New SRAM NX Eagle brings 12-speed down to £365
New 12-speed groupset SRAM NX Eagle breaks new ground with the most affordable wide-range 1x drivetrain yet. Twelve speeds for £365 SRP.
SRAM NX Eagle need to know
- 11-50t cassette mounts on standard splined body, rather than XD driver
- Tough enough for e-bike use with specific single-change shifter
- Includes SRAM DUB fitment cranks, available in 175, 170 and 165mm lengths
- Compatible with XX1, X01 and GX Eagle components, allowing bike brands and consumers to mix-and-match parts
- Complete drivetrain saves £130 over SRAM GX Eagle
With the launch of Eagle, SRAM basically buried the front derailleur. Since then, other component brands have entered the wide-range arena with even larger sprockets and greater wingspans.
SRAM NX Eagle is the latest release and brings the total of SRAM Eagle groupsets up to four: SRAM XX1 Eagle, SRAM X01 Eagle, SRAM GX Eagle and SRAM NX Eagle.
So NX Eagle is 12-speed, right?
Yes, and that means it will play nicely with other Eagle components. Already got an Eagle drivetrain on your bike, and an old set of wheels in the shed with a standard splined (Shimano) cassette body? No problem; the new NX cassette will fit your hubs and mesh with your current shifter, mech, chain and cranks.
Bike brands will also be able to pick and mix parts from the Eagle family to meet a specific price point. Expect to see many more affordable complete bikes specced with Eagle next year as a result – SRAM’s reckons as low as £1,000.
How has SRAM cut costs?
The big saving comes from the new PG-1230 cassette. It uses similar sprockets to the GX Eagle version – in that they are individually stamped from steel – but rather than being pinned to a single alloy carrier, only the four largest rings attach to an alloy spider while the rest are separate. Assembly and fitting, therefore, is very similar to a Shimano cassette. The result is a £70 saving over the GX Eagle cassette at suggested retail prices – this being SRAM though, you can find them online much cheaper.
Is it still 10-50t?
No. This new construction means that it slides onto a standard splined cassette body. Which, in turn, means it can’t accommodate the 10-tooth high gear. So the new cassette is 11-50t with a 455 per cent range. But the fact it can fit on a regular cassette body, rather than an XD driver, will make it a much simpler upgrade for many riders.
What’s the catch?
In a word, weight. The new cassette weighs a hernia-inducing 614g. That’s 166g more than GX Eagle and 254g more than SRAM Eagle XX1, and enough to pull some freehub bodies clean off the hub if you turn your wheel upside down when it’s out of the bike! Of course that’s all extra unsprung mass on a suspension bike, which makes it doubly bad news.
Is it simple to fit?
Yes. If you’re a competent home mechanic you should have no problems installing and setting-up the NX Eagle drivetrain. The crankset will fit any DUB bottom bracket, whether BS threaded or press-fit (although you will need a Race Face/SRAM/Rotor BB tool). To install the cassette you just need to match up the widest splines and make sure the rings are facing the right way with a spacer between the separate sprockets. The 11t only just locates on the end of the splines, but seems to be secure enough when you tighten the lockring with a standard cassette tool. The drivetrain comes with a b-tension guide tool to simplify that adjustment and there’s a decent cable and housing to ensure slick shifting.
How does SRAM NX Eagle ride?
Bearing in mind the price, the shifting under load, particularly accessing the lowest gears, is impressive. There’s no need to back off the power; simply keep grinding the cranks when climbing steep pitches and the NX Eagle will engage the 36, 42 and 50 sprockets with absolute speed and precision. Elsewhere in the cassette the shifts are also very good, but not quite as standout. As you would expect, swapping cogs is ultimately not as positive as further up the heirachy. No one would expect the door of a Ford Fiesta to close with as much of a reassuring thud as a Mercedes S-Class, and it’s a similar story here.
The NX shifter fitted with a new cable feels not unlike a top spec X01 unit with an old cable, which is to say smooth albeit with a slightly heavier action.
Did we miss the 10t sprocket? Not on any of the trails we’ve ridden so far, but if you do a lot of downhill fire roads you might yearn for a taller top gear.
As for the extra weight, yes, on a full suspension mountain bike you will lose sensitivity and agility. The back end just doesn’t want to get out of the way of bumps as readily as it would with a lighter cassette. As such it’s certainly noticeable.
Ultimately NX brings Eagle technology within reach of more riders than ever before. That’s definitely a good thing, but there is a price to be paid in terms of extra weight.
We’re running the NX Eagle on a bike now, so keep an eye out for a full test in the future.
SRAM NX Eagle actual weights and prices
Cassette 614g, £99/€110/$100USD
Rear mech 341g, £106/€119/$107
Shifter 112g (no clamp), £34/€38/$42
SRAM Descendant crank 170mm, 32t 640g, £104/€116/$105
Complete drivetrain including chain, DUB cranks and b-tension gauge £365/€410/$375.