When it comes to mountain biking groupsets, everybody knows that 1X setups are all the new rage. With one less derailleur, one less shifter, and one less cable on your bike you have already reduced the chances of having a mechanical during a race or ride by quite a bit.
We are lucky that the 1X setups have caught on so quickly because that has really brought a lot of options to the market that did not exist a few years back.
Today we are going to take a look at two very popular offerings from SRAM, the NX groupset and the GX groupset.
The benefit of a 1X Setup
Before we do that, let’s take a moment to look at the benefit of a 1X setup, and what it can bring you if you do not currently ride one. For starters, it is simpler to ride when you only have one shifter.
If you’re trying to make it easier to pedal or to ride faster, you only have one choice, which means you can focus on the flow of the trail more and less about trying to find the perfect chainring and cog combination, which leads us to our second point.
With a traditional drivetrain, you are going to have a lot of overlapping in gearing. The biggest chainring and a cog in the middle are going to be just about the same gearing as a smaller chainring and a smaller cog.
This means you are carrying the additional weight of extra chainrings, a derailleur, shifter, and cable, but you only receive marginal benefits from those extra components.
Finally, our third point- weight savings! It isn’t hard to imagine if you removed nearly a third of all your drivetrain components that your bike would be lighter.
That reduction in weight directly correlates to faster riding and improved bike handling.
Now that we have taken a look at what makes 1X drivetrains a popular and sensible option for certain riders, let’s talk about SRAM’s offerings.
SRAM 1X Groupsets: NX vs GX
Right out of the gate we will take a look at what SRAM intended with these offerings. The NX groupset is a bit more of a budget-minded groupset, offering a crazy price-to-performance ratio.
SRAM’s NX 1X groupset is over $100 cheaper than the GX groupset, which makes it easier to get into the 1X game and still leaves you some money for a new pair of gloves or an upgraded saddle!
The lower price point also means that it is a great groupset for somebody who isn’t totally sure if they want to ditch the traditional two or three chainring setup they have now because, at this low of a price, it would not be hard to sell it and recoup most of your investment if you decide that it isn’t for you.
SRAM’s GX groupset is focused more on higher-end customers who are looking to pay more to save some weight on their bike, and they also offer a bit more performance than the budget-oriented NX groupset.
Tighter tolerances and more precise construction will lead to smoother shifting when compared to the NX line, especially if you are down-shifting under load going uphill.
Switching over to the cranks, the NX line is made out of 6000-series alloy, which offers good strength but isn’t quite as stiff.
The GX line is made out of 7000-series alloy which has a better strength to weight ratio than the 6000-series.
The GX cranks also have an alloy chainring, which helps it drop some weight compared to the NX cranks which have a steel chainring.
The GX cranks are going to be the stiffest metal cranks in the Eagle model family, the X01 and XX1 lines (the two lines above the GX line) both feature carbon cranks, which are stiffer and lighter but might not hold up as well to thrashing in the woods.
Moving on to the shifters, the shifter for the NX line has a full plastic body, which keeps costs lower, and unless you’re crashing often really is not that much of a drawback.
The GX line features metal in the lower part of the shifter which will add a little bit more durability. If you’re not shy when it comes to sending it down some trails, this added durability could come in handy.
One of the biggest differences between the NX and GX lines is in the cassettes. The NX cassette features loose gears with plastic spacers between them and fits on your standard freehub body with splines.
The GX cassette upgrades to pinned cogs, so the cassette is one piece.
It also features a 10-50 range, whereas the NX cassette is an 11-50 range.
The chain has some slight differences, but if you are not buying it as a set you might find it worth your while to just save a few bucks and stick with the NX.
The only difference between SRAM’s NX and GX chains is that the GX chain features a “chrome treatment” whereas the NX chain is constructed with plain steel plates. Both chains utilize solid pins.
Hopefully, this article shed some light on the differences between these two popular groupsets and gave you a bit of insight into where a 1X groupset shines and why it might be right for you.
With all the options on the market, it is clear that the 1X setups are not going away anytime soon, and both the SRAM NX and SRAM GX lines will treat you well.
It all comes down to what you are looking for in your next groupset! Until next time, keep the rubber side down, shiny side up, and remember that a bad day of riding is better than a good day in the office!
Jake V is an avid cyclist from Wisconsin. Over the last 12 years, he has explored the worlds of road biking, mountain biking, cyclocross, and urban riding. He currently has too many bikes (if that is even possible), but his favorite would be his Colnago EPS or Cinelli Tutto, depending on what kind of riding is in store for him that day. When he is not riding bikes, he likes to go sailing, skiing, and enjoy a few craft beers.
I found this very helpful. Great review. Thank you.
Thanks for the review. Shopping for new bike and the 1X set ups are new to me. This a greatly helps me make a decision.