MTB Drivetrain Background:
Remember the dark ages when we had 7, 8, or 9 rear cogs and 3 front rings? Remember how bad bikes were back then? Remember how many cables we had running everywhere? Life is so much simpler with the move to single-ring drivetrains. Installation and tuning is faster without fiddling with a front gear shifter. On the design side, we’re able to build much better performing bikes when focusing on a single chainring vs balancing drivetrain forces over a wide range of chainring sizes. Modern wide-range cassettes give you the same gearing that these older drivetrains offered with streamlined shifting, so you’re able to keep on climbing even with bigger 27.5” and 29” wheels.
We want you to be able to customize your bike as you see fit, whether you’re an addict for Shimano’s double-upshift or want to soar like an Eagle. Below we’ll dive into the comparisons between each of the drivetrains currently available on GG bikes. Everything we offer is going to feature a wide-range 12 speed cassette with a matching derailleur and shifter.
MTB Hubs and Drivers
Hubs currently use one of three different rear drivers for modern drivetrains. These drivers feature different splined patterns to interface with the splines (and sometimes threads) of each cassette. No driver is particularly better than any other, they’re all just different designs from each different drivetrain manufacturer, and they’re all established enough to where we wouldn’t expect any issues futureproofing your bike. And before you ask, all the magic in the rear hub happens inside of the driver, offering all the engagement you want, regardless of your cassette choice. If you’re looking to upgrade down the line, we’re able to provide replacement drivers for any of the DT Swiss or Industry Nine wheels we sell.
- Shimano Hyperglide: One of the oldest standards in use in the bike industry is the Shimano Hyperglide cassette driver. This was the standard for 7 - 10 speed drivetrains and has been in use for almost thirty years. Functionally, cassettes slide over the driver and are held in place by a threaded lockring. NX Eagle drivetrains use a Hyperglide driver.
- SRAM XD: An open source driver standard launched with SRAM’s 11 speed groups. The driver is threaded, and the cassette contains a lockring mechanism that threads onto the driver. SRAM Eagle drivetrains and eThirteen TRS+ cassettes use an XD driver.
- Shimano Microspline: The newest driver, designed to work exclusively with Shimano’s 12 speed drivetrains. Shimano XTR M9100 and XT M8100 cassettes will use Microspline drivers.
Shifters and Brakes: Form, Function, and Fit
Each of the modern drivetrains offers an option to dial in the form and fit on your bars, using integrated clamps that attach the shifter to the brake lever. In general, SRAM shifters bolt cleanly to SRAM brakes and Shimano shifters bolt seamlessly to Shimano brakes. There are mismatch adapters available for mixed up setups but we do not keep these in stock.
SRAM has done an admirable job of maintaining a similar shifter feel and function from X01 all the way down to NX Eagle. The shifters allow for multiple downshifts at a time and a single upshift when you’re picking up speed.
- Ride 2: NX Eagle
- Ride 1: GX Eagle
- Race: X01 Eagle
- Upgrade: X01 Eagle AXS for wireless electronic shifting
- Gearing: 32T chainring, 10-50T cassette.
- Range: 500%
Shimano XT M8100 / XTR M9100:
These new 12 speed Shimano groups are worth the wait, coming dialed out of the box. We expect to begin putting XT M8100 on bikes built in early August, let us know if you’re interested.
- Upgrade on Ride 2 and Ride 1 bikes
- Gearing: 32T chainring, 10-51T cassette
- Range: 510%
Drivetrain Weight and Cost Comparison
|Ride 2: NX Eagle, Descendant 6K crank||Ride 1: GX Eagle, Descendant crank||Upgrade: XT M8100, eThirteen TRS crank||Race; X01 Eagle, Descendant Carbon Crank||Upgrade: XTR M9100, eThirteen TRS Race crank||Upgrade: X01 Eagle AXS, Descendant Carbon crank|
|Crankset Weight w/ BB||752||581||765||581||490||581|
|System Weight||1831 g||1449 g||1642 g||1342 g||1219 g||1396 g|
|Ride 2 Upgrade Cost||Standard Issue||$245||$TBD||-||-||-|
|Ride 1 Upgrade Cost||-||Standard Issue||$TBD||$315||$590||$1,025|
|Race Upgrade Cost||-||-||$TBD||Standard Issue||$275||$710|
MTB Drivetrains: Pros and Cons
SRAM NX Eagle:
Excellent bang for your buck, offering Eagle performance on the Ride 2
- Pros: Eagle range, easy to adjust
- Cons: Uses Hyperglide driver which can affect future drivetrain or wheel upgrades
SRAM GX Eagle:
Killer performance without breaking the bank
- Pros: Great value and reliability
- Cons: Heavier than X01
SRAM X01 Eagle:
The best mechanical Eagle drivetrain
- Pros: Great build quality and shifter feel
- Cons: Cost
SRAM X01 Eagle AXS:
Wireless and effortless
- Pros: Easy to tune, clean install, wireless bling
- Cons: Cost, need to charge batteries on occasion
Shimano XT M8100:
Killer value, XT reliability. Coming soon!
- Pros: Cheaper than XTR, double upshift for sprinting
- Cons: Heavier than XTR, only compatible with Microspline hubs
Shimano XTR M9100:
XTR bling bling, all the metal in its cassette (titanium, steel, and aluminum)
- Pros: Ability to shift under load, excellent shifter feel, double upshift for sprinting
- Cons: Price, limited to Microspline hubs
We tried to make this as digestible as possible but if you’re feeling like someone threw a wrench into the cogs of your decision-making machine, hit us up at Bikes@RideGG.com or 303-955-4163 to help.