You’ll also notice that the size of the 50-tooth cog looks downright strange. It’s roughly the size of a 200mm rotor, which from a straight-on angle yields the mountain biking equivalent of a perfect solar eclipse. Despite the size, the 8-tooth jump is right in line with the 19% jumps along the rest of the cassette. Bottom line, it all feels surprisingly natural.
What wont feel natural is the fact that in order to make the switch you’ll have to ditch most of your old 1×11 parts, as there is limited cross-compatibility with the two systems save for being able to use 1×11 cranks with Eagle as long as it’s compatible with a direct mount chainring with removable spider. You can also use Eagle chainrings with 1×11 systems. And while that might seem odd, it’s actually worth considering if you don’t have an extra $1417 sitting around for a new XX1 Eagle group (which is what we tested), or $1193 for the more enduro-oriented X01 Eagle group.
Turns out the Eagle chainring has a fully revised tooth profile that SRAM claims helps more evenly spread the load of the chain around the ring. This nets smoother and quieter operation, which in our four days of riding, we can vouch for. This Eagle is smooth and quiet like a stealth bomber.
This silky operation is also attributable to the new SRAM Eagle chain, which the Chicago-based company says is the best it’s ever made. Getting there, though, was a highly involved manufacturing process where each link’s plates are made flatter and smoother. This means fewer sharp edges, which reduces cassette and chain wear.
As for set-up and maintenance, we can’t tell you too much yet, as Scott brought in a fleet of mechanics (including some from SRAM’s Germany office) to assure bikes were running smoothly. Despite that, a few of our fellow scribes did have some chain-skip shifting issues during test rides, though that never happened to us.
Near the end of the event, Chris Hilton, SRAM’s product manager for mountain bike drivetrains said simply that like with any bike part, set-up is everything. “That’s the case with anything, tire pressure, brakes, rear derailleurs,” Hilton said. “Every Eagle rear derailleur comes with little red tool that will help you get the exact correct chain gap, because it does need to be set up correctly. Chain gap is everything. There are also some great videos on sram.com.”
We can’t address set-up issues any further, or vouch for system durability claims. But based on our limited test time and general love of 1x shifting, we’ll offer this: If you can stomach the small weight penalty and price hit, there’s likely no reason not to jump on this Eagle’s wings when it’s time for a new drivetrain.
For more information, please visit www.sram.com.