In 2016, SRAM shook the mountain bike industry by releasing the very first 1x12 drivetrain. The world would now be open to SRAM Eagle but it was only available in two options: X01 and XX1. As you could imagine, the industry went wild and just about everyone that could make the investment did so immediately. This left a large portion of the market untouched as the prices were not exactly favorable towards a majority of the riding community. Let’s be honest, not everyone has over $1,000 to be dropping on a drivetrain overnight. As months went by, SRAM had been cooking up something good and would release a more affordable version of the Eagle Drivetrain. In June of 2017, SRAM introduced the GX Eagle drivetrain and to no surprise, it took over the market for months to follow. This more affordable drivetrain would only cost $495 with cranks and $375 without cranks. Quite a big difference in price!
Come June 14 of 2018, SRAM released their entry-level Eagle group, NX Eagle. NX Eagle comes in even cheaper than GX and with most of the same features! The biggest difference is the cassette. No longer using the xD freehub like the rest of the Eagle groups, instead, it uses the traditional splined 8,9,10,11 and now 12-speed freehubs. Along with the splined freehub, you can no longer get the 10-50t = 500% range. Instead, you get an 11-50t range which is still large enough to ride everything!
One of the best things about the SRAM Eagle family is you can mix and match any part and they will all work together! We have found that no matter what combo of Eagle you are running, everything works great together and will have you not thinking of shifting, leaving you to focus on the riding. Each group is composed of 5 parts: Shifter, Rear Derailleur, Cassette, Chain, and Crankset.
Let's break down each group, starting with entry level and working our way to the high end.
SRAM’s NX Eagle group is aimed at people needing to convert from 2x10, 2x11 or an entry level 11 speed group and still have a splined freehub. Now even though this is an entry-level group, I wouldn't consider this to have entry-level performance. Shifting is as clean and precise as the other Eagle groups, giving it a high end feel while not making your wallet take a hit. The nice thing about the NX groupo is it’s affordable to upgrade to. It opens a 12 speed group to a lot more bikes with its cassette, or will make that stock bike you’ve been looking at a bit more enticing now that it comes with NX 12 speed for a low price.
For a drivetrain that is so affordable, you are really getting high-end technology. I would be hard-pressed to notice the difference between the levels in the Eagle family. And the best part is they are all interchangeable.
I would consider SRAM’s GX Eagle group the workhorse of the Eagle family. Durable enough to live on every bike, performance high enough to belong on every build, and looks nice enough to set your bike apart from your riding buddies. GX Eagle gets the 10-50t cassette, which is the most affordable Eagle with the 500% gear range. Meaning you can climb up a wall...well, not really but close. This GX Eagle cassette is made from 12 individual steel cogs that are then pinned together. This helps keep the price down but the performance at a top level. The rest of the group is as you would expect from SRAM: great quality and a great performer. As I said, I like to call this the workhorse of the Eagle family.
For riders trying to get set up on the latest and greatest technology but don’t have the funds to look like a pro, the GX Eagle drivetrain will perform almost exactly the same for a fraction of the cost. With a sleek black finish and clean mounting, this cost-efficient groupset will keep your rig looking nice and riding just like the pros. Well, maybe. That ultimately depends on you but at least you will be running the same technology as the pros!
SRAM X01 Eagle, you can hear the bald eagle rejoicing every time you get a clean shift, which is every time. Breaking into the high end of the Eagle family, X01 Eagle gets you all the top performance you have been looking for. While all Eagle systems perform great, X01 is the benchmark of it all. Getting nicer touches on every part, the X01 group is significantly lighter than both NX and GX options. A lot of this is in the cassette, as the X01 cassette is machined from an aluminum block and then pinned to the largest 50t cog. This reduces weight dramatically as the entire middle of the cassette is hollow. Also, the fact that it is machined means that the shift ramps and tooth profiles are more precise, resulting in a bit better shifting performance. While this isn't the highest end of the Eagle family, I don't think anyone would be disappointed if this is as good as it got.
There are two colors to suit your fancy and get your bike looking as best as possible. X01 Eagle comes in a grey/white color option as well as a black/red option. This is the group to get when looking for the best performance to weight ratio. Durable to put on your heavy duty trail bike, light enough to go on your 20lb hardtail. The X01 Eagle really delivers.
The most baller, the most flashy, a for sure way to make everyone else jealous, SRAM XX1 Eagle. You can't miss this drivetrain, with a gold-colored cassette, a gold chain and gold accents on all the other parts, you are at the highest end of Eagle. Of all the Eagle groups, this one would be the Bald Eagle. I mean, who doesn't want gold all up in their chain? Well, if you don't there is also a black, stealth version of XX1 as well.
The crème de la crème, you have reached the promised land. XX1 not only feels great when riding and gives top-level performance but you also can't help but feel good ripping around while wearing some gold chains. Enough with the gold, let's talk details.
While sharing many technologies from the X01 Eagle group, there are some differences. The shifter gets a bit lighter, and has a carbon shifter cover as well as a carbon shift lever. The rear derailleur also gets a carbon cage. The cassette is technically the same as far as materials and function go on the X01, but it gets a gold treatment. Surprisingly, the gold does not wear off, and even with thousands of miles logged, it will still be as great looking as day one. The chain also gets a bit better finishing treatment and is available in gold or black.
If you are looking to make a flashy bike, or even just have the highest end parts on your top bike, the XX1 Eagle will not let you down. And at the end of the day, we all know we want some gold in our life.
As said before, all of the Eagle components can be mixed and matched. Creating one of the most versatile drivetrain systems the bike industry as ever seen.