Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

SRAM XX1 – One groupset to rule them all?

Posted by Tony | January 24, 2013 | 20 comments so far


The SRAM XX1 groupset seems to take up the single front chainring advantages that many people have moved onto with 1×9 or 1×10 set ups and turn it up to 11. However it seems to me to have a crucial limitation.

XX1 consists of a drive chain groupset. Rear mech (the great performing SRAM clutch type as I have on my Camber), chain, cassette, specific cassette body, chainset and either gripshift (remember them?) or underbar shifter.

It’s cheaper and lighter than XX or XTR. Mainly due to the lack of multiple chainrings up front, a shorter chain requirement and no front mech/shifter.

The cassette/ freehub is the key to XX1. What must be a smaller diameter freehub allows the use of a cassette that goes down to 10t sprocket and with new levels of machining allow a 40t largest sprocket. Thus giving a gear range with 28-38t front chainring that would suit most of us (32t for me please), replicating almost all of a triple chainring setup, reducing chain drop and giving good performance for our full sus bikes (remember most full sussers are designed for their best performance around approx 32t middle ring).

SRAM XX1 cassette

So what’s not to like? Only one shifter to think about, potentially never dropping a chain again?  Well what wears out on bikes – chains and cassettes. It’s the cost of the cassette (are you sitting confortably?) £330, that it the big problem for me.

That’s a very big chunk of consumables cost for a MTB. I know that it takes many hours to machine in stainless steel, justifying the cost but let’s hope this technology trickles down to a X9-X1 or a X7-X1. 1×11 is probably the future for many of us.

Filed under Mutterings, Trends in January 2013


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  1. Big al says:

    I believe our Pimped Oil Baron has a groupset on order !!!!

  2. Tony says:

    I guess that will be the cue for “does that cassette look warn to you? It does to me” comments 🙂

    BTW I am gulity of expensive cassette as much as anyone else (Record 11 ti – but they last thousands of miles not hundreds).

  3. Lee says:

    To continue the SRAM branding, £330 for a cassette is a XXXXing joke! Though for those with that sort of cash to burn, they’ll eventually end up with a nicely engineered fruit bowl by the looks of it.

  4. Andrew AKAK says:

    I don’t think it is cheaper than XTR? maybe it is lighter but that cassette does not look very strong to me.

  5. paul901 says:

    I guess it would be good if that cassette were in 3 clusters or even individual sprockets if it meant you only had to buy (the) worn cluster or sprocket and not stump a ridiculous £330 for a complete cassette

  6. Dandy says:

    I think it’s a fantastic looking cassette, a true reminder of what can be achieved with a good CNC m/c, and worth hanging on the wall or using as a fruit bowl (nice idea, Lee) once replaced.

    I guess it should wear no differently to any other cassette, though you could use a slightly harder alloy and get through chains quicker instead (less of a pain at £20-30 a pop). Maybe they’ll do that for the X-9 version?

    Think I will be waiting for the price to drop somewhat before I try 1 x 11 though.

  7. Dandy says:

    I don’t think you’d want a Ti cassette, Matt; it would wear out v quickly (not what you’d want at £330 a pop ! Of course you can heat treat Ti and coat it, but then fatigue properties are compromised. Stick with a hard & light Al alloy, and softer chains 😉

    • Matt says:

      I always thought Ti was a stronger metal Dandy, obviously I’m no engineer! Either way, sounds 330 quid is still 330 quid!!

      • Dandy says:

        Depends on how you define ‘strong’. Ductility, compression, wear resistance, fatigue etc. Ti is light and has quite a high ductility (bendy), hence even though larger dia tubes needed cf Al, frames remain rigid, though smaller dia tubes at chain/seat stays will flex giving the classic ‘Ti spring’ … Err, I think. It’s been a v long time since I read a metallurgy textbook 🙁

  8. stevend says:

    Also note, for Barrie’s sake 😉 £45 for a chain ! I am not sure that I use all 9 let alone 11, but it will be interesting to see whether in future SRAM use this technology to compete with Shimano for business from us weekend warriors, ie at a cost we might be able to afford/justify.

  9. Dazzler says:

    You guys forgot something. Butter ring, yep. The big ring on the cassette is Alu, it’s like butter… I run XX on my bikes, Not all 7, but on Errr, let me think. two of them… I don’t use the large ring “never” I can get three chains out of one worn Casstte. Now SRAM have stopped selling the Big ring on it’s own. So you now have to buy a whole new Cassette if you ware the butter ring out!!
    Suck hay
    I like the fruit bowl concept.
    if the chain dosn’t drop, then I might go down that route. Adam Is waiting for his last few Bits & darni has his built, but not been out on it. Could be the mud to ware ratio to great?

  10. Lloyd says:

    Just seen a superpimped orange clockwork at cycleworks ready for delivery. £300 frame built up to a £4000 bike!!! A big chunk of the difference was the XX1 drivetrain, and the carbon wheels and, and…. Did look very good though.
    Interesting that the SRAMXX cranks cost less then the XX1 cassette.
    Old school bike- new school price.


  11. tony says:

    Hi Lloyd

    I was done there too and I must say that was the least like £4000 bike I’ve seen for a while. It just didn’t shout “bling” for an expensive hardtail like say a Niner Carbon.

    In the flesh XX1 looks very “simple” with a clean look due to the single front ring and almost like it’s got a cheap Shimano mega-range cassette. It certainly doesn’t look that expensive. Very odd.

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