In SRAM's groupset line-up, X0 is only bettered by XX, but it does share many similarities with its top-flight brother. So considering that the X0 groupset costs more than a grand-and-a-half, you should expect the transmission and braking to be near perfect.
The rear mech was coupled with the ridiculously expensive XG 1099 cassette (we’d go for the XG 1080 to save £100), and never skipped a beat – nor did it require any tweaking to maintain its accurate shifting. Even under load it made the move from one sprocket to another happily. We found the combination of the 11-36t cassette and 28-42t Truvativ X0 double chainset perfect for every type of trail riding we attempted.
The carbon cranks do offer a little more give when you really push hard, but still took the knocks really well. Our only set-up niggle was that our 2010 test frame wouldn’t accept any of the SRAM front mechs due to its stepped direct mount – this isn’t a SRAM issue, but still posed a problem. It required us to use the original Shimano SLX front mech matched with the X0 shifter.
Although not as rapid or crisp as other X0 mech and shifter pairings, the SLX mech worked well with the X0 shifter and we experienced no problems at all with this set-up. Although it wasn’t ideal, it’s a common issue we’re all faced with, due to the constantly changing standards. We rode this lot on some of the grottiest trails and in the nastiest weather possible over months of testing, and the wear on chainrings and sprockets has been minimal.
There’s no play in the bottom bracket bearings, but there is a slight tick, which would suggest a service is needed. Looking to the controls, the split brake lever clamp with MatchMaker certainly makes the set-up clean and minimal, and the shifter paddles are adjustable,so it’s easy to achieve the perfect fit. Shifting was crisp and remains so, with that typical SRAM snap. We love the firm, positive shift and snap, even if it isn’t quite as smooth or as light as Shimano’s XTR.
Slowing down was well taken care of by the Avid X0 brakes, which still don’t need bleeding and have been flawless since we slapped them on. What SRAM deliver with their X0 groupset is a slick-looking, well functioning and cohesive group of components. Shimano’s XTR still manages to beat X0 on the scales and on price, but we can’t help but be drawn to that SRAM ‘feel’.
This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine.