The SRAM Eagle family is growing, and it’s becoming more affordable than ever. To tell you about the pros and cons, we’ve been fortunate enough to test the new SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain over several hundred kilometres.
By now, 1×11 drivetrains have established themselves as much as dropper seat posts have. If you look a little further, the next standard on mountain bikes is very present: 1×12 drivetrains. Which decisive advantages do a 12-speed cassette offer compared to all others? The answer is simple: a gear range that provides a suitable gear in any terrain without the need of front derailleur. Also, over the past couple of years, the SRAM Eagle drivetrain has convinced us with its quiet and precise shifting. The disadvantages for many are still the cost and the time-consuming setup.
At least the topic of costs should no longer be an issue with effect from today. Two years after the introduction of its first 1×12 drivetrain, SRAM introduces a 12-speed cassette to its affordable NX range. Matching SRAM’s entry-level range, the NX cassette is only compatible with conventional freewheels and not with XD freewheels – which is also the biggest weakness of the new SRAM NX Eagle.
The SRAM NX Eagle in detail
The heart of every drivetrain, especially with the Eagle system, is the cassette. The conventional XX1, X01 and GX Eagle cassettes have a range of 10 to 50 teeth. Due to its compatibility with non-XD freewheels, the NX Eagle does away with the small 10T sprocket, offering a minimum of 11T instead. The NX-Eagle has a gear range of about 454%, whereas the other Eagle cassettes have a gear range of 500%.
Except for the choice of materials and slightly modified decals, the NX-Eagle is similar to all other Eagle groupsets. Instead of carbon and aluminium, the cheapest Eagle makes use of a lot of steel and plastic. While the GX gear lever is made of forged aluminium, the NX trigger is plastic. SRAM’s NX Eagle chain doesn’t have the complex nickel and chrome finish of the more expensive groupsets either. The cassette is riveted together using punched steel sprockets, same as the GX Eagle. The cranks are made of the same 7000 aluminium as the GX as well, but the NX Eagle chainring, on the other hand, comes in steel. SRAM also uses a mixture of steel and aluminium for the rear derailleur, while the rear derailleurs of the GX and X01 Eagle are made entirely of aluminium.
The SRAM NX Eagle features all the usual refinements, such as X-SYNC 2 to keep the chain securely on the sprocket, CAGE LOCK for easy maintenance and X-HORIZON for precise and efficient shifting. The NX Eagle crank is also available with the DUB system, so looking for a matching crank and bottom bracket won’t keep you up at night. And it also ensures that all parts of the NX Eagle are compatible with any other Eagle drivetrain – without compromise.
The hard facts: weights and prices
Compared to the SRAM GX Eagle, the NX is 185 g heavier, with the chain and derailleur making the biggest weight difference. Compared to an X01 Eagle, the NX Eagle gains a whole 438 g, which is quite understandable with a price difference of € 900. The SRAM NX and NX Eagle a separated by a total of 110 g at the NX 1×11 expense.
|Weight/Price||X01 Eagle||GX Eagle||NX Eagle||NX 1×11|
|Crankset||495 g/€ 458||628 g/€ 145||635 g/€ 116||780 g/€ 120|
|Shifter||126 g/€ 145||122 g/€ 35||109 g/€ 38||142 g/€ 28|
|Derailleur||276 g/€ 240||290 g/€ 110||341 g/€ 119||322 g/€ 76|
|Cassette||360 g/€ 392||450 g/€ 200||610 g/€ 110||538 g/€ 89|
|Chain||250 g/€ 66||270 g/€ 29||250 g/€ 29||273 g/€ 14|
|Total||1,507 g/€ 1,301||1,760 g/€ 519||1,945 g/€ 410||2,055 g/€ 327|
SRAM NX Eagle on the trail
Typical for SRAM, the workmanship and quality is impeccable, despite the use of cheaper materials. Once the gears have been set up correctly, shifting is quiet and precise. Editorial tip: Always use the red template for the B-tension-screw or the chain gap when setting up the drivetrain. If this is not set up correctly from the beginning, all further efforts are useless.
Differences in performance to the more expensive Eagle groupsets are hardly noticeable. Only the cheaper materials on the trigger leave a less high-quality impression when sifting than with the X01 trigger for example. When things get really uncomfortable on the trail, only then will you notice the attention to detail and the thought that has flowed into the design of the chain and the teeth; keeping the chain securely in place over roots and rock gardens, rendering the chain guide all but superfluous.
Regarding durability, we couldn’t find any significant wear in the last 3 months of trail use. High-mileage riders should be particularly pleased with the steel chainring.
Our tip: Combine your SRAM NX Eagle with a GX cassette to get the full 500% and still save money. Those looking to upgrade their 1×11 drivetrain can keep their cranks and simply retrofit the Eagle chainring, as long as the crank is Direct-Mount compatible.
SRAM NX-Eagle Conclusion
The NX Eagle is a successful addition to SRAMs drivetrain portfolio that convinces with all the important Eagle technologies. Only the smaller gear range of the cassette clouds an otherwise positive impression. If you are looking for cheap spare parts or an inexpensive, self-configured Eagle groupset, the NX Eagle is the answer.
More information can be found at sram.com
Words & Photos: Valentin Rühl