Last week in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek video posted to its YouTube channel, SRAM eulogized the front derailleur, saying that its usefulness in mountain biking had come to an end. Today, we find out why, as the Chicago-based component maker unveiled SRAM Eagle, a 1×12 drivetrain system that boasts a sprawling 500% gear range thanks to a 10-50t cassette. That’s roughly the same range you’d get from a standard 2x set-up, but with one less derailleur and a cleaner cockpit.
For now, the new set-up will be available at the XX1 ($1417) and X01 ($1193) levels only, though we expect to see mid- and lower-tier options sometime down the road. Claimed groupset weights are 1456 grams and 1502 grams respectively, not including the bottom bracket. Availability is set for June. And old school riders will rejoice at the inclusion of a Grip Shift option.
SRAM, which deserves much credit for harkening in the age of single-ring MTB (and cyclocross and road) set-ups, says Eagle is its “most advanced and highest-performing drivetrain to date… These drivetrains have not only been refined, we have torn them apart, built them up, tested, tweaked, engineered and tested again.”
Here’s another video from SRAM explaining why they’re convinced 1×12 is the way of the future. Scroll down for a full part-by-part breakdown starting with the all important chain.
The marquee-topping SRAM XX1 Eagle is billed as a cross-country-optimized drivetrain that combines new 1x technology with lightweight materials. Indeed, SRAM claims the XX1 Eagle group weighs up to 300 grams less than 2x drivetrains with similar gear range. Meanwhile, the X01 Eagle is targeted at the trail/enduro crowd, presumably providing greater durability. Claimed weight savings between SRAM Eagle X01 and 2x drivetrains with similar gear range is 250 grams.
Calling it the biggest contributor to the “Eagle drivetrain’s ultra-smooth, precise, durable and quiet performance,” the new chain’s links have a smooth radius, with no sharp edges or chamfers. This, says SRAM, yields a reduction in noise, friction and wear on chainrings and cassette cogs.
The design also allows for a flatter plate, meaning more consistent chain riveting for improved strength. Further, SRAM’s “hard chrome” technology is claimed to extend performance life, and a titanium nitride coating on the gold and black models is said to decrease corrosion and further reduce friction. (Yes, there are color options, including silver, too.) The chain is closed via a familiar PowerLock, and is only compatible with the new Eagle 10-50t cassettes. It comes in XX1 and X01 levels.
Designed for use with an XD driver body, this 12-speed, 10-50t cassette offers a 500-percent gear range at a lower weight than 2x systems, says SRAM. They also claim the X-Dome architecture is among the strongest on the market, and that new shifting characteristics improve both, inboard and outboard shifting, as well as chain retention. The cassette is built with a machined cromoly 11-cog cluster, plus an aluminum 50t cog. It comes in XX1 and X01 levels. Gear steps are: 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 21, 24, 28, 32, 36, 42, 50. And unlike the recently released OneUp 10-50t set-up, the Eagle cassette does not require the less-common mini-driver to utilize the 10t cog. Instead, if your bike is compatible with SRAM 1×11 it should work with 1×12 as well.