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SRAM X01 Ridden in Whistler

XX1 Technology Trickles Down

Words by Cam McRae. Photos by Pete Roggeman.
August 27th, 2013
SRAM, XO1, X01, XX1, 2014, MSRP, retail, review, whistler, Lapierre, Zesty

Like Cam, the weight weenie in you will smile, too: eliminating a front dérailleur (it’s a French word after all), second chainring, shifter, and cable can save a pound of weight.

The front derailleur’s obituary may have been premature – but its days are numbered. Virtually anyone who has spent time on SRAM’s 1 by 11 system will sing its praises loudly. It’s quiet, reliable, precise – and dropping your chain is near impossible. Add the simplicity of the system and significant weight savings and it becomes clear that SRAM hit it out of the park, with one proviso; it’ll cost you as much as an entry level carbon road bike. In the US the suggested retail for XX1 is in the $1500 neighbourhood. Much of that cost ($425) comes from machining the first 10 steps of the 10-42 cassette from a single chunk of steel. Only the big 42 is a separate cog.

SRAM, XO1, X01, XX1, 2014, MSRP, retail, review, whistler, Lapierre, Zesty

The biggest difference between XX1 and XO1: the crankset. The XO1 uses a more traditional 94mm which brings after market rings and bash guards into play. XO1 rings will come in 5 sizes from SRAM – 30-32-34-36 and 38 (but no 28 as with XX1).

So how do you follow that up? You trickle it down. Although this is more of a drip than a trickle. X01 differs very little from XX1 in terms of price, weight or performance. The group starts at $1280 and weighs virtually the same by most accounts. The cassette is 15g heavier, the shifter is 15g lighter. You get the idea. Since tires of the same model, size and brand can vary by as much as 10% you’d be better off weighing every tire in the shop than saving weight by making the jump to XX1.

SRAM, XO1, X01, XX1, 2014, MSRP, retail, review, whistler, Lapierre, Zesty

SRAM’s horizontal movement X-Horizon rear derailleur technology, here in XO1 form, will be available in an alloy or carbon cage option for the new group.

The big play for X01 is at the original equipment level. When manufacturers can save a buck at their cost it ends up having a significant difference in the end price of a bike. Add to that the option of an aluminum crank (OE only for now) and you are likely to see a lot of 11s on new bikes from Interbike.

The biggest difference between the two groups is the crank bolt circle diameter. XX1 uses a 76mm BCD which allows the use of a 28 tooth ring. A 28-42 might seem ridiculous for most fit young riders but when you mate it to a 29 inch wheel long travel machine and  you put an out of shape weekend warrior in the saddle it starts to make sense. The X01 bolt circle is a more traditional 94mm which will allow you to use after market rings and, for those who want it, a bash guard. Rings will come in 5 sizes from SRAM: 30-32-34-36 and 38.

SRAM, XO1, X01, XX1, 2014, MSRP, retail, review, whistler, Lapierre, Zesty

The X DOME cassettes are one of the engineering marvels of SRAM’s 1×11 group sets. For XO1, it comes in black, making a good thing even better.

The cassette is virtually the same with the exception of the sleek black finish. It’s said to be as durable as the more expensive zinc coating applied to the XX1 version. So you’ll have 11-speeds (10-12-14-16-18-21-24-28-32-36-42) and that 10 tooth high gear will require an XD driver body (aka the freehub) which steps down to a smaller diameter. You’ll have no luck mounting one of these X-DOME cassettes to your old wheel without changing the driver body.

SRAM, XO1, X01, XX1, 2014, MSRP, retail, review, whistler, Lapierre, Zesty

The XO1 test kits were mounted on the 2014 Lapierre Spicy, one in carbon and one alloy. Featuring 650B wheels, 150mm of travel and incredible pedal performance, we came away forgiving the terrible name because they rode so damn well.

SRAM, XO1, X01, XX1, 2014, MSRP, retail, review, whistler, Lapierre, Zesty

The Spicy’s rear end is really stiff, partly accomplished by using these stout seat stays that don’t require a bridge. The casualty of this is heel clearance – which was noticeably bad for both of us while using flat pedals. Switch to clipless and it would improve a bit, depending on your shoe size and cleat setup.

So how does it ride? I’d wager that you’d find it impossible to tell XX1 from X01 without looking. Our lap up Blackcomb to enjoy Hey Bud had lots of climbing and some steep and rowdy descending – and X01 was flawless. Neither of us dropped a chain or missed a shift and the silence on the way down added to the sweetness of the experience.

SRAM, XO1, X01, XX1, 2014, MSRP, retail, review, whistler, Lapierre, Zesty

No chairlifts were used in the making of this article. You’ll never know this if You Only Ride Park, but Hey Bud is another of Whistler’s amazing trails that doesn’t take a beating from the lift-delivered DH heroes.

SRAM’s 11 speed group arrived to much fanfare about a year ago but the plaudits have continued. Aside from the price of admission there’s nothing I don’t like about 1 by 11 and the parts that make it happen. The rumour mill has confirmed that Shimano is tinkering with their own version which can only be good for riders like you and me.

SRAM, XO1, X01, XX1, 2014, MSRP, retail, review, whistler, Lapierre, Zesty

Just enough rain fell on this day to keep the dust down and increase traction.

SRAM, XO1, X01, XX1, 2014, MSRP, retail, review, whistler, Lapierre, Zesty

Rip, smash, hack – chain’s still there.


Are you a 1×11 believer or is pricing still out of reach to make the switch? Or are you still a front derailleur junkie?

  • CoilAir

    Care to comment on the Magic Mary/Rock Razor combo?

  • pete

    Magic Mary never so much as squirmed and those knobs were very confidence-inspiring. It was only one ride and the dirt was perfect but given that it wasn’t noisy on the paved/gravel road climb, early impressions were good. Rock Razor felt good, too, despite looking less capable, with better than expected braking and really fast, too. By contrast, the Nobby Nics on the Ghost Riot that we rode earlier in the week were far less awesome – bringing them to the shore in the Fall would be like watching Bambi on ice.

    • CoilAir

      Ugh, Nobby Nics are awful tires. I’m loving my Hans Dampfs, but I’d love to try the MM/RR combo. It would be nice to have a much faster rear tire. Thanks for the reply!

    • ibeaver

      Not to hijack this story ( x01 looks good…. ) but these magic marries… would they be replacing your 2.5 evo 3c dhf minions? Gracias :-)

  • klankilla

    Ya I hated my Nobby Nics on my 29er. It made for a bad first date on the new bike.