Refreshingly-simple. That’s how I would describe the SRAM NX Eagle Groupset and my test miles with this entry-level drivetrain. As SRAM’s lowest-priced race-ready 12-speed Eagle mountain bike drivetrain, there’s a ton to celebrate here.
SRAM NX Eagle Groupset Features:
- 1×12 wide-range gearing
- Available with trigger (tested) or Grip Shift
- Available in DUB (tested)or standard crankset options
- 6000-series forged alloy crankset
- Includes great features like CageLock, Roller Bearing Clutch and X-Actuation
- 11-50t cassette mates to standard SRAM/Shimano 11-speed driver
- Weight: 2032 grams (complete)
- MSRP: $404
Simple, fast and affordable
For the most part, SRAM NX Eagle bits are going to be found on complete bikes from the usual suspects. My testing has been aboard the Canyon Neuron AL 6, which comes in at a stellar $2599 price point. Now, don’t go sleeping on NX Eagle, saying it’s just for noobs or entry-level bikes. After 200+ miles of hard-charging, I’m loving the refreshing simplicity it affords.
The NX Eagle Groupset isn’t new and has been around since 2018, but there isn’t a need to mess around with a good thing, so it soldiers on as SRAM’s value offering. In 2018, this was the world’s only entry-level 12-speed mountain bike groupset. That seems strange, but Shimano SLX 12-speed came in 2019 and Deore 12-speed didn’t hit shelves until the middle of 2020 (during the pandemic). With that first-to-market, NX Eagle remains the top of the race-ready entry-level heap. It’s worth noting that there is also SRAM SX Eagle as the new bottom-rung parts kit, but NX is both a viable option for custom-builds and OEM bikes alike.
This year, I tested the new SRAM X0 Transmission and last year, XX1 AXS — so I have been playing with the big boys recently. Dipping down to NX Eagle did initially feel like a step down (at least in my mind). But, as I would quickly find out, it is superb in so many ways — even after almost six years on the market.
Something unique to the NX groupset is that it uses a standard Shimano/SRAM 11-speed driver. This allows you to use that old trusty wheelset or, most likely, allows bike manufacturers to get the most value-packed parts spec possible. You may not think this matters, but the stockpile of 11-speed drivers is huge and outfitting a wheelset with one costs pennies versus using an XD Driver. Plus, this also allows brand managers to easily change from Shimano to SRAM from one year to the next without swapping wheelsets. This is a strategic move that I’m sure has paid off for SRAM. And, it matters to consumers, who get lower bike prices due to a part that nobody thinks about or ever sees.
Due to the driver choice, the PG-1230 Eagle Cassette is an 11-50t affair (down from 10-52t found on GX or greater). With a 30t chainring matched to an 11-50t cassette, I had plenty of low-end gearing for anything I typically ride. I did, however, top it out with road or gravel approaches. A 30/11 combo tops out about 26 mph, which is perfectly-fine for all singletrack and is about what I would expect on the road or fast gravel terrain.
Once on the dirt, NX Eagle feels right at home. Shifts are instant in either direction and the trigger shifters deliver a positive click with each press. SRAM calls it X-Actuation with Zero Loss, but I just call it accurate and predictable on all terrain. Whether shifting under load or while pedaling at speed, I was met with clean shifts. The only time I wasn’t was on a rough, switchback ascent when the suspension compressed just as I shifted, which resulted in some cassette-mashing. Outside of that one time, it’s all been clean and smooth.
During the test period, I did have to make some quick tweaks to maintain that crispness. With a shifter-mounted barrel adjuster, it’s easy to dial-in. I just found a smooth climb or flat and made a couple of adjustments and I was all good. Compared to GX Eagle on the Trek Supercaliber 9.8, shifting was just as fast and smooth and I didn’t notice the 250 gram weight penalty.
When it comes to changing a tire, the NX Eagle rear derailleur has Cage Lock to make wheel removal and install a breeze. On top of that, the rear derailleur features a Roller Bearing Clutch that keeps chain slap back in 2018 where it belongs. The NX Eagle DUB crankset looks chunky and modern and performs admirably. I have zero complaints with this as it’s compatible with every bottom bracket on the market. Overall, the NX Eagle groupset has muted styling and just fits in on any bike.
- Race-ready at an entry-level price
- Performance on par with top-end mechanical groups
- Clean, fast shifting
- Durable and ready for thousands of real-world miles
- Could use some texturing on shift lever for added grip/feel
- Standard driver makes things easy — unless you are upgrading your wheels
The Bottom Line: SRAM NX Eagle Groupset
If your budget has you eyeing NX Eagle, you’ll be rewarded with consistent, smooth shifting and still have money in your pocket for key upgrades elsewhere. I would be perfectly-happy riding NX Eagle on just about any bike on the market. The weight penalty isn’t significant enough to complain about and performance is outstanding. Still, monetary the jump up to GX isn’t too much if NX doesn’t feel up to snuff on your steed. Both are great options for any bike and, believe me, don’t go sleeping on NX Eagle!
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