Brakes & Gears Etc


Until the arrival last year of SRAM’s NX transmission, GX was the brand’s most affordable way of going 1×11 with your gearing. With GX appearing on many of our favourite bikes it’s become a sound choice for all but boutique bike builds.

Here at Dirt HQ we’ve been on single chainring transmissions for many years now and in the past we were happy to get off and push back up the hill if our gearing wasn’t low enough. It was a small price to pay for the added chain security, lower noise and general lack of clutter. Back then we often needed the addition of a lightweight chain guide for that extra reassurance too. SRAM changed all that that tough when they launched their much anticipated eleven speed transmission and we soon fell in love with it, featuring the XX1 gearing way back in the 2013 Dirt 100.

It was a game changer really and although Shimano didn’t follow with a move to eleven speeds until a few years later, SRAM offered some unique thinking, which is now on all of their single chainring trail bike transmissions.

‘Seemingly bombproof, reliable, with no problems to report -we definitely used this drivetrain far above its intended purpose’

A key part of SRAM’s transmission is the unique XD driver on the hub allowing the use of a wide range cassette from 10T to 42T. With a choice of front chainring (in a 4 bolt of direct mount fitment), this meant there was no real need for a front mech to achieve a realistic range of gear ratios for most riders. SRAM’s X-SYNC chainrings have a tall, square tooth design to aid chain retention. Add in a roller bearing clutch rear mech and you’ve got a full system that works flawlessly in all conditions. For SRAM, the front mech on a mountainbike is old news, and in their opinion is dead.

To start with though, this top end kit from SRAM was very expensive. XX1, X01, and X1 were fitted to high spec bikes and many riders put it on a wish list of potential upgrades. This changed with the arrival of the GX transmission, a level of kit that was both functional and yet affordable. Straight away we started seeing it as standard spec on many trail bikes. Bikes such as the Orange Segment, Transition Smuggler, Commencal Meta V4 and Whyte T-129 have all sported this gearing and it without question has never let us down.

There is a choice of cranks, with the more expensive GX-1400 model using SRAM’s ‘Open Core Technology’ to give a stiffer feel with a lower weight. Other than that, once you’ve chosen your chainring size you’ve got a gear set up that really is no-nonsense yet high performance. GX is light enough, has great durability and in most situations runs happily without an additional chain guide.


With consistently crisp gear shifting and excellent performance in muddy and wet conditions SRAM’s GX transmission works in such a way that it almost goes unnoticed. It’s such a solid performer that you never really find there is need for more expensive kit. This is our choice for an affordable trail bike transmission.

PRICE: From £395



Selected for Dirt 100 2017

View the full 100
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