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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.
When SRAM first introduced the Eagle drivetrain to the world it definitely stirred things up because of the massive gear range it offered. Believe it or not they've upped the ante with a new cassette. One of our valued customers shares his thoughts on the SRAM X01 Eagle XG-1295 12 Speed 10-52t Cassette. Check it out!
This cassette caused quite a lot of commotion when it was released SRAM's regular 12 speed Eagle was just beginning to be standard issue on bikes, and they go and change things on us. Forum comments were full of hate: It's too big, the tooth jump is too high, it costs too much, now I have to upgrade, blah blah, etc... and nobody had even had the chance to ride it yet. I'll do my best to dispel the rumors and give this an honest review. First things first. I've spent about 2 months riding on this extended range cassette, the black SRAM X01 Eagle XG-1295 12 Speed 10-52t Cassette 520% model. It is mounted on a DT Swiss 350 (52T upgraded) wheel, with an XX1 AXS derailleur, on a Yeti SB150. It is replacing a standard 500% range GX Eagle cassette that had worn out. Most rides are 1500-2500 feet of climbing, and plenty of steep descents thereafter.
I'll try to address each of the naysayers' claims one by one:
First up, the price. Yes, it is expensive. Is the XO1 or XX1 version of this worth the cost over GX? For most people, no. It does save a considerable amount of weight, but it doesn't perform any better as far as shifting goes. GX shifts great. What is surprising to me is the fact that SRAM did not jack up the price of these extended-range cassettes. Good thing, because cassettes are already too expensive. Too much range? This claim is ridiculous. Who (other than those guys who ride single-speed bamboo hardtails) want less range? Next question.
Too big? Not to me, no. It is a large cassette, but with good reason: It's got huge range. And I haven't bashed it on anything while riding, so I'd say it's physical size is a non-issue. Those that say the 52T is just too big a gear need to think about their drivetrain as a whole. This larger cog allows you to add a few teeth to your chainring without feeling any difference when climbing. This ability to run a larger chainring stops you from spinning out on the small/fast end of the cassette. That's worth a lot to many people, including myself. More range is great. Lastly, the shifting/teeth jump. This seems to be everyone's biggest concern. When I first started riding (the late 90s), if you jumped too many teeth, the chain would skip around and not shift properly. This was especially true at the large end of the cassette. The unofficial rule was that about 6 teeth were the max before shifting was affected.
This cassette has a whopping 10 tooth jump from cog 2 to the dinner plate cog 1. It won't shift well, people said. It CAN'T shift well, people said. Well, it can and it DOES shift well. Every bit as well as the previous 10-50 Eagle cassette, if not a tad better. It's clean and quick, just as one would expect from SRAM. The chain moves very well through all the cogs, thanks to the extra machining SRAM did on the teeth and feed ramps. I have not had a single mis-shift. Do not think for a second that today's cassettes suffer from the same shifting issues that cassettes from 15-20 years ago did. It shifts great. Of note, this cassette does have a subtle but noticeable narrow-wide tooth pattern on the largest cog. It's subtle, but you can see it on the backside of the 52. That means you need to take care when installing your wheel after removing it. Just align the narrow and wide chain links with the corresponding teeth on largest cog as you do with a chainring and it's fine. The 520% extended range eagle cassettes will not officially work with older 12sp Eagle systems, other than the electronic shifting AXS derailleur. I've heard of people using it with older mechanical derailleurs, but the shifting performance suffers and the warranty is voided. So it's worth it to get at least the new GX derailleur to maintain proper shifting.
Overall, it is a fantastic upgrade. The only thing I would change would be to make it cheaper, but that's just not the way of bike stuff. It gives more range and shifts great. I recommend it without hesitation.