Reviewed: SRAM X01 1×11 – Evolution or Revolution?

Components

In our upcoming All Mountain, Enduro Bike Shootout we noticed a trend – a majority of these test bikes are arriving with 1×11 drivetrains. Companies want to put their best foot forward in this comparison and it looks like they want their bikes tested with the new SRAM X01 or XX1 drivetrains. Most of them have Shimano brakes mated with the SRAM shifters. This is not the easiest combination with lever and trigger real estate but it seems pretty well sorted this year. The combination of SRAM drivetrain and Shimano brakes seems to be popular these days.

And another observation, there seems to be a lot of Pike forks on these bikes these days. Most of these bikes still have Fox rear shocks as companies seem to mix and match to create the best combination possible to showcase their bikes.

Santa Cruz 5010 With SRAM XX1 Drivetrain

Specialized Enduro 29 with SRAM XX1 Drivetrain

Intense Carbine 29 with SRAM X01 Drivetrain

Fezzari Timp Peak with SRAM X01 Drivetrain

Santa Cruz Bronson with SRAM XX1 Drivetrain

Specialized Camber Evo with SRAM X01 Drivetrain

Niner WFO9 with SRAM X01

Niner WFO9 with SRAM X01

Specialized Stumpjumper EVO with SRAM XX1 Drivetrain

We think the revolution has started. Read on and find out why 1×11 is taking on the world.

What is it?

The X01 is SRAM’s less expensive follow-up to the wildly successful XX1 drivetrain which features 1×11 drivetrain and no front derailleur and 11 speeds in the rear.

X01 Derailleur – X-Horizon zero slant design, Type 2 clutch technology
Weight: 220 grams, $269 MSRP

X01 Crankset – Carbon arms with forged aluminum spider, 170 and 175mm lengths ,94 BCD, Bash guard option, 30, 32, 34, 36 or 38-tooth
Weight: 645 grams (5 grams heavier than XX1), $279 (GXP) and $319 (BB30) MSRP

XG-1195 Cassette – 11 speeds (10-12-14-16-18-21-24-28-32-36-42 teeth) , Hard plated with black surface treatment
Weight: 275 grams (15 grams heavier than XX1), $399 MSRP

X01 Trigger Shifter
91 grams, $139 MSRP

X01 Grip Shift – Rolling Thunder ball bearings, Lock-on grips included
143 grams, $129 MSRP

PC-XX1 Chain – 1×11 specific, Hard Chrome technology
$63 MSRP

Why you want it?

You want it because it is truly a revolutionary drivetrain for mountain biking. Just as drivetrains improved when they went from 3×10 to 2×10 a few years ago, this new 1×11 is an even more dramatic improvement. It not only works well, it is changing the face of drivetrains and even mountain bike design.

Front derailleurs never really worked well as the system was designed around a metal plate derailing a chain by pushing it from one side or the other. That meant that the chain had to be easy to derail with shorter teeth on the chainrings and the plates had to be placed close to each other to derail the chain from either side. This resulted in a chain that would fall all the time and a derailleur that would rub the chain often. Various systems were devised like chain guides, direct mounts and even electronic trim devices that would prevent rubbing automatically. All were an effort to fix a design that is inherently bad for mountain biking. Couple that with the fact that the system could not really shift between gears under full power loads.

So the elimination of the front derailleur in the SRAM X0 1×11 system has many benefits. But perhaps the biggest benefit of the SRAM X0 system is that the chain does not fall anymore. Since derailing the chain is no longer a requirement, SRAM devised an alternating narrow/wide chainring design that syncs up with the narrow/wide spacing of a chain. The result is a chain and chainring that mesh with each other. The chain does not lift from the chain and it thus stays in place even on the rockiest descents.

What are the downsides?

Cost is high as it only goes down to X0 level.

Gearing is not as low as 2×10. The lowest gear is 30 front, 42 rear and this can be a concern for heavier riders, high mountains or 29ers or heavier bikes. The XX1 has a smaller BCD (bolt pattern) and can take a 28-tooth front ring. The X01′s smallest allowed ring is 30 teeth. Use this Bike Gear Calculator to check how 1×11 gearing range compares to your current setup.

You need a new hub body called an ‘XD Driver Body’. Most newer hubs are compatible with this and the new body will accommodate the small 10-tooth ring. If your current wheel does not accept an XD Driver Body conversion, you will need a new wheel.

Is it a Revolution?

The transition to 2×10 was an evolution. But we think the arrival of 1×11 is a revolution and here’s why:

  • Less chainslap and almost no dropped chains with no chain guide
  • More useable gear range in the back means shifting is more seamless
  • No gear duplication
  • No chainsuck
  • Noticeably lighter with less parts
  • No front derailleur which is hard to adjust and doesn’t work that well
  • More room on the bars, makes room under the bar for the dropper post
  • Rider is always on the correct chainring in the front when on rolling terrain with steep walls
  • On full suspension bikes, the front chainring can always be the right one for the suspension design as most suspensions are usually optimized for just one of the chainrings where they remain neutral under load
  • It allows frame designers to shorten the chainstays when eliminating the front derailleur. This is key for 29er FS.
1×11 Poll Results

In a recent poll by Mtbr here, it’s obvious that experience so far with SRAM 1×11 drivetrains is very positive. 20% of respondents have tried it and think it’s the best drivetrain they’ve ever used. Another 52% have not tried it but are interested.

Conclusion

The X01 is every bit as good as the XX1 in terms of feel and functionality. It’s about 10% cheaper and a few grams heavier. But in a blind test, we would not be able to tell the two apart. So just like the XX1, we give the X01 our highest recommendation.

More info is available here: Complete Specs and Info on SRAM X0 1×11.

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About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.


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  • Mike says:

    Its cheaper to convert my existing XTR into 1×10 setup by purchasing the front chain ring and shortening the chain. than purchasing the XX1 or X01.

  • JC says:

    Wow,,,do I pay my mortgage or buy a bike part? Good job bike snobs. Mtn Biking is heading the same direction as fly fishing.

    • MC says:

      Agreed. There are options available for $40. Plus if you sell the hardware that you take off during the conversion, you may actually come out ahead.
      $400 cassette? You could buy a decent bike for this 5 years ago.

  • eb1888 says:

    I picked up a couple 1×10 XT cassettes earlier this year at 50 each. They are a wear item after all. The XO cassette is $25 less than the XX1. That is $400. With a 15% discount still seven times the cost for a wear item. It is not something I’m considering.

  • Dale Burton says:

    This might work for UCI races, but for normal folk it probably won’t do for most rides. Yesterday, I did the 50KM loop from Canmore Nordic Centre to Banff and back to Canmore NC. Doing it clockwise leaves you with an 18-KM downhill (well most of the way) to Banff. I stayed in 42-11 for long sections and my legs were spining. 1×10-er would probably be left behind, so I’ll be sticking with the Shimano XT triple chanrings.

  • EP says:

    It seems great for certain types of riders and terrain. A 28-42 or even 30-42 is not substantially different from the typical easiest gear on an X/C double. But 28-10 or 30-10 isn’t close to as hard a gear as you need to maximize speed for many cross country races/rides. Pros and experts can probably use a bigger front ring and be in good shape in a lot of places. And of course, there’s the whole universe beyond racers – people to whom singlespeed has a certain appeal but proves a bit too difficult should really like this compromise option.

  • AS says:

    I do believe this is the perfect setup for the areas that I ride and my riding style. But for $1,300 plus the cost of a new compatible hub, I’m going to have to wait until this is an OEM option or I get a big promotion.

  • rob black says:

    Another vote for X9. I’d buy that tomorrow.

  • Cortney Jay says:

    I just kept my current rear derailleur, cassette, and chain (10 spd) and put on the XX1 crank. Works like a charm and I have a 1×10 for only $290. Minimal chain slap and I’ve yet to have the chain come off in any circumstance, including Porcupine Rim. I love it!

    • MC says:

      I’ll raise you one: X9 drive drain that was stock on my bike, converted to 1×10 by just removing front shifter, rings, shortening chain and installing $35 Race Face narrow/wide ring :) No chain drop with regular type1 derailleur.

  • I'mRight says:

    As soon as you make your last payment for this they’ll release electric shifting for mountain bikes.

  • Happy Bill says:

    I have to say that i was initally sceptical of the 1 X systems. But having converted my bike to a 1×10 and having a few months on it i have to say it is a great way to ride. In 20 plus years i have never had such a quiet and well working drivetrain off road.

    That said its price that will keep me from this group. Seriously im not going to ever put 400.00 in to a cassette. Not going to happen. Not when i can simply by a new chainring up front and shorten the chain. I really dont see a need for a 42, not when i can simply buy a smaller front ring and be done with it.

    For those of you who love this and have to have it, awesome. Enjoy it. But for a vast majority of the mtn bikers i have ever rode with a 1X9 or 1X10 conversion is the way to go. Now if you want to dump the money cause your drive train is completely shot. This appears to be a more affordable altertintive.

    Nice artical, thanks for the info.
    Bill

  • Dale Burton says:

    I watched the UCI xc in Montreal where the women on 29-er’s and 1×11 were pushing on the hills. The men on the same set up just about rode the steep sections. These are pro’s and they struggled. So, I tested this my self. I have XT 32-t middle ring and 11-36. I rode the normal trails I do locally and the ones in the mountains that are steep and rough. For the local trails it wasn’t too bad, I was actually surprised how easy it was, but there were s

  • Dale Burton says:

    (smart phones) sections that were too steep for the set up and I pushed. In the mountains it was more of a challenge and certainly more tiring. I in both instances the top speeds I normally see down hill were never achieved. The bike I was using was a Trek Remedy, 26-er at sub 27-lbs.

    The New 1×11 is too expensive and it’s a step backwards in some respects.

  • Johan says:

    I think this is great. However due to the need of a new rear wheel, I would only go this way once I’m ready to purchase a new bike.

    That being said, the gearing is limited and this would only be for a bike where I ride/race sub 65 miles. 36/42 will be fine but after 50 or 60 miles of climbing I might want something lower. Also going with a 30T or 30T front ring will leave you spinning on the flats and downhills too much. Great idea and will suit MOST riding that MOST stronger riders will do. However this is not a do-it-all bike.

    When buying a new bike I think this will definitely be the way I go. For now my other bikes stay 2×9.

  • Johan says:

    I meant 30T or 32T front ring….

  • acmi says:

    I’ll stick with my 3×10, thanks. My FD very rarely gives me problems. I need the granny gear on my 29er for steep climbs, and we ride to the trailhead most of the time, so the big ring is great for that.

  • Tom says:

    Yep, this 11×1 system is useless for me. I have thought about trying 2X10
    Just to much climbing gear lost. I like long rides with Steep climbs. It is entertaining watching the guys on there 5+ grand bikes dismount while I ride past them on my 31 pound triple equipped bike.

  • Don't be poor says:

    Worth the money… Yes. Stop crying, you could buy a bike at goodwill for the cost of the chain, so what. The newest and best is expensive. If you can’t afford it dont try it, because there is no going back once you do.

  • Tom says:

    The one thing that this article glosses over is the actual gearing available with the 1×11 set ups. Check out this blog article on how 1×11 gearing almost has the same range as a triple and a greater range than a double http://blog.artscyclery.com/mountain/is-a-single-chainring-set-up-really-better/

    • Benja says:

      That’s very helpful. I’ve run the math myself and came up with similar conclusions. I’m running XX1 and love it. 1×11 with a dropper and I’m happy. There will be rides I suffer a bit more on, but so far I haven’t found them. I’ve cleaned everything that I used to run a granny on.

  • Francis Cebedo says:

    >>http://blog.artscyclery.com/mountain/is-a-single-chainring-set-up-really-better/

    Great info!!!

    But how do you conclude it has greater range than a double?

  • Jimmymats says:

    Good article here and the link Tom posted. The only double config the 1 x 11 has greater range than is 32/24 front x 11 x 36 rear. All the other doubles had greater range. Still interesting you can get close, though still can’t justify the expense of 1 x 11!

  • Motor Cycle says:

    Spesh Comp Carbon EvoR 2012 came set up with xo 1 x technology. I love it. All I ever needed!

  • Giblet says:

    Was getting tired of a dropped chain on my old 9 speed triple system, race face with XTR, so looked at this when it first came out. Shocked at the cost of the cassette and being a self confessed tight arse looked for options. The cost of the crank was between XT and XTR and bearable and matched it to an XT cassette and type 2 deraileur and XTR 10 speed shifter. All in all friggen love it, quiet, no chain suck when it is wet, no chain slap, sharp shifts. I run a 34 front 36 rear that gets me up anything I used to be able to do on the old system including big long 25 % climbs, shorter steeper pinches, I was never a spinner anyway. Sharp fast transitions from flat to a short steep can still catch you out since you have to shift through the entire cassette. On the whole if you have the legs, get the front crank (or similar) and go with 1 x 10 and you have as good a system without the huge bucks.

  • Mtn Rider says:

    The gearing isn’t low enough for extended Rocky mtn climbs, especially for a 29er. They need a bigger cassette than a 42 THEN I will think about converting to a 1x setup, until then I’ll stick with the wider range on my 2x setup.

  • EpicAndy says:

    SRAM devised nothing. The narrow-wide profile on gear teeth has been around for agriculture for longer than mountain biking has existed. That’s why RaceFace and WolfTooth can use the same profile without SRAM suing them into the ground Specialized-style.

    SRAM 1X11 = 1400
    Wolftooth front ring to adapt 2X10 to 1X10 = $68

    Hmmm. Smart money’s on the attainable upgrade. Leave the $1,400 upgrade to the dentists.

  • Mark says:

    Would be nice if this article recognized the fact that on mtbr and elsewhere, people are noticing premature drivetrain wear issues with 1X11. It’s not rocket science…chains work best when they are in a reasonably straight line. This is one of the inherent advantages of having a 2X rather than a 1X crankset.

  • Francis Cebedo says:

    >Would be nice if this article recognized the fact that on mtbr and elsewhere, people are noticing premature drivetrain wear issues with 1X11. It’s not rocket science…chains work best when they are in a reasonably straight line. This is one of the inherent advantages of having a 2X rather than a 1X crankset.

    This may be reversed. We think a 1x drivetrain has a straighter chainline than a 2x or a 3x. The reason is the chainring is dead center and there is no cross-chaining situation ever.

    As far as premature wear, XO is still too new. And of all the XX users we know, no one has had to change a cogset yet. The claim from SRAM is it will last just as long as their 2×10 systems do.

    • dsut4392 says:

      No one has had to change a cassette yet? Are you guys riding in a clean room or something? I’ve destroyed an XT cassette and chainring in one muddy weekend of not much over 100 miles, despite swapping in a new chain overnight.

      The only real advantages of going single-ring are being able to ditch the front derailleur, and changing the tooth profile to reduce chain drop. The guff about chainline is just marketing spin and you should know it. Running a single chainring gives a straighter chainline than being a wally and riding your triple in the big-big or small-small gear combinations. It’s just like riding a triple around in the middle chainring all day, but without having to trim your derailleur for chain rub. If you use a triple like you’re meant to, your chainline will be straighter still.

  • chris dalton says:

    I run a 1 x 10, shimano XT with the shadow + function. I ride a 36 pnd 7″ travel freeride bike, which I try to ride “all-mountain” but with only a 11-36 cassette & 36 front ring I’m lacking in the low gear dept. I’d love to try the 11sp set-up but with an XT rear hub I’d be required to get a new hub & rebuild the wheel to run the XD driver.

  • MC says:

    just get the $35 Race Face ring people and call it a day. You need nothing more to get your chain drop under control.

  • JimmyDee says:

    Give me a break. I’ve always been able to use 2 up front without any real issue. 3 up front can give a little rub now and then, but I can live with that on the bike that has a triple in the front.

    I’ve just never encountered any real problems from using front derailleurs. I can see that it might be fun to run a single plus a Rohloff, but only for a limited use bike – ie a commuter.

    2 of my bikes have triples and both of them have ridden North Shore and Van Isle.

    I ride XT Deore and XTR. 12 years on one derailleur (parts replaced).

    I would always prefer to run 2 in the front if for no other reason than chainline. With 9+ gears in the back, you are always going to run into bad chainline with one in the front.

    I am not light enough to take those kind of liberties with my chain when I’m 3 hours away from anything.

  • roger says:

    If you need one on these: (A) you need to spend more time riding, (B) See A.

  • Andy says:

    I never understand forums where people bag others for being able to afford new revolutionary kit. As someone else said here, if you cant afford it don’t buyit, but dont bag it.

    Lambos cost $900k , i cant afford it, but man they are hot.

  • Andy says:

    Oh, and yes i have X01 on my Blur XC Carbon with Carbon Easton wheels, too much for. Ya? Bad luck,

  • David Simons says:

    Seems highly expensive way to shift less gears. Tried a 1×11 and a 2×10 on demo bikes before buying my latest Trek, and 2×10 is far superior. And, I’ve never met a knowledgable mtb’er who has had serious problems with either the design or weight of a Shimano Deore/SLX/XT/XTR front derailleur

  • Andrew Tyerman says:

    I love it, but for Now i sticking with 1×9, basically just cant justify the costs when i can use a guide, or a Blackspire Monoveloce chainring and get away with my 12/36 cassete for now. Just wish the would make a rear mech that would work ok with 9 or 10s drive trains hthat works he same way. Then they might be able to convert a lot more of us, that cant afford a $300 or $400 fo a cassette!

  • Leonard says:

    i’m interested in 1×11, but think that its way too expensive. SRAM seems to marketing to the same people who attend ski resorts. That is to say, they think that all of their customers are uber wealthy and can afford outrageous prices for their products. They are also doing little dickish marketing moves that will bump you up to their higher, more expensive product category like making the xo1 crank only accept a 30 tooth ring when the xo will run a 28 (and the xo is only like $150 more). Another example is their mid priced 10 speed mountain cassette is only available with a 12 tooth cog as the smallest with a 36 tooth large cog. The xg1080 (I think) is available with an 11 tooth in an 11×36 configuration for almost $180 more! I really interested in the 42 tooth replacement cogs, as well as high range, 3rd party cog sets to displace the monopolistic douchery that SRAM is prone to. I used to bemoan Shimano for their monopoly, but have grown to favor their house over time. I will likely be finding a shimano wide range, 11-36 cassette to replace my sram 12-36 when it dies. Perhaps it will be a super wide range 10 speed unit that suggests sram it where the sun don’t shine.

  • Keith says:

    Leonard, SRAM offers the 1030, 1050, and 1070 cassettes in the 11-36 combo. There is no doubt that 1 x 11 is expensive and will likely trickle down over the years. I imagine most people will switch to one of the many available spiderless chainrings when i comes time to replace their SRAM Narrow-wide one. The spiderless are lighter and less expensive in most cases.

  • XR600 says:

    The jump from 10 to 12 teeth is far too big!
    It needs to be 10,11,12,14… with bigger jumps at the other end to compensate.
    With such a narrow gear range, and a small front chainring, the 10 & 12 tooth rear sprockets are going to be used all the time, and during average speeds. Shifting between 10 & 12 and back, the jump will be excessive. Although not ideal, the jumps are less of an issue at the other end of the cassette.

  • roger says:

    The title is laughfable! People have been running 1X setups for a while. SRAM only added 11 gears in the rear. NO, it’s neither an evolution or revolution.

  • roger says:

    This is pure marketing for SRAM, but they are laughing all the way to the bank. People who needs this don’t ride enough and are posers to begin with.

    • wheel-man says:

      Roger, most racers (XC, or enduro, or ultra-distance) are now using 1×11. It does give a competitive edge. I ride around 10,000 miles per year and race competitively on all types of terrain and a variety disciplines. I’m not a poser and I do find it to provide an advantage both in terms of weight, reliability and simplicity. Other top amateurs (who have to pay for their own gear) seem to agree and are voting with their wallets.

  • uno says:

    There will always be technological advances, some better then others (bring them on). This is not why we ride, is it? I’m still riding a 26, thinking maybe 29. Now with 27, not sure. Carbon, dropper post? Choices are endless, some can afford changes every year. One thing I’m sure is that we are all enjoying the sport, the comradrie. New stuff always cost more…….someone had to develop it / or take the risk. Just keep having fun & wait for when you look for your next new ride.

  • Tom says:

    So (lots) more money for less equipment? Maybe this will help SRAM recover from their road bike disk brake fiasco?

    I rode it, and the drop in gearing from the 36 to the 42 is HUGE. Makes first gear seem more like an “I give up now” bail out gear than a real option, especially in a racing scenario.

    And remember, the mechanical efficiency of a 10t sprocket is truly horrendous. For that matter, an 11t isn’t very good, either.

    For me, the tradeoffs of going double instead of triple pencil out, but not 1X, at least not if you live in the mountains.

  • Kartturi says:

    While I’m all for giving credit where credit is due, and SRAM was apparently the first to come up with a great 1-by-system with a gear range that’s usable for most riders, I’d love to see a cost/benefit-analysis on the SRAM XX-/O1 versus the alternatives.

    More specifically, thinking of my own situation I would be a) facing spending up to a Grand to update the full SRAM drive train and possibly also facing getting a new rear wheel and at the very least a new cassette body altogether a grand or more, versus b) getting just one of the multiple narrow-wide chain rings from e.g. Race Face or Wolf Tooth Components and any of the 42t cogs including WTC Giant Cog, OneUp Components 42t or a Leonardi Racing General Lee to use with my existing 11-36 cassette, and possibly a new clutch type derailleur and in the worst case a set of cranks, which would set me back in the ballpark between 150 (just the chain ring and cog) and 500 (crank, chain ring, cog and derailleur) dollars, in sum less than a half of the SRAM option.

    So I would be very interested to see some data and/or insight whether there is a tangible benefit to XX/-O1 over the next best thing that would justify the cost.

  • Dave says:

    When I changed from 3×8 to 2×10 it was a revolution. Now I ride a 1×11…it’s unbelievable how much better it is. I must not be that great of a rider (according to prior posts) because I suffered from most of the problems stated in the article about front derailleurs. I ride daily at Aliso Woods and get passed occasionally by pros on Mathis Trail (Top of the World)…every one of them on a 1×11. Fact is, you’ll ride on what you’re comfort zone is. But if you’re a (pro) riding on a 3×10 setup…you’re at a disadvantage from the start.

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