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First ride: SRAM X0 family

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SRAM's iconic X.0 rear derailleur receives a major update with 10-speed Exact Actuation geometry, improved pivot and hardware durability, and an updated look.

SRAM's iconic X.0 rear derailleur receives a major update with 10-speed Exact Actuation geometry, improved pivot and hardware durability, and an updated look.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The steel pin construction of the upcoming XG-1080 cassette leaves gobs of room for drivetrain-clogging mud to pass through.

The steel pin construction of the upcoming XG-1080 cassette leaves gobs of room for drivetrain-clogging mud to pass through.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Like on XX's X-Dome cassette, the upcoming XG-1080 PinDome cassette uses an aluminum innermost cog to transfer load to the freehub body.

Like on XX's X-Dome cassette, the upcoming XG-1080 PinDome cassette uses an aluminum innermost cog to transfer load to the freehub body.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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SRAM's trick X-Glide front shift technology includes over a dozen points where the chain can mesh perfectly between both chainrings for far smoother upshifts and downshifts than what most of us are used to.

SRAM's trick X-Glide front shift technology includes over a dozen points where the chain can mesh perfectly between both chainrings for far smoother upshifts and downshifts than what most of us are used to.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The previous X.0 shifter's extruded aluminum pull lever is now a forged bit, making it stronger and less brittle, plus the edges are slightly softened to make it easier on your knees in the event of contact.

The previous X.0 shifter's extruded aluminum pull lever is now a forged bit, making it stronger and less brittle, plus the edges are slightly softened to make it easier on your knees in the event of contact.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Last year's carbon fiber clamshell cap has been replaced with a lighter and tighter-fitting aluminum version that is better at sealing out contaminants and less prone to binding if overtightened.

Last year's carbon fiber clamshell cap has been replaced with a lighter and tighter-fitting aluminum version that is better at sealing out contaminants and less prone to binding if overtightened.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The X.0 trigger shifter retains the previous generation's sleek shape, plus the adjustable pull lever for a customized feel.

The X.0 trigger shifter retains the previous generation's sleek shape, plus the adjustable pull lever for a customized feel.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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SRAM aims its new X.0 at riders seeking XX levels of performance but without the XX price tag. Though slightly heavier, X.0 nonetheless offers nearly identical functionality but actually even better suited for harder-hitting applications than XX.

SRAM aims its new X.0 at riders seeking XX levels of performance but without the XX price tag. Though slightly heavier, X.0 nonetheless offers nearly identical functionality but actually even better suited for harder-hitting applications than XX.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Gone on the new X.0 rear derailleur are the dual pin clips, which were sometimes susceptible to crash damage. Pins are now only used on the more protected upper ends while the other side is solid aluminum.

Gone on the new X.0 rear derailleur are the dual pin clips, which were sometimes susceptible to crash damage. Pins are now only used on the more protected upper ends while the other side is solid aluminum.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Coming later this year is the remarkably clever XG-1080 PinDome cassette, which uses high-strength steel pins to join the outer edges of each cog together. The resultant structure approaches XX weight-wise but is expected to run quieter and be even more resistant to mud.

Coming later this year is the remarkably clever XG-1080 PinDome cassette, which uses high-strength steel pins to join the outer edges of each cog together. The resultant structure approaches XX weight-wise but is expected to run quieter and be even more resistant to mud.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Cog bending will be virtually impossible on the new XG-1080 cassette as each cog is supported around its entire circumference with steel pins.

Cog bending will be virtually impossible on the new XG-1080 cassette as each cog is supported around its entire circumference with steel pins.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Truvativ's bottom bracket range has grown significantly with fitments for nearly every current standard.

Truvativ's bottom bracket range has grown significantly with fitments for nearly every current standard.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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X.9 crankarms feature SRAM's latest hollow-forged aluminum technology with more refined internal cavity dimensions and more consistent wall thicknesses.

X.9 crankarms feature SRAM's latest hollow-forged aluminum technology with more refined internal cavity dimensions and more consistent wall thicknesses.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Truvativ has incorporated a new 'Gutter' seal design into nearly all of its bottom bracket designs. According to SRAM's Bryan Bos, seal drag has dropped, water resistance has dramatically improved and bearing durability has increased by twofold.

Truvativ has incorporated a new 'Gutter' seal design into nearly all of its bottom bracket designs. According to SRAM's Bryan Bos, seal drag has dropped, water resistance has dramatically improved and bearing durability has increased by twofold.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The new X.0 cranks do away with full-length aluminum spines in favor of a hollow foam core construction.

The new X.0 cranks do away with full-length aluminum spines in favor of a hollow foam core construction.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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SRAM says its cranks are specifically designed to yield at the spindle instead of the crankarm when overloaded to prevent catastrophic failure.

SRAM says its cranks are specifically designed to yield at the spindle instead of the crankarm when overloaded to prevent catastrophic failure.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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BB30 cranks still eventually fail at the spindle when overloaded but in a slightly different fashion than the GXP versions.

BB30 cranks still eventually fail at the spindle when overloaded but in a slightly different fashion than the GXP versions.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Avid will add a top-level XX World Cup disc brake to the line later this year, which omits the adjustable pad contact feature in order to save weight.

Avid will add a top-level XX World Cup disc brake to the line later this year, which omits the adjustable pad contact feature in order to save weight.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The matching Avid XX World Cup caliper is identical to the current XX brake save for a different finish. Avid says BlackBox racers will be on the new brake in time for the world championships later this fall.

The matching Avid XX World Cup caliper is identical to the current XX brake save for a different finish. Avid says BlackBox racers will be on the new brake in time for the world championships later this fall.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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While XX front derailleurs are dedicated top- or bottom-pull to save weight, X.0 front derailleurs are all dual-pull for convenience.

While XX front derailleurs are dedicated top- or bottom-pull to save weight, X.0 front derailleurs are all dual-pull for convenience.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The new X.0 'family' finally includes a correspondingly high-end front derailleur, which is a close cousin to XX in design and features - not to mention much lighter and sleeker looking than older offerings.

The new X.0 'family' finally includes a correspondingly high-end front derailleur, which is a close cousin to XX in design and features - not to mention much lighter and sleeker looking than older offerings.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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(Image credit: James Huang)
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(Image credit: James Huang)
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(Image credit: James Huang)
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Power Bulge lowers reinforce the lower bushing area to reduce flex.

Power Bulge lowers reinforce the lower bushing area to reduce flex.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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RockShox's new Revelation XX World Cup fork includes 15mm thru-axle dropouts with a Maxle Lite skewer.

RockShox's new Revelation XX World Cup fork includes 15mm thru-axle dropouts with a Maxle Lite skewer.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Goodbye zip-ties! The new Revelation lower leg casting includes an integrated hose clamp.

Goodbye zip-ties! The new Revelation lower leg casting includes an integrated hose clamp.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Our fork of choice for the Ashland Super D was RockShox's new Revelation XX World Cup with 140mm of travel.

Our fork of choice for the Ashland Super D was RockShox's new Revelation XX World Cup with 140mm of travel.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The RockShox Revelation XX World Cup's one-piece tapered carbon fiber steerer and crown includes an aluminum spacer to provide a square surface for the crown race.

The RockShox Revelation XX World Cup's one-piece tapered carbon fiber steerer and crown includes an aluminum spacer to provide a square surface for the crown race.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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(Image credit: James Huang)
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(Image credit: James Huang)
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SRAM kicked off the crankarm graphics trend with its Red road group and continues to extend it with X.0.

SRAM kicked off the crankarm graphics trend with its Red road group and continues to extend it with X.0.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The new X.0 crank is built with carbon fiber arms and a separate, bolted-on alloy spider. According to SRAM, the two-piece driveside arm is lighter and stronger than an equivalent one-piece molded part. In fact, sponsored downhill riders will be using this later this year.

The new X.0 crank is built with carbon fiber arms and a separate, bolted-on alloy spider. According to SRAM, the two-piece driveside arm is lighter and stronger than an equivalent one-piece molded part. In fact, sponsored downhill riders will be using this later this year.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Controls integrate neatly into a single clamp through SRAM's latest Matchmaker X system.

Controls integrate neatly into a single clamp through SRAM's latest Matchmaker X system.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Our PG-1070 cassette has its biggest four cogs mounted on an alloy spider.

Our PG-1070 cassette has its biggest four cogs mounted on an alloy spider.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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We ran a semi-spidered SRAM PG-1070 cassette during our initial rides and found it to be quiet running and smooth shifting. But a far more trick XG-1080 cassette is coming later this year with XX-like features.

We ran a semi-spidered SRAM PG-1070 cassette during our initial rides and found it to be quiet running and smooth shifting. But a far more trick XG-1080 cassette is coming later this year with XX-like features.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The Avid X.0 caliper is based on last year's Elixir CR Mag. Forged aluminum now replaces magnesium yet the new brake still weighs an identical 333g and is supposedly more reliable.

The Avid X.0 caliper is based on last year's Elixir CR Mag. Forged aluminum now replaces magnesium yet the new brake still weighs an identical 333g and is supposedly more reliable.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The new 10-speed packages will use the same chains as on SRAM's road groups.

The new 10-speed packages will use the same chains as on SRAM's road groups.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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SRAM has integrated its trick X-Glide front shift technology into the new 10-speed compatible three-ring cranksets (which use 22/33/44T chainrings). We didn't get a chance to ride them in Ashland but if it's even remotely similar to the company's two-ring shift performance, we expect the three-ring version to be a noticeably step up from current conventional cranksets.

SRAM has integrated its trick X-Glide front shift technology into the new 10-speed compatible three-ring cranksets (which use 22/33/44T chainrings). We didn't get a chance to ride them in Ashland but if it's even remotely similar to the company's two-ring shift performance, we expect the three-ring version to be a noticeably step up from current conventional cranksets.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Truvativ has also developed a press-fit bottom bracket for Specialized's integrated shell to fit GXP cranksets.

Truvativ has also developed a press-fit bottom bracket for Specialized's integrated shell to fit GXP cranksets.
(Image credit: James Huang)

A few hours of riding often isn't enough to get a solid first impression of a bike part, let alone an entire component group. But in the case of SRAM's new X0 10-speed 'family', those few hours comprised 700m (2,300') of climbing and a whopping 6,100m (20,000') of descending on the awesomely fast, technical and demanding trails centering around the Super D course in Ashland, Oregon – and even racing the event for ourselves.

More time will yield more information on X0's long-term durability but after our unusually condensed test session, we're comfortable declaring X0 as a harder hitting version of SRAM's flagship XX group, offering nearly identical levels of performance but in with more tactile feedback, just a bit more weight, and much lower replacement part costs when the inevitable happens.

Shifting – ten speeds but the same familiar X0 feel

Aside from the extra rear cog, current X0 trigger users should find the new ten-speed pods to feel just like home in spite of changes to the cable pull ratios and heavily revised rear derailleur geometry.

As compared to the lighter-feeling XX, X0's trigger shifters boast higher lever efforts and stronger and more tactile clicks consistent with the current generation. Especially in technically demanding areas with lots of drops and jumps or high-speed situations with lots of vibration – say, for example, braking bumps at the Ashland Super D where our top speed was nearly 65km/h (40mph) – the higher efforts provide more reassuring feedback but without feeling too heavy.

Chain management in rough terrain is also better than on XX, too, with what feels like a stiffer cage return spring.

Rear shift quality itself is little changed from 9-speed X0 with precise and reliable chain movement from cog to cog. The tighter 10-speed spacing does require a slightly finer adjustment, though, so cable tension adjustments are a tad more finicky than before.

Front shift performance on our 2x10 configuration is a massive improvement over previous SRAM drivetrains and now wholly in-line with XX with the same X-Glide tooth alignment technology and heavily shaped and ramped surfaces. Chain movement from ring to ring – even under power – is uncannily smooth and direct and even noticeably better than SRAM's road groups.

Aiding matters on our particular test bike was the two-ring setup and dedicated front derailleur – which we should mention is far more svelte and lighter than previous non-XX off-road versions. Both the derailleur cage and thick, machined chainrings are notably stiff, making for fast and forceful shifts – though admittedly, we didn't have to shift up front as often as usual on account of the versatile 36T cog on the rear cassette.

Braking – plenty of power and modulation plus top-notch ergonomics from a familiar package

The Avid X0 hydraulic disc brakes are close cousins to last year's Elixir CR Mag units but with all aluminum forgings instead of the predecessor's magnesium pieces. Still, Avid product manager Paul Kantor says the system weight remains unchanged at 333g (front, post mount, 160mm rotor) as is performance with excellent power and control to go along with the superbly adjustable ergonomics and lever geometry.

Minor tweaks include a detented pad adjustment to prevent setting migration and a new easier-to-replace main pivot that doesn't require any major lever disassembly to replace one that's worn out. Kantor says that part tolerances have been tightened up, too, which should yield better long-term reliability and more consistent factory bleeds.

Drivetrain – new crankset configurations and cassettes

The new Truvativ X0 crank features carbon fiber arms with separate bolt-on alloy spiders instead of a one-piece construction as with XX. According to SRAM's Chris Hilton, the two-piece configuration makes for a lighter, stronger and less expensive end product than what would normally be allowed with an all-carbon bit at this price point.

In contrast to previous SRAM carbon crankarms – even XX – the new X0 arms use no full-length aluminum spine. Instead, the company's new 'Threshold' technology utilizes an internal non-structural foam core and separate aluminum lugs at the bottom bracket and pedal ends that are all co-molded together. Despite the multi-piece arm construction, Hilton says that in-house mechanical testing shows yield failure in the spindle, not the arm – meaning that if and when the system is overloaded (say, during an exceptionally bad landing) the bottom bracket spindle with bend or twist but the arms will remain intact.

As evidence of the durability, he says sponsored downhill riders will actually be racing on X0 carbon arms later this year. In addition, the bolt-on spiders will allow for some interchangeability with drivetrain configurations. SRAM is still debating whether or not to offer the spiders on their own to consumers but it remains a possibility along with a dedicated single-speed option. Either way, consumer versions will all be offered in a single 166mm Q measurement instead of XX's additional narrower 156mm option.

X0 will have more available gearing options, though, with both the same 26/39T and 28/42T sizes as XX but also a three-ring setup, a smaller 24/36T range specifically aimed at 29ers, and even possibly a dedicated single-speed spider further down the road. Three-ring cranks will feature the same X-Glide technology as the two-ring ones, too, with unique 22/33/44T sizes in keeping with the system's required fixed-integer ratios across the spread. If it's even remotely close to the performance of the two-ring setups, we expect the three-ring shifts to be simply superb.

Bottom brackets now incorporate Truvativ's new Gutter sealing system almost across the board, which supposedly is far more adept at dealing with water than before. Stock non-ceramic bottom brackets are noticeably freer spinning than before straight out of the box on account of the lower-friction materials, reduced swept areas, and slightly more loosely pressed-in bearings (they're now secured in the cups with snap rings).

Truvativ will offer bottom brackets in a multitude of fitments, too, including standard GXP, PressFit GXP and PressFit 30, dedicated adapter cups for Specialized frames, Trek's BB95 drop-in system and standard BB30.

While we did plenty of wet riding in Ashland, it still wasn't quite enough to see how well the system will hold up over time. Stay tuned for more once we finish a more rigorous long-term test later this summer.

What we did notice, however, was the quiet running of the drivetrain what with the more heavily chamfered PC-1091 chain and rounded tooth edges of the PG-1070 cassette's stamped steel cogs. PG-1070 is actually intended for the X.9 family but the appropriate XG-1080 cassettes weren't quite ready in time.

We can't wait until they are, though, as they should deliver nearly the same benefits as XX but at a much lower price point – just US$200 as compared to about US$350. XG-1080 is essentially still a hollow dome in form but instead of being machined from a single hunk of chromoly, each individual stamped steel cog is press-fit to its neighbors around its entire circumference with a number of high-strength steel pins (dubbed 'PinDome' for now). As before, the innermost cog is a thick aluminum plate that also transfers load to the freehub body.

The end product is thus nearly as light as XX but cheaper to manufacture, quieter running on account of the stamped cog's more rounded edges, and yet with even better mud pass-through than XX. Assuming it comes through as promised this August, we expect it to be the go-to replacement even for XX owners who put in a lot of hours and don't want to spend quite as much on the expendables.

X0 = XX for the rest of us

We'll continue to test the new X0 family over the coming months but initial impressions are highly favorable. Though not quite as light as XX, it's far more versatile with expected appeal across nearly every off-road category as with the current X0 components. Adding to that broad reach are the multiple drivetrain configuration options, three available cage lengths for the iconic rear derailleur, countless front derailleur fitments, rotor sizes from 160-203mm, and even four available color schemes and there's virtually an X0 setup for nearly any mountain bike configuration.

Cross-country and trail riders who still demand – and can afford – SRAM's absolute lightest will still want to stick with XX but for the rest of us with more realistic incomes, X0 is clearly the way to go.

We're still waiting on official pricing from SRAM and will update this article once we receive it but official weights are as follows:

SRAM X0 10-speed rear derailleur:190g (short cage)
SRAM X0 10-speed front derailleur:130g (2x10)
SRAM X0 10-speed trigger shifters:232g/pair (2x10)
Truvativ X0 10-speed crank:788g (42/28T, GXP) 739g (42/28T, BB30) 782g (22/33/44T, GXP) 728g (22/33/44T, BB30)
Truvativ GXP Team bottom bracket:107g
Avid X0 brakes:333g (front, post mount, 160mm)
SRAM XG-1080 cassette:260g (11-36T)
SRAM PC 1090 chain:257g (114 links)