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SRAM's Eagle drivetrain is the most popular for new bikes as well as for those upgrading their ride. It has proven to be durable and reliable. Read on as our friend Patrick tells us about his experience with his X01 Eagle drivetrain.
I have been running an X01 Eagle drivetrain since I built my Bronson in March of 2018. I use Strava to track the mileage of my bike, and I record maintenance in ColorNote on my phone. I have 3150 miles on my bike so far, and I’m still on the original cassette. I use a 14-inch ruler to measure the length of 12 full chain links, and I replace the chain when the length gets to 1/16” over 12” (0.5%). I have found that the chain starts getting noisy when dusty (makes grinding sounds) once it gets worn to this point. I am currently on my fourth chain with this cassette. The first two were SRAM X01 chains, and they lasted just over 1000 miles each. The third was a KMC X12-Ti Gold.
I was expecting to get more mileage out of this chain due to the Titanium Nitride plating, but it was done at 800 miles. My fourth chain is another SRAM X01. When I first installed it, it was skipping under load on the fourth largest cassette cog. I use this cog frequently on a two-mile fire road climb out of the canyon near my house. I’ve put 250 miles on this chain so far, and, surprisingly, the skipping has gone away. I feel 3000+ miles on a cassette is pretty darn good, but I’m trying to get as much mileage out of it as I can, considering the cost of a new cassette ($385).
I chose the X01 chain because it is the lowest priced Eagle chain that includes the hard chrome plating on the rollers, which SRAM claims will increase the chain life by four times. It is hard for me to believe that a GX chain would last only 250 miles though. I am slightly nervous about getting another chain that has hard external plating such as the gold titanium nitride or rainbow titanium oxide because I wonder if this plating accelerates cassette wear in order to preserve the chain. I’d rather have the chain wear faster than the cassette due to the cassette cost. This is just a guess though.
I should also mention that I have been extremely consistent about cleaning my chain, cassette, chainring and derailleur pulleys after every ride. I wipe the chain, chainring, and pulleys off with a rag, and I use a toothbrush to clean the cassette and insides of the chain links. I use regular Triflow lube, and I wipe the chain off after applying it.
My neighbor has 11-speed XT on his bike. He replaced his first chain at 1500 miles and then it had all kinds of skipping problems on the smaller cogs. He had to replace his cassette at that point as well. I would say my X01 drivetrain has been extremely durable, and I believe this has to do with the quality of the X01 chain. Shimano has SRAM beat in the area of shifting smoothness, but that’s another story.
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