SRAM XX1 First Impressions.

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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…


The only way to get him off it, is to get him to photograph it...

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.

One ring to rule them all?

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).

160mm travel? Yes please...

Comments (20)

    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?

    Can we go back to 1 story = 1 page?

    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?

    New clothes your majesty?

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

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

    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.

    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.

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

    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.

    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?

    “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?

    Looks nice, but way too pricey!

    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.

    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.

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

    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.

    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….

    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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