Mountain bikes are made up of a lot of different components, and the pairing of those components has to be correct for a great experience cycling. Here at Bike Test Reviews, we get asked great questions about mountain bike components, especially when comparing groupsets.
Two of the most popular groupsets when it comes to mountain biking are the SRAM NX and the Shimano XT. These are both incredible groupsets, but how do they stand up against each other?
In this article, were going to be telling you everything you need to know by discussing:
- What Is SRAM NX?
- What Is Shimano XT?
- Making The Comparison SRAM NX Vs Shimano XT
- Which Is For You? SRAM NX Vs Shimano XT
What Is SRAM NX?
SRAM is a big manufacturer when it comes to groupsets, and one of the most popular models they sell is the NX Eagle. SRAM NX Eagle is made for off-road riding, and you will find it equipped with many mountain bikes. It works on a 1×12 system and offers riders excellent gear ratios and reliability.
What Is Shimano XT?
Shimano XT, also known as Shimano Deore XT one of Shimano’s high-level mountain bike groupsets. Like the NX, it’s made for off-road riding and is most commonly seen on mountain bikes, but the technology is also seen on Shimano’s other groupsets for other types of bikes.
They offer multiple combinations, the most popular being the 1×12 and the 2×12.
Now for the fun part, let’s break these groupsets down and tell you how they compare against one another. We wanted to level the playing field, so when it came to the Shimano XT groupset variation, we chose the Shimano Deore XT standard, not the Di2 electronic version.
Here’s what you need to know:
Let’s start with cost, and it’s important to understand we’re not just looking at price but also the value for money you get investing in either groupset. Coming in at only $380, the SRAM NX is incredible value for money, and you get a lot of gearing for that.
Then we have the Shimano XT, which comes in at $600 and is nearly double the price, but you are getting more for your money, which we will discuss in this article. If you’re looking for a budget, SRAM NX. Want to spend a little more, Shimano XT.
When it comes to assembly, both of these groupsets are very straightforward. They use inner and outer cables, and both run hydraulic systems on the brakes. The SRAM NX can be installed very quickly, and being a 1X system can be easy and fast.
The Shimano XT 1X system is just as quick and easy. It is a little more challenging if you are going for a 2X that needs a front derailleur.
Overall though, installation is easy, and it won’t be a difficult task to complete yourself, or a mechanic can quickly throw it on.
Weight matters in cycling, especially if you are looking for the best performance possible. When it comes to these groupsets, there’s a difference, but it’s not much to shout home about, in our opinion.
Coming in the heaviest, we have the SRAM NX at 2030g, which is fairly light as far as mountain bike groupsets go. It is not as light as the Shimano XT, coming in at only 1800g.
There’s over 200g difference to most it won’t make much difference. For a professional, that’s a disadvantage.
When it comes to bikes, we all want ours to look great. Not only are we looking for our groupset to match the rest of our bikes, but it should look great alone. The NX does look great and comes in a lovely stealthy finish.
The Shimano XT, on the other hand, is a little sleeker. It looks a little more refined, and with a black base and gray detailing does look a little flashier.
There’s not much between them, but I know I prefer the look of the Shimano cranks.
When we speak about the range, we are not speaking about how far this groupset is going to take you, but the range of gearing it offers overall. The Shimano groupset has a 1X or 2X front and a cassette that can go from 10t to 51t. That’s an incredible range, but it’s worth mentioning it has to be on a micro spline freehub.
On the other hand, the SRAM NX Eagle is a 1X system and generally comes with an 11t to 50t cassette on the rear. It doesn’t offer as wide a range as the Shimano XT.
They still both offer amazing climbing ability and can’t be faulted on how they will climb you up a hill. The SRAM NX uses a standard SRAM / Shimano freehub.
When it comes to speeds, this is different from how much range you get but the number of options across the gearing range. The SRAM NX offers a 1X12 system which gives 12 different options. This is pretty good and is the same if you were to use a Shimano 1X system.
What is important to understand is that the Shimano XT also has a 2X crank option. This makes it incredible, and instead of 12 speeds, you get 24 speeds. This is going to give you double the options of the NX.
Both groupsets perform excellently, and they will give you a great experience on a trail if you’re riding easy or going flat out. There is a clear difference though, in our opinion. The NX feels great, but it doesn’t offer the smoothness of the Shimano XT.
The XT feels a little smoother, crisper, and it has a sharp element to it. Unless you’re riding the groupsets one after the other, it’s hard to feel a difference, but it’s there, and I would prefer the Shimano XT feel over the SRAM NX.
Which is better? SRAM NX or Shimano XT?
Both the SRAM NX and Shimano XT groupset are excellent. There’s no denying they are going to offer excellent performance and be great value for money. They will both give you a great experience, and it comes down to budget more than anything.
If you want to keep the build price low, then the SRAM NX is the way to go. It is cheaper, but it doesn’t quite offer as much as the XT regarding weight, range, speeds, and performance. You have to spend more on the XT, but it is better.
It’s important to understand that regarding the component level within their brands, the SRAM NX is on a lower level with the budget to mid-range components. When the Shimano XT is on a much high level and only a few levels from the race specification.
A Final Note
There’s a clear difference between both the SRAM NX and the Shimano XT. It’s challenging to compare them because the SRAM NX is closer to a budget groupset compared to the XT, being very similar to a race groupset.
They are both great, but as far as performance goes, you will get more from the XT. It’s just going to cost nearly double. Thanks for taking the time to read our article.
Robbie Ferri has spent years working in a bike shop, has worked with industry leading brands on product creation, has been a semi pro athlete, and is a fully qualified strength and conditioning coach. He has broken World Records, bikepacked all over the World and raced ultra distance at a top-level.