Whether evaluating a new bike or planning to upgrade one you already own, you’ll need to understand the various component specs.
It’s only been a handful of years since the introduction of SRAM’s 1x GX Eagle groupset left everyone green with envy. Mounted to the rear of some of the slickest bikes in the business, the 1x setup ushered in a new standard for the cycling industry.
But even since then, the big component brands have been steaming ahead to broaden the specs of the brands’ unique drivetrains further. SRAM, Shimano, and Campagnolo have pushed the envelope, adding range, increasing compatibility, developing ever-quicker shifting, and innovating wireless innovations that not long ago seemed a novelty rather than the norm.
This rundown will touch on some entry-level components, but we will focus on SRAM’s lineup of off- and on-pavement performance groupsets.
SRAM mountain bike groupsets are everywhere and can look considerably different from bike to bike.
Steadily progressing for decades, SRAM groupsets shrugged off convention to reimagine drivetrains in ways that make them easier to use and less cumbersome than earlier technology would allow.
The latest iteration of SRAM MTB tech, the updated SRAM Eagle ecosystem, is no exception. With a range of interchangeable components spanning from complete groupsets in the $400 range up to $2,000 (or more), SRAM offers a path to mix and match elements that can help dial in cost and performance needs for every rider.
In the past, SRAM offered 11-speed groupsets across its SX, NX, GX, X01, and X11 drivetrains. While components for those systems are still available, SRAM shifted all-new bikes to the 12-speed Eagle system.
SRAM says its Eagle technology is lighter, simpler, and more robust, and offers a 520% gear ratio that aligns with the range of 2x setups.
From bottom to top, here is a rundown of the hierarchy of the SRAM Eagle mountain bike ecosystem.
SRAM’s SX Eagle groupset is mainly found on new, lower-end bikes. It’s an affordable 12-speed system that is much more approachable than more expensive options, but still boasts a wide gearing range.
Individual components for this groupset are available but not as a complete set.
This system allows budget bike buyers to enter the Eagle ecosystem and upgrade over time, as all of its components are compatible with pricier, lighter, and tougher builds.
The SX eagle cassette is built around a Shimano-style freehub body and has a range of 11-50 teeth.
NX marks the proper entry point into after-market Eagle drivetrains. It is available as a complete group, including cranks, cassette, derailleur, chain, and shifters.
Like the rest of the range, the NX Eagle system is a 12-speed setup, but it includes some cash-saving options.
Like the SX Eagle groups, the critical feature that separates the NX group is its 11-50 tooth cassette that works with a Shimano-style freehub body.
This feature makes the system compatible with a wide range of bikes, including older models, and enables most to employ the more comprehensive gear range of the Eagle groupset.
The cassette will still work with GX, X01, and X11 systems, but those groupsets rely on SRAM’s XD freehub body.
GX Eagle began the Eagle system. And it’s where riders will start to see the full range of the latest Eagle upgrades and uniformity among freehub bodies.
The GX Eagle departs from the NX system with SRAM’s XD driver, along with a cassette that boasts a 10-52 tooth range rather than 11-50 tooth, meaning it will be a faster, more efficient pedaler at the limits of its range.
It also has considerable weight savings compared to the NX groupset (about 300 g) and carbon and alloy crank options.
Another significant advantage of the GX Eagle groupset is its AXS compatibility. AXS is SRAM’s app-driven, wireless groupset integration system. It allows riders to personalize their riding and component system.
The GX Eagle system is the least pricey groupset that works with AXS. This allows riders to drop cables from their bikes to save weight and make shifting more reliable.
Aside from the tech stuff, the GX Eagle groupset also offers colors to make drivetrains pop on the trail. Chains and cassettes come in Black, Gold, Rainbow, and Copper.
The X01 Eagle groupset checks all the same boxes as the GX Eagle but in a lighter, yet durable, package.
The X01 setup features an X-Sync 2 chainring and a short aluminum cage on the derailleur that adds 10 mm of ground clearance.
The added clearance and durability make the X01 Eagle system ideal for aggressive trail and enduro riders. It also works with SRAM’s AXS electronic shifting system, so riders can still save weight by dropping cables.
Take all of the pomp and circumstance of the Eagle lineup so far, and then make it lighter. That’s the idea behind the X11 Eagle groupset.
SRAM bills the X11 Eagle groupset as the choice for XC superbikes. It saves weight compared to the X01 with a carbon derailleur cage and shifting components.
Like all other Eagle models, the X11 is compatible with the AXS system.
Pricing varies considerably, deepening on the exact spec of each groupset, and whether you stick with mechanical components or electronic:
NX Eagle: MSRP $404-426 for a complete groupset.
GX Eagle: MSRP $587-747. AXS upgrade kit goes for $633.
X01 Eagle: MSRP $1,187-1,492. AXS upgrade kit goes for $800-844.
XX1 Eagle: MSRP $1,608-1,749. AXS upgrade kit goes for $1,000-1,055.
SRAM Road Groupsets
The SRAM APEX groupset is SRAM’s entry-level groupset made for riding on pavement. It features a 10-speed, 11-32 tooth gear range on the cassette and a two-speed chainring.
It also is available in the Apex 1 model, which drops a chainring for a 1×11 setup. SRAM’s Apex drivetrain is not available with electronic components.
Rival/Rival eTap AXS
SRAM’s Rival groupset is lighter than the Apex but still offers a wide 11-speed cassette with a standard 2x setup.
It is also available in Rival 1, which drops a front chainring for a 1x setup like the Apex. The Rival 1, however, doesn’t add extra gear in the back like the Apex, but it is simpler.
Where the Apex groupset stops at mechanical components, the Rival system also is available in the Rival eTap AXS model, which features SRAM’s electronic shifting in a 12-speed configuration connected with SRAM’s app.
It also comes in 1x or 2x options and hydraulic disc brakes.
Force/Force eTap AXS
SRAM Force is even lighter than the Rival system, implementing carbon and lightweight alloy to keep weight in check.
The Force mechanical groupset features an 11-speed cassette with two chainrings to widen the gear ratio further. Like the Apex and Rival sets, Force also comes in the 1x Force 1 build.
SRAM Force eTap AXS features SRAM’s wireless shifting, and SRAM offers an optional power meter.
SRAM Red is the top-tier groupset for the company’s road groupset line. It’s for the pros.
The mechanical version features an 11-speed cassette that implements more carbon and lightweight metals, including alloy and titanium.
It is also available in the beefed-up, 12-speed SRAM Red eTap AXS electronic shifting model. SRAM offers an integrated power meter on the crank spindle and hydraulic disc or rim brake options.
Obviously, the eTap AXS version of these groupsets is much more expensive than its mechanical counterparts across the board.
Rival eTap AXS: Approximately MSRP $1,639
Force eTap AXS: MSRP $591-1,560
Red eTap AXS: MSRP $1,453-2,690
SRAM has edged out to meet the masses who flock to the space between the road and singletrack with the XPRL groupset, explicitly designed for gravel.
XPLR systems are available with a new 1x XPLR AXS wireless drivetrain that runs in a 10-44 tooth cassette and an eTap AXS derailleur to match in Red, Force, and Rival builds.
XPLR AXS: MSRP $564-1,714 for 1x drivetrain, excluding shifters