SRAM has once again made your drivetrain obsolete — or so it may seem. This time, it’s a whole new way to attach and configure your drivetrain for the most robust performance. SRAM calls it T-Type Transmission and it’s available in XX SL, XX, X0 and GX versions. I’ve had the X0 Transmission in review, so I’ll share my thoughts on that workhorse kit.
SRAM X0 T-Type Eagle AXS Transmission Features:
- Available with 165/170/175mm crankarms and 32T chainring
- Compatible with removable bash guards
- All-new aluminum X0 Transmission crankset
- Can be upgraded with Quarq power meter
- Pod Ultimate shifter
- Flattop chain with Dark Polar finish
- MSRP: $1599
Vitamin T for your MTB
Once more, SRAM has sent upgrade-hungry mountain bikers into a frenzy, wondering if their drivetrains have gone the way of the Dodo. Well, first and foremost, don’t get sucked into that rabbit hole. Your current 12-speed drivetrain likely has many more summers left in its lifespan, but if you are in the market or are building out your dream bike, I would lean towards going with a Transmission groupset for ease-of-use, reliability and durability. But, if you want the lightest option, sticking with the previous-generation XX1, X0 or GX Eagle AXS may be your best choice.
Let me briefly cover SRAM’s proprietary AXS ecosystem. They developed a unique wireless communication platform using ANT+ and BLE that’s encrypted and globally unique — thus preventing any cross-communication issues. This wireless protocol is standard across all AXS groups — from Red to GX and everything in-between. All components are interoperable and you can mix-and-match as you please. MTB and road components can talk to each other for mullet setups and even dropper posts and suspension control is part of the ecosystem.
With the all-new SRAM X0 Eagle AXS Transmission, the news here is all housed within that nifty rear derailleur. First off, it’s only compatible with frames offering a SRAM Universal Derailleur Hanger (UDH). This provides the right platform to bolt onto. And, as you will notice, the transmission mounts around the rear dropout. Because of this, you can literally stand on it and it will remain straight and true. It also has built-in release systems to account for hard hits without blowing chunks. SRAM has videos of sledgehammers and not-so-svelte individuals standing on top of the derailleur — which is something you would NEVER do on a traditional derailleur. With that, I haven’t had any major impacts, so I haven’t tested things first-hand, but I’m going to take their word for it instead of inflicting intentional harm. Even better, it’s all built to be rebuildable instead of throwing away an expensive derailleur should one part get dinged up.
With the X0 Transmission, you get the all-new X0 alloy crankset. This is a beautiful alloy number and it looks amazing. That cutout drops weight and highlights the lateral stiffness on offer. I felt nothing but smooth pedaling and power transfer with the new crankset. You’ll notice that the X0 Eagle Transmission requires the use of SRAM’s Flattop chains (like their road groupsets). I don’t know if it’s just in my mind, but I do seem to notice that these chains need lubrication sooner than a traditional chain when riding in dry/dusty conditions.
The new Pod Ultimate Shifter is a mixed-bag for me. I love the adjustability of the unit with the ability to place it almost anywhere. I did have initial trouble with the placement of the GX Eagle AXS Controller when tested, but I really came to enjoy that shifter. The rocker paddle became second-nature with the added bonus of being able to shift with the back of my thumb when riding aggressively. The Pod Ultimate Shifter trades much of that for a straightforward, two-button design. In practice, it works well and about 95% of the time I hit the right button. But, every so often, on rough terrain, I either don’t depress the button hard enough or I hit the wrong button. In short, it offers improved placement, but I still prefer the older shifter, to be honest.
Let’s dig into shifting performance, because that’s the “meat and potatoes” we care most about. If you’ve followed my reviews, I’ve covered just about every flavor of AXS systems SRAM offers. Shifting response is something of interest to the most astute riders and particularly the competition (namely Shimano). Shimano insisted on a semi-wireless system for faster shifts. In the real world, on the road side, I can’t tell the difference. Now, when it comes to the new X0 Transmission, there’s something to it — even just a smidgeon. In the garage, testing the new Force AXS versus the X0 Transmission, the difference is imperceptible. But, on the trails, I feel like the shift response is a split-second slower. But, once the shift happens, I’d venture to say the actual shift is as fast or faster. The actual shift is really what matters, but it just seems that the derailleur takes a hair longer to respond.
I have to further shine a light on the actual shifts. One the derailleur shifts, it’s magical. So much that sometimes the shift is almost imperceptible. Big jumps and small jumps alike are crisp and fast. To test this further, I have intentionally tried to jam the system by pedaling full gas uphill while shifting. Dang… it just shifts as if nothing is going on. Aside from the simplicity of setup and bombproof durability, the actual shifting performance is reason to perk up and plunk down that plastic. It is amazing.
When considering the full AXS ecosystem, it does feel odd to have electronic shifting paired with a mechanical dropper post. It’s a significant investment, but the RockShox Reverb AXS Dropper feels much better paired with AXS shifting.
All testing was done aboard the new Yeti SB 120 T3, which was the perfect match for such a versatile and fun bike.
- Shifts are nearly imperceptible — even with large gaps
- Setup is a breeze
- Wireless makes cable routing issues a thing of the past
- UDH makes for ultra-simple setup and durability
- Beautiful and stiff new alloy crankset
- Shifter placement can be almost infinitely adjusted
- That slick derailleur pulley won’t jam up
- Heavier than other drivetrain options
- Seems to drain batteries a little faster
- Pod Ultimate Shifter ergonomics don’t hit the spot for me
The Bottom Line: SRAM X0 Eagle AXS Transmission
It happened again… SRAM has dropped a bomb on the competition with a drivetrain that truly makes a difference on the trails. Shifting is so imperceptibly smooth and clean, it’s hard to imagine that all happening on such a wide-range cassette. However, I’m mixed on the new Pod Ultimate Shifter and it does feel a touch slow to respond to a shift (but, I’m splitting hairs). With bombproof reliability and easy setup, a T-Type Transmission might be just what your next bike needs.
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