SRAM’s new XX1 (1×11) drive train could be the only set of gears we need here in the North East. That statement is bold for a reason. Once you ride with this gear set over on Long Island, you look back thinking “what were those other rings for?” Instead of boring you with the technobabble of SRAM’s x-sync, x-horizon, x-actuation, roller bearing clutch, cage lock, thing-a-ma-jigs, I’ll let you know what I found out after my first few rides: the XX1 is packed with new technology that made this group set extremely efficient, reliable, fast, and fun to use.
The 11-speed spacing (10-12-14-16-18-21-24-28-32-36-42) felt great with the 32 tooth front ring, however, your gear ratio can be fine tuned by replacing the front ring with several available sizes (28,30,32,34,36,38). SRAM really makes you feel like you are in control by offering such a wide range of front chain rings to match your terrain, wheel size, and riding style without even needing to remove the crank set.
The trigger shifter has a unique audible click that is crisp and clear. Shifting into gear feels effortless both up front on the trigger and down back on the derailleur. Throughout the day, the XX1 system shifted with precision and speed without dropping a chain. Riding through technical trails felt much easier only having to worry about using my right fingers to shift and my left finger to feather the front brake. It gave me more control managing technical sections of the trail and more speed coming out of each turn.
One major downside is that the SRAM XX1 requires meticulous installation. You must pay special attention to the alignment of the rear derailleur hangers as a slightly tweaked hanger will ruin the XX1 precision shifting. Once I had gotten that all sorted out, the XX1 rear derailleur kept my chain glued to the front ring by keeping constant tension on the chain.
Overall, the drive train is simply fun to use. I could not ask for a different gear ratio riding my 29er hard tail on Long Island. And the weight savings – don’t even get me started. This may be a must have for all you weight weenies out there.