Initially envisioned as a niche racers’ product, in just a few short years single-chainring drivetrains have become immensely popular for all sorts of riders, from gram counters to the baggies-peak crowd. But another group that would benefit immensely from a one-by-eleven group’s reduced complexity and weight –beginners– has been left out thanks largely to staggering cassette prices and dedicated freehubs.
That is, until today.
SRAM’s assertion that “shifting a bicycle should be easier” will ring especially true to anyone who has taught a new rider the ins and outs of front shifting and cross-chaining. With the new NX drivetrain, SRAM has set aside previous 1×11 groups’ pricey XD driver and its complex cassette architecture in favour of the long-running Shimano spline. That, combined with more cost-effective implementations of the brand’s X-Sync chainring teeth, roller bearing X-Actuation rear derailleurs, and trigger or GripShift shifters makes for a one-by-eleven drivetrain that starts at £251: less than the cost of a replacement XX1 cassette.
As we’ve seen with Shimano’s eleven-speed groups, space constraints on the NX cassette mean setting aside the 10t top cog in favor of an 11t- only one tooth but a sizable percentage at that end of the cassette. It’s also not exactly light at 538g (about 90g heavier than a Shimano XT in the same 11-42t size). Even so, the ability to use one’s existing wheels and the black-finished PG-1130 cassette’s £68 price tag make the compromise more than palatable.
In another beginner-friendly move, SRAM has seen fit to release a NX-level GripShift twist shifter, packed full of the same fun-to-type Speed Metal, Rolling Thunder, and Jaws technologies as higher-priced iterations. That’s a whole lot of twisting tech for £33. For those who prefer to push paddles, the NX trigger shifter asks for only £22 and and a bit of room on your handlebar.
The group is rounded out by a handsome-enough £92 alloy crankset whose 94mm BCD allows for chainrings ranging in size from 28t to 40t- all with drop-resistant X-Sync narrow/wide teeth. A kid-friendly 155mm length will even be offered. The rear derailleur’s £58 pricetag will be welcome news to the crash-prone and, weight and prestige aside, looks to surrender little to the rest of the SRAM line. Rounding out the package, the £11 PC-1110 is almost certainly the least-expensive 11-speed chain on the market.
As much as we all love shiny, high-end kit, the NX group is exciting in an altogether different way. If appearances are to believed, the group is ideal for the entry-level rider or anyone looking to get out and ride without a second mortgage. Which, we have to admit, is pretty thrilling stuff.