We’ve been skeptical of 11 speeds on road bikes, mainly because the benefits are muddy. But on the dirt side, SRAM is making a compelling argument for 11 gears out back with it’s new XX1 drivetrain. This system capitalizes on the added rear cog to simplify the front end of the system. The result is a single-ring system that avoids the weight of a derailleur and shifter up front but still manages to pack a gearing spread thanks to a newly engineered rear cassette that features an enormous 10 to 42 range. That large ratio out back and the option for one of six rings in front (28, 30, 32, 34, 36, or 38) gives XX1 a gear range that’s very close to that of a 2x10 system—minus the complication of front shifting. We don’t expect that 1x11 systems will replace double or triple setups, but for those living in a flat or rolling place—or anyone strong—who want to save the weight, headache, and hassle of a front derailleur, SRAM XX1 is easily the most graceful execution we’ve found.
Filed To: Biking