SRAM 1×11 – Where to Spend Your Money

Question: Loved your video on value Shimano road builds. Can you do one for SRAM mountain 1x groups? From: Michael

Answer: SRAM’s 1×11 groups have revolutionized mountain bikes and we’ve only just begun to see what is possible with full suspension frame designs built around 1x groupsets. Each of SRAM’s 1x groups works great, but some of the components offer better value than others.

For the highly visible and vulnerable rear derailleur in this group, X1 is my value pick. It is only 6 grams heavier than X01 and still features steel ball bearing equipped pulleys and all of the precision of the X01 and XX1 derailleurs for a fraction of the cost, and it looks good too. Plus you won’t shed as many tears when it gets destroyed in a crash.

1×11 cranksets are essentially the same as other cranksets, they just have one chainring. So my budget pick is to stick with the crank you have and just upgrade the chainring. There are a ton of narrow wide chainrings out there these days, but the SRAM X-Sync rings really do the best job of chain retention. Chromag makes some great 1x rings that license the patented SRAM X-Sync tooth design and they run cheaper than the SRAM chainrings, so they are a great option.

If you don’t have an old crank to use, SRAM’s X01 carbon crankset is outstanding and relatively affordable. It is the same as the XX1 crankset, but has a heavier, but removable, spider and a lower price. So I recommend going with this crank and opting for a direct mount chainring to get a complete crankset that is lighter than XX1 for a less money. If you are on a tight budget though, the alloy X1 crank is the way to go.

Shifters are an area where you don’t want to skimp, but when it comes to SRAM 1x groups, the X01 shifter is my favorite regardless of price. It has the most positive shift feel of the three, is sealed better than X1, and has the adjustable position cable uptake lever that XX1 has, but with a more affordable alloy lever. You won’t save any weight going with an X01 shifter compared to the X1 shifter, but I feel that the crisper shifting and sealing alone are worth the added cost.

All of SRAM’s XG 11-speed mountain cassettes are impressive with their huge range and light weight, but the X01 XG-1195 cassette is the best value of the three. In addition to the sexy black finish, the X01 cassette is actually just a few grams lighter than the XX1 cassette, costs less, and features the essentially the same construction with 10 cogs machined from one piece of steel billet and an alloy 42-tooth cog. The X1 XG-1180 cassette is a little cheaper, but it is also 47 grams heavier and the cogs aren’t quite as stiff or crisp shifting as the ones on the X01 cassette.

SRAM’s 11-speed mountain chains are limited to just two models, the PC-XX1 and the PC-X1. The XX1 chain has more stainless parts for smoother shifting and longer life, so I think it is worth the added cost compared to the X1 chain.

So to sum it up, here are my picks for the best value SRAM 1×11 build:

Rear Derailleur: X1

Shifter: X01

Crankset: Upgrade your old crankset with a Chromag X-Sync ring

Or if you need a crankset, go with an X01 crankset with direct mount ring, or a complete X1 crankset depending on budget

Cassette: X01

Chain: XX1

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