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Remember when SRAM first introduced the Eagle drivetrain? Fast forward to the present and trickle-down technology has brought the price way down. One of our valued customer's shares some thoughts on the SRAM GX Eagle Groupset 175mm Crankset, 32t, DUB, Trigger Shifter, Rear Derailleur, 12-Speed Cassette. Check it out!
As bikes and components evolve and get better (usually) it can be hard to keep up with the technology and even harder to justify the $$$ for "new and improved" stuff as it comes along. I have been watching the 1x12 systems for the last few years wishing I could justify one, and now that the mid-price level SRAM Eagle component groups have matured and progressed I finally decided it was worth the time, money, and effort to replace the aging Deore XT and RaceFace 2x10 set up on my 27.5" hardtail with the Eagle GX level groupset.
While I have run other SRAM group setups that came on complete bikes and bought the odd shifter or derailleur for a repair, this was my first complete SRAM groupset purchase and I was impressed from the moment I opened the shipping box. The SRAM GX Eagle Groupset box containing the components was kind of overkill, but then again they got to me in Alaska through the USPS torture gauntlet in pristine shape so the packaging was very much appreciated. I gave each and every piece of the set a thorough visual inspection as they came out of the packaging and I was very impressed with what I saw. While I was waiting for the USPS to snail mail my parts to me I read every review and watched every tutorial on 1x12 Eagle setup I could find so I was ready to go when the parts arrived.
While waiting I also made sure my rear wheel was true and checked my hanger alignment with my Park derailleur hanger alignment gauge. This is a crucial step for any new derailleur installation and ensuring everything is square and true can save tons of time chasing demons and crappy shifting later on. I decided that while I was upping my shifting game I would update/upgrade by the rear end as well so I got a new HOPE SRAM QD freehub and HOPE axle adapters for my HOPE Pro 2 Evo rear hub, and new Paragon dropout inserts and axle and updated from 135mm quick release to 142mm x 12mm thru-axle to stiffen things up and ensure better long term results. This made checking hanger alignment even more critical
I also took the time to strip my bike down to the bare frame, clean out the headtube and bottom bracket shell, and spray my favorite steel frame saver concoction into all the frame tubes. After the goodie box finally showed up I installed the new SRAM DUB BSA bottom bracket first and that was straightforward. I installed the new GX crankset next and again, absolutely no issues whatsoever. The play adjuster is very similar to RaceFace but for my money was easier to dial in exact side play for a SMOOOOOOTH spin with the cranks. I installed the GX Eagle 10-52 cassette next and then tried the hub and cassette fit in the new dropout inserts and everything was square and true. I installed the derailleur next and rough set the high and low limit and then sized and installed the chain per SRAM's online instructions. The shifter went on next and the cable housing sections were cut, installed, and the cable was run.
Pay particular attention to the online instructions on using the WHITE B Screw adjusting jig for the 10x52 cassette and get it right. It's dead easy but supercritical for precision shifting. With everything installed and rough set I started running up and down through the gears and tweaked my limit adjustments and my cable tension. I always am conservative on my lowest gear adjustment and probably take as much time to slowly get this right as I do on the rest of the setup. I don't like running the chain off into the spokes. As usual, the ferrules and cable ends needed to settle into their resting places and I got a bit of slack that I prefer to remove by repositioning the cable in the clamp rather than using up my adjuster.
SRAM got it right on this system and I am glad I waited a few years for the system to mature and the trickle down to a more affordable group happened.
After satisfying myself that everything was shifting right I took the bike out for a test ride. I have about a half-mile of road to get to my trail system and the bike shifted perfectly up and down on the road portion. I transitioned to the trail and soon found out I needed just a bit more on the low limit screw so I stopped and made an adjustment. From then on the drivetrain functioned FLAWLESSLY.... A couple of miles in I started getting some ghost shifting as the cable stretched and the housings and ferrules settled but it has been my experience that this is always to be expected, no matter that cables are advertised as pre-stretched or not. I am several weeks into this system now with daily rides to and from my trails and I have to say I am astounded by how well this setup works. I have a Shimano Deore XT 1x11 setup on my fat bike in Hawaii and the shifting to the 42 lowest cog doesn't begin to compare with the shifting to the 52 lowest on the SRAM GX, despite that huge 10 tooth jump to the final SRAM cog.
If I had to sum this up in one sentence it would be... "Don't sit around and think about getting this system, just DO IT, you won't be sorry". I guess the more expensive Eagle groups could be a bit smoother and might last a bit longer but based on my experience with SRAM products this GX groupset is the best bang for the buck and is priced for the average rider.