SRAM X01 AXS: In The Middle, But Not Midrange

SRAM X01 AXS: In The Middle, But Not Midrange

When it comes to high-end sweet spots, the SRAM X01 AXS group is the ultimate sweet spot.

Positioned a spot down from the top-tier XX1 and above the value-oriented GX, it's right in the middle. Even though it's in the middle, it's not exactly the middle.

We'd say it's very close to XX1, ticking very close to the highest end in terms of weight and performance, yet is a bit lower in price AND built with more durability.

When all the top-tier drivetrain options are expensive, no matter how you slice it, the SRAM X01 AXS really is the sweet spot.

Hopefully, you've read our previous AXS article about the details of these amazing wireless electronic drivetrains. Let's take a closer look at the excellent X01 AXS groupset and why you should consider landing in the sweet spot. 

Unboxing The X01 AXS Upgrade Kit

sram x01 upgrade kit unboxing

If your bike is already running a SRAM eagle drivetrain, the X01 Eagle AXS Upgrade Kit enables you to do just that - simply upgrade to wireless electronic shifting without needing to buy an entire AXS groupset. 

The kit includes the X01 Eagle AXS derailleur, AXS controller with rocker paddle, AXS battery, and charger.

These components are all you need to hit that AXS sweet spot and give you the choice to keep using your existing cranks, Eagle cassette, and chain.

Speaking of choices, this X01 AXS upgrade kit goes for $800, while the GX AXS upgrade kit goes for $600.

Besides a little lighter weight and a little nicer finish, what makes the X01 worth the extra $200? 

What's Different With The X01 Derailleur?

Ah yes, this is where that invisible magic lies - in the X01 AXS derailleur.

sram x01 eagle axs derailleur

For true performance, this is where that extra $200 is really going.

You're probably thinking this is all about weight, right?

Well, it's not in there, as there is only 63 grams difference between the X01 and GX AXS derailleurs.

In our opinion, the magic lies in the stainless steel hardware and full alloy cages. Using this hardware creates tighter tolerances and less flex in all derailleur's moving parts.

GX and X01 AXS will feel very similar with a brand new kit. But over time, these tighter tolerances and stiffer materials allow the X01 derailleur to keep its snappy shifting for a longer time than GX.

That's not to say GX will turn into flexy garbage over time, it's actually very good over the long term, but X01 will just retain that like-new, crispy shifting.

For the discerning rider or racer, this is worth the price to play. And considering the durability of stainless steel, X01 is the ideal choice for enduro level racers and serious trail riders. 

Outside of the stainless steel hardware, the X01 AXS derailleur is loaded with the same features that make all of the AXS derailleurs so great. These features include the overload clutch, the tiny yet powerful motor, the long-lasting battery, stable wireless transmission, and the same AXS app.

As we discussed in our overview of the entire AXS lineup, the overload clutch is simply outstanding! Its ability to allow the derailleur to take a smacking, absorb the impact by disengaging the motor, then automatically resetting itself and shifts back to where it was, without skipping a beat...

That alone is extra insurance that traditional derailleurs don't have.   

The Power To Do More With Less

While we rely on batteries for most of our daily chores, it still seems concerning to rely on batteries for mountain biking. But so far, SRAM has been accurate with their claim of 25+ hour battery life on a single charge.

This is more than enough for all-day epics packed with rowdy downs, steep-ups, and hundreds of shifts.

When you do need to charge the battery, removing it from the derailleur is easy, just pop it off the back of the derailleur. A full charge can be achieved in about an hour via USB cable.

Even the battery housing is well thought out, having an impact and weather-resistant casing to keep it protected from all the elements.

On the other end, the controller runs on a single watch battery and claims to have over a year of life from this tiny battery.

Checking the battery life is conveniently done from the AXS app on your phone. 

While going wireless may seem complex, the reality is that you're getting more power with less.

Going wireless removes the hassle of routing cables and housing through the frame, and you'll never have to worry about cable stretch or wear. This means crisp, responsive, consistent shifting that rarely needs any adjustments.

You'll also enjoy a much cleaner look having ditched that shift cable.

Remember all that hassle bike companies went through a few years ago to achieve internally routed cables?

If only AXS could have been out sooner! 

Take Advantage Of The Full X01 AXS Groupset

Need the whole package? SRAM has you covered if you're looking for that fresh start and full X01 AXS groupset.

This goes beyond the upgrade kit mentioned above and includes the X01 Eagle carbon cranks, X01 Eagle cassette, and chain.

sram x01 eagle carbon crankset

While going carbon in the crank arms may be a move to help reduce weight, don't let that deter you from aggressive riding. The X01 carbon cranks are designed for trail and enduro riders, with ratings to exceed the extra abuse they will eventually take.

This is done with unique carbon layups and bridges inside the crank arms to increase strength and rigidity. And to protect the finish and carbon from pedal strikes, SRAM includes crank boots to cover the bottom of the crank arms.

sram x01 cassette

The X01 Eagle cassette has recently been expanded to a 10-52 tooth range, giving an unprecedented 520% gear range.

Pair this with the weight savings, and you'll be sure to make quick work of steep climbs! The X01 cassette is also machined from a single piece of steel, whereas most cassettes are individual steel rings pinned together.

Being one piece allows for less material, lighter weight, and increased stiffness in the material.

SRAM X01 12-speed chain

Lastly, the X01 chain deserves some credit here as well. It might look normal from the outside, but the engineering inside this chain is incredible - with hollow pins and an extra smooth radius with no sharp edges to help reduce noise, friction, and wear on chainrings.

Yes, this truly is the total package! 

When To Go With The XX1

With the overall high price yet small difference between SRAM's XX1 and XO1 AXS groups, you're probably wondering what's the big difference?

While the performance is really the same, the difference is really in the weight. Because of this, we put XX1 strictly for the cross country racer or enthusiast who wants the lightest build.

sram x01 vs xx1 cranksets

SRAM's X01 AXS group is built to be much more robust, holding up to more demanding terrain and adverse conditions. All of this adds up to a few extra grams for X01. Pretty impressive in our book!

These grams are primarily a result of the AXS derailleur materials, where X01 uses stainless steel and XX1 uses carbon bits.

This blend of performance and durability brings us back to our opening statement, X01 is the sweet spot! 

Our Top X01 AXS Pros and Cons

    thumbs up for pros of sram axs upgrade

    thumbs down for cons of sram axs upgrade

    thumbs up for pros of sram axs upgrade


    • Best weight to durability ratio
    • Crisp shifting over the long term
    • No compromises
    • Proven AXS wireless precision

    thumbs down for cons of sram axs upgrade


    • High price over mechanical X01
    • Keeping the battery charged is an extra step
    • More reliance on electronics