Wireless For All? Our Review Of SRAM’s GX Eagle AXS Upgrade Kit
Affordable wireless SRAM AXS?!! Well, not completely, but the first step towards SRAM’s trickle-down of AXS technology is here with the GX AXS upgrade kit.
While understandably more expensive than the standard GX mechanical drivetrain, SRAM’s GX AXS line adds more affordability and positions AXS within a very tempting reach if you’re looking to upgrade or replace your worn-out mechanical drivetrain.
Even if you already have XX1 or X01 level mechanical shifting, this new GX AXS upgrade kit is a worthy upgrade to consider.
Much like the X01 AXS, the GX AXS has the same crisp and accurate shifting that has proven to be head and shoulders above traditional cable shifters.
Let’s dive into why we think the GX AXS upgrade kit is a worthy step up!
What You’ll Get In The GX AXS Upgrade Kit
The upgrade kit includes the rear derailleur, controller, battery, charger, and chain-gap tool.
The GX AXS upgrade kit aims to make it easy for riders to swap their current mechanical Eagle drivetrain to wireless without buying an entire group. And boy, does it make it easy!
You can keep your same cassette, chain, and chainring / crank from your current Eagle drivetrain if needed. Just ditch the cable and housing, mechanical derailleur, and shifter!
SRAM GX AXS makes it easy to install, pair up the wireless derailleur and controller, and hit the trail! It’s actually easier than setting up a cable derailleur and shifter.
The SRAM GX AXS upgrade kit is the best way to turn any Eagle drivetrain into a super-fast, precise wireless electronic drivetrain.
And at $600, it’s the most affordable wireless electronic drivetrain system out there.
SRAM’s Wireless GX Derailleur
In addition to the upgrade kit, the new SRAM GX Eagle AXS derailleur is available separately.
Weighing in at 462g, it’s only 10g heavier than the GX mechanical derailleur, which is quite impressive considering the motor and Overload Clutch is in there.
The compact battery mounts to the back of the derailleur and offers around 20 hours of shred time before needing a recharge. And charging this small battery is a cinch, only needing around an hour of charging via a standard USB to be shred-ready again.
Speaking of the battery, the new GX AXS derailleur features a new protective cover over the battery to further protect it from rocks and debris… And so far, this cover is only available on GX!
Pretty cool to have the latest nifty improvement only available on the most affordable option.
The battery and electronics are fully waterproof and dustproof, so they can survive power washing and continue performing, no matter the riding conditions.
In fact, SRAM designed AXS to meet the IP69K international standard. Simply put, the IP69K standard validates systems that require regular pressurized cleaning. For a mountain biker, it means no fuss when it comes to bad weather or cleaning your bike!
And just like XX1 and X01 AXS derailleurs, the GX AXS derailleur features the all-important Overload Clutch. We went into this amazing feature in our previous article reviewing the entire AXS lineup. But essentially, the Overload Clutch is like life insurance for your expensive derailleur.
It allows the GX derailleur to move inwards in the event of an impact, like when hitting the ground, a rock, or a tree. Shortly afterwards, the electric motor sets the rear derailleur precisely back to where it was. Ready to keep the shred alive without skipping a beat!
The GX AXS Controller & Optional Upgrade Paddle
Once again, remember that when it comes to SRAM AXS - “controller” = “shifter!”
When AXS first came out, the controller was a big curved paddle. The curve at the top and bottom of the paddle formed the points to push when making shifts.
It’s simple and easy, but on the other hand, bulky and the ergonomics are not as intuitive if you’ve spent a lifetime on traditional trigger shifters.
With SRAM being quick to adapt to market feedback, they quickly came out with the AXS Rocker Paddle, which gives similar ergonomics to traditional shifters. It’s available for purchase separately, and now comes stock with AXS XX1 and X01.
However, to trim some costs in delivering the more affordable GX AXS line, the original curved paddle controller is included in the GX AXS upgrade kit.
In our opinion, this isn’t really a deal breaker.
Shifting is still simple and precise, and over time will feel like second nature. On top of this, the AXS Rocker Paddle can always be purchased at a later time, for only $20 and is super easy to install.
To further compare the GX AXS controller to the mechanical GX shifter, the AXS controller is a surprising 45 grams lighter! Add the additional weight saved by removing the cable and housing, it ends up being a comparable weight savings as a carbon handlebar to an alloy handlebar!
Regarding the controller battery, there’s a button cell battery which is claimed to last about 2 years. Similar to a watch battery, it’s easy to get and replace. We’ve never had to replace the controller battery on our bikes and feel good about the 2 year claim.
Lastly, the controller functions can be fully customized in the AXS App, offering a range of options that add to your ride experience. Assignments like holding down the shift button for an extra second can be programmed to equal exactly 3 shifts at once. Might not seem like a big deal on paper, but it’s really cool when you get the hang of it!
Get The Full Build with SRAM’s GX Eagle components
Luckily, all of SRAM’s Eagle 12 speed line-ups are cross compatible.
Knowing all the compatibility issues in the bike industry already, this is a huge relief!
This means that you can use the standard Eagle chains, cassettes, cranks, and chainrings. You can use a GX AXS derailleur with a X01 AXS controller if you want.
One of our favorite builds to get the best weight to cost to performance ratio is going with the GX AXS upgrade kit, standard GX Eagle crankset, standard Eagle GX chain, and X01 level cassette.
Compared to the other drivetrain parts, the X01 cassette gives you the most weight savings given the price upgrade. For comparison, the GX cassette is 451 grams at $219, while the X01 cassette is 353 grams at $393.
This would be our favorite all around build for trail and enduro bikes, considering the all important cost to performance to weight mix!
Why Choose GX Over Other SRAM AXS Models?
Similar to SRAM’s mechanical drivetrain, GX AXS uses less expensive materials to reduce costs compared to higher end XX1 and X01 offerings.
The best example is in the rear derailleur, where the GX derailleur uses a steel cage and steel hardware while the top shelf XX1 derailleur uses a carbon cage and titanium hardware.
In addition to those materials, the look and finish is more refined with XX1 and X01, such as flashy gold and trend setting oil slick colorways.
All of this adds to the GX AXS derailleur being slightly heavier, at 100-128 grams more. This is about a quarter of a pound, and depending on your preferences, this may or may not be significant.
Every place that you can save 100 grams, eventually adds up and is the difference to having a lightweight bike.
But, in the grand scheme of things, having the lightest bike doesn’t always equate to more fun or faster times. As trail riders here in Sedona Arizona, where the terrain demands heavier tires and wheels anyways, the extra 100 grams with GX AXS is really no big deal. It would be hard to feel that difference given our technical terrain.
As mentioned above, we’d go with a little mix of Eagle parts to get that ideal cost to performance to weight ratio!
AXS For All!
The SRAM GX AXS upgrade kit is the closest wireless electronic drivetrain for the masses. While $600 may be a stretch to say it’s truly for all, it is a comparable amount to spend on many other mountain bike upgrades.
If your drivetrain is needing to be replaced soon, we’d strongly recommend you consider the GX AXS upgrade kit.
Considering all the technology going on here, it’s an insanely good performance upgrade for the price. The shifting performance is well above mechanical shifting and is on par with SRAM’s top end XX1 and X01. It’s easy to set up, easy to make future adjustments, and proven reliability.
The super clean look and cross compatibility with all existing Eagle components is a huge win.
It’s only a matter of time till AXS trickle’s even further down in affordability, but as of now the technology and future is here, and we can confidently vouch for GX AXS!