For the past six hundred miles I’ve been lucky enough to run a full SRAM X-0 groupset on my Orange Five (notwithstanding the lack of a suitable front dérailleur). Having given it plenty of time to disgrace itself I thought it was time to comment on the experience.
Simply put, this has been the most reliable set of gear related components I have ever run. Anything related to gearage is going to take a hammering more often than not but not once in 600 miles have the gears failed to change on request, crunched or slipped. This reliability has been a revelation and I’m sure contributes to my continuing enjoyment from riding the Five.
Being X-0 means I’m running the top of the range SRAM component suite which brings a smattering of carbon fibre bling here and there (largely nothing more than cosmetic) to justify it’s stupendous cost. I keep worrying about the use of carbon fibre for the jockey wheel cage, especially since for 2008 they’ve replaced the back plate with aluminium for greater strength but am assured by my Local Bike Shop that all the constituent parts of the dérailleur can be replaced individually if needed (if there’s anything left after a failure). So far though, as I said things have been perfect.
Apart from the dérailleur, carbon fibre also features on the shifter covers, where it goes largely unnoticed. Of greater interest is that the levers can be individually adjusted for position to get them sitting just where you want them, though personally I haven’t touched them so far. They give sharp, positive gearchanges that leave you in no doubt you have asked for a gearchange, unlike the slickly sweet Shimano approach. At first I was unsure about this but the proof of the pudding is in the eating and these shifters have served up clunky, chunky reliable performance time after time. It’s surprising too how quickly you get used to the heavier push | push SRAM approach to gearchanging after years of barely there push | pull Shimano experience.
So in short I’m delighted. The drivetrain has finally evolved into mechanical perfection, leaving me to get on and enjoy the bike and the trails. I suspect most of the benefits of this system are readily available on SRAM’s cheaper gear through the inherrent design approach they’ve taken so if you are upgrading or changing your drivetrain have a think about SRAM.
It’s also worth noting that my astounding reliability may be influenced by the fact the Orange runs a continuous gear outer all the way to the dérailleur which effectively locks out grit and gunk from the system.