FIRST RIDE REPORT
SRAM GX EAGLE AXS DRIVETRAIN
Not many products draw the lustful stares quite the way a new SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS kit does. While we have been lucky enough to test them on a few high-end bikes, there’s no denying the price tag is a deal breaker for more than a few folks who’d love to go electric. SRAM has also heard the feedback and just released the more affordable GX Eagle AXS kit, which offers the same performance with a small weight penalty for almost half the price. So, is the price worth the convenience of wireless shifting and investing in a derailleur that may be damaged at any moment? We have been putting in some preliminary miles as we work towards our long-term review coming in a few months. For those unable to wait that long, here is how the new SRAM GX Eagle AXS drivetrain settled in.
SRAM’s GX line has been the workhorse group in their lineup since it came out and the AXS version looks to follow in that path. It retains the same 520% range with 12 speeds and integrates into any Eagle system. If you are looking to upgrade your current SRAM Eagle kit, you can do so as the new GX AXS kit works across the Eagle ecosystem flawlessly. Already have a running drivetrain but want to go electric? Just buy a derailleur and controller and you should be good to go with the GX AXS upgrade kit.
Borrowing tech from the higher end AXS mech, the SRAM GX AXS derailleur has been engineered to have the shortest cage possible to keep it out of harm’s way and is compatible with both 10-52t and 10-50t cassettes. An overload clutch allows it to slide out of the way if it does come in contact with a rock or stick but still retains a high level of tension on the chain.
The SRAM GX AXS controller looks and feels very similarly to the XX1 unit. It can be fully customized with the app to control shift points, high and low limit, and paddle function. The app can also record how many shifts you are using during a ride and how much each cog is used. Like its more expensive sibling, the GX Eagle AXS is fully water and dust proof and rated to IPX7. Battery life is rated at 20 hours by SRAM with an automatic power on and off feature. The shifter uses a common CR2032 battery with 2 years of battery life. The kit comes with the shifter, derailleur, charger, AXS battery cover, and spacer tool.
Installing the new SRAM GX Eagle AXS is quite simple. After yanking out your old cables and pulling off the shifter and derailleur, you will spend as much time wiping off rub marks and dried dust as installing the new kit. The GX AXS shifter is Matchmaker compatible, and the batteries come charged out of the box. Set your stop points and B-limit just as you would with any other derailleur, and you are on your way. Synching up the two units is as easy as pushing a button. I did link the unit to the Bluetooth app, which updated the firmware, but it only took a few minutes. The kit comes with a spare battery and charger, which charged in about 30 minutes.
Once on the trail we found shifting performance to be on par with the XX1 unit. The GX AXS derailleur gives very crisp and quick shifts across the range. I did not have to adjust the shifting parameters and it worked flawlessly during our brief test period. The GX cassette that was on the bike was a 10-50t which had no issues shifting under power or displayed any issues with back pedaling. The shifting lever is much bigger than a traditional Eagle unit and the amount of force required to shift is reduced, so I did occasionally shift accidentally when bumping the lever. SRAM finally created a lever extension that allows for index finger shifting over the back of unit, which I like on long climbs.
The GX Eagle AXS weight is about 60g heavier than a traditional SRAM GX kit, so you will pay a minor penalty for the convenience of not running cables, but performance alone makes up for it. Never having to adjust my cable tension again is the best feature so far, plus it makes the bike look a lot cleaner. Battery life in real world scenarios is pretty great and lasted a few weeks with regular riding, although your mileage may vary depending on temperatures and elevation changes on your local terrain. Since the package comes with a spare, always keep a topped off one in the truck and swap it out after a week or two of riding.
THE WOLF’S FIRST IMPRESSION
If you like the latest tech, a clean cockpit, or are looking to improve shifting performance, check out the SRAM GX Eagle AXS kit. The price is now more reasonable but is still significantly more expensive than a standard GX group and it weighs a bit more. However, the upside of reduced maintenance, better shifting and a tidier bike make it worthwhile if you have got the funds. Do you love snaking your way through tall rocks or break derailleurs regularly, then the AXS upgrade may not be for you just yet as a replacement derailleur will still set you back $370.
Price: $600 – Kit