10 Feb 2018

We upgraded our Enduro from SRAM GX 11-speed to SRAM GX Eagle one month ago and it has been nothing but great, it's what we expect from SRAM. The release of 11-speed GX was very welcome and it has now continued to 12-speed with more range.

Way more refined than the price would suggest.

From the crisp click of the shifter, to smooth clutch in the derailleur SRAM GX Eagle has been great. It feels great, maybe even better than 11-speed, which was very nice.  The new redesigned X-Sync 2 chainring hasn’t skipped a beat, and we haven’t dropped a chain, and it’s feeling smoother and quieter than the first generation X-Sync it replaced.

On steep climbs, the ultra-low 50 tooth gear is very welcome when you are digging deep on a climb and need it the most, and it also means we could go up a chainring size from the previous 11-speed. At the moment we’re using the 32 tooth chainring the groupset came with but will be looking to upsize to 34, we have the low range covered.

So far we’re in the happy camp, will GX Eagle keep us that way with reliability and quality over time?

The gear spacings all the way through the cassette are well spaced, though we hear some riders lamenting the gearing jumps at the low end, we’ve not had that feeling with the gear being too big or small after a shift. And finally the price, how can you complain about $800 for a complete groupset? You can upgrade or dust off your favourite old bike and make it new again with such a worthy update.

Do we like it? Maybe?

That all said, we’re not sure we like it. Is it 12 really better than 11? Don’t get us wrong – the performance so far and gear range are excellent, it’s just that it seems like a lot of investment for a fairly marginal increase in gear range over existing 11-speed options.

It reminds us of when BlueRay video first came out. It looked like the same disc as DVD, it was better quality, but maybe not the technology jump we were looking for and for this, we didn’t all rush out and purchase it.

As for Eagle, we don’t think more gears was the answer we were looking for; maybe a more refined eleven was the approach.  (The Sony PlayStation 3 ended up being one of the saviours for Blueray, and we imagine OEM will be the same for Eagle GX.)

What about Shimano options, or e*Thirteen cassettes?

Eagle touts itself as a drivetrain revolution, killing the front derailleur entirely, but is it really such a huge leap? Firstly with Shimano or other aftermarket 11-speed cassettes you can have an 11-46 tooth range, so Eagle only has a 20% wider gear range. Is it worth investing in a whole new groupset for this? Then of course there’s E13’s new TRS cassette, which with its 9-46 tooth range has a wider range (511%) than Eagle, all while retaining existing 11-speed equipment. It’s so good  that YT bikes has backed this cassette as a better option for a lot of their bikes for 2018, and looked at it as true innovation.

Holy dinner plate technology!

Sticks out like dogs balls.

Secondly, the aesthetics aren’t good. It sticks out like dog balls, and its size looks prime to be smacked and hit. 11-speed derailleurs had a great gear range, without being nearly so massive. The length of the cage on an Eagle derailleur seems to run at odds with everything we’ve strived for in terms of reducing a derailleur’s vulnerability.

Eagle has us wondering what they are preparing us for next; 60 teeth on the cassette? They’ll tell us that a more substantial gear range means we can run a larger chainring up front, but have you noticed a lot of these new Boost frames can only take up to a 36 tooth chain ring (or even a 34 in some instances)?

C’mon GX Eagle, you can do this.

So what does all this mean for our review? Well, time will tell. If the GX Eagle proves to be as reliable as our 11-speed stuff, we might well be convinced – we’re a sceptical bunch. We’ll be back with more.