by Dave Anderson
December 20, 2012
As a Christmas treat we’ve managed to drag Sim off the Lapierre Spicy 916 XX1 just long enough for him to give us his first impressions of SRAM’s new kid on the block…
Product development is a bit of give and take. Sometimes a product will appear and become ‘must-have’ without anyone really asking for it and other times a product appears in response to consumer demand. SRAM’s XX1 is a bit of both.
Riders of a more downhill lilt have been running one-by drivetrains since forever and with the advent of 10 speed cassettes the number of bikes on the trails with a single ring on the front and a big block on the back has increased exponentially. For the most part these have been bodge jobs; chainsets dismantled and stuck back together again with a dedicated un-ramped chainring and paired up with a chain device. Aesthetically I’m a fan of the single ring system. Athletically I’ve struggled with the concept. With a preference for spinning up climbs rather than grinding up them I’d rather have the granny ring and ride up hills easily rather than struggle, or push, for the sake of the looks of a single chainring, a decision which I don’t take lightly as an arty-farty designer type.
SRAM has taken that rider-led desire for a single chainring with a 10 speed mech and gone one louder, taking it up to 11. But there’s more to it than just adding an extra sprocket to the cassette.
Jon Woodhouse, previously of this parish, was kidnapped by SRAM and flown to Germany for a few days to learn more about XX1 and was released with mild bruising, a hangover and a Lapierre Spicy 916 loaner, decked out with all things SRAM including, of course, an XX1 drivetrain. It’s fair to say it’s a perfect example of a modern day superbike; 160mm of air sprung travel front and rear, light, confidence inspiring geometry, a 142mm rear end, Press Fit BB30, tapered headtube, internal cable routing and hopefully the ability to pedal up anything in its path. Having your stollen and scoffing it springs to mind, obviously at some cost though (insert dough gag here).