Our "Rider Review" article series features the honest reviews from verified purchasers of Worldwide Cyclery. They contain the photos, thoughts, feedback & overall review you are looking for.
Upgrading the drivetrain on your bike not only can cut some weight down, it can also make things feel smoother and more efficient. Our friend, Bruce, installed the SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain on their bike. See what they think about the upgrade and the drivetrain itself!
I recently decided to upgrade my Focus Raven hardtail. I enjoyed the carbon frame for a few years and with the 27.5 wheels it has been perfect for the types of terrain I ride - gravel fire roads that lead to winding single track. The bike is great for climbs and handles descents without too much difficulty, the only problem was the 2x10 drivetrain was getting a bit worn out. It was a bit awkward shifting the front derailleur and trying to find the right gear especially when switching between a fast descent to a steep climb.
I explored upgrading to a 1x 11 drivetrain from Sram but the Eagle with five hundred per-cent gear ratio was so appealing I had to give it a try. By installing the Eagle drivetrain, removing the front derailleur, front shifter and double crankset saved a few hundred grams. I went with the GX Eagle group-set over the higher end Sram group-set because there is a huge price increase to save a little weight. I can see a difference in materials with the higher end SRAM derailleur but the weight savings are only around 90 grams. I selected a 32-tooth crankset in the front for the optimal cross-country and trail gear ratio- and it seems about right.
My first impression after installing the group-set was that the derailleur hangs really low to the ground. This has not been a problem yet with ground clearance or mud accumulation. The Eagle groupset is so easy to shift that my riding has improved- through more efficient gear ratio at the right time during climbs to more optimal cadence for pedaling efficiency. I no longer have to think about what gear I’m in and when to shift the front or rear derailleur. With Eagle, I just have one shifter and it’s either up or down. Additionally, you can quickly shift several gears with one push on the shift lever. The chain always moves precisely to the desired gear with no excess noise or delay. The Eagle derailleur has a roller clutch that completely eliminates chain slap on the chains stays- keeping the chain tensioned at all times.
Before I installed the Eagle group-set, I was concerned that the gear ratios of the Eagle system would not be adequate for climbing. Here’s what I found- it’s more gear ratio than I need most of the time. I shift between four gears during most of my ride, occasionally shifting to the 10 tooth gear for long fast downhill sections. The 10 tooth gear is probably more than I need for level ground- I have to be moving really fast to push this gear ratio so its mostly useful on smooth descents. At the other end of the cassette- the big gears for climbing- they are also more than I will need most climbs. I can climb everything in my neighborhood with the 42 tooth gear, which is the second largest gear. The 50 tooth gear is excellent for steep climbs to keep my pedaling cadence higher. After riding for a few weeks, my opinion is that the Eagle gear ratio is more than adequate for any riding that I encounter, both uphill climbs and fast descents.
I absolutely love the Eagle 1x 12 drivetrain! It is completely adequate for both steep climbs and fast descents. The Eagle technology shifts a lot crisper than my old Sram drivetrain. I think Sram put the best drivetrain on the market today at a very affordable price point. If you want to spend a lot more money SRAM has more expensive versions of the 1x12 drivetrain but the functionality is all here on the entry level group-set.