First Impressions: SRAM X01 Mountain Bike Group

SRAM X01 ride review and photo details

Hot on the heels of my long term review of the XX1 group came plenty of opportunities to ride it’s new sibling, X01 and the OEM-only X1 drivetrain, which was just announced this week.

The short of it is this: First, it’s every bit as good as XX1. Second, you’re going to see it spec’d on a LOT of 2014 bikes.

DealerCamp afforded the chance to ride it on all manner of bikes, and we even hopped on Dave Turner’s personal bike with an early shipment of X01 at PressCamp. Most of the stock bikes were using the alloy X1 cranksets and all-alloy derailleur, all coupled with the all-black cassette. And all of them used the trigger shifters. Performance wise, there’s no discernable difference between X01 and XX1.

More thoughts and detail shots below…

SRAM X01 ride review and photo details

While the loss of a 28 tooth chainring might be a bit of a bummer, there are more and more aftermarket options coming that use a direct mount, spiderless design and small tooth count options. We’ve checked out some from Wolf Tooth and Absolute Black already, though it’ll be interesting to see what comes of this whole patent discussion.

SRAM X01 ride review and photo details

Shifting was quick and precise, just like with XX1. We’re looking forward to thrashing a setup for long term review to see how that black coating holds up.

SRAM X01 ride review and photo details

Cassette construction looks identical (close ups of the XX1 cassette here).

SRAM X01 ride review and photo details

I test rode several bikes with the group on the technical descents and rolling trails around Deer Valley in Park City, UT. It shifted flawlessly and never dropped the chain. It was also quiet, a testament to their Type II derailleur’s clutch because there were plenty of chances for that chain to slap. Speaking of the chain, the non-perforated 1x chain is likely to be the OEM choice, and was spec’d on at least one of the bikes ridden.

SRAM X01 ride review and photo details

There are those that’ll still want the range of a double or triple. But for those ready to give up the front derailleur, the X01 provides most of the spread you’ll need for all-mountain antics and racing at a slightly price. Our hunch is the OEM side of things is going to explode with this – bikes from Niner, Intense, Pivot and many others are already announced, and plenty more are on the way. That’s a good thing.

Comments

Johnson Rod - 08/05/13 - 8:24am

There is a 2014 Giant Trance Advanced SX 27.5 with this group on it and i may not be able to resist it. These mid travel trail bikes are really going to benefit from the lighter drivetrain.

mudrock - 08/05/13 - 8:37am

I’m all for this trend, and I love Sram components. Front derailleurs suck.

axle - 08/05/13 - 8:41am

How does this compare to the lowest gearing on a traditional drivetrain such as a 22/36 climbing gear?

Rob - 08/05/13 - 9:43am

@ Tyler, apparently the new X01 carbon arms are identical to the XX1 units save for the spider. Are those aluminium units a copy of the current X9 units with a single ring spider setup?

Wewe - 08/05/13 - 9:46am

I agree. I’ve got 2 expensive mtb with xtr 2×10 setup and nothing but problems for both bikes. One bike is less than a year old and the other less than 2 months. Even after countless visits to my LBS, it’s been nothing but problems shifting to the large chainring. Looking forward to 1x!

NASH - 08/05/13 - 10:30am

Why cant we have this on a road bike? Front derailleurs are a pain in the swiss role as is chain drop, chain rub and snapped rings (sram red).

Andrew - 08/05/13 - 10:44am

@ Axle, the 30(front)-42(rear) combination isn’t as low as 22-36 (small ring on a triple) but it is marginally lower than what you get with a 26-36 (small ring on a regular 2×10 double). In my opinion the 28 tooth option is basically a waste of time if running the 11 speed 10-42 cassette. On the other hand if you are setting up a 10 speed drivetrain as a 1x, and can only run a 11-36 cassette then the 28 tooth is nice (on a 29r at least). In the sake of brevity, when was the last time anyone regularly used the 22-36 combination?

AlanM - 08/05/13 - 11:13am

@NASH, how are you having that much trouble with front derailleurs on a road bike? I don’t mean that in a snarky way, just trying to understand it. I can’t remember the last time I dropped a chain and the only chain rub I get is if I totally cross up my chain at the absolute extremes. I’m running Dura Ace 11.

Robo - 08/05/13 - 11:28am

I love this setup and love that it’s catching fire. I love that for the most part, you’re getting the job done with far less bits and pieces AND in the grand scheme of things, spending a little less on that yearly tune-up by not buying one extra cable and housing. Plus you’ve cut your chances of a busted shifter or derailluer in half. I’m no engineer so I don’t know how it’d be done but I would love to see this come to road bikes for the very same reason.

Limba - 08/05/13 - 11:38am

First impressions of any high end group should be good. Report back after 3-4 months, that’s when the problems start to show up. There’s already a long list of complaints about XX1 (which I have) and I expect XO1 to be even worse.

and if you’re dropping chains and mis-shifting on your road bike you or your mechanic is the problem. Any of the high end road groups will shift perfectly once set up properly.

Robo - 08/05/13 - 11:44am

Let me also add, I really never drop chains or mis-shift, I just like the less-is-more idea.

also, I see cyclocross as the next logical step for this and SRAM even had 1x setups under a few racers last season…

Doug B - 08/05/13 - 11:48am

More money for less stuff, bikers getting shafted again.

Burnt-Orange - 08/05/13 - 12:00pm

28/42 tooth gives you the same low as a 24/36
perfect when I ride with my 9 year old
he is getting strong

the dude - 08/05/13 - 1:21pm

Let’s be honest, everyone who’s commented on this will have their doors blown off by some guy on a rigid single-speed.

paulba - 08/05/13 - 1:53pm

@NASH.. You do NOT want a 1x setup on a road bike (and I’m a long-time 1×9 mtb rider). Reason is the ratios are ridiculously far apart. This isn’t so noticeable on a technical mtb trail, when you have other things to distract you. That’s the reason road racers often switch out a 11-28 cassette for, say, a 11-25 cassette on less climby courses: they want closest ratios that allow the exact pedaling cadence that is desired for the given power output.

phs - 08/05/13 - 1:58pm

Any idea why some of the sites are describing the kits coming with carbon crank arms and some kits coming with alloy crank arms?

Whyte Labkote - 08/05/13 - 2:13pm

Front derailleurs aren’t a problem on MTBs. The problem is hamfisted home mechanics who can’t install or adjust a front der.

Weight savings? Weight of shifter, cable, front der VS heavier rear hub carrier + heavier cassette? Negligible difference.

Like 650B, this is another bubble-economy within cycling, designed to get humans into lizard-brain mode (oooh! shiny stuff! must have! me stupid crow!) so that the “industry” can feel more like Gepetto.

Thank Gawd we have BikeRumor to help us discern what is bogus from what isn’t.

Robo - 08/05/13 - 2:35pm

then why read bike rumor, brah?

thoughtcrime - 08/05/13 - 3:34pm

It may be stupid etc. but I wouldn’t mind a nice 650b race bike with a 1x setup. There are hills where I live and I think single speed is stupid, but 1x would work and feel good. Worth dropping thousands of $ on though for its own sake? no.

Mike C - 08/05/13 - 3:34pm

Fairfax: chain tensioner on a bike that expensive. Really?!? Ran out of funds before they could develop some kind of sliding dropout solution? EBB? And if you’re going to go that far, why not Alfine Di2…?

Padrote - 08/05/13 - 4:06pm

Front derailleurs suck. I can see some grouch backlash against the giant, expensive cassette, but lobbying for front derailleurs? Really? I’ve experienced too much poor shifting in the front owing to mud and dirt.

Incidentally, I can’t believe people still want to ride triples.

pornitswhatlwouldratherbmaking - 08/05/13 - 4:24pm

i now ride a 1×10 on my mtb. so far so good and the only reason l cant clime something is because l smoke too much straight up chronic. otherwise l have no issues

nick_outdoors - 08/05/13 - 4:26pm

+1 for this chain ring in road bike sizes

Zach Overholt - 08/05/13 - 5:50pm

@phs, the alloy X1 crank is an OEM only option. Aftermarket groups will all include the carbon X01 crank.

Joey Brown - 08/05/13 - 7:42pm

I would love to see some cassette options such as 10-38 and 10-40.

JS - 08/05/13 - 8:18pm

I don’t think 28 x 42 is too low for heavy bikes in big mountains at high altitude. The top two riders in the 2013 Colorado Trail Race were both running XX1 with a 28T ring and said it was never too low. One was on a carbon 27.5 bike and the other on a Ti 29er. I’ve been running 28 x 11-36 for a while now and at 12,000 ft I could definitely use something lower at times.

C - 08/06/13 - 12:00am

I must say that I was a bit underwhelmed by X01, and XX1 for that reason as well. Initially, I thought not having a front derailleur would be a life changing experience, something between circumcision and getting a vita-mix blender. Surprisingly, 1×11 is freakishly akin to 3×10, except for the 1 time every 4 rides that I would have shifted my front derailleur I reach only to find emptiness, a dark void communicating to my left thumb that it’s over, that’s it, all things will one day die. I seek consolation in my seatpost control, but I know it will only let me down.

bin judgin - 08/06/13 - 1:40am

been running 1x w/ 11-36 with no problems. and i showed up to the mountains as a fat flatlander only months ago. USE YOUR LEGS. this is for doctors.

Charles - 08/06/13 - 2:16am

I like the thinking behind it, but I’m waiting for Shimano to come out with their own 1×11 group that’ll cost half as much and last twice as long. 300 bucks is too much money for a cassette, and SRAM drivetrains aren’t known for reliability. No thanks.

Rich - 08/06/13 - 8:31am

Shimano can’t stay quiet for long. 1×12 that’ll fit your current freehub body and shift electronically, anybody?

CDG - 08/06/13 - 1:50pm

I have just over 500 miles on the XX1 group on my HT, and I haven’t had one hiccup yet. I have it set up 30×10-42, which has been handy out here in CO. I suspect XO1 will perform equally as well. I will say though, that I’m a little disappointed that there isn’t much of a price difference between XX1 and XO1.

Mitch B - 08/07/13 - 12:08am

Bring it up to Stanley Idaho. Would like to see how a rider would do on some of the trails here. Altitude ranges from 6200ft up to 9700 ft. Little Casino trail climbs 4200 ft in 10.4 miles.
I think my 20,30,36 with a 11-36 is a keeper up here. Maybe the 11 speed might work
down at sea level or if a pro was in the saddle. Just wait 5 years and triples will be in vogue again.

Adam - 08/07/13 - 11:01am

The 1×11 is find for standard XC riding but spend two weeks in the Alps or Utah or Pennsylvania doing 5-7-hour rides on an all-mountain bike with a full hydration pack and you will discover how brutally necessary the good old 24/36 low gear is. On the eighth day of riding at hour number 5, on switchback number 9 at 7,000 feet, well, you get the idea.
Given the choice between riding and walking, I choose riding every time. Low gearing lets me ride my bike more.

For those that have trouble with their front XTR shifting, check that the setting on your front shifter pod matches the crankset you have. If you have a dedicated 2-ring crankset that has no accommodation for a third ring, your shifter pod should be set to 2x shifting (little tiny adjuster on the underside of the shifter pod). If you do not know how to use this adjuster, read the directions first or you will break it. If you have a two-ring crankset that was originally a three-ring but you took the big ring off and replaced it with a bash ring, the shifter pod should be set to the 3x setting. If you use the 2x setting with a converted two-ring crankset, your shifting will always suck because the dedicated two-ring crankset has a tighter chainring spacing than a three ring (or converted two-ring) crankset.
Shimano XTR front shifting should be flawless, as it is with mine.

isaidso - 08/07/13 - 3:12pm

The folks complaining that 1×11 won’t give them gearing low enough haven’t done the math. Go to sheldon brown and do a real comparison of gear inches between 1×11 and what you run now.
With 1×11 you don’t give up anything except duplication of gears and a pound of weight.

Jason - 08/07/13 - 4:37pm

@Adam

You make a good point however SRAM is not going to drop 2x anytime soon because like you pointed out there is a place for it.

Having both 1x and 2x is awesome because then you can choose which would be best based on a wide range of parameters.

Engineer - 08/09/13 - 5:51pm

@ Charles

Thats a joke right?

Grit - 08/11/13 - 4:00pm

@C – I’m still laughing

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