The biggest news with the launch of SRAM’s Expanded Range 12-speed groups is the redesign of GX Eagle. This affordable 1×12 drivetrain is the entry-point to SRAM’s Expanded Range line-up. It features most of the technology of SRAM’s high-end XX1 and XO1 Eagle components at a more attainable price point. As with the launch of Shimano’s 12-speed Deore group, the new GX Eagle is sure to be a hit with deal-savvy mountain bikers. We’ve just started testing and impressions of this Expanded Range group are promising, but not without some drawbacks.
Related Reading: Frequently asked questions about SRAM’s new 12-speed drivetrains
SRAM GX Eagle Expanded Range First Impressions
SRAM’s evolutionary approach to updating its 12-speed drivetrains means there are very few surprises in terms of performance. Most of the technologies introduced with its 1×12 drivetrains back in 2016 have been carried forward to the wider-range update.
This is certainly the case with GX Eagle. Cosmetically, the Expanded Range GX Eagle group looks stunning. The Lunar Grey color scheme that pervades SRAM’s Expanded Range line gives GX Eagle the look of a premier mountain bike drivetrain and its performance isn’t too far off the mark, either.
Related Reading: SRAM out-gears Shimano with Expanded Range drivetrains
I’ve just started testing the new GX Eagle group and have logged about six-hours of testing on it, which is enough to deliver this unsurprising early assessment: GX Eagle continues to deliver excellent performance for a fraction of the price of its high-end siblings. Yes, there’s a weight penalty that comes with the forged aluminum crankset and pinned steel cog cassette, but the shift feel isn’t very far off the company’s benchmark XX1 Eagle drivetrain.
Aside from the addition of the 52-tooth cog, the steps between gears are unchanged. I didn’t expect many surprises. However, I did expect the shift from the 42 to the 52-tooth cog to be noticeably slower than on SRAM’s 10-50t cassettes. After all, this is a 10-tooth jump, which is quite a leap between gears.
On the trail, it does feel like you dropped into a Mega-Range granny gear (which you have), but the speed of the shift is no slower. This is thanks to the addition of two extra shift ramps on this new cassette. The additional pick up and drop off-ramps maintain shift speed between the 42t and 52t cogs.
Riders looking for a little extra help on the climbs will appreciate this extra range—especially those on burly enduro bikes and bikepackers. If you live and ride in a place with soul-sucking fireroad climbs, the extra range of SRAM’s new drivetrains will be a tonic for weary legs. On several occasions, I found it was great to have the option to shift into this bailout gear and spin at a higher cadence for a few minutes just to ease the pain of grinding up relentless climbs.
This increase in overall range does have its downsides, though. I found that the steps between gears aren’t as tight at the low-end of the cassette as I would like. I’ve been logging a lot of miles of Shimano’s 12-speed groups in recent months and found that I prefer the smaller 45t to 51t jump between gears for technical climbing. These smaller steps between gears allow me to keep a consistent cadence when navigating technical ascents. In contrast, the jump from the 42t to 52-tooth cog results in a drastic change in pedaling tempo. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it is something to be aware of if you’re transitioning from Shimano to SRAM.
Overall, SRAM has done an excellent job of carrying over the meaningful elements of its premier 12-speed mountain bike drivetrains into GX Eagle. In terms of appearance, this group can go head-to-head with any boutique bike bits. And, more importantly, when it comes to performance, GX delivers precise shifting at a real-world price.
Want more details on all the bits and pieces of this new group? Keep scrolling.
SRAM GX Eagle Expanded Range prices and weights
GX Eagle XG-1275 cassette
SRAM’s top-end XX1 and XO1 Eagle cassettes are CNC-machined from blocks of steel with the largest, 52t cog constructed from aluminum and pinned to the cassette body. The GX Eagle XG-1275 cassette uses stamped and pinned steel cogs for the smallest 11-cogs and an aluminum 52t cog pinned to the 42t cog. it features an open design to shed weight as well as mud.
- Price: $215
- Weight: 452g
GX Eagle Rear Derailleur
The GX Eagle derailleur features updated cage architecture said to improve chain management. It has been refined to work with the new 10-52t cassettes. It’s also backward compatible with the 10-50t versions.
- Price: $125
- Weight: 299g
Carbon GX Eagle Crankset (Not tested)
As the name suggests, the Carbon GX Eagle crankset features carbon fiber crank arms. It uses SRAM’s X-SYNC 2 tooth profile chainring and comes with a direct-mount chainring. It’s available with 165, 170 and 175mm crankarms.
- Price: $275
- Weight: 555g (170mm crankarms, Boost spindle)
GX Eagle DUB Crankset
SRAM states this is the best alloy crankset it makes. This forged aluminum crankset is available in a wide range of spindle lengths to accommodate Boost and Super Boost spacing, as well as two fat bikes versions. It uses SRAM’s X-SYNC 2 tooth profile chainring and comes with a direct-mount chainring. It’s available with 165, 170 and 175mm crankarms.
- Price: $135
- Weight: 620g (170mm crankarms, Boost spindle)
GX Eagle Trigger Shifter
Aside from cosmetics, GX Eagle Tigger shifter is unchanged from the previous version. It has the same fixed-position alloy cable pull lever and plastic cable release paddle as its predecessor. It’s also MatchMaker compatible for clean cockpit integration with SRAM’s brakes.
- Price: $45
- Weight: 122g
GX Eagle Single Click Shifter (Not tested)
This version of the GX Eagle shifter is intended for e-bike use. It’s designed to help eliminate premature chain wear and chain-breaking by limiting the pull lever to a single shift for each throw of the lever.
- Price: $45
- Weight: 122g