Ridden: SRAM's XX1 Drivetrain - Simply Incredible 12

<b>Welcome to the SRAM School of the Mountain, the Whistler-based home of the all-new XX1 drivetrain. It's time to get your learn on.</b>

<b>The XX1 derailleur has deep roots, using "Straight-P" technology that stems clear back to old 6 and 7 speed road bikes. Several years later, the enduro scene will be the first to benefit from its resurgence. Could downhill be next? We're guessing so.</b>

<b>The X-Horizon rear derailleur, from prototype to finished product. This thing is exciting. Note that it can't be used on 2 or 3X systems as it doesn't have the necessary chain growth capacity.</b>

<b>Here's your typical parallelogram style rear derailleur. Note the 7mm offset distance between the center of the pulley and the point at which the cage pivots.</b>

<b>"The secret" of the X-Horizon derailleur lies not only in the horizontal plane on which it moves, but also in the increased offset distance of 44mm. As the cage rotates, this ensures that the pulley stays close to the gears for fast and precise shifts.</b>

<b>Here it is in action. See how the cage swings down, not the body? For those wondering about clearance, the cage length is equivalent to an XO medium cage.</b>

<b>Jerome Clementz has spent the longest time on XX1, rallying enduro courses around the world and winning one at Crankworx. He'll run a chainguide for the roughest of courses, but spends the majority of his time without one. Seriously. No guide.</b>

<b>What about that little 11-speed chain? Surely it's weaker, right? SRAM says that isn't the case because it sees less side-to-side bending. We'll have to verify that one later on.</b>

<b>Another key to the system is the CNC-machined chainring. Each tooth’s thickness is precisely CNC-machined to support the chain’s inner and outer links. The rear derailleur pulleys share this design. We dig the fact that all sizes of chainrings fit a universal spider, allowing you to swap them without removing the cranks. Also, we know you're curious... Yes, the chainring is compatible with current 10-speed systems, but the use of the entire XX1 system is required to see the full benefits.</b>

<b>The XX1 cassette starts at 10 teeth and climbs to a whopping 42. Why not 9 at the low end? Due to chain drag (bending), less engagement, and increased skipping on 9 teeth, SRAM decided it best to stay with 10.</b>

<b>The cassette doesn't mount using a lock-ring at the end of the hub like traditional designs. There simply isn't room with a 10 tooth cog. Instead, the XD driver body hooks on from the inside.</b>

<b>SRAM has made it possible for any hub company to manufacture the XD driver body, so expect to see more hub options in the near future. It takes just five minutes to swap a traditional body out for this new one.</b>

<b>To test the XX1 system out, we headed to the Top of the World with Curtis Keene, enduro racer extraordinaire. This new drivetrain is right up his alley.</b>

<b>If there's one thing Keene appreciates the most, it's the similarity to tried and true 1x10 but with a larger range.</b>

<b>Things we loved: Without a guide, there's no resistance and no noise when you pedal. Shifting performance was easily the best we've experienced, and it never skipped during our ride. Add to that the massive range of gears and well... awesome.</b>

<b>You know the silence you get while riding chainless? It's the same with XX1, except now you're able to sprint to keep up with guys like Keene.</b>

<b>Video or it didn't happen, right? XX1 is silent and solid, even over rough terrain. We never dropped a chain, and neither did anyone else.</b>

<b>Our first ride was eye-opening. XX1 is simplicity at its best, and frame manufactures believe in it too. Expect to see a few new bikes at Eurobike without front derailleur provisions.</b>

<b>XX1 is coming this winter. You can bet that it'll be on our Christmas wish list. Visit <u><a href="http://www.sram.com/sram/mountain/family/xx1" target="_blank">www.sram.com</a></u> for more details.</b>

We're not jerking you around when we say that SRAM's new XX1 system is something you absolutely MUST try. After just one ride we were sold. The overall impact it has on a bike is truly astounding. In this slideshow we dive into some details about XX1 that you likely don't already know, as well as the major reasons why we loved it. We sincerely hope that the system maintains the surprising level of performance after several months of use, and plan to bring you a long term review once it's available. - Photos by Dave Trumpore
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12 comments
  • gerrycreighton

    8/27/2012 7:12 AM

    They talk about not having to use a chain guide and that they didn't drop a chain. Did you see the video? That chain was whipping all over the place, if he had pedaled it would have been off. Time would be lost for sure getting that chain put on if you're in the middle of an enduro race.

  • davetrumpore

    8/27/2012 11:14 AM

    @theranch, the only reason I wasn't pedaling was because my foot would hit the gopro. 11 people rode jumped, pedaled, etc from Top of the World to No Joke, Parts of the Grabanzo DH, and A Line without a single issue. And Trust me, we tried to get it to come off.

    So I am not too sure your above statement is accurate. SRAM did their homework on this one.

  • gerrycreighton

    8/27/2012 12:54 PM

    Ok... I'm just commenting on what I saw. I would hope that this system works like it was described, I would like to upgrade to something like this from the 1x10 setup I'm running now.

  • bturman

    8/26/2012 3:22 PM

    Food for thought - if a medium length cage X-Horizon derailleur can accommodate a 10-42 tooth cassette, a very compact derailleur could likely handle a typical road cassette used in DH/4X/DS/DJ/slopestyle applications. Clearance anyone?

  • Acadian

    8/26/2012 4:32 AM

    So that what manufacture is currently making that XD driver body?

  • bturman

    8/26/2012 3:18 PM

    As far as I know, either SRAM and DT Swiss. Others will likely be available soon.

  • Dwdrums00

    8/26/2012 10:19 PM

    SRAM, DT Swiss and Mavic. I believe the high end roval wheels are also compatible since they use DT Swiss internals. (i.e. the 2013 specialized enduro carbon complete.)
    http://www.xddriverbody.com

  • iceman2058

    8/26/2012 1:12 AM

    Just when you thought RD tech had been pushed as far as it would go (with clutches, shadow, 10-sp, and all that), along comes this. Love the way they've re-engineered the rear deraileur movement, clever chaps those Germans eh? Seems the whole system is really really usable. I was excited about the 9-36t cassette supposedely on the way from Hope, but this system takes everything to another level. Been dreaming of a 1x system that would still winch my beast up a hill, looks like this is definitely it. And the chainmanagement over the rough terrain looked unbelievably good in that clip - without a guide!

    Climbing will still be a bit harder than on my current 2x9, with an 11-34t cassette and a 22/36 chainring combo. with XX1, I'd still have to run a 32T ring up front to get the same development in the top gear, which means climbing on a 32/42 gear combo....a bit taller than my current lowest gear which is 22/34...but hey, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?

    Anyway, as usual - Xmas can't get here soon enough!

  • Roots_rider

    8/25/2012 11:07 PM

    1.25" Steer tubes, 35mm bars, 650b,1x11..... Wonder what's going to still be around in a couple of years. Lots of new stuff hitting the market right now.

    I see 650b and this staying. Not so sure about the first two though.

    Forgot, electric controls for rear shocks as well, and perhaps DI2 will make its way into MTB

  • loganskis

    9/18/2012 7:56 AM

    35mm bars are tits. I put a set of havoc carbon bars on my dh rig and the difference is huge, even over the haven carbon bars. i bet they stay around. i'd put another pair on a different bike thats for sure

  • commanderagl

    8/25/2012 8:10 PM

    makes you wonder what Shimano will come up with in order to keep up.

  • Big Bird

    8/26/2012 10:16 AM

    They have a new patent on a 14 speed cassette.