Review by Brandon Turman // Photos by Adrian Marcoux and Brandon Turman
When you reach the end of this paragraph, we want you to close your eyes and imagine riding your favorite section on your favorite trail. Take it all in - your movements on the bike, the terrain flying past, your hooting and hollering, the sounds of your tires carving into the dirt, the clank of your chain through the rough bits, and even the wind rushing by.
Now do it again, but without the chain noises.
To some, like us, this is pure bliss. What SRAM's Type 2 Roller Bearing Clutch technology has brought to our rides is much more than just the simple removal of chain slap. It's a better ride experience. The sound of nothing but your tires on bare earth is an incredible sensation.
Designed for both the X0 and X9 product lines, Type 2 derailleurs use a one-way, needle bearing roller clutch that helps maintain chain tension by resisting cage movement in the forward direction. In addition to reduced chain slap, this also helps provide cleaner, more consistent shifts. The 360º clutch force is set at the factory, isn't adjustable, and is always on.
Our first experience with the new derailleur came during SRAM's Trail House retreat, which is a story well worth looking back on. Beyond specs and an explanation of the technology, the following slideshow contains footage of the derailleur in action. Take a moment to browse through it again:
Following the official launch we received a medium cage X0 Type 2 derailleur slated for some long term abuse. Four months, dozens of bashed rocks, hundreds of miles, and likely thousands of shifts later, this is where we stand.
The Quiet Factor - Rolling Bearing Clutch
If you've never experienced a clutched derailleur, let us put it terms you might be able to relate to more easily. The noise level is on a similar level to running single-speed or going chainless. While it's not eliminated entirely, chain slap is greatly reduced, so much so that we feel like trail ninjas from time to time. We often forget that we need to physically make noise so people hear us coming on the trail (insert moto noises here), kind of like those silent cars that they had to add engine noises to. It's that good.
Now then, you might be thinking your bike is already quiet. You've got a chainstay guard, right? Well, we've got news for you. It's noisy. You won't realize just how noisy your ride is until you try a clutched setup. The transformation from noisy to silent was so dramatic that when we get back on a bike without a clutched derailleur it will often feel clapped out, even if it's a high-end rig.
The other big part of the clutch story is improved chain security. Because it helps keep your chain from flopping about, the chain is much more stable as a whole and dropping a chain is pretty rare. Based on our experience, if you're running a 1X setup, you'll still need an upper guide but it's entirely okay to lose the lower pulley. This means no added friction and less weight. The same can be said if you're running 2X.
What about wear? SRAM says the clutch mechanism is self-lubricating, meaning you'll never have to crack it open to lube the system. We'll go ahead and confirm that statement based on our experience. After four months of use the spring force in the reverse direction hasn't decreased. If anything, clutch performance seemed to improve after a few rides. Since then it has been consistently awesome.
SRAM sets the clutch tension at the factory. After trying a few other Type 2 derailleurs it's safe to say that they've got some solid Quality Assurance checks in place. All of them have felt consistent. Long cage derailleurs do seem more prone to occasional chain slap, however, likely because there's more torque on the clutch when the chain pulls on a longer cage. One major difference between Shimano's Shadow Plus clutch technology and SRAM's Type 2 is the ability to adjust the resistance of clutch system. With Shimano's system you're able to tweak the resistance as you see fit. While we see this as a plus in Shimano's court, it's also one less thing to think about in the SRAM camp.
Some of you might be wondering about the impact the clutch has on suspension performance. The chainstay length grows on most bikes when the suspension is compressed, and as a result the derailleur needs to give a little to accommodate the change. While the clutch force is sufficient to all but eliminate chain slap, it's certainly not strong enough to noticeably hamper your suspension.
For us, like many, the move to Type 2 meant switching from 9-speed to 10-speed. With that switch came some apprehension. We were concerned that the smaller gap between gears could equate to less consistent shifts. Turns out that concern was pretty silly.
After mounting and adjusting the derailleur, we've been nothing but impressed. We haven't had to move the barrel adjuster even once since the initial install. The chain doesn't skip, very rarely rubs, and shifts are on point all the time. Compared to 9-speed, shifts seem slightly faster and more exact, likely aided by less distance for the chain to travel between gears.
Both the X0 and X9 Type 2 derailleurs are equipped with Cage Lock. Some of you may remember Kyle Strait's goofy infomercial SRAM used to introduce it. We're glad they poked fun at it. They understand that removing or installing a wheel isn't really a hassle and most of us have no problem doing it. As silly as it may seem, Cage Lock really does work, and we've become pretty fond of it while fixing flats or broken chains in a hurry.
By simply pushing the cage forward and depressing a button, the cage locks into place, removing all tension from the chain (right).
Long Term Durability
We haven't exactly been easy on our test derailleur. The scratches and scars attest to that.
Squeezing through tight moves on rock-strewn trails has certainly put a beating on the structure, but this thing keeps on ticking. Despite several good impacts shifting is still reliable. We're impressed.
SRAM's design does leave a considerable portion of the shifter cable exposed, though. In our experience this is one of the most likely failure points. During four months of use we've gone through one cable due to a break in this area.
While it's not much to write home about, pulley wear has been consistent with SRAM's other offerings. The pulley closest to the cassette has worn faster than the lower pulley.
Worth The Upgrade From 9-Speed?
As mentioned previously, one downside (or potential upside?) of the Type 2 system is that it's only available for 10-speed drivetrains. To make the switch, you'll have to pony up for a new derailleur, cassette, shifter, and chain. This is how the costs breakdown:
10-Speed SRAM X0 Type 2 Costs
X0 Type 2 Derailleur - $260 (compare to $255 for a non-clutched 10-speed or $249 for 9-speed)
X0 Cassette - $280
X0 Shifter - $123
SRAM 1091 Chain - $58
X0 Total = $721
10-Speed SRAM X9 Type 2 Costs
X9 Type 2 Derailleur - $116 (compare to $113 for a non-clutched 10-speed or $97 for 9-speed)
X9 Cassette - $99
X9 Shifter - $57
SRAM 1091 Chain - $58
X9 Total = $330
Keeping in mind that you can mix and match individual components, at a cost of somewhere between $330 and $721, is it worth it? Absolutely. Our suggestion is to ride your current 9-speed derailleur into the ground. When it's toast, make the switch. You'll likely need a new chain and cassette at that time anyway. If you happen to be on a 10-speed setup already the upgrade is a no-brainer. Keep your current derailleur as a spare, just in case.
What's The Bottom Line?
If we told you that you could improve chain retention, reduce chain slap, maintain consistent shifting, and drop weight/friction from your guide by swapping out one component, would you go for it? Aside from the costs involved in the initial switch over from 9-speed, we're not seeing any real negatives here. SRAM's Type 2 X0 derailleur has proven to be durable in the long run and has done nothing but make our rides better. Much better.
Silence is golden, you just don't know it yet.
For more details, visit www.sram.com
About The Reviewer
Brandon Turman likes to pop off the little bonus lines on the sides of the trail, get aggressive when he's in tune with a bike, and to really mash on the pedals and open it up when pointed downhill. His perfect trail has a good mix of flow, tech, and balls-to-the-wall speed. He loves little transfers, rollers, and the occasional gap that gives him that momentary stomach in your throat kind of feeling. Toss in some rocky bits with the option to double over them or risk pinch flatting and you've got a winner in his book. In 13 years of riding he worked his way through the Collegiate downhill ranks to the Pro level. After finishing up his mechanical engineering degree, his riding focus turned to dirt sculpting and jumping with the occasional slopestyle contest thrown in for fun. Nowadays he's Vital MTB's resident product guy.