Shimano and SRAM are two of the biggest cycling component manufacturers in the world. Both have a wide range of offerings for all ranges of bike but, in this blog, we are going to take a closer look at the Shimano XT and the SRAM GX groupsets – two popular groupset options suiting beginners and experienced cyclists.
The groupset refers to all the components of a bike relating to gear shifting and braking, including the shifters, crankset, bottom bracket, front and rear derailleurs, chain, and cassette.
Read on to find out the differences between the two groupset, and the pros and cons.
The Shimano XT groupset is a workhorse suited to all riders. It prides itself on versatility and performance, without breaking the bank. The XT might not be Shimano’s premium mountain bike groupset, but it’s the one that balances performance and price the best – making it a very popular option.
Its versatility makes it suitable for a wide range of riders – from enduro racers to cross-country riders to everyday trail riders. The XT has also evolved to add new features to its offering. The M8000 edition added wide-range cassettes and front chainrings to suit all preferences.
The shifting is smooth and precise, but the cranks finish wears fairly quickly. All in all, it’s a nice looking piece of kit – nicer on the eye than the SRAM GX.
You can get 11-speed XT in 11-40t and 11-42t cassettes, to be used with both double and triple cranksets. So, if you aren’t quite ready to move up to 12-speed drivetrains, or simply want faster shifting, the 11-speed XT is a good option.
The most modern version of the XT is the recently launched M8100, which adds 12-speed cassette sprockets with either a 10-45T or 10-51T range. So, really, the Shimano XT now caters for all.
The 12-speed adds superior gear performance with hollow alloy cranks to maximize power while reducing weight.
Speed: 11-speed or 12-speed
Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes or rim brakes
Where to buy: Amazon
The SRAM GX Eagle groupset is a worthy contender to Shimano’s XT, offering similar performance to 12-speed options. It’s designed to be lightweight, reliable and suitable for all trail types.
It’s latest Eagle edition delivers a 12-speed rear derailleur, with smooth shifting and a large cassette to help climbing up the steepest mountains or descending. The cassette range is 10-50t, which is pretty impressive.
The shifting on the GX 12-speed isn’t quite as smooth as the 11-speed, or the more premium models, but it is one of the cheapest options available. Any mountain biker that wants a single-ring drivetrain, high-performance groupset, at a budget cost should take a look at the GX.
Key features include a 1×12-speed drivetrain and 10-50t cassettes. The range of the 10-50t cassette is absolutely massive, meaning no more ‘spinning out’ on fast descents and improved hill performance.
The GX is slightly cheaper than Shimano’s XT, although if you care about what it looks like, the Shimano is probably the more appealing option. If you want a superb range of gears, the SRAM wins. If you do opt for the SRAM GX, it is worth noting that the compatibility with Shimano is not great.
Speed: 11-speed or 12-speed
Brakes: Integrates with most brake levers
Where to buy: Amazon.com | CompetitiveCyclist.com
When it comes to road biking, Shimano is leading the way. However, in mountain biking, SRAM has been a leader in the marketplace. Having said that, Shimano’s 12-speed launch brings that gap closer and the two manufacturers now have excellent offerings for all abilities.
When it comes to the GX or the XT, my preference lies slightly towards the XT, purely for the extra performance it brings and reduction in weight (since the arrival of the 12-speed).
The GX is the cheaper option but if smoother shifting and the look of your bike are important, Shimano wins. Both options, however, are extremely reliable and durable for most types of mountain biking and could be used for touring, commuting or cyclocross.
Founder of Vivi Nation, the cycling, running and active living brand. Chris is a sports enthusiast, occasional triathlete and experienced cyclist, having led multiple cycle tours across Europe.