SRAM GX Eagle AXS Upgrade Kit review

by and 41

SRAM’s AXS wireless technology trickled down to GX level spec with the release of the SRAM GX Eagle AXS system. We like it. A lot.

This product was selected for our Editors’ Choice Awards 2022, as published in Singletrack Magazine Issue 146. Below is an updated version of our review from 2021.

Benji: “I don’t know how I feel about using the term ‘game changer’ here but… it’s a close call. I’m not massively passionate about anything else electronic-y on a mountain bike. Shimano Di2 never did it for me. Fox Live Valve is not something I want on my own bike. Heck, even RockShox Flight Attendant – even the AXS Reverb dropper – are not things I miss when I don’t have them. But AXS wireless shifting is simply leagues better than anything else. It’s not about saving weight, nor having cleaner lines, nor doing away with cable maintenance (although all three of those benefits are real). It’s about an innovation that actually improves my riding experience. It reminds me of the move from clipless to flats. It feels liberating. The enjoyment levels go up. You suddenly realise how much of a distraction cable gearing was.”

SRAM GX Eagle AXS Upgrade Kit

  • Price: £554
  • From: SRAM

If you’re a fan of technology or geek out over cool new gadgets, then the launch of the original AXS wireless systems probably grabbed your attention. AXS did away with the conventional cable shifter arrangement and replaced it with a seamless wireless system. Clicky triggers were replaced with tappy paddles and instead of your thumb doing the leg work, a battery-powered motor at the derailleur end of the system shunts the chain around.

And then SRAM did it all again at a more affordable price point with GX AXS. It’s all the same tech, many of the same options and the very same ease of use and integration but wrapped up in GX meaning that it is cheaper, but that’s not to say it’s cheap.

SRAM GX AXS

GX AXS (said “access”, by the way) consists of a wireless controller, GX AXS wireless rear mech and the associated batteries and charger. The system is compatible with all current GX, X01 and XX1 systems and is also fully compatible with the larger 520% range cassettes as well as smaller 500% range cassettes. The fact that it’s compatible with any SRAM system makes GX AXS a great upgrade for anyone on X01 or XX1 who wanted wireless shifting but didn’t want to pay a premium, and in the short amount of time I’ve used it, I DO call it an upgrade.

SRAM GX Eagle AXS Upgrade Kit – What’s in the box?

The Upgrade Kit includes the rear mech, wireless shifter, and a battery and charger for the rear mech. The GX AXS rear mech also has a protective cage over the battery and the kit ships with red covers to protect the contacts on the battery and mech when disconnected. The red cover for the battery has a useful switch indicator that you can flick between a full or empty icon so you know if your battery has power or not.

SRAM GX AXS – Features

SRAM GX AXS

Wireless – Obviously the biggest standout feature is the fact that AXS is wireless. You no longer have to mess about threading cables through your frame. Sticky winter shifting is a thing of the past, and you’ll never have to hunt around the shed for your cable cutters ever again.

Overload Clutch – Even the GX AXS rear mech isn’t cheap and the idea of smashing one to pieces on a rock is enough to scare most people off the idea of buying one. SRAM has thought about this though with the Overload Clutch, a smart system that will move the mech away from an impact to save both the shifting mechanism and the motor.

Accurate shifting – We can’t stress enough how accurate and smooth the shifting of AXS is. Even moving from X01 to GX AXS was a marked improvement. Every shift is perfect. Even under load the setup works and even better than a traditional cable system.

Compatibility – Just as a normal GX shifter will work with an X01 rear mech, so does AXS. So if you were to pick up a GX AXS shifter it will work with a higher level mech or vice versa.

SRAM GX AXS

Programable – The AXS system connects with the SRAM AXS app and from there you can program the shifter to work in a number of different ways. For example, you can switch the way your gears up or downshift and you can program the system to either allow for a single shift at a time (for eBikes) or multiple shifts, from the app you can even choose how many gears you shift through at a time.

Data – This isn’t something that really interests a lot of folk, but if you’re the kind of person who likes to know how often you shift gear, the AXS system can provide this info. But more importantly, the AXS app can tell you which gears you use the most which might come in handy when training, or choosing your next cassette.

SRAM GX AXS

Battery Life – SRAM claims you can get around 20 hours of riding from a single charge. So if you were to ride for 2 hours for 10 days in a row you shouldn’t need to charge the battery until the end of day 10. If you’re not sure how much power you have in the system simply press the button on the mech and an LED will indicate the battery level. Green means GO, a steady Red is telling you that you have around half a battery left while a blinking red light means time to charge.

We will confess to running out of battery power on a couple of occasions. Which is testament to how long the battery does last; you just take it for granted… until you endure a couple of rides when it does die. After that, you get in the habit of quickly checking its power status at the end of a ride and putting it on charge if the light is red. You can actually do a couple of rides whilst it is on red, so don’t worry too much when you see the red LED. And the battery does charge up impressively quickly, should you see the red light on the morning before going out on a ride.

P.S. if your battery does die on a ride you can still manually change gear. You don’t have to stay in the gear that you were in when the battery died. Stop, dismount, grab hold of the mech body and force the indexing into a suitable gear. It’s not ideal but it’s a workable solution if you just need an ‘uphill’ and a ‘downhill/flat’ gear!

Encryption – While it would be fun to connect to a mate’s bike and mess with their gears as they ride, AXS doesn’t allow this as the connection is fully encrypted once devices are paired.

Adjustment – While GX AXS is pretty much plug and play, you will probably need to micro-adjust your system for optimal shifts. On a normal system, you would use the barrel adjustment, but on AXS the pairing button doubles up as a trim adjuster too.

SRAM GX AXS

Chain retention – In addition to the Overload clutch, GX AXS also uses a Type 3 Roller Bearing clutch to keep your chain on through rough terrain.

SRAM GX Eagle AXS – How does it ride?

Fitting the stuff to the bike is a breeze. Once we had removed the unnecessary cable and the old hardware the rear mech and shifter easily bolted in place.

With everything tightened up and a new chain fitted it’s then a matter of firing the system up and pairing the shifter to the mech, a two button process. Even at this stage, SRAM GX Eagle AXS was able to shift gears well, but sometimes not perfectly until we ran the trim adjustment feature a couple of times.

On the trail, the shifting of GX Eagle AXS was always a marked upgrade whatever wired system we had used previously. Each shift is light and incredibly fast, and the accuracy is so pleasing that initially you may find yourself needlessly shifting gears just to experience it over and over again. From the AXS app, we turned on multi shifting and set it to three cogs, but you can limit it to two or just one. A quick press of the paddle will shift one cog at a time, but hold it down and your chain flicks across the cassette with impressive athleticism even when climbing and under load.

And really there isn’t much else to report. SRAM GX Eagle AXS is a better shifting solution to cabled systems and we haven’t run into any significant issues. Our experience with GX AXS has been an exciting one, it taps into inner geek modes (if that’s your bag) but the main thing is that, on the trail, it’s better than any cable system we’ve ridden.

Any issues?

Addressing the ‘issue’ of having something (GX Eagle AXS rear mech) costing £342 dangling off the back of your bike, all we can say is that our setup is still ticking along just fine despite being dragged over/across/through all kinds of rocks/reeds/ruts. In fact, we’ve had a few instances where we would expect to have been straightening mech hangers afterwards… but we haven’t had to. Anecdotal it maybe but we’re still impressed.

What about the issue of ‘bouncing’ rear mech? This is where the lack of a section of gear outer allows the rear mech to pivot backwards and forwards easier than if there was the gear outer there. Well, wireless AXS rear mechs do bounce around more than cable rear mechs. Which, on some frames, can lead to increased chainslappy noise and theoretically more chance of the chain dropping off the chainring. Our experience is that the pros of the whole system outweigh these cons. Noise can be quelled with canny chainstay protection. And chain retention guides exist if you find yourself dropping chains more (we haven’t).

SRAM GX AXS

Editor’s Choice Awards

In the Editors’ Choice Awards we highlight our standout bikes and products from the past year. These are the bikes that we’d like to have in our sheds. These are the components and clothing that we still use long after the nominal test period has expired. Only 15 products and six bikes made the grade this year. This is the good stuff. 

To make the cut, each thing must have proven itself out on the trails. They’ve got to have been reliable and ride-enhancing. We don’t do technology for technology’s sake. Nor are we overly swayed by showy, high price tags and bling materials. That said, we don’t prioritise anything solely because it’s cheaper than its rivals. Nor do we penalise a genuinely great product if it is conspicuously expensive. Performance is what matters in Editor’s Choice.

While you’re here…

Review Info

Brand: SRAM
Product: GX Eagle AXS Upgrade Kit
From: SRAM
Price: £554.00
Tested: by Benji for 18 months
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  • This topic has 41 replies, 33 voices, and was last updated 1 week ago by pj11.
Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 41 total)
  • SRAM GX Eagle AXS Upgrade Kit review
  • johnw1984
    Free Member

    Credit card is getting itchy!

    chrismac
    Full Member

    Timing is everything. Happy 100th shimano, love sram

    mtbfix
    Full Member

    What comes on the upgrade kit that warrants the extra money over mech and shifter?

    solarider
    Free Member

    It contains a battery and charger. Neither come with the mech as a stand alone item.

    belgianwaffle1
    Full Member

    Just battery and charger are more than 500 quid? Might have to strap on some AAs

    honeybadgerx
    Full Member

    If they did an 11 speed version I’d be very tempted for my gravel bike, can’t justify a wholesale upgrade though.

    benpinnick
    Full Member

    Belgian waffle you do get £501 worth of mech and shifter in the Upgrade kit too….

    belgianwaffle1
    Full Member

    @Ben March oh right thanks yes that did seem a bit ridiculous

    StuE
    Full Member

    Someone needs to redefine affordable

    bigfoot
    Free Member

    if availability is any better than normal gx at the moment i could be tempted, current 2 year old/ 3k mile stuff is getting a bit tired so want to replace it(will probably put the old stuff on the spare bike as it still works and the lack of the 50 cog is hard work when your used to having it)

    TrailriderJim
    Full Member

    Hopefully it’ll be less than these prices on the online mega stores. There’s always NX AXS no doubt at some point in the future. 350ish would be a no brainer for me.

    timbog160
    Full Member

    I’ve found AXS to be an amazing product – does exactly what it says time after time. This will probably tip the scales for me on my ‘other’ bike which is still running cabled x01…

    sillysilly
    Full Member

    If the rear mech and cassette will work with a gravel tap shifters I’m in.

    pnik
    Full Member

    I will continue not to miss what I never had, I like my bike being mechanical.

    teamslug
    Full Member

    20 hours on a charge. What if you race 24 hours solo? I’ll stick to Di2. Last loads longer between charges

    andrewreay
    Full Member

    20 hours on a charge. What if you race 24 hours solo?

    I guess you just take a spare battery? They just clip on an off.

    You can’t really do that with Di2.

    chipps
    Full Member

    The 20 hours is probably conservative, Andrew – and it depends on how much you shift. A battery can be changed in the time it takes you to stuff your mouth with a banana, so it’s probably not that much of an issue – and the batteries are small, light, and relatively cheap, so there’s nothing to stop you packing a spare on long days out.

    DrP
    Full Member

    I’ve just orgered this! Thinking about stripping it down, and rebuilding the lower half from an XO1 mechanical mech…

    Also..how did Mike Hall ride the Tour Divide on Di2 without charging…? surely the 20 hours is ‘number of shifts’ dependant..?

    mrauer
    Full Member

    Andrew Reay, yes you can if you run Di2 with external battery.

    boxwithawindow
    Full Member

    Mike would like gave used a dynamo hub.

    reignman71
    Free Member

    Looks great,but could I use it with an NX cassette?

    binman
    Full Member

    I can’t see why it wouldn’t work with an NX cassette, a GX or XO shifter does

    hampy4
    Full Member

    I’ve been using this since it first came out, so around 18 months and about 4000 miles, I’ve ridden bike parks, bridleway, trail centres and through some decidedly dodgy undergrowth when deciding to try a different track and the system has never missed a beat. The battery life is misleading as I reckon it’s 20hrs of continuous gear changing. Most of my rides are 2 to 3 hours and I’ve gone months without charging the battery at 2 to 3 rides per week, if you are constantly changing gear then it will reduce life but it is not something that should be an issue for the majority of riders…though forgetting the battery is 🙁 which I’ve done on a few occasions!
    I like it’s simplicity, reliability and that you can pretty much fit and forget. I upgraded as needed to replace components and the cost difference at the time was around £90 so for me it was an easier choice to make at the time. Now I’m saving up for one for the wife 🙂

    tomhoward
    Full Member

    Also brilliant, there is no functional difference between GX & X01 and XX1 AXS that I can tell, only around 80g in weight. For £££ less.

    DrP
    Full Member

    i’ve GX axs… the shifting at the bottom (smaller sprocket) end of the cassette is poor now…gonna check the hanger alignment, but… there’s tonnes of play in the pins holding the cage… i’m going to submit a video to wiggle for a warranty replacement, as i thing it SHOULD be firmer than this..
    Anyone else has play issues in the pins?

    DrP

    teethgrinder
    Full Member

    Yes. Had that last year on mine. Shop sent it to SRAM and it was a warranty job. Replaced in a couple of weeks.

    Also, if there’s loads of play in the top jockey wheel and if it’s an old chain, that doesn’t help with shifting.

    You can’t just”slightly” down shift to help it change gear.

    Ozak42
    Full Member

    Another con missed in this review is the clutch in them lasts about year then it’s shot. That extra bouncing you mentioned destroys the non adjustable clutch until it stops working and then you start dropping chains. I’ve seen this multiple times. Fortunately the warranty is pretty good with SRAM and they do send you a new one, if you can prove it.

    walleater
    Full Member

    You can stop the ‘bouncing’ of the derailleur on the hanger by adding a small (1mm?) shock hardware spacer between the outside of the derailleur and main bolt. I also added an o-ring to keep the inner bushing in the correct place. This will all make more sense if you pull the main pivot assembly apart and see how it works. A Youtuber said to file down the bushing to achieve the same solution, but good luck getting the derailleur warrantied if you take a file to it….

    You can still move the derailleur back to remove the wheel if you use a bit of force, but once the wheel has been installed again, ideally check that the bolt is still tight.

    johnnyc
    Full Member

    If you have one of the earlier gx mechs, they were missing a small bolt holding one of the bushings in place. Looks to be missing in the review pics too from what I can tell from the bottom picture, it’s beside the limiting screws. The new ones are shipped with a bolt in place now, but you can put one in yourself if you have an older mech to give it a bit more support if it isn’t too late – M3 size, 6mm length. There’s a discussion and more info/pics here

    pj11
    Free Member

    Just checked my XX1 axs mech and the screw mentioned in that thread is missing. I’ve ordered some of those screws mentioned in that link. I’ve always had issues with changing up from the smallest gears, hopefully this will sort it?

    frogstomp
    Full Member

    You can stop the ‘bouncing’ of the derailleur on the hanger by adding a small (1mm?) shock hardware spacer between the outside of the derailleur and main bolt. I also added an o-ring to keep the inner bushing in the correct place.


    @walleater
    – can you elaborate on this? Do you mean something like the thin rubber spacers that take up side to side play (the black bits here) and are you actually disassembling the derailleur to fit it (behind the b-screw locating collar?) or just putting it between the derailleur and hanger?

    Sounds like it should fix my one gripe with the system.

    ta11pau1
    Full Member

    Just checked and mine is missing that bolt too, I’ll get one ordered.

    On the subject of stopping the bouncing, I’d be interested to know what others have tried as I did some testing a while back with my gx AXS and gx cable mechs, and determined that the clutches are about the same strength – it’s the absence of the shift cable providing tension, and the extra weight of the mech which allows the mech body to bounce freely once any chain tension is lost.

    Given that the only reason the mech needs to rotate on the main pivot bolt is to allow for rear wheel installation – when shifting all chain tension/adjustment is done by the cage – I came to the conclusion that there just needed to be a bit of extra ‘friction’ between the main bolt and the mech body to stop is dangling in the breeze like a pair of 90 year old’s bollocks! 😁

    johnnyc
    Full Member

    @pj11 – I don’t think it will fix an already present problem (although I would be happy to be wrong about that), more as a protective measure to stop play developing. I take it you’ve checked the hanger alignment?

    mwg58
    Full Member

    Only issue I have is now want it on all my bike

    walleater
    Full Member

    @frogstomp

    I removed the B tension assembly from the derailleur (it was just a press fit on my derailleur, not the annoying c-clip style that is on the conventional SRAM derailleurs….), and pushed out the main pivot / bolt. I then installed a thin Cane Creek spacer on to the main pivot bolt before installing that back into the derailleur. So the spacer fits on the outside of the derailleur.

    Rear Shock Hardware

    It’ll probably all make more sense if you pull the B-tension assembly off and remove the bushing and main pivot bolt and look at how it all works together.

    frogstomp
    Full Member

    @walleater – thanks for the update. That makes sense and good news about the B-bolt having wrestled to re-fit the spring clip on previous ones!

    ta11pau1
    Full Member

    Interesting, I tried removing the b tension plate but couldn’t do it, so I stuck an o-ring between the inner plate and the mech body ring, provides just enough tension to stop it flapping around.

    If that breaks I’ll fit a shock bushing ring as you’ve done above, should be a bit more permanent.

    pj11
    Free Member

    @johnnyc , yes I’ve checked the hanger alignment ,there’s a lot of sideways play with a clicking sound within the mech is the warranty 2 years on sram gear, mines 18 months old.

    ta11pau1
    Full Member

    Well my bolts arrived, and fitted.

    I might keep the 4x spare I have in my bag and them when I see someone with an AXS mech, check whether they’re missing the bolt. I’m sure I won’t get any strange looks as I dive under their bike… 🤣

    DickBarton
    Full Member

    Yeah, SRAM is a 2 year global warranty on their kit…

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