Announced earlier this year, we’ve finally got the low down on the new SRAM Grip Shift, and it’s a far cry from the twist shifters of yore.
They’ll offer XX and X0 versions at launch. Weight is the same for the two systems, differences are materials. XX gets a carbon fiber cover and Gore Ride-On sealed low friction cables, X0 gets an alloy cover and standard cables. The other difference is that X0 will be available in both 2×10 and 3×10 variations while XX remains 2×10 only, true to its name.
Some of us were beginning to think we’d never see the day, but for fans of Grip Shift, we can say the new system appears to be worth the wait…
The original gripshift relied on grease to keep two plastic cylinders rotating smoothly, and it’s metal indent spring could easily be influenced to shift smoother (or not) depending on how much and what type of grease you squirted in it. The new Grip Shift rotates very smoothly on 120 ball bearings in three rows. It’s non-serviceable, but SRAM’s MTB PR manager Tyler Morland says they’ve outlasted the equivalent of five years of shifting during testing.
In addition to the bearings, SRAM gave it “Full Metal Shift Indexing” by making both the indent spring (B) and the indent ring (A) metal. The old version had a metal spring but clicked along on plastic indents. When shifting to an easier gear (up the cassette), the spring tension from the derailleur provides a little resistance, keeping you from pulling through more gears than intended. Shifting to a harder gear (down the cassette) moves with the derailleur, so the coil spring (C) inside provides some resistance to keep the twisting in check in the other direction. On the downhills, it also seemed to prevent accidental shifts over hard bumps or drops.
The front shifter has just two or three indents, depending on model, so there’s no more trimming like with the old Grip Shift. Some riders may experience a bit of chain rub on the front derailleur cage at the extremes of cross chaining, but we suspect their YAW design from the new Red group will eventually make its way across SRAM’s family.
The design is super easy to work on. Instead of a rubber flip-up port like the originals, cable changes are done by loosening the clamp and sliding it and the carbon or alloy cover off. Then just rotate the twister and out comes the cable. This also provides an easy port for adding a little grease if you want, though it’ll only smooth over the metal index parts, it won’t get to the bearings.
The lock ring clamps onto an internal slotted sleeve. It’s keyed so the shifter won’t rotate on the bar once it’s locked down. Because the clamp locks down an inner sleeve, it places no pressure on the bearings or any moving parts – ie. no impact on performance. This design also appears to seal it up pretty well, meaning water and mud shouldn’t threaten performance. If so, they can be pulled apart from the other direction and cleaned out. Just be warned, it’s tricky getting the coil spring back into place properly.
They’ll ship with their new JAWS lock-on grips, and they’re designed to fit together visually, ergonomically and functionally. They snap into the shifter and have a keyed interface and lock ring so they won’t slip or rotate. If you want to use your own grips, they ship with a separate end cap that provides a smooth end to the shifter. The supplied grips are ever-so-slightly tapered and were comfortable over two days of riding…which is saying a lot from an avowed Ergon fan such as myself. They’re grippy and soft enough to offer a bit of cushion wiithout being mushy.
Brake and/or remote lever mounts can snuggle right up with the shifters. The tool-free reach adjust knob on Avid brakes would require that you run them inboard about 1.5cm for clearance, so SRAM’s recommending the tooled reach adjust levers if you’re going to run Grip Shift. Most models, including the new X0 Trail brakes, are offered either way.
2012 celebrates the 25th anniversary of Grip Shift, the product SRAM was founded on. They’ll have most of their top name athletes running it this year, and they’ve already racked up a few podiums with it.
ACTUAL WEIGHTS, PRICING
On our scale, the rear shifter plus grip came in at 130g. Rear shifter alone at 93g and grip at 38g, but these are weighed without any cable or housing. SRAM’s claimed weights for both XX and X0 is 207g and includes the shifters, cables and clamps, and the grips are 80g/pair. Compared to published weights of 183g for XX triggers and 232 for X0, the new twisters land between the two triggers on the scale.
Both versions will be available April 30, pricing is:
- XX w/ grips €270 / $295
- X0 (red or silver, 2×10 or 3×10) €206 / $225
HOW’S IT RIDE?
I was a fan of Grip Shift. I had it on my first mountain bike. I endured the “SL” versions that were nothing more than white versions of the regular 9.0. And I loved the half pipes. In fact, the only reason I moved away from Grip Shift at all was to bump to 10 speeds and test the current crop of drivetrains for Bikerumor.
The new Grip Shift didn’t disappoint, and I suspect fans everywhere will love it. Shifting is smooth with positive engagement.
You can rip through the entire cassette (see video, coming soon) in one quick turn, and total rotation seems to be about 90º or just under, just short enough to do in a single twist of the wrist. Rotate back to shift easier, forward for a harder gear.
The construction appears solid, and it felt that way on the trail. There’s no lead-in movement like on the old Half Pipes that had some “assist” built into the springs that would build up then pop the shifter into gear.
We were testing it on the new TYPE 2 rear derailleurs, which do add some resistance. Even so, shifting was smooth and light, particularly going to a harder gear. I suspect shifting in both directions would be equally smooth and light on an XX (or other non-TYPE 2) rear derailleur. I didn’t experience any accidental shifts, and the indexing seemed spot on. It only rotated when I wanted it to. In other words, it worked like I expected and it felt good doing it. Until we get our test sets in for long term review, there’s not much more to say, really.
What about Ergon style grips? “There might be some things in development,” said MTB marketing manager Tyler Morland. In our experience, that generally means they’re already working on something, but we also suspect aftermarket brands like Ergon will be quick to offer something.
WIN A PAIR OF XX GRIP SHIFT!
Don’t forget, we’re giving away TWO pair of Grip Shift XX before you can buy it! Click here for details and link to enter the giveaway!