Budget price and new technology meet with Sram's new X7 2x10 group.
SRAM’s recent introduction of the new XO, X9, and X7 2x10 products has a lot of people talking about 2x10 drivetrains and their advantages. Spending the better part of the past 3 months on the X7 group, I will say I am thoroughly impressed. The group provides the same 2x10 benefits as XX at a fraction of the cost (and a little extra weight).
X7 does provide greater durability when compared to its feathery XX brethren, while still offering the benefits of 2x10. With much of the technology trickled down from above, X7 offers high-end features including X-Glide front shifting, Exact Actuation shifter technology, wide range PowerGlide cassettes, and carbon rear derailleur cages. In order to keep price down, Sram has applied XX R&D to X7 while using a variety of lower priced production materials. For instance, an X7 crankset is offered in aluminum for increased durability and a much lower production cost when compared to a carbon crank.
Shift quality out of the box with X7 was great, even comparable to XX. It offers a bit different shift feel than that of the smooth, flowy shift of XX, it could be described as a more pronounced shift point. Allowing the rider to be confident that the shift has been made. X7 does not allow for adjustable shifter throw, but the stock position integrated well with my riding. After riding the group for about 3 weeks in dry dusty conditions, I was surprised to find that the cables felt sticky and shifting was sluggish.
A cable change on X7 is made extremely easy with top cap cable change, flip the cap open and the cable slides right out. With fresh cables shift quality improved, but only for another few weeks. I am currently on my 2nd full set of cables and housing on the group in a three-month test period. Shifting has still worked well before a cable change, but it does have a slow sticky feel to it. It seems that most 10-speed components are a little more particular to clean cables.
X7 cranks are another component that has changed significantly for 2011; with a shift to hollow forged Aluminum crank arms for a stiff yet light design. Sram claims, “You won't find a higher stiffness-to-weight ratio. Our Open Core Technology cranks are stiffer, stronger, and lighter weight than any solid forged crankset.” The cranks will go by the X7 name only in the 3-ring setup, for the 2-ring setup they will be branded S1400. There are currently 2 chainring size options 26-39 or 28-42; we tested the 28-42 with a 12-36 cassette.
But cranks are only as good as they spin, so Sram also updated their bottom bracket design. Featuring the new Gutter Seal Technology, all Sram cranks will offer a bottom bracket that is able to withstand even the harshest abuse and conditions. Gutter seal technology will be standard on all 2011 Sram bottom brackets. Our test bottom bracket is still spinning as smooth as the day it was installed, even after numerous creek crossings and dusty desert rides.
2011 X7 is a group that will help push lower end bikes in to the realm of functional and usable mountain bikes. Bikes currently marketed to be “entry level” will now have a greater amount of trail worthiness to them thanks to Sram’s drivetrain development. Some brands specing X7 2x10 on 2011 bikes include Rocky Mountain, Yeti, Devinci, Marin, as well as many others.
If you are still skeptical about 2x10 and feel like you need that granny gear, don’t worry. Sram has covered this issue and is offering a wide variety of gearing options. Currently my 2x10 setup has allowed me to climb pretty much everything I could climb with a 3x9 setup. With two different ring choices up front and five cassette choices, 2x10 will fit any riding style and terrain out there.
X7 2x10 is a great way to jump in to some new technology without having to drop serious coin. With a full X7 group going for around $789 including Avid Elixir brakes, it is definitely a setup worth considering if you are looking to move up to 2x10 on a budget. -J. Carr
MSRP: $789 w/ Elixir Brakes
|Matching Elixir R Brakes keep X7 a full group rather than just a drivetrain option.||Updated Elixirs also offer trickled down technology from higher end components like Taperbore technology. Making them a great choice for a first step to disc brakes.||Sram also introduced an X7 hub to keep OE speced bikes consistent throughout. Bryan Bos product manager for X7 explains "We wanted to keep X7 a family rather than just random parts."|