SRAM XX1 First Impressions.

by Dave Anderson 20

XX1 shifter up close

In case you’ve been in the wilderness for the last few months (presumably on a singlespeed fat bike) and missed the whole XX1 arrival, here’s the story so far:

When Jon got back to the UK I was first in line with a piece of scaffolding pipe to ‘relieve’ him of the Spicy.

My two initial questions of XX1 were; would the chain stay on and would the gearing allow me to pedal up everything I normally would with a 2×10 system?

A no to either of those would mean that XX1 wasn’t for me, they are both pretty high on my ‘must-do list.

The answer to the chain retention would be pretty binary, it either derailed or it didn’t.

It’s still early days but so far I haven’t had even a whiff of the chain coming off the chainring, the combination of the clutch in the rear mech and the deep chainring teeth seem to be keeping everything where it should be. Admittedly the bike has been set up by a SRAM mechanic who knew what they were doing, it’d be interesting to see if a user-fitted version was quite so flawless.

Clutch rear mech

Regarding the ability to get up everything a 2×10 system would let me get up, it was another thumbs up. Riding up a climb that usually has me in the granny ring and large cog in the back I looked down and saw I still had a cog left with XX1. If I could get up that hill with a gear to spare I’m confident that for the majority of the riding I do the gear range is just fine, although I probably need to find some even steeper hills to find its limits with this particular rider.

This one goes to 11

Other initial impressions are how quiet it is. It was probably deliberate but the silent freewheeling DT hubs SRAM fitted to the Spicy mean you can hear, or rather not hear, how little noise the drivetrain makes. No chainslap, no grinding, rubbing or clatter, just a dull click when you change gear. It’s quieter than most people’s singlespeeds.

To complement the lack of noise is the lack of effort required to change gear, the shifts are light and, while they still have the trademark SRAM bullet-from-a-gun feel, it’s not as pronounced as normal.

The sound of one hand shifting

Riding predominantly in a steep-sided valley means that sometimes I get a distorted view on things. Sure, XX1 has proved to me it can allow me to winch from one side of the valley to the next, but what’s it like on more contouring terrain? Will I run out of gears at the smaller end of the cassette? How will it cope in deep mud? How long will it last? All questions I’m hoping to find answers to very soon.

Spec Chart:
Frame: Lapierre Spicy 916. Carbon. Large.
Shock: RockShox Monarch RT3
Fork: RockShox Lyrik Dual Position
Wheels: DT Swiss EX 1750
Tyres: Schwalbe Dirty Dan, Maxxis Minion (currently)
Chainset: SRAM XX1, 34t
Rear Mech: SRAM XX1
Cassette: SRAM XX1 10-42t
Brakes: Avid X0 Trail
Stem: Truvativ 50mm
Bars: Truvativ BooBar 740mm
Grips: SRAM
Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth
Saddle: Fizik Tundra

SRAM XX1 Trigger Shifter: £139.99
SRAM XX1 Rear Mech: £239.99
SRAM XX1 XG-1199 Cassette: £329.99
SRAM XX1 Chain: £49.99
SRAM XX1 Crankset (BB30, no bearings): £289.99

From: Fisher Outdoor×11

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Comments (20)

  1. I’d be interested to hear about chain retention in a few months. That c/ring is already showing wear through use of the lower gears and the extreme chainline that entails. Once that material has gone, how can the ring “hold on” to the chain?

  2. Can we go back to 1 story = 1 page?

  3. Like sillyoldman said, it will be interesting to see how well the system keeps hold of the chain once it’s worn significantly. I’d also be concerned about the longevity of the parts, £330 for a cassette and £50 for a chain isn’t cheap. Christ, how many people can even afford to blow £1000 on a drivetrain on that note.

    How much will the chainrings be?

  4. New clothes your majesty?

  5. I seem to remember a similar reaction to news of 2×10 and ten speed in general 😉

  6. Looks like a great bit of kit but HOW MUCH!!!!
    There ain’t no cassette that can justify that price.

  7. Wasn’t the RRP for an XX cassette almost £500 when that was released? It’s still an indecent amount of money but remember a SRAM Red road mech is something like £315. For possibly the most exposed item of equipment on a bike? Truly pro level IMHO. The question is whether there will be trickle down but I doubt it would ever reach X5/X7 level but what do I know?

    As for wear – to be honest any piece of shiny new kit will take a rapid aesthetic battering. I’m not saying one shouldn’t question longevity, I’m just not one to jump on the “oh look it’s only been used for 3 weeks and looks knacked”. I am interested to see how it does wear and how performance deteriorates.

  8. I really hope they quickly release this in X9/X0 at more sensible pricing. I think in theory is sound great but I don’t know anyone who would take a punt and try it out for £1000. Half that would still be a bit of pain in the wallet and give me second thoughts.

  9. The brief interview with the product manager for XX1 in WMTB this month suggests the trickle down may be slow in coming.

  10. Anyone remember the old Suntour Alpine 14-38T freewheel from *mumble* years ago? There ain’t nothing new under the sun ….

    I’ll stick with my Alfine-11 for now – one chainring, one cog and about half the cost.

  11. Speaker – I have no problem with aesthetic battering, but given that the chainring holds the chain on via contact with both inner and outer chain plates, the visible physical wear will potentially lessen this hold – no?

  12. “would the gearing allow me to pedal up everything I normally would”
    if you work it out, its (on paper) equivalent to:
    – 22T granny (ie 9spd) and a 27T sprocket, about 2 gears less
    – 24T granny (ie 10spd triple/’trail’ double) and a ‘29.5’T sprocket, about 1.5 gears less
    – 26T granny (ie 10spd small* ‘XC’ double) and a 32T sprocket, about a gear less
    *obviously available are 27 and 29T 10spd ‘XC’ doubles,and other combos?

    “climb that usually has me in the granny ring and large cog in the back I looked down and saw I still had a cog left with XX1”
    New bike?

  13. Looks nice, but way too pricey!

  14. So…inc the cranks that’s just over the £1k mark. Interzen +1 think ill stick with me Rohloff…no chain slap, 14 gears, no dropped chain, bla, bla, bla. Yes it’s a little lardy, but I’ll be adding to the lard around my waist over the next 2 weeks anyway….it’s all relative.

  15. As someone who seems to use 22/36t ratio (lonnng steep climbs) I’ve kinda gone off the idea of XX1 setup. Not *quite* low enough gearing. Still think it could be ideal for Enduro racers and such like.

  16. What do you mean ben, enduro riders are lazy buggers who never pedal up?

  17. Really excited to hear the long term feedback. It’s expensive now, but if the concept truly works, then innovative may become the norm and imitated, so bringing prices down.

  18. Would be good if Sram tried to come up with a similar weight internal hub instead of a £350 quid cassette and equally silly priced rear der that will still get twatted by debris….

  19. it’s great capitalism though that a system that has one chainring, a rear der and a cassette is more expensive than many 3 ring devices…sure, it is made to be light but come on! Still want one though ha ha

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