SRAM NX DRIVETRAIN
1×11 Shifting on a Budget
There were plenty of notable new products from SRAM in 2016, including the new 12-speed Eagle drivetrain. On the lighter end was SRAM’s NX drivetrain that offers riders a 1×11 system for a fraction of the Eagle’s price. Many riders have been looking to ditch their front derailleurs to shed weight and gain a little extra performance, but that conversion can take a heavy toll on the bank account. We spent several months putting the NX through a gritty test to see how it held up compared to SRAM’s high-end drivetrains.
The NX kit carries on the legacy of the acclaimed XX1 but in a more affordable package. On the shifting side of things, SRAM offers a trigger and grip shifter, depending on rider preference. The shifter uses SRAM’s X-Actuation, which gives the lever a similar feel to higher-end shifters. The rear derailleur uses similar technology to its higher-end counterparts, including X-Horizon and X-Actuation. The adjustable clutch reduces chain slap and still allows for good shifting performance. SRAM designed the NX rear derailleur with Cage Lock for easy wheel swaps and maintenance, along with massive, 12-tooth pulley wheels for better chain retention.
The cranks have aluminum arms to help keep the overall weight down but maintain stiffness. SRAM offers the NX cranks in 5-millimeter arm-length increments, start- ing at 155 millimeters and ending at 175 millimeters. Along with a normal GXP spindle, riders also have BB30 and wider fat bike options. These cranks are also Boost compatible. The chainring is aluminum and is designed with X-Sync technology. SRAM offers the rings in 30-, 32-, 34-, 36- and 38-tooth sizes, depending on rider preference.
Out of the whole group, the cassette was the most surprising part. The PG-1130 is a wide-range 11-42, but is only compatible with non-XD driver hubs. This allows for a broader range of wheel compatibility. The cassette uses SRAM’s Jet finish for better corrosion resistance. Kit pricing ranges from $310–$345, depending on which cranks and shifters riders choose to run.
On the Trail:
Installing the NX proved to be pretty straightforward. The shifter has an outboard port with a rubber plug that allows for quick and easy access to push a new shifter cable through. All of the parts installed easily onto the frame, although we were a little bummed that the shifter isn’t MatchMaker X compatible. Adjusting the shifting on the rear derailleur didn’t give us any headaches and was fairly straight- forward. As with higher-end derailleurs, the NX does have an adjustable clutch that riders can dial in if they are riding rowdier trails.
After our first rides on the trail, we noticed that the shift lever felt similar to its higher-end counterparts with crisp, smooth engagement. As the gearing wore in and the shifter cable stretched out, we had to make a few post-ride adjustments to dial in the shifting. Once the drivetrain wore in, we didn’t have any issues with the shifting. The shift lever retained its smooth feel, and the rear derailleur proved to be burly enough to handle rough riding and adverse conditions.
The cranks felt stiff and gave us plenty of leverage when we pushed hard out of the saddle on steep, technical sections of trail. We rode a diverse range of trails— from mellow cross-country singletrack to rockier sections. During our testing, we didn’t experience any dropped chains and felt that the clutch on the rear derailleur had enough adjustment for proper retention. Our test riders did all of their testings with a 32-tooth ring up front. They felt that they had a good range of gearing for general trail riding. Strong riders might want to jump to a 34 tooth for a little more top-end speed. www.sram.com
• Competitive price
• Consistent shifting
• Lacks MatchMaker X compatibility
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