Tech: Bespoke 1 x 12 SRAM Eagle Upgrades – We Pick Two Smart Options for You

SRAM first announced the XX1 Eagle drivetrain with it’s 50 tooth cassette and 1 x 12 setup 3 years back. Since then the technology known as ‘Eagle’ has been incorporated into a total of five drivetrain models starting with SX, NX, GX and topping out with the XO1 and XX1 labels.

The upsides of the Eagle technology trickling down the range are essentially two-fold. The first is that the system is now available at more wallet-friendly price points. Secondly, since the individual components within the Eagle family are 100% cross compatible you can pick and choose components to build an entirely bespoke drivetrain. For discerning shoppers the opportunity to build custom drivetrains to suit wallet and riding preferences is enticing. With this in mind, we spent some time riding the different levels of Eagle and chatted with industry insiders to create what we think are two smart 1 x 12 Eagle bespoke upgrades.

Upgrade Scenario A: You want to move to a 1 x 12 drivetrain without melting the credit card and want a reliable, durable performer but not entirely entry level. You are willing to up your budget slightly, within reason, but, for tangible gains only.

Assuming you have the XD driver we would recommend the following collection:

NX crankset: There is very little difference in performance or feel between NX and GX cranks, they are both aluminum all be it different grades. We really couldn’t feel any difference on the trail although the GX is about 80g lighter. RRP is around R1760

GX cassette: It’s a moving part (rotational) and the weight saving over NX is significant, around 165g. If you are sensitive to weight, you will actually easily feel this kind of change in rotational weight. Usually, any change greater than 50g on a wheel can begin to alter the ride feel, handling, and performance of the bike. The GX cassette also has the 10t gear whereas the NX has an 11t as it’s smallest. RRP is around R3400.

NX derailleur: The entire NX group shifts really well, even under load, and there is very little difference in technology between the NX and GX derailleurs. Yes, the GX is around 47g lighter than NX but as far as we can see that is to do with choice of material and not any technology. Also, this is not a rotational part so sacrificing weight here has minimal influence on ride quality. RRP is around R1800.

NX chain: It’s just a nononsense wallet-friendly option which is the brief. RRP is R430.

XO1 shifter: The NX and GX shifters are slightly lighter and more wallet friendly but the extra adjustability of the XO1 shifter improves the cockpit feel significantly. The ergonomics are better. The feel of the shift is noticeably crispier and we felt the bike has a far smoother ride with an XO1 shifter. At a RRP of around R2100 vs. the NX of R705 your wallet will feel it, but every time you shift gears you will smile.

Upgrade Scenario B: You want all out performance for your riding or racing but are not a PRO so don’t need to be riding the most pricey products. BUT, maybe next year when you get a little more serious you might want to add onto an existing solid Eagle foundation.

GX cassette: The price difference between the GX cassette which is a stamped steel construction and the XO1 which is an aluminum and chromoly combo is over R3k and the weight saving is 93g. if you are not paid to race then just go GX. RRP R3400

XX1 derailleur: Yes it’s only 12g lighter than the XO1 option but the carbon cage does wonders for the accuracy and crispy solid feel when shifting – not to mention the durablility / strength of carbon. RRP R5030

Stylo carbon crankset: At around R3700 it’s less than half the price of the XO1 crankset with a weight penalty of around 80g. It’s the smart buy here for sure.

XO1 chain: A solid and robust option at R1000.

XO1 shifter: For all the same reasons in the above scenario. It’s just a smart buy with great ride quality.

THEN: in year two, when you are keen for further upgrades and taking your riding a little more seriously, the next smart move would be to go with an XX1 chain and XX1 cassette to complete your bespoke and performance orientated Eagle setup.

Note: Prices and weights will vary slightly on the exact model chosen, currency numbers at the time of clearing custom, and independent retail pricing. Lastly, we haven’t ridden any of the SX Eagle components, in fact they actually haven’t been officially launched, but we have seen them and as far as we can tell they are pretty similar to NX in performance, weight, and pricing.

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