SRAM GX Eagle AXS is available as an upgrade kit to mix and match with any existing Eagle drivetrain components, and available for just £554.
OK, so SRAM GX Eagle AXS is still not exactly cheap, but at around half the price of X01, suddenly the advantages of AXS are within the budget of a much wider audience.
It’s been two years since SRAM launched its desirable AXS drivetrain, ditching traditional cables for wireless connectivity and a tiny electric motor in the rear mech. It came at a price though, initially sold as a complete drivetrain only in XX1 and SRAM X01 AXS Upgrade Kit for close to £2,000 it was the stuff of dreams, or hedge fund managers.
What are those advantages then? When we tested the AXS X01 drivetrain we found it delivered more precise, effortless shifting than a conventional system, there was less maintenance, and the de-cluttered cockpit was a joy to behold. Sure, you don’t need AXS GX any more than you needed AXS X01, but it’s now a more affordable luxury.
Just how has SRAM reduced the price so much? Part of it must be the trickle-down technology effect, where early adopters have to pay a high price for new technology as it has considerable development costs, but as that initial investment gets paid off, the costs can reduce. The rear mech is a cheaper construction too; the cage is made from steel rather than carbon.
GX AXS works just the same as the pricier AXS groupsets, you get a controller on your bar with a rocker button to shift up and down your gears. It uses a proprietary encrypted wireless network to connect to the rear mech, which controls a small motor to derail the chain and push it up the cassette. Bye bye cables.
SRAM says the battery will last around 20 hours, depending on how much shifting you do. The upgrade kit includes derailleur, controller, MatchMaker clamp, charger/cord, SRAM battery, and a chain gap tool. Add up the weights and it’s around 160g heavier than a mechanical GX drivetrain (AXS GX mech: 478g, shifter: 82g, battery: 25g), but factor in the cables and it’s comparable. Buy it all separately and the mech is £342, controller £139 and battery cover £20.
GX1 Eagle AXS Upgrade Kit (Rear Der w Battery, Controller w Clamp, Charger/Cord, Chain Gap Tool) £554.00
Is it any good, or has SRAM compromised on shifting performance to lop so much off the price? You’ll have to wait for a full test once we’ve had more time on it, but our first impressions are good, it shifts precisely and reliably so far…
SRAM GX Eagle AXS ride impressions
By Mick Kirkman
The first thing you notice with electronic gears is shift immediacy. Press the button and a barely audible chirp nudges you near instantaneously up or down the block. The GX lever paddle can shift multiple gears by holding it down or single shifts as you prefer – I set it for the former, but picked up the habit of tapping repeatedly to downshift a couple at a time; likely due to the paddle feeling different to traditional shift levers that I’ve got years of muscle memory ingrained into.
The dished-out GX paddle works best ‘rocking’ your right thumb to shift, but this feels a bit alien to me as it also wobbles the index finger I have permanently covering the brake lever while riding. Fortunately, SRAM has a shallower paddle option for sale with ergonomics closer to a traditional shifter, and two distant up/down sections for those preferring to push rather than ‘rock’ gear shifts, and it only costs £20.
Another thing I change is shift direction. Switching this is even more of a cinch as it takes seconds via the AXS smart phone app and sees the ‘up’ button move the mech up the cassette for an easier gear, which feels more natural to me.
As is often the case, it’s only when you go backwards do you realise how far forward you’ve come with kit. Back on a mechanical bike with a more cluttered cockpit, even the best set up top-level X01 gears feel a little clunky and stiff compared to AXS. The shift is simply not as speedy and precise – and if you don’t get the perfect jump every time here, you can just re-tune the mech to line up perfectly from a different mode at the shifter. I didn’t need to, as GX Eagle has worked flawlessly so far, and I’d argue it’s impossible to tell the difference in function between this and the double-the-price X01 AXS either.