Given the huge success of its XX1 and X01 single ring, ultra-wide range 11-speed cassette setups, SRAM was always going to deliver a more down to earth version. It certainly damages your wallet less, but does X1 deliver on the trail?
The simplest way to lose cost from any set of components is to switch to more basic materials and construction methods, and that’s most obvious in two of X1’s pieces. Rather than being laboriously machined from a single block of steel, the first 10 sprockets of the radical 10-42-tooth cassette are machined separately and then pinned together before being fixed onto the massive alloy driver cog at the back. That makes it 51g heavier, but significantly cheaper.
While you can get carbon X1 cranks on complete bikes, you can only get the solid alloy arm S1000 and hollow-armed S1400 tested here aftermarket. That’s no bad thing though – the chain securing X-Sync ring is profiled just the same and the hollow forged arms are noticeably stiffer underfoot than carbon for just a 44g penalty over X01.
The X1 cassette is pinned together rather than being hewn from a block of steel like its XX1 and X01 siblings
The 7g extra weight of the all-alloy rear derailleur cage also buys you a more crash proof part than the semi-carbon X01. Seeing as we’ve never bothered to change the tunable main paddle angle on X01 or XX1 shifters we don’t mind the fixed paddle on X1. The internals are exactly the same too so you’ll only notice a slightly stiffer front trigger feel in comparison to an XX1 trigger, which will set you back twice as much.
Durability so far has been on par with the already much improved longevity of SRAM 11 in general (compared with its 10-speed kit). You still get all the same less cluttered left-hand bar and seat tube, better clearance, intuitive sequential shifting, chainguide-free security and lighter weight bonuses of SRAM’s brilliant 1x11 concept.
That makes it a total no brainer in terms of being the best SRAM transmission option for all but the most weight obsessed or those convinced that smaller jumps between their gears are worth all the strife and weight of multiple rings, derailleurs and shifters. Bear in mind it's still pretty expensive in general terms though.
US and EU pricing for SRAM X1 is as follows:
- 11-Speed X-ACTUATION trigger shifter: US$81 / €72
- 11-Speed X-HORIZON rear derailleur: US$231 / €205
- 1400 Hollow Forged X-SYNC crankset (tested): US$262-308 / €233-274
- 1000 X-SYN crankset: US$199-239 / €177-212
- PC-X1 chain: US$37 / €33
- XG-1180 MINI CLUSTER cassette: US$313 / €278
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.