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Posted In Reviews on February 3, 2010

SRAM XX Mountain-Bike Component Group

Mountain-Bike Upgrade Package Pimps Your (2-Wheeled) Ride

Sram’s new XX mountain-bike component group will transform anyone’s riding experience, from hardcore racers to weekend explorers. If you want to upgrade your bike with a simpler, lighter and more comfortable ride, XX delivers.

Now you may be wondering just what is a component group? And why do I need one? In this case it’s upgraded derailleurs, brakes, shifters, cranks, chainrings and a cassette. (There’s an even-pricier kit with XX-branded forks available for $1,500 extra.)

Why should you consider shelling out big bucks for all this gear? We’ve got three reasons.

1) It’s lighter than what you’re riding now.

2) It narrows the space between your feet. This keeps you from getting bowlegged when you pedal. With your hips, knees, and feet aligned, you’ll be faster and more comfortable.

3) It reduces cross-chaining. This is when you’re in the outermost chain ring and innermost gear on a 3×9, and the chain gets bent because of stretching. That’s hard on you and your bike.

The XX Sram component group offers a 2×10 setup that keeps the chain in a straighter line throughout the gears.

But wait: 2×10 = 20, and 3×9 = 27. So wouldn’t a 2×10 setup like XX mean fewer gears? Yes and no.

Standard 3×9 systems like you’re familiar with have redundant gears. Say you’re in your middle ring in front. As you shift in the back, you’ll enter gear combinations that are equal to combinations that also exist with your smallest and biggest rings. If you do the math (don’t — it’s a pain in the ass), you’ve actually got closer to only 22 distinct gear ratios.

XX minimizes the redundancies to deliver basically the same gearing, but in a simpler and lighter package. We’ve been riding an XX setup in the Rocky Mountains since September and have noticed pronounced acceleration when ascending and a great deal more comfort when descending.

For well over $2,000, this bike upgrade is certainly not cheap. (You’re not going to install it on your Huffy.) But for all you folks who think your Gary Fisher or Moots rig can’t possibly be improved, think again. This mountain-bike upgrade is the best performance enhancement you can get short of buying a whole new bike.

WIRED Best front-shifting performance in the mountain-bike industry. 2x setup allows for a narrower, more comfortable stance.

TIRED Not even remotely budget-friendly. Narrower spacing means crank arms won’t work on all frames — check before you buy.

  • Manufacturer: SRAM
  • Price: $2,430 (as tested)

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