Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

SRAM XX – the ideal groupset?

Posted by Matt | May 27, 2009 | 3 comments so far

The new SRAM XX double chainset
So SRAM got there first. 10 speed for MTBs has long been a foregone conclusion and it was just a question of who would be first. Note I don’t add it’s a desirable outcome, merely that marketing pressures led inevitably to that outcome given the success of 10 speed systems on road bikes in recent years.

To get there though, SRAM have had to get radical. Mindful of space limitations with fitting 10 speeds into a cassette space originally designed for five to seven gears, 10 is impressive. But in order to maintain a semblance of sanity with the chainline and prevent a good half the gears from duplicating each other or being unusable they’ve dropped a front chainring.

After introducing one new front transmission last year with Hammerschmidt, this year they’ve thrown out the inner ring, leaving the rider with a choice of 26 & 39, 28 & 42 or 30 & 45 tooth chainrings. With cassettes covering anything from 11 – 32 or 11 – 36 teeth at the rear it’s possible to have a range of gears that pretty much covers that of a current ‘standard’ triple equipped bike.

What’s the significance of all this? Well firstly, this technology is likely to filter downward; maybe not quickly but steadily over the coming years so despite eye watering prices now maybe we can look forward to being only averagely fleeced in the future. Secondly, it’s time to look again at the standard triple.

I’ve been wondering for some time now why I actually have a 42 teeth chainring on my bike. I mean, how often does it really get used (as opposed to allowing you to rest in a lower cadence on the descents)? I certainly can’t pull that gear when I’m on level ground and with my recent experiences of singlespeeding I’m starting to think a more limited gear range is desirable, especially since I can replace the outer ring with a chainset protecting bash ring. Much more confidence inspiring over logs.

SRAM have also used the XX introduction to emphasise their all-round componentry muscle. Not only is this a full groupset including front mech (which has not always been the case with SRAM) but they’ve extended the meaning of the term further to include brakes and forks owned by SRAM brands. So there’s Avid Elixir XX brakes with magnesium and carbon bits, a range of XX badged forks including reworked SIDs, Rebas and Revelations and so on.

The new SRAM XX integrated lever assembly

In fact this is one area I’m interested in as SRAM have picked up on Hope’s lead by enabling the shifters, brakes and lockout levers to be incorporated into one adjustable clamp assembly, massively freeing up space on the bars. I’d be very keen to have some of that; I thought it was an interesting idea when Hope recently starting producing machined integrated clamp assemblies in Shimano and SRAM flavours for use with their brakes.

One final thought about the XX groupset. Does it imply that the Cannonadale BB30 ‘standard’ is now game on? The XX chainset uses it to presumably provide a massive increase in BB stiffness and if we’re lucky, BB life. With SRAM behind it fully I’d expect frame manufacturers to really start producing compatible frames from the turn of the year onwards. Could be interesting times ahead.

Photos are adapted from Singletrack which has a lot more information about the new XX groupset press launch in sunny Tuscany. Here’s some links:

Filed under 2009, News in May 2009


About the author

Matt is one of the founding Molefathers of the Muddymoles, and is the designer and main administrator of the website.

Having ridden a 2007 Orange Five for many years then a 2016 YT Industries Jeffsy 29er, he now rocks a Bird Aether 9 and a Pace RC-627.

An early On-One Inbred still lurks in the back of the stable as a reminder of how things have moved on. You can even find him on road bikes - currently a 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE, a much-used 2011 Specialized Secteur and very niche belt drive Trek District 1.

If you've ever wondered how we got into mountain biking and how the MuddyMoles started, well wonder no more.

There are 3 comments on ‘SRAM XX – the ideal groupset?’

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  1. tony says:


    Already XX is behind the times with road groupsets. Campag have an 11speed groupsets out this year. Obviously the more gears you add the less in percentage terms you add. Feature creep is what I’d call it!

    Have a good ride tonight. Did 3hrs in the baking Greek Sunshine today.

  2. Andy J says:

    Call me old fashioned, but I’d rather go the other way… less cogs and less weight bouncing up and down at the back end.

    I guess what I really want is a gearbox bike (eg: where the complicated bits are all hidden away from the mud and moved closer to the the centre of gravity.

  3. Dave says:

    Less is more as they say.

    I can’t quite see the attraction. Unless you are changing the extremes then why bother plus the indexing become much more critical and hence sensitive to cable stretch. Much easier to set up and maintain 8 speed in my opinion.

    The other pointless thing (sorry Tony, I forgot there is a few grams in weight saving!) that road bikes have is the cableless Dura Ace system that needs batteries to power the actuators. Can’t see them coping with the resistance of the mud.

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