SRAM X0 2×10 Review

by Brian Mullin on February 1, 2013

The SRAM 2X10 system is a couple of years old now, and what was once
an oddity has become commonplace. The 2×10 system has some great
virtues, such as reduced cross-chaining, quicker and smoother front
shifting, decreased overlapping gear ratios, weight savings and a
narrower Q-Factor. In simpler terms, you get maximum functionality and
minimum complexity, with faster shifting, more efficiency and lighter
weight across a full range of gears. I will use their marketing term,
since it sums it up best: 2X10 doesn’t mean more gears, it means the
right gear.

SRAM’s 2×10 X0 got the trickled down technology from their flagship
XX group, which was the first mountain bike oriented 2×10 on the
market, but the X0 comes with a better price point and only a slight
increase in weight, and greater durability and toughness.

SRAM X0 2×10
The trick Truvativ X0 crank arms are made from carbon fiber with
a hollow foam core construction, and utilize a separate bolt-on spider
for the chainrings, which use their fast X-Glide shifting technology.
It comes in a variety of gear options, including 22-36, 24-38, 26-39
and 28-42, which then mates to the 11-36 cassette.  The X0 front
derailleur has a narrower design to match up with the 2×10 system,
while the X0 rear derailleur accepts the large 36-tooth cog and retains
their quick 1:1 actuation ratio. The X0 shifters are available as the
ultra sweet Grip Shift or the normal trigger shifters.

I have been using the SRAM X0 drivetrain system since Sea Otter, and
I have put it through its paces, tossing it in every type of terrain
and harsh conditions, just this side of prodigious quantities of mud. I
predominantly used the Grip Shift for shifting purposes, with a short
foray with the trigger shifters. I ended up testing a 175mm 2×10
crank with 24-38-bash setup, and a cassette with 11-36.  The whole
group included the following:

  • Cranks  – X0 GXP 10spd 175mm 24-38-Bashguard in Silver
  • Rear derailleur – X0 long cage 10spd in Silver
  • Front derailleur – X0 High Direct Mount, 2×10 in Silver
  • Shifters  – X0 Trigger in Silver and X0 Grip Shift in Silver
  • Cassette – XG-1080 11-36
  • Chain – 1091R

Testing Rig and Terrain
Testing was performed on my medium Ibis Mojo HD with the Cane Creek
Double Barrel Air rear shock, and multiple forks, including the Magura
TS8 and FOX VAN 160. I am 5’9″, weigh in at 155 lbs and have been
riding since the inception of the RockShox RS-1, and started out on a
Bridgestone MB-2 for my first MTB steed. I have mostly ridden in the
West, including vast portions of the Colorado Front Range, Sedona,
Moab, Fruita/GJ and many parts of the Colorado mountains. The testing
terrain is predominantly loose rocky conditions, with many long steep
climbs and descents, rock gardens, slick rock, an occasional smooth
singletrack and lots of ugly, loose gravel. I tend to enjoy gnarly
technical terrain, where precise steering and maneuvering are required
and intricate follow-through and full commitment is advised.

The local conditions are usually dry, with lots of gravel, sand and
fine dirt, which gets into everything, and tends to wreak havoc on
seals, bearings, chains, cassettes, chainrings, and I’m not always the
best at remembering to lube the chain, so it tends to get dried out
like leather.
Let’s go through each portion of the drivetrain and see what’s up.

X0 Front Derailleur
The 2×10 X0 front derailleur is available in four mounting options,
High Clamp, Low Clamp, High Direct Mount (tested) and Low Direct Mount,
and retails for $74. It can be used in a wide range of 2×10 gearing
with a maximum of a 15-tooth differential between the smaller and
larger rings. It was specifically designed for 2×10, so the cage is
shorter and narrower than a 3x system. The widely spaced pivots of the
aluminum links offer stiffness, while the steel cage gives durability
and is shaped to work in harmony with their X-Glide front shifting
technology.

The X0 front worked nicely, and rolled up and down smoothly, without
any stickiness, slop or clunking. There has been a great deal of
improvements in the SRAM front over time, and they feel on par with
Shimano’s offering. Using Grip Shift made the front shifting short,
quick and lightning fast, in contrast to the long throw on the triggers.
I didn’t have any cable stretch issues, and what little there was
seemed to be within the tolerances, and I have only done minimal
trimming. Setting the height of the high direct mount version I used was
pretty simple once I had the retrofit direct mount clamp in the
proper location on my Mojo HD. Further set up was straight forward,
and all I needed to do was some minor high and low screw adjustments,
and since it’s a 2x system, it is easier to get everything lined up. I
noticed that the chain didn’t seem to scrape up the plates on the
front as much as I am used to, though I am not sure if the metal has
better plating or the new design makes the gear change smoother and
more precise, which might cause less wear and tear.

The front has done its job admirably with great durability, and the
parallelogram has retained smooth operation through its arc, without
any issues during the test period.

X0 Rear Derailleur
The X0 rear derailleur is available in three cage lengths, short,
medium and long (tested), and comes in Silver, and Black, Blue, Red and
Gold graphic colors, and retails for $255. It can be used in a wide
range of 10-speed gearing, with a maximum of a 36-tooth cassette
capacity.  The inner pulley cage is made from aluminum while the outer
is a carbon fiber composite, and the parallelogram linkages are forged
aluminum with wide pivots to ensure linkage stability and stiffness.
It has sealed bearing pulleys, and utilizes their Exact Actuation
Ratio technology, which is a 1:1 actuation ratio (shifter cable travel
: derailleur movement). The EA offers simple, stable and easy
shifting, regardless of the load applied, the cog set spacing and
cable tension. Cable routing into the derailleur uses their Direct
Route Technology, in which it connects directly to the actuation
mechanism to lessen damage and decrease friction and input effort.

I have always liked the 1:1 actuation ratio of SRAM’s rear
derailleurs, and the X0 rear offered crisp shifts that had a nice
detent, without any ghost movements or over shifting of the olden days.
Rolling up or down the cassette worked just fine, and with the aid of
the Grip Shift, you could do multiple swaths of gears at once. Like
always, it would be nice to have a barrel adjuster at the rear instead
of only at the shifter, but that is a nitpick with the design.
Obviously, with the longer cable going back to the rear, I have had to
make occasional adjustments, but even with the slop, the mis-shifts
were very subtle. With the big 11-36 range of 10 speeds on the
cassette, it took a bit of tweaking of the high and low limit screws to
get all the gears rolling properly. I did have some issues with
getting the low set, while up high the chain never rolled off the
cassette on me. The rear has been pretty durable, and has taken a lot
of abuse, slamming and scrapping past rock squeezes and ledges, and the
only thing it has suffered is some cosmetic scratches along the
outside edge. I can’t recall doing any of my typical maintenance methods
of dropping some oil on the pivot points for better movement and
actuation, but it has remained smooth and still works fine. The spring
tension has stayed taut, so shifting has been crisp, and the cage
pulleys have continued to roll smoothly.

Even under load I never felt the rear give me any issues, regardless
of how hard I torqued the system, and it has remained pleasantly
quiet. The rear has performed pretty darn well, and even though it gave
the typical reassuring SRAM clunk, it always did what was asked of
it, even when the chain wasn’t well lubed.

Truvativ X0 Cranks
The Truvativ X0 cranks are available in 2X10 version with 22-36, 24-38
(tested), 26-39 and 28-42 gearing options, along with 3×10 with
22-33-44, and PF30, BB30, GXP and GXP PF bottom bracket
configurations. They come in Silver, and Black, Blue, Red and Gold
graphic colors, 170 and 175 lengths, and retail from $444 – $513. The
three-piece Truvativ X0 cranks are comprised of the drive side arm with
attached spindle, non drive side arm and bolt-on chainring spider. The
crank arms are hollow carbon fiber composite with a non-structural
foam core and aluminum inserts at the bottom bracket and pedal which
are co-molded in place. The forged aluminum spider meshes onto a
spline on the inside on the non-drive side arm, and in this tested
version, it is comprised of a 24 tooth chainring, 38 chainring and a
bashguard. The chainrings are made from CNC 7075 aluminum, and the
bashguard is carbon fiber. With this 24-38 gearing and the optional
22-36 version, the odd spacing is 104/64 BCD, which is required to fit
everything within the confines of the system.

The Truvativ X0 cranks have a minute amount of flex if you stand on
the arms during a technical move, and it feels like the spindle twists
and/or connections with the spline are where the slight twitch
exists, and not the arms directly, but I never felt any loss of power
when cranking away while pedaling. The arms are stiff, and have been
durable, with only the typical cosmetic shoe rub on the outside. The
pedal inserts haven’t loosened, which can be a culprit on carbon fiber
and aluminum glue-in interfaces. The ends of the carbon arms can get
chipped slightly if you hit lots of rocks (like I do), so I added some
crank arm boot protectors (courtesy of Race Face). I wish more
manufacturers included some sort of end cap protectors, which not only
increase the longevity of any crank arm, but the lessen the impact
that is transmitted into the bike from hitting things.

Installation was simple, and the bottom bracket spun on without any
issues, and the drive side crank slipped easily in and seated with a
slight tap of a rubber mallet. When cranking down the non drive side
with a 8mm hex, I had to keep tightening the bolt even after the torque
wrench reached the spec limit, but it had to be done to seat and snug
the arm against the BB spacers, else you could feel the cranks being
sloppy along the axis.

Chainrings
The 24-38 chainrings complemented the 11-36 cassette, especially if
your riding style is slow spinning or one with high cadence. The ratio
is ideally suited for 29er’s, but will also appeal to granny gear
aficionados (I am of that persuasion). Their X-Glide technology
functions well, and the synergy of aligning the chainring pick-up rivets
to the chain pivot pin gives smoother shifts on any terrain or power
mode. One of the big keys to the X-Glide is the closely spaced
engagement zones around the circumstance of the rings, which gives
faster up and down shifts under any load. Although it was effective and
quick, I found it somewhat clunky during the transitions, and not as
smooth as Shimano. SRAM has greatly improved their ramping on the
bigger rings, so the chain usually popped up from the 24 to the 38
without any issues, though on occasion, it could be temperamental. I
personally think that a 24-36 would work better, as the difference is
closer and wouldn’t cause any rollup problems from small to big. The
issue is more rare when the chain is in the lower to middle portion of
the cassette, or when the chain and rings are all new. They do have
other options for other gearing ratios, including 26-39 and 28-42, and
the already mentioned micro gearing of 22-36 and 24-38.

The 38×11 (chainring/cassette) gearing isn’t the most functional
when you want to descend an open trail at full speed, but it will get
you going at a decent clip, and this set up is meant for AM and trail
riding, not full on XC racing. The 38 offers good clearance and helps
to roll over logs and technical rocky terrain (ledges, rock gardens,
steps, etc.), and the 24 granny works well for 650B and 29er, or for
any of us (myself included) who like to spin at high cadence.

After about eight months the 24 tooth granny gear is starting to
feel worn out, and shifts aren’t quite as positive like they were when
new. Inherently, small granny chainrings get an extreme amount of
torque placed on themselves, so it accelerates the wear, and I
notoriously wreak havoc on things with my technical riding and stomping
on the pedals. Unfortunately, they don’t yet sell individual
chainrings, so you’ll need to buy the entire spider to replace
anything, which costs around $140 each. Of course, it is usually good
policy to replace all the chainrings and chain when things get real
worn, and maybe even the cassette, but I think the latter is overkill.
The 38 ring has stayed in pretty decent shape, and I haven’t noticed
any real issues with its performance. Once the crank arm was off the
bike, removing the spider was a simple operation, and only required
unscrewing three small Torx bolts.

The chainrings have done a decent job, and their X-Glide system
works nicely, though perhaps a bit clunky. The spider arrangement is
quite handy, and will make replacement of everything simple. Even
though $140 seems like a chunk of change, you do get two fresh
chainrings and a bashguard in one complete package.

Bashguard
The bashguard has gotten some heavy abuse, and is showing some fraying
and shredding of the carbon fiber material. It is only happening at
two locations for me, right smack opposite the spindle when the crank
arms are parallel to the ground. I can’t really say if it’s premature
wear (seems so), but I think a more robust thickness might help with
the longevity? At least, it has prevented damage to the large
chainring, since without the protection, the teeth would have been
pretty abused. I have tossed the bashguard into some unfriendly
places, and haven’t been very kind to it, so the wear that I create
might be somewhat extreme.

Bottom Bracket
Truvativ offers their bottom brackets in several versions, including
the standard GXP (tested), and the PF30, BB30 and GXP PF. They now
include Truvativ’s new Gutter sealing system, which has a better seal
design, with less drag, greatly improved water resistance and bearing
durability. My kit came with the plain old boring Truvativ GXP bottom
bracket, but it has been plenty durable and smooth throughout it usage,
and I haven’t had one issue with it. My local trail conditions have a
lot of dust and sand that gets sucked into the vortex of a bottom
bracket, and can prematurely end its life from the continual entrance of
the fine particulates, along with the occasional rain and snow
storms. The stock bearings were adequate for the job, and have
remained free spinning.

It’s still smoothly rolling, and when I last checked it, I didn’t
feel any grittiness or stiction, and the cranks easily spun through
them.

XG-1080 Cassette
The XG-1080 is a 11-36 cassette, with gears of 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 21,
24, 28, 32 and 36, and retails for $280. The XG-1080 cassette’s seven
biggest cogs are riveted to each other using steel pins, and the
largest is made from 7075-T6 aluminum, while the remaining ones are
stamped 4130 chromoly steel. The outer aluminum cog and the upper cage
are tied into a metal sleeve which transfers the load on the freehub
body. The last three cogs are stacked onto the cluster in the typical
cassette fashion, and everything gets tied down with an aluminum lock
ring. The metal sleeve had some restrictive tolerance issues on several test
freehub bodies, and lightly sanding the inside allowed the cassette to
slip on and off.

SRAM has come light years ahead on the ramps and engineering of
their cassettes, and they are now in the same ball park as Shimano’s,
though nothing quite glides like an XTR. The 11-36 cassette worked
ideally when combined with the 24×38 cranks, especially if you like a
good granny, although you do miss the crankability at high speeds,
which a 3×10 or a larger chainring would excel in. I just love the gear
ratio offered by the 24×38 chainrings and 11-36 cassette, though it
has to be a butt smooth trail to be able to use the 24 front and 36
rear, and I tended to use one or two gears below that when slowly
cranking up hills, for better traction and to keep the front end from
rising. When using the upper chainring, I really liked the 38×36 ratio,
as it could be used on quite a few mild hills, and those with lots of
rolling and undulating terrain, and it shined on steep grunt fire
roads.
I have been pretty happy with the longevity of the cassette, and it
keeps shifting just fine, long after the chainrings have started to
give wear issues. The freehub body transferring system, which is
comprised of the notches on the large aluminum cog and the metal
sleeve, seem to do their job, even though it might be a tight fit on
some hubs. The improved ramps on the cassette greatly aid in faster,
cleaner and smoother shifting, even when under heavy loads.

PowerChain 1091R Chain
The PowerChain 1091R is made from Nickel silver with Chrome hardened
pins and hollow rivets, and retails for $65. It uses the highly
functional PowerLock tool-less connecting link, which always makes
installing and removing a chain much easier. When the chain was new, it
shifted without any issues, even when I forgot to lube it. Like most
chains, if poorly lubed it can have some problems in rain and snow
storms, especially when there are sand and gravel on the trail, though a
quick shot of lube solves the issue. The chain is showing its age
after eight months, but it has lasted a good long time for my extreme
abuse. I tend to be a low gear granny monster, wrecking havoc and huge
amounts of torque on to the entire system, and I have broken my fair
share of chains from any manufacturer.

X0 Grip Shift
The X0 Grip Shift is an excellent system, offering smooth, crisp,
distinct and solid shifting, without any mis-shifts or dropped gears.
The front gives a decisive and short throw that almost feels effortless
to move between the chainrings. The rear allows huge swaths of gears
to be rolled through on the cassette, or just one at a time, making
for precise and easy selections. The synergy of the three rows of
thunder ball bearings and the metal shift indexing makes for an
excellent tactile response, making for silky-smooth gear changes with
distinctive indention’s. The JAWS lock-on grip system worked well, and
tied the grip and shifter together as one solid unit, and prevented
unwanted contaminates from entering the internals, though I wish the
grips were a tad softer. Switching out cables was simple, and only
required removing the inner lock ring and cable cover. One minor gripe
was that the cable cover sits loosely, and can cause a metallic noise
(at least on the alloy version) unless it’s braced by the brake
reservoir. It available in Black and Silver, and retails for $225.

The X0 Grip Shift is light years ahead of its predecessor, and
offers some amazing technology and features, and everything works
together for precise shifting that operates in a silky smooth manner.
You can refer to a full review on the Grip Shift.

X0 Triggers
The X0 trigger shifter is MatchMaker X  compatible, and comes in
Silver, and Black, Blue, Red and Gold graphic colors, and retails for
$258. It has adjustable forged aluminum levers, forged body and alloy
covers.  I didn’t get to spend much time with the triggers, since I
much preferred the Grip Shift system, but I got enough ride time to get
a thorough feel for them. In contrast to the Grip Shift, it takes a
higher level of effort to switch gears, though the changes offer nice
tactile clicks. An excellent thing about triggers, and especially the
X0, is the ease and quickness of a down shift, and it only requires a
slight dab of the finger to pop down. The forward lever has a nice
subtle grittiness to it, so gloves or fingers adhere to the surface
without sliding around, even when bumping down a jarring trail. The
strong click and movement when shifting gives good feedback, so you are
well aware of gear changes, and I never had any sort of over shifting
problems.

One of the issues I have over time with their triggers is that the X
shaped lock nut on the top cover can loosen along with the lever, and
if you don’t pay attention, its unscrewing makes the indention (the
clicks) soften, which makes the shifting gets sloppy. In addition, when
replacing the cable, the complexity of the shifting pod is crazy, so
be careful not to have anything pop out of place.
X0 Measured Specs:

  • Front – 125 grams
  • Rear – 201 grams
  • Cassette – 239 grams
  • Gripshift w/ cables 282 grams
  • Trigger w/ cables + MM clamps – 226 grams + 53 grams = 279 grams
  • Cranks – 794 grams total = drive arm w/ spindle -506 grams + non drive arm 181 grams + bb 107 grams
  • Chain – 257 grams

Bottom Line
The SRAM 2×10 system functions like a fluid machine, and offers quick
and smooth shifting, with good durability across most of its
components. Some of the highlights of the X0 2×10, are the fast X-Glide
shifting technology, Grip Shift shifters, excellent shifting under
loads, 1:1 derailleur actuation and a quiet drivetrain.

The hollow core carbon fiber cranks are plenty stiff, and their
trick separate bolt-on spider makes replacement and swapping out
simple. I am extremely happy with the addition of the micro gearing
options of 22-36 and 24-38, to go along with the more race flavored
26-39 and 28-42. It makes a granny gear lovers heart go a flutter!
Combine the chainring set up with the functional gearing of the 11-36
cassette, and you get a great selection of gears, for any terrain and
environment. The cassette has been very durable, and has retained
smooth shifting during the entire test period. The chainrings and chain
are showing their age after eight months of heavy abuse, and wear and
tear is causing some slight shifting issues, so they need
replacement. In the case of the chainrings, that entails replacing the
complete spider, and although the $140 price seems steep, it isn’t
bad for two chainrings and a bashguard. The front derailleur

is greatly improved over its predecessor, and is on par with the
competition, and it swung up and down smoothly without any issues. The
rear derailleur has the excellent 1:1 actuation, accepts the monstrous
36-tooth cog, and offered crisp shifts with a firm detent. The Grip
Shift were my favorites shifters, due to their fast, crisp and ease of
shifting, though the triggers offered good feedback with their firm and
tactile clicks.

I spend a lot of time cranking uphill, on long vicious and
unrelenting climbs, and this drivetrain has never let me down. In
addition, when pressed hard under extreme loads, such as in technical
terrain, it would shift without any undue stress, and would shift
whenever required. The nice gear ratio selection, durability, quick
shifting and great components make the X0 2×10 a superb system.

Strengths

  • Cranks – bolt-on spider system
  • Cranks – stiff carbon fiber arms
  • Front – shifting is finally on par with the competition
  • Rear – excellent 1:1 actuation, crisp shifts and nice detent
  • Rear – durable and tough
  • Cassette – durable and smooth shifts
  • Grip Shift – easy, snappy quick and silky smooth shifts
  • X-Glide – fast and smooth shifts
  • Bottom bracket – seals keep out contaminants and bearings roll smoothly

Weaknesses

  • Expensive – Cheaper than XX, but still pricey
  • Bashguard – needs to be tougher or thicker
  • Rear – tight spacing with 10 speeds makes for regular tuning
  • Cassette – inner sleeve has tight tolerances
  • Chain – not the best longevity
  • Crank spindle – slight flex/twist when pushed extremely hard

Overall Rating: 4.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

SRAM X0 10-Speed Trigger Shifter

  • MSRP – $123-258
  • Weight – 232g
  • Speeds – 2X10
  • Compatibility – Exact Actuation RD (XX, X0 10) SRAM FD
  • Technology Highlight(s) Exact Actuation
  • Finish – Graphics
  • Technology Highlights – Exact Actuation and MatchMaker X Integrated

SRAM X0 Grip Shift

  • MSRP$225 pair
  • Weight – Clamps, cables, lock on grips with clamps = 287g, Clamps, Cables = 207g, Jaws lock on grips = 80g
  • Speeds – 10-Speed
  • Compatibility – SRAM 2X10 & 3X10
  • Recommended – Group X0
  • Material – Aluminum Cover
  • Colors – Black (with X0 red graphic), Silver (with X0 black graphic)
  • Technology Highlight(s) – Jaws lock on grip, Rolling Thunder, and Speed Metal

SRAM X0 10-Speed Front Derailleur

  • MSRP: $74
  • Speeds: 10 speed for 2X10 system (optional 3×10)
  • Weight: 130 grams
  • Compatibility: 10 speed only, 36 Tooth
  • Mount Options: High Clamp / Low Clamp (31.8, 34.9, 38.2), Low Direct Mount (S1, S3) , High Direct Mount
  • Pull: Top or Bottom
  • Technology Highlight(s):  X-Glide shifting technology and Exact Actuation

SRAM X0 10-Speed Rear Derailleur

  • MSRP $255
  • Speeds – 10-speed for 2X10 system
  • Weight – 203 grams
  • Outer Cage – Carbon Fiber Composite
  • Compatibility – 10-speed only; 36 tooth
  • Inner Cage – Forged Aluminum
  • Bearings – Sealed Bearings
  • Cage Sizes – Short, Medium and Long
  • Pulleys – Sealed Bearing pulleys
  • Technology Highlight(s) – Exact Actuation Ratio and Direct Route

Truvativ X0 10-Speed Crankset

  • MSRP – $444 – $511
  • X-Glide 2X10 and 3X10 shifting technology, 22-36, 24-38, 26-39, 28-42 and 22-33-44 gearing
  • New GXP Bottom Bracket System featuring Gutter Seal Technology
  • Bottom bracket configurations – PF30, BB30, GXP and GXP PF
  • Arm Material – Carbon Molded
  • Weight – 728-788g
  • Compatibility – 2×10, 3×10
  • Material – Carbon Fiber composite with forged AL spider 7075 CNC AL Chainrings
  • Technology Highlight – GXP, Exact Actuation and X-Glide

SRAM XG-1080 Cassette

  • MSRP – $280
  • Weight – 239 grams
  • Material – stamped 4130 chromoly steel (cog cluster), AL-7075-T6 (largest cog)
  • Gear Ratios – 11-36
  • Speeds – 10 speed
  • Lock Ring Material – Aluminum, Silver finish
  • Technology Highlight – X-Glide

SRAM PowerChain 1091R

  • MSRP – $65
  • Compatible Gears – 10
  • Closing Link – PowerLock tool-less connecting link
  • Outer Plate – Nickel Silver w/Lighting Hole
  • Inner Plate – Nickel Silver
  • Pin Treatment – Chrome Hardened Pins
  • Weight – 255 Grams (114 links)
  • Rivet Type – Hollow Pin
  • Recommended Group – SRAM & Shimano Compatible
  • Colors Outer Plate – Nickel Silver w/Lighting Hole; Inner Plate: Nickel Silver
  • Technology Highlight – PowerChain II

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Anonymous October 20, 2013 at 6:23 am

The chain crashet after 3 Months and the cassette crashed after one year. Both of my X0 shifters crashed after a little more than one year. Now, 1,5 years later, the left shifter crashed again. Never hat that bad components with Shimano within 25 years. SRAM ist complete rubish. I replaced all by Shimano.

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