action didn’t do well for me when braking on a technical descent. I would be blissfully bopping down a trail, in the drops, and boom, mis-shift. This happened more often than I’d like to admit.
Even after I felt I had learned the idiosyncrasies of the shifters, nearly every time while in the drops and the trail got rough, or I had to quickly grab a handful of brake, the mis-shift would happen. It was nothing catastrophic, or something that I couldn’t tolerate, just a bit annoying.
Something else bugged me a little more than the accidental shifts. Again, because of the mix of light action and the longer throw of the lever, I found when braking while in the drops, with one gloved finger on the lever, the right lever would want to slip out of my grip, to the left, leaving me reaching further for the brakes. That was uncomfortable on more than one occasion, not to mention a bit panicky feeling on a few other occasions.
Sensah SRX Pro Specs and Retail
Retail: $95 (as of this writing, on sale for $79)
- In the box: Left brake lever, right shift/brake lever, road brake cables
- Drivetrain speeds: 1×11 speed
- Up/down shift: 3 with full sweep, 1 down
- Reach adjustable: Yes
- Pull Compatibility: SRX and CRX 11sp
- Weight: 428g for the pair
*Note: When Velo Orange sent these to me, in October 2022, the description specifically mentioned pulling cable for 11-speed Shimano MTB derailleurs.
I think the Sensah SRX Pro shift/brake levers are an amazing bargain and a really good solution to a Shimano 11-speed MTB, mullet drivetrain for your gravel bike. They are easy to set up, and have some nice features, like reach adjustment, and a simple single lever “double-tap” style shift.
They don’t look “out of place” on a high-end bicycle, like the Masi Incanto. The hoods are on the “skinny” side, if just slightly, but still very comfortable on long rides. The graphics on the actual lever are a little bit loud for me, but I like subtle branding on stuff. It may be fine for you.
Overall, these shift/brake levers are almost perfect. I would, and actually have recommended them to a friend, who’s been running them for awhile now.
If you want a great low-cost option to get the gear spread of your mountain bike for your gravel bike, while still being able to keep using your favorite cable-actuated disc brakes, then the Sensah SRX Pro shift/brake lever set is for you.
Get ’em by hitting the link below.