I remember vividly my first 2×10 experience. It was at Interbike 2009 and it didn’t take me long to hop aboard the 2×10 bandwagon. The crisp shifts and overall smoothness was a huge improvement in mountain bike drivetrains. Now it’s 2011 and 2×10 has gone from a wildly-expensive prospect of SRAM XX only to mainstream with varying price points. I’ve had the opportunity to test the 2011 SRAM X0 2×10 platform on my Niner RIP 9 and the Yeti Big Top, so it’s time to shed some light on the SRAM X0 2×10 experience.
Features of SRAM X0 2×10 Drivetrain:
- Elimination of overlap gear ratios
- Ultra-smooth and fast shifting performance
- Carbon bits for lateral stiffness and quick responses
- Available in 4 color options for the most color-coordinated of tastes
- Matchmaker X compatibility for bar simplification
- Variety of bottom-brackets with stiff 2-piece carbon cranksets
2011 SRAM X0 2×10 Drivetrain Review
When considering swapping to 2×10 from a 3×9 setup, you must first check out the requirements and compatibility with your bike manufacturer. Some chainstays have limitations on chainring sizes they can accept. For example, my 2010 Niner RIP 9 will not accept a 2×10 setup larger than 26/39, so big-ring mashers will have to be careful. As it is, the 26/39 front chainring setup is perfect for my riding style, but keep that in mind as you’re selecting your setup so you don’t have interference problems.
The stealth black X.o components I tested look great on my bike and don’t call attention to themselves. My test was with a top-to-bottom X.o drivetrain: Shifters, derailleurs and crankset. I opted to keep my ceramic bottom bracket in place and will do an X.o brakeset review in the coming months. The entire package will set you back a bit of cash. Here’s a breakdown (as priced from JensonUSA):
- X0 Shifters: $259
- X0 Front Derailleur: $82
- X0 Rear Derailleur: $255
- X0 Crankset: $431
- X0 Cassette (XG-1080): $273
- TOTAL: $1300
As always, buying a complete bike is often the most economical way to go when swapping drivetrains, but if you are set on the upgrade, it will take a solid investment to make it happen. Is it worth it, you ask? Well, lets dive into that a bit more.
With all 2×10 drivetrains, you get an extra dose of efficiency and gear simplification. Dialed-in with a 26/29 front chainring and 11-36T cassette, I’ve been able to power through all the terrain I’m used to without hesitation. Ultra-technical climbs do require a bit more legs than some riders will be able to provide. While you do get acceptably-low gears for advanced riders, if you are a beginner or if you find yourself liking to grind out climbs in the granny gear, you may not like the lack of ultra-low gear ratios.
By not having the super-low gear ratios, you get added speed and efficiency on climbs — especially on full-suspension and 29er bikes. Full-suspension bikes are more efficient in what I’ll call the “middle ring” (which doesn’t exist on 2×10 drivetrains) anyway, so you’ve got to push yourself at a little higher cadence, but in the end I feel it is worth it as I rarely ever used my granny on my old 3×9 setup anyway. So, for me… this gives me the efficiency and low gears I’m used to. Shifting between the two chainrings is always ultra-smooth and I’ve found myself doing so much more often than with 3×9 setups.
What’s most amazing with the X0 2×10 is the shifting in the rear. 10-speed chains, cassettes and derailleurs are a thing of beauty as distances between cogs is reduced and overall performance is optimized to the hilt. I can flow up and down the cassette with ease. Click, shift… click, shift… click, click, shift, shift. Well, that’s the one downside as it’s so quick to shift that I found myself overshifting on fast, bumpy sections. I’d go to click into a lower gear and simultaneously hit a bump, resulting in a rapid double-click where I really only wanted a single-click. So, with that lightning-quick shifting comes added precision needed from the rider… I guess I still have some things to learn, right?
Just for good measure, I’ve swapped the entire drivetrain to my new Yeti Big Top 29er hardtail. While a hardtail may not need the extra efficiency, it certainly continues to show the pure awesomeness of the X0 2×10 setup. I had to swap out the front derailleur for a direct-mount variety, but everything else (including bottom bracket) swapped over without a hitch and has continued to perform as well as it did on my Niner.
Good X0 2×10
- The most responsive shifting on the market
- Strong riders will greatly appreciate the added efficiency
- 2×10 eliminates gear overlap
- Slight weight reduction
- Excellent power transfer
- SRAM makes the best 10-speed chains on the market
- The XG-1080 rear cassette is a thing of beauty
Bad X0 2×10
- Rear shifting can be too fast as double-shifts happen in rough terrain
- Entry-level and intermediate riders may miss the ultra-low gears
- Matchmaker X is nice, but why mix in star bolts instead of allen bolts?
- 4 color options is kind of overkill really… nice but just stick with stealth black, IMO
Bottom Line: 2011 SRAM X0 2×10 Drivetrain
This year has been the official breakout of 2×10 drivetrains. I’ve ridden it on a few bikes now and the full X0 flavor is ultra-sweet. The price of entry is quite steep if you’re going aftermarket, but you will get amazingly-fast shifts in both directions both front and back. You also get a bit of a weight reduction and ultra-stiff 2-piece cranks for instant power transfer.