The simplicity of going 1x for MTB can’t be overstated. Granted, it’s not for everyone, but for anyone with a solid fitness level, it’s simply the way to go. And, with the more affordable SRAM X1 groupset, there’s no reason not to go that way for your next bike or an upgrade.
SRAM X1 Groupset Features:
- Alloy crankset options
- 4-bolt or direct-mount chainrings
- Trigger shifter only
- X-Horizon rear derailleur with aluminum cage
- Unique, pinned 10-42 11-speed cassette
- Requires XD driver body
- Weight: 1750 grams (w/1400 crankset)
- MSRP: $961 (versus $1500 for XX1)
Trickle-down XX1 for the rest of us
More and more 1×11 bikes are showing up at local shops and thanks to SRAM, that groupset is getting more and more affordable — with little sacrifice in performance. The full X1 kit is a fantastic example of trickle-down economics and shows that SRAM continues as the 1x market leader.
Throughout the season, I’ve had the Niner ROS 9 Plus in the hopper. This 29+ bike has been fun to ride on all the local trails and is only available in singlespeed or 1×11 drivetrains. One of the added benefits of the 1x proliferation is the ability to design bikes around it — thus shortening chainstays, increasing tire clearance and such. On the ROS 9 Plus, this allows Niner to ditch the front derailleur mount while keeping a standard bottom bracket width and still accomodate 29×3.0 tires.
From top-to-bottom, the SRAM X1 kit provides excellent performance. Shifting remains crisp and the trigger feel is responsive and smooth. Having now ridden XX1, X01 and X1, I can honestly say that the performance and feel of each drivetrain is absolutely negligible. Blindfolded, I’d have a hard time telling the difference between each one. Yes, the aluminum trigger lever does feel slightly different compared to the carbon one on the XX1, but that’s splitting hairs.
My test bike was outfitted with a 32t front chainring, which is pretty much the standard size for most bikes. On this bike, I did wish for a little lower gearing on a few occasions (it is 32 lbs afterall), but I just dug deep and made it up anything I would ride up on any other bike in the stable. That said, getting a 30t chainring on there is simple and can be done without removing the crankset.
During the course of my testing, shifting remained smooth with the ability to shift to a higher gear in a hurry or dump gears when encountering a steep incline unprepared. SRAM really has a corner on instant shifting. The competition is solid and predictable, but X1 shows just how fast shifting should be. Click, shift. Click, click, shift, shift. Every time.
I’ll also add that the X1’s trigger shifter is very ergonomic and built for thumb shifting only. None of this “take your index finger off the brake to shift” stuff. The most optimal shifting experience is with your thumbs because fingers are for braking.
Something that’s nice about all SRAM 1×11 trigger shifters is the ability to move the shfiter body inward or outward — depending on which mount screw you use. I always like as much grip room as possible, so I mount the trigger as far inward as possible. It’s only about a half-inch, but that little bit makes for a huge difference in hand room. If you’re using SRAM’s Matchmaker system, you’ll also enjoy a single clamp for brake/shifter with added adjustability. I was running X1 with the capable Shimano Deore brakes and did lack some adjustability that I’d otherwise have had the bike been spec’d with full SRAM shifting and brakes.
- 1X simplicity in a more affordable package
- Reliable, crisp shifting
- Excellent gear ratios for aggressive riders
- Minimal weight penalty versus XX1 (~300 grams)
- Not as sexy as XX1 — but your 401K will thank you
SRAM X1 Launch Video
The Bottom Line: SRAM X1 Groupset
Satisfy your N-1 bike needs and keep your significant other at bay by going with a lower-cost X1 kit on your next bike. The performance is honestly as good as the pricier XX1 kit, but at a significantly lower price point and modest weight gain.
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