Trail Tested: SRAM X1 Drivetrain

In: COMPONENTS, REVIEWS By: Matt Kasprzyk On: July 9, 2015

Before SRAM created GX with multiple chainrings (what?) they first made this great low-cost mountain bike 1x group. And it's awesome.


Until the very recent release of the new GX group (which also offers multiple chainring options if you go that way), SRAM’s X1 drivetrain was the company’s entry level, full mountain bike, 1×11 offering. Whether you’re a cross-country, trail or all-mountain rider, this X1 group is a great way to get a taste of wide-ratio 1x philosophy.

Since last fall, I’ve been riding both this X1 group and the top-tier XX1 in a combination of dry and wet conditions. There have been some winter rides with questionable trail conditions, but as guilt crept in, I told myself it was all for the review. The X1 group has fared great and despite the sometimes peanut-butter-like mud I’ve encountered, I haven’t noticed a distinct difference in performance between the two drives.

Although, there is a difference in feel because of the design of the shifters. The X1’s trigger and shifter body have a different shape than the more expensive X01 and XX1 models. The X1 shifter body is aluminum and slightly larger versus the more compact carbon body of the XX1 shifter. Every SRAM 1x shifter features Matchmaker compatibility to direct-mount on SRAM brake levers and ZeroLoss engagement where the shifter begins to move cable instantaneously as it is pressed. How- ever, the X1 does not have the trigger-angle modification for rotational adjustment of the larger downshift lever. Even though the larger X1 trigger sticks out farther than the XX1 trigger, it still feels smooth and quick.

I don’t think the shifting action is any less fluid, but feedback from the trigger seems softer. The X1 trigger is not as crisp and precise-feeling as the XX1. The input I get in action on the trail is different, but the function isn’t any less effective.

The cassette remains the most expensive item in the drive and the biggest hurdle for those looking to try 1×11. However, it’s hard to argue against the X1 X-Horizon rear derailleur and cassette. When considering price per grams compared to almost indistinguishable differences in performance, it makes the X1 rear components great options for those looking for more-affordable 11-speed options. There is about a 55-gram weight savings with the pricey XX1 cassette, but the reduced weight comes at a cost of almost $2 per gram. All of SRAM’s 10/42 1x cassettes require the XD driver body on the rear wheel. Mechanically there is little difference between the three SRAM 1x derailleurs other than cage materials.


The X1 1400 hollow-forged crankset is where you’ll find the most significant weight difference. The aluminum 1400 cranks with a 32-tooth chainring are 800 grams. It’s roughly one third of a pound heavier than the XX1 crankset. There are fewer chainring options for the X1 spider as well (30, 32, 34, 36, 38), but most trail riders are going to be in the 30 to 34 range anyway, and they all feature the alternating tooth profiles we’re familiar with for 1x drives. The bolt-on spider system does allow you to use other chainring options, including the new Direct Mount chainrings from SRAM or any number of alternatives from aftermarket companies that cover a huge range from 26 to 40 teeth. There are two less-expensive X1 cranks as well, the 1200 and 1000, which are heavier but lack the bolt-on spider of the 1400.

So do I think X01 or XX1 are worth the higher price tags? I would pay more for the shifter. I like the trigger feel of the higher-end models; the ergonomics and crispness of the XX1 triggers are worth the investment to me. But as for the rest of the group, there isn’t a noticeable enough difference in performance to justify the other upgrades, in my opinion. The X1 group looks great and performs well. If you are looking to give 1x a try and don’t mind the extra grams, this drivetrain won’t let you down.

Vital stats

  • X1 1400 crankset: 800 grams w/bottom bracket, $262
  • X1 shifter: 121 grams, $81
  • X1 rear derailleur: 256 grams, $231
  • XG-11800 casssette: 315 grams, $313
  • PC-X1 chain: 258 grams (114 links), $37


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