Words by: Liam Woods
Way back in 2016, SRAM introduced its Eagle drivetrain. Later this became the massive SRAM Eagle Ecosystem family that has five different levels of SRAM Eagle to choose from. Now in 2020, SRAM is releasing its new Eagle V2 with the Eagle Expansion ecosystem for the model year 2021. It has a new cassette range that has a massive 520% gear range, as well as new colors on both the cassette and chain. SRAM also says that all of their chains and cassettes are now approved for e-bike use, and each model of Eagle has a single click shifter for those e-bikes as well. Yes, I mentioned new colors; there is now a Copper colorway for the X01 and XX1 cassettes and chains. Last, but certainly necessary to set up your new Eagle 10-52t cassette and rear derailleur, is a new chain gap tool to dial in your b-tension screw to the perfect adjustment for each bike.
Why do you need more range or an updated SRAM Eagle? There are more updates than just getting an extra 2t on your cassette. The rear derailleur design and performance have been improved, along with an update to the colorways as well. And of course, there is the 52t rear cassette that now offers a massive 520% gear range. If you have ever just needed that little bit of extra gear to make a climb, or you are on a long ride and just want to save the legs, SRAM found that just an extra 2t on your rear cassette can make all the difference. If you are a strong rider, size up your front chainring and increase your all out speed. Or you can still use the 10-50t cassette with the new Eagle V2 parts, and those 500% range cassettes will still be made for a long time.
Another huge update is GX Eagle was made to be more precise and durable, perfect for the everyday rider. Made to compete with the other mid-upper range drivetrains like Shimano XT, SRAM GX Eagle now gets the option of an alloy or carbon crankset, and uses a newly designed 10-52t GX Eagle cassette to give riders the crisp Eagle shifting you expect at a slightly lower price range. GX Eagle is the workhorse of the SRAM Eagle ecosystem.
SRAM XX1 Eagle is still the top end shifting you'd expect for the cross country rider, or the rider with weight in mind. For this new expanded range of XX1 Eagle, the big changes are going to be in the rear derailleur where a new cage architecture and design provides even smoother shifting and all out performance that is also made to work seamlessly with the new SRAM 10-52t XG-1299 cassette. The other big change in the Eagle lineup is that the new cassette gets a massive 520% range with the introduction of the 52t cog. The rest of the cassette range remains unchanged, and you still get the close precise shifts you expect with SRAM Eagle, but now your granny, or bailout, or as I like to say, Eagle gear just gets a jump up to the 52t to help you spin it out.
Similar to the first gen of XX1 Eagle, the new XX1 Eagle gets all the carbon bits you expect, like a carbon cage on your rear derailleur, a carbon shift paddle and cable cover, and the lightest carbon cranks SRAM makes to really get that high end feel. The looks of XX1 has also changed, and is now streamlined to have a more subtle approach on the shifter, derailleur, and cranks in order to make the new cassettes really pop. For XX1 and X01 you have the option to choose from Black, Rainbow, Gold, and now Copper colors for both the cassette and chain.
SRAM X01 Eagle is the best drivetrain option for the aggressive trail or enduro rider. Contrary to many riders’ beliefs, X01 Eagle is at equal level with SRAM XX1 in terms of quality, but the performance focus is shifted from lightweight to durable. You lose some carbon bits, but you get some alloy parts to take that extra smack or extra shuttle run that might take out some lightweight parts. Many of the same updates that you saw in XX1 are also put into X01. The rear derailleur gets a new design in both architecture and graphics. The colorway for X01 was made to match all the cassettes and chains for a clean look no matter what drivetrain level or bike you are looking to put it on. Sharing the same cassettes, X01 also sees the 520% range of the updated Eagle Expanded range.
The big story is the new GX Eagle from SRAM, the drivetrain for the everyday rider that wants a drivetrain that works consistently without any gimmicks. GX Eagle is the workhorse for the SRAM Eagle family, and it also sees many of the updates that XX1 and X01 received as well. The redesigned rear derailleur and the 10-52t cassette with 520% gear range is also found in GX Eagle. GX Eagle gets its own cassette that has pinned cogs instead of the fancy machined cogs like the XG-1299 cassette. The XG-1275 cassette still runs on the SRAM XD driver body, so upgrades from the previous Eagle generation are easy. The colorway is also updated for GX, so if you want to run GX Eagle parts with the higher end and lighter XG-1299 cassette, you are able to choose any color and still have it look like it’s supposed to be there. For the all-day rider, SRAM GX Eagle works day in day out.
The performance of the new extended range 10-52t Eagle cassette with either of the SRAM AXS rear derailleurs that are forward compatible as well as the new updated Eagle rear derailleurs is smooth like you would expect from SRAM. Precise, smooth, crisp and quiet are all words I use to describe SRAM shifting, and even with the new jump up to the new 52t cog, it remains as smooth as can be. With the new mechanical Eagle, set up is as normal, but like SRAM Eagle, the B-tension needs to be adjusted properly with the SRAM’s B-tension Chain Gap Tool.
If you are installing the new wider range cassette on an AXS rear derailleur, you need to get the new SRAM B-tension Chain Gap Tool. The upper pulley needs to sit in a different position than with the 50t cassette, and it's actually quite a bit different. When I was installing the new cassette on the current SRAM AXS rear derailleur I was surprised to see how much B-tension was needed to make the shifting smooth.
When riding the new SRAM cassettes I didn't notice any performance decrease with the new 52t cog versus the 50t cog. The jump is larger and you do notice it when shifting but it's not hindering. You can still shift up and down while climbing, no problems. Just as you would expect, SRAM’s performance is top-notch and this is no different.
Short Answer: EHHHHHHH... YES
Long Answer, do you really want the long answer? If you run a new 10-52t cassette with an old mechanical Eagle rear derailleur, SRAM says that will not only void any warranties but also the performance will not be up to the level that SRAM intends for their parts. So you want the real answer? Yes, it does work. You can technically run the new SRAM 10-52t cassette with your current generation of SRAM Eagle. Does it shift as smoothly as the new Eagle V2 that is designed for the 52t? No. This is where you feel that gap up to the 52t cog, especially when in the 52t and shifting into the harder gear. It feels like a semi-bad shift, for lack of a better term. It's not horrible, but it doesn't feel like the usual buttery smooth SRAM Eagle we all know and love. Plus, let's not forget all the parts about voiding any warranty as well. If you are desperate for more range without dropping your front chainring, then maybe you take the slight performance drop in shifting and run the 10-52t to get that little bit extra gear.
Who is this new SRAM Eagle expanded range for? Well, really any rider out there. XX1 will grab the attention of the cross country rider or the trail rider looking to shave some grams while X01 is for the rider who looks for the steepest, chunkiest way down the mountain and isn’t afraid to take a couple smacks. GX Eagle is the workhorse of the family, ready to ride all day, every day, with top notch performance in a more affordable package. GX Eagle will not complain and would love to join you on all your riding adventures. Don't think you need more range than your current 10-50t cassette? Well then add some teeth to your front chainring and get a bit more speed. Or for most of us, the 52t expansion will be a welcomed bailout gear to help you spin up the steepest sections of trail.
The new SRAM Eagle expanded range works great for any mountain bike rider looking for top performance without any issues. More range, better looks, and a new color, we can't wait to see what crazy new builds pop up soon.
After four years of amazing performance, SRAM brought in some fresh looks and design to update the Eagle ecosystem. With a larger rear cassette that has 520% range, riders can now choose to spin up the climb or bolt on a larger chainring and get that all-out speed. With all three top levels of Eagle getting updates, XX1, X01, and GX, there are now options for the weight-conscious rider, the burly enduro rider and the all-day rider who just wants to get out and rip. Streamlined colorways in all versions allow the mixing and matching of the SRAM Eagle cassettes and chains to not only look good with the drivetrain of choice but also on any bike you choose to put it on. SRAM Eagle was already our favorite drivetrain, and now it just performs and looks that much better!
This article was written / authored by Liam Woods. Liam has been in the bicycle industry for over 10 years as a racer, professional mechanic, service manager and as of late, media and content creator. Liam has ridden thousands of different bikes, ridden countless components, tested endless MTB apparel of all kinds and written reviews on it all. He's a key piece to the Worldwide Cyclery "All Things MTB" content creation puzzle. He also makes consistent appearances on the Worldwide Cyclery YouTube channel and Instagram.
Ladies and gentlemen big news today in the bicycle world SRAM has released some new stuff and updates to their GX, X01, and XX1 eagle drivetrains and in this video we're gonna talk all about the new stuff and the compatibility and everything you need to know. well I don't think SRAM Eagle needs any introduction it's their premier 12 speed drivetrain that is on mountain bikes all over the world right now there's five different variants of it SX, NX, GX, X01 and XX1 today there's going to be some revisions just to GX X01 and XX1 and they're pretty cool so SRAM has continuously pushed the limits when it comes to drivetrain technology and today's sort of the big news across those top three variants of the Eagle drivetrains is the cassette and the gear range there so it's previously been a five hundred percent gear range meaning your small cog is ten tooth and your large cog is 50 tooth well now it goes up to a 52 tooth so it's a five hundred and twenty percent gear range across the GX, X01 and XX1 cassettes now so pretty cool stuff there a lot of new colors X01 and XX1 those got most just color revisions which look really cool and of course the cassettes the big news is GX that got a lot more revisions in terms of aesthetics and material changes and all that sort of stuff and so to dive into GX but before we get there look at that copper how sweet is that?
GX eagle is probably the most popular and most common of all of the Eagle variants in terms of their drive trains and that's the one that got the most revision so they didn't change any of the prices so I applaud you SRAM that in the mountain bike community when everything just gets better and nicer and the prices stay exactly the same the one thing that they do offer now GX historically used to only have an aluminum crank now they do offer a carbon crank so before a GX 5-piece group set would run you five hundred and forty five bucks and it still does if you now go with the carbon GX crank it'll run you six hundred and eighty five bucks so $685 for a carbon crank with the chain ring whole five piece groups at twelve speed five hundred twenty percent gear range SRAM’s coming in swinging and with a really good price point in a really good product there with the alloy cranks and the carbon cranks for GX so definitely really impressive stuff the alloy cranks look really nice huge revision in terms of aesthetics and performance and weight and everything same with the derailleur the materials the shape the overall aesthetics the graphics everything changed on GX and it looks way nicer and feels way nicer so expect from us a long-term review on that sort of stuff once we get our hands on it and get to ride it for a long period of time we also made a video a year ago where we compared NX, GX, X01 and XX1 all together we're now gonna do another one of those another one where we add in SX and we also add in AXS and kind of compare all of these things together because it is confusing obviously you know you know SX is your least expensive and XX1 AXS is your most expensive but trying to quantify the exact little intricate differences in weight and performance and features between all the individual group sets is pretty tough so we are gonna make a video comparing all of those soon basically it revives wonder the one we did a year ago now that all the new SRAM drivetrain stuff is out in the wild so expect that to come GX once again kind of sits right in the middle there and it's the most popular so it's really cool to see that get the most revisions and this stuff looks amazing so let's take a look at some of it
Another thing SRAM wants to focus on with all of this GX, X01 and XX1 drivetrain stuff is the compatibility with ebikes now so e bikes are obviously becoming a lot more common all around the world especially in the mountain bike scene and SRAM guaranteed all of their Eagle Drive trains to be ebike compatible with one caveat it does need to use the single click shifter what a single click shifter is is basically your thumb paddle that you can crank a whole bunch of gears in to put yourself into an easier gear on a regular drivetrain I think there's like five clicks you can get through that thing but with the single click ones there's a single click so if you use the single click shifter all this Eagle stuff is compatible and under warranty and totally usable on your ebike so why they did that so the ebike because of the motor obviously putting a lot more strain on the chain and derailleur and cassette when you're pedaling under load so there's just more things that can go wrong when there's that much pressure there so kind of limiting that shifter to only have a single click is what's gonna allow it to basically maintain and sustain itself under the load that you might see with an e bike so just important stuff there if you do have an e mountain bike and you wanted a good SRAM drivetrain now you got single click shifters on there and it's all certified e-bike compatible and all under SRAM’s warranty as long as you have an e bike and use the single click shifter.
Well with all this good news there is a little bit of kind of bad news compatibility with existing stuff so here's the deal: the three new cassette offerings that have the 52 tooth so that 520% gear range that are being released today are not compatible with existing mechanical Eagle rear derailleurs. they are compatible with existing Eagle AXS electronic rear derailleurs so that also means that you know there is new derailleurs that come along with this that now have stamped on the inside of the cage five hundred and twenty percent which signifies that this this rear derailleur is compatible with the five hundred and twenty percent gear range cassettes it also of course does work with D so this is backwards compatible to five hundred twenty percent ones will work with your you know if you want to want to want to run a ten fifty cassette but your existing derailleur you have right now if it's a mechanical Eagle one a claim is not compatible with the new 52 tooth cassette kind of a bummer there
because that means if you have an existing you know mechanical Eagle drivetrain of any variant right now and you wanted to just upgrade the cassette to get the additional range it kind of can't so here's the deal SRAM says it's not compatible because they did have to change sort of where these we're the pulley sitting just like the the whole triangulation of the derailleur they had to engineer it a little bit to make it compatible with that larger 52 tooth cassette cog what they say is that it's you know doesn't shift as smooth as they would like if you use the existing ones on the existing mechanical derailleurs on the new 52 tooth cassettes they don't like the you know the shifting performance there so therefore they say it's not compatible of course everyone's probably gonna want to try that so we tried to get a step of it step ahead of the game here and actually did that ourselves so we took an existing mechanical Eagle derailleur and put it with ten to fifty two tooth cassette which is supposed to not be compatible and shifted it around in the stand and rode it around a little bit and it works fine it's not as smooth as the 52 Chthon there it's not as smooth as the access shifts with the 52 tooth and the caveat is that if you do that it's not covered under warranty then so SRAM really does want you if you're gonna get the five hundred and twenty percent cassette they want you to get the five hundred twenty percent rear derailleur with it so that's the deal there can you sneaked a cassette in there on your old existing mechanical derailleur yes but then you void the warranty and it's not gonna shift quite as buttery smooth as you know you might expect as SRAM wants it to so that's kind of the bad news there. I mean my thought there is it's understandable why they did that you know they're they're trying to extend the range on these cassettes and make them you know just have more range for you so they're more practical to use on more applications and stuff and in order to do that you're gonna have to modify the derailleur and that's how it goes so it was me if I'm just gonna beat my existing drivetrain into the dust and then I’ll upgrade the rear derailleur and the cassette and the chain all of all at the same time so that's the compatibility issues between it but all the stuff is still compatible with in itself rights of all the new GX X01 and XX1 all that stuff's all cross compatible so if you wanted to get a 520% GX cassette with an XX1 crank and an X01 shifter derailleur that's all cross compatible so that stuff's all you know sort of forward compatible with each other but yeah that's kind of the downside right here with a compatibility.
So to sum up: GX, X01, XX1 they all now have five hundred and twenty percent gear range on the cassette with that 52 tooth largest cog which is really cool X01 and XX1 mostly just got some really cool new colorways and they all actually kind of mesh together now they wanted to have this more unified color system so you could mix and match things and it would all kind of look good together so hopefully you've seen throughout the video some of that stuff there is gonna be as usual an article that accompanies this video in the description below that will have all sorts of pictures and details and specs and prices and everything no prices have changed across the board for any of these three variants the only new thing there is that GX now is a new carbon crank offering which is two hundred and seventy-five bucks which is a really good price for a crank including a chain ring biggest news in this whole thing is GX right it dramatically changed in terms of aesthetics and performance and and weight and all of that sort of stuff so which is really cool because GX is the most popular one so it's great to see some huge revisions there ebike single click shifters don't forget that don't forget the lack of compatibility if you have an existing Eagle mechanical derailleur right now not compatible with the new 52 tooth cassette so if you're gonna upgrade you're gonna have to get a cassette and a derailleur and well a chain because you got to extend the chain to be longer too so that's what's happening in the world of SRAM drivetrain there's also a new chain gap tool which is unified to work with all the different ones in the 50 tooth and a 52 tooth but I think that'll be included in a lot of the purchases when you're buying the Eagle components so you can get the thing adjusted properly that's it for today let us know down in the comments what do you guys think about all this new SRAM eagle stuff stay tuned for an in-depth review on the GX drivetrain from us and also a revised SRAM eagle comparison video where we're gonna compare all the different variations of Eagle drivetrains hit that subscribe button that thumbs up button we'll see you guys in the next one.