MTB-MAG.COM - Mountain Bike Magazine | [Test] SRAM NX Drivetrain

[Test] SRAM NX Drivetrain

[Test] SRAM NX Drivetrain

#nx

25/07/2016
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25/07/2016

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Back in 2010 SRAM started the movement from 3×10 to 2×10 with the aim of reaching a market norm of 1×11. They started at the top of each product lineup and now finally have reached the entry level market with the very accessible NX 1 x11 drive train.

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Specifications

Let’s be clear, straight away the aim of this group-set is functionality and range at a competitive price. This does come with weight gains. But did we notice it?  After all, you’re losing a front derailleur, shifter, cable and chainring.

IMG_4558

NX 1x X-SYNC™ Crankset
Arm Material – Aluminum
Chainring Material – Aluminum
Weight – 680 – 780g
Available Arm Lengths – 155mm, 165mm, 170mm, 175mm
Colors – Black
Bottom Bracket – BB30/PF30-68/73mm, GXP 100mm/PF GXP 121mm, GXP/PF GXP 68/73mm
Chainrings – 30, 32, 34, 36, 38
Interface – 24mm, 30mm
Options – Aluminum guard
Chainline – 49.0mm, 52.0mm, 66.5mm
Retail Availability – April 2016
Price: €120 – €150

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Cassette
PG-1130 – Cassette
Weight – 538g
Ratios – 11-42t
Speeds – 11
Colors – Black
Cogs – 11,13,15,17,19,22,25,28,32,36,42
Price – €89

IMG_6101

NX 1×11 X-HORIZON™ Rear Derailleur
Speeds – 11
Weight – 322g
Colors – Black
Compatibility – X-ACTUATION™
Bearing – Steel
Cage – Long
Max T – 42
Price – €76

IMG_4575

NX 11-speed X-ACTUATION™ Trigger Shifter
Weight – 142g
Speeds – 11
Comp – X-ACTUATION™
Colors – Black
Price – €28

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PC-1110 Chain
Closing Link – PowerLock®
Outer Plate – Polished grey
Inner Plate – Polished grey
Pin Treated – Chrome Hardened
Weight – 232 – 273g
Rivet Type – Solid Pin
Speeds – 11
Price – €14

As a test rider we get to use and appreciate the benefits of lots of high end equipment, so when we test entry level gear we are always interested in how it stacks up with the upper-end stuff. In theory there should be no difference in outcomes, 1 x 11 is a gear set that should work, the NX cassette is a quarter of the price of an XX1 cassette, and fits older 10 speed hubs (read:HG Driver bodies). That means the upgrade path to 1×11 just became a lot easier, and on paper this group renders useless the less appealing after market cassettes/solutions that were trying to compete on price alone in helping people make the move to 1 x 11.

We mounted our system on a Transition Carbon Patrol, a great base for this drive train, there is no excuse for the bike influencing the test outcome. Any weaknesses will be transparent.

Drive train build phase.

Drive train build phase.

Straight out of the gate the setup was easy and we built the bike up with no problems. No strange standards here, the 11 speed cassette fit perfectly on the freewheel, the smallest gear though is 11T.

On The Trail

Our first rides took in the Enduro trails of Punta Ala, some downhill stuff on the Amiata, which is near Punta Ala and some cross country rides around Cala Violina.

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Our test zone, where we have conducted our bike group tests earlier in the year.

Climbing – With steel components the gears feel solid and handle power well. Shifting under load is comfortable and smooth. Speed of shifting is as quick as high end SRAM systems although ever so slightly less refined in feel. The shifter has a positive feel and like the higher end counterparts it can jump multiple cogs in one upshift. The shifter has its own pod mount and can’t be linked to the brake lever, which does allow for more adjustment and meant we could find the perfect position for our thumb. With a 30T up front we found ourselves always satisfied with gear availability and range. With a standard bolt pattern it is possible to mount other chain rings as desired.

Descending – With X-sync technology across the complete drive train and a clutch derailleur, chain loss was a non issue. Up shifts were precise as we shifted down the block. The gear spread meant we were always able to find the gear we needed. The 11 T bottom cog obviously does mean the rider spins a bit more than with a 10T at top speed. Especially with a 30T front chain-ring, but consider that this drive-train is aimed at novice riders who may not be as obsessive about reaching the same top speeds in the same way.

It is the only compromise that we could find regarding performance on the trail. In our opinion if you are really needing a 10 T go to a 32T on the front, but we preferred our 30T for effortless climbs. Unless you’re racing it shouldn’t be a huge concern. The higher end gear shifting is good at speed, no chain jumps and the force in the retention spring was enough to maintain a quiet system, even when under heavy compression’s and G-outs. We do need to try this system in mud, that will happen over the autumn time.

The cranks felt stiff and responsive to pedal input. We had a few rock strikes but nothing that caused any damage. Tough and versatile for the price overall.

Flat – Not much to report here, more or less a complimentary feeling to NX1’s descending and climbing abilities. The bottom bracket feels smooth, and after ride inspections proved that sealing was keeping out dirt and dust.

Conclusion

It is pretty hard to find a good Enduro bike without a 1 x 11 drive train unless you were buying lower end products or dabbling with a fringe part of the market. SRAM have opened up the mass adoption of 1×11 drive trains for entry level bike product ranges. We expect to see this group on a lot of OEM bikes. Honestly saying goodbye to the front derailleur is a good thing and the NX drive train well and truly makes 2 x 10 a thing of the past for those who love simplicity, functionality and rugged components.

If you are on a tight budget and would prefer to spend your money on a good frame and upgrade the drive train later, then this is also a great way in to 1×11, as it’s all cross compatible up to XX1. Yes there is a slight weight penalty, but with a cassette that costs less than an old XO 10 speed we are not complaining. We look forward to seeing how the system fares over time. We think it’s going to do well if our first experiences are anything to go by.

SRAM
Test Center Punta Ala

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