More affordable 1 x 11 drivetrain, no compromise in performance
The Dolomite Mountains near Lake Garda, Italy provided a stunning backdrop for testing SRAM’s new X1 drivetrain. Photo by Adrian Marcoux/SRAM.
Component manufacturer SRAM unveiled a third, more affordable version of their wildly successful 1x mountain drivetrain, dubbed X1, in the Dolomite Mountains of Italy this week. The new group features much of the same performance acumen of their higher-end 11-speed systems, but uses less expensive manufacturing techniques and materials that add a few grams, but saves $400-600 (depending on crank type) from the MSRP of an XX1 drivetrain, and just over $200 from XO1.
At just over $1,000, SRAM’s new X1 drivetrain lowers the barrier-of-entry to true 1 x 11 performance. Photo by Adrian Marcoux/SRAM.
A sizable chunk of the $1,066 X1 drivetrain’s cost savings comes from the cassette, which employs a hybrid construction technique SRAM calls Mini Cluster. Rather than machining the entire cassette from a single piece of steel billet like it does on the XO1 and XX1 versions, SRAM only machines the smallest three cogs that way. The piece is combined with the largest eight cogs, which are individually made and then pinned together. Like all SRAM’s 11-speed groups, an XD driver body on the rear wheel is required to run the wide-range cassette.
By using pinned construction for the X1 cassette’s lower gears, SRM was able to save significant cost. Photo by Adrian Marcoux/SRAM.
Other than the cassette, cost savings come from SRAM’s traditional means of group differentiation—less polished finishing, and lower-cost material choices that generally have little effect on performance, other than slight weight penalties.
The group features all the same technologies of its more-costly counterparts, but adds a few options that should help make X1 the workhorse spec on a wider-range range of OEM bikes, in addition to the aftermarket throngs clamoring for a legitimate but not-quite-so-spendy 1 x 11 drivetrain.
The aluminum X1 crank, for instance, is offered in two aftermarket levels—the 800g hollow forged X1 1400 and the 850g forged X1 1000, which includes a fat bike option. There’s also the forged 830g OEM-only X1 1200, which should make it easier for bike manufacturers to start spec’ing the system on bikes starting at lower price points than we’re used to seeing.
The region’s changeable weather provided a range of conditions to test the new X1 drivetrain. Photo by Adrian Marcoux/SRAM.
With the amazing Italian Dolomites as the backdrop, we rode the new X1 drivetrain for a couple days earlier this week. Day one saw typical, moist spring conditions, while day two was a non-stop downpour. Though our rides were brief, they gave us a pretty good idea of how X1 performs in a wide-range of conditions. In a nutshell—just like XX1 and XO1.
Rain was non-stop on day two, but so were we. The rocky trails in the region were actually pretty resilient to the wet conditions. Photo by Adrian Marcoux/SRAM.
X1’s shifting felt just as snappy and precise as its pricier counterparts, with neither a hint of hesitation or ghost-shifting. The trigger action might have a slightly different feel than XX1 but shifts are equally crisp and reliable.
Despite the inhospitable treatment of our test bike, it shifted like a champ and didn’t drop a single chain. Photo by Adrian Marcoux/SRAM.
Like the other systems, X1 uses SRAM’s Type-2 roller bearing clutch and X-Sync narrow/wide chainrings to keep the chain in place. Over the course of two days of riding in crunchy conditions, there wasn’t a single dropped chain among our 20 riders. It leads us to believe that, like with XX1 and XO1, you may occasionally have a derailment, but very rarely.