SRAM MTB Groupset Hierarchy (Eagle): Ultimate Guide

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reviewed by Rory McAllister
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SRAM mountain bike groupset components are consistently ranked among the best of the best ever since they shrugged off tradition and redesigned drivetrains.

SRAM is trusted by everyone from Tour de France champions to everyday commuters to mountain biking pros – and for good reason.

They now dominate a large share of the market for MTB and gravel groupset components, offering a massive range of options at different price points and standards.

Their components have a reputation for their cost-effectiveness, performance, and innovation across the SRAM MTB groupset hierarchy, with a rich history of technology spanning across its drivetrains.

While components for older systems with 11 speeds or less are still available, as of 2023 SRAM has shifted most new bikes to the 12-speed “Eagle” system – so that’s the one we’ll be focusing on today.

That means you won’t find the likes of SRAM X5, X7, X9, or X0 on this list, as they aren’t offered with 12-speed Eagle variants.

To help you get to grips with the SRAM MTB groupset hierarchy, we’ll be walking you through each one.

If you’re interested in road bikes, check out our Ultimate SRAM Road Bike Groupset Guide here!

SRAM MTB Groupset Hierarchy: Title Image

What Components Make Up An MTB Groupset?

The groupset of the bike encompasses comprises every part of the bike involved in the drivetrain and braking systems, excluding the frameset, wheels, and contact points like the saddle, pedals, and handlebars.

For a road bike, a typical groupset includes:

  • Chainset (consisting of chainrings and crank arms)
  • Bottom Bracket
  • Brake Levers and Gear Shifter Levers
  • Front and Rear Derailleurs
  • Cassette
  • Chain
  • Brakes (rim brakes or disc brakes)

However, there are several notable distinctions between a typical road bike groupset and a mountain bike groupset.

These are:

1x Drivetrain Options

A 1x drivetrain pictured on a blue mountain bike.

A 1x drivetrain means you only have one gear at the front (the chainset), with a wide-range cassette to compensate.

When selecting a mountain bike groupset, you have the choice between 1x, 2x, or even 3x drivetrains. However, this choice is dwindling as most manufacturers are starting to prioritize 1x ranges.

This selection determines the number of chainrings on the front of your drivetrain. Consequently, a 1x chainset will have considerably fewer gears compared to a 2x or 3x drivetrain.

So, why would you opt for a 1x drivetrain?

The trade-off of having fewer gears is that the gap between each gear is larger. However, when riding off-road, your speed is likely to vary significantly, making the finely-tuned gearing provided by 2x or 3x drivetrains unnecessary.

Additionally, having only one chainring on the front allows for the removal of the front derailleur, reducing weight, simplifying cabling, and often repurposing the additional shifter for the front derailleur as a control for your dropper post.

1x drivetrains remain rare in road bike groupsets, although SRAM’s high-end road groupsets are beginning to feature them – as seen on several stages of Sepp Kuss‘ brilliant 2023 Vuelta a España win.

Brake Levers

A downhill mountain biker rides down a dirt path on a red bike.

In mountain bikes, the brake levers are arranged parallel to the flat handlebars, distinct from road bikes with drop handlebars where the levers are mounted on the brake hoods.

The shift levers on mountain bikes also exhibit variations.

They may be twist-levers, which involve twisting around the handlebar near the grips to change gears, or twin-lever triggers, where one lever is operated with your fingers and the other with your thumb.

The Clutch

The clutch is designed specifically for off-road biking.

Positioned below the rear derailleur, it allows the chain to pass through it. Its primary function is to minimize chain slap, ensuring that the chain avoids hitting the chainstays or encountering awkward movements during jumps or rough terrains.

This protective feature helps extend the chain’s durability and reduce the chance of chain drops.

Presently, clutches are commonly integrated into both MTB groupsets and specialized setups for gravel riding. As both disciplines frequently involve off-road cycling, the clutch proves advantageous.

A disassembled mountain bike groupset lies on a wooden floor.

SRAM’s MTB Groupset Hierarchy

Before we inspect the SRAM MTB groupset hierarchy, it’s useful to clarify a few of the specific terms that SRAM uses.

Eagle: When SRAM introduced their flagship 1 x 12 gearing system, they named it Eagle and applied it to all their 1 x 12-speed groupsets, so that’s an easy way to identify a 12-speed from SRAM.

AXS: The name of SRAM’s electronic, wireless shifting technology.

We’ll go through each tier of the SRAM MTB groupset hierarchy (Eagle variants only) in detail, but here’s an overview in order of most affordable to least affordable to give you a clear picture before we start:

  • SX Eagle (more affordable)
  • NX Eagle
  • GX Eagle
  • X01 Eagle
  • XX Eagle (flagship)

The GX, X01, and XX groupsets are also available with electronic AXS shifting.

#1: SRAM SX Eagle

SRAM SX Eagle Groupset: Manufacturer Image
Credit: SRAM
  • Gearing: 12-speed
  • Shifting: Mechanical Only
  • Weight: 2,328 g
  • Cassette Range: 11-50t
  • AXS Option: No

The SRAM SX Eagle groupset offers advanced technology from higher-end groupsets at a more affordable price.

Positioned as the entry-level option in the Eagle lineup, it shares key features, including a cassette sprockets as large as 50t. Often seen on complete bikes, SRAM SX Eagle is not commonly sold as individual components.

SRAM designed Eagle drivetrains to be complete systems, enabling component interchangeability across different groupsets.

The SX Eagle groupset is commonly found on lower-end bikes, providing an accessible 12-speed system with a wide range of gear ratios.

The SX Eagle cassette, compatible with Shimano-style freehub bodies, offers a gear range of 11-50 teeth to tackle various riding conditions.

#2: SRAM NX Eagle

SRAM NX Eagle Groupset: Manufacturer Image
Credit: SRAM
  • Gearing: 12-speed
  • Shifting: Mechanical Only
  • Weight: 2,049 g
  • Cassette Range: 11-50t
  • AXS Option: No

The NX Eagle is the next entry available in the SRAM MTB groupset hierarchy available as a 1×12 system.

While previously it had an 11-speed version, new mountain bikes no longer use it. Nonetheless, replacement parts for the SRAM NX 1×11-speed groupset are still obtainable.

The NX Eagle groupset’s cassette is compatible with HG bodies, allowing it to fit on 9, 10, or 11-speed Shimano HG bodies.

The SRAM NX Eagle groupset is primarily used on lower-segment mountain bikes.

#3: SRAM GX Eagle

SRAM GX Eagle Groupset: Manufacturer Image
Credit: SRAM
  • Gearing: 12-speed
  • Shifting: Mechanical or electronic
  • Weight: 1,754 g
  • Cassette Range: 10-52t
  • AXS Option: Yes

The SRAM GX groupset is now available as 1×12, but in the past, there were also 1×11 and 2×11 GX options.

Although you can still purchase individual parts for the older versions, the 11-speed GX groupset is no longer offered as a complete package.

However, the GX Eagle (12-speed) is available as a complete groupset, individual components, or as an upgrade kit.

The GX Eagle is the most affordable tier of the SRAM MTB groupset hierarchy to employ the innovative SRAM XD freehub body, enabling it to offer cassette sprockets with fewer than the 11 teeth long considered the standard minimum, extending the gear range further.

The GX Eagle groupset utilizes a 10-52 cassette range as standard, providing a wide range of 520%.

While the shifting response under load may be slightly slower compared to higher-end groupsets, the GX Eagle offers excellent value for money.

This makes it a popular choice among both enthusiasts and recreational riders.


An additional notable benefit of the GX Eagle groupset is its compatibility with AXS.

AXS is SRAM’s wireless, app-driven integration system for groupsets, offering riders the ability to customize their riding experience and component system.

GX Eagle AXS is a prime example of high-end technology becoming more attainable at accessible price levels. The technology is well-aligned with top-tier systems.

Moreover, SRAM offers an upgrade kit featuring a rear derailleur, battery, controller with clamp, charger, and chain gap tool.

The GX Eagle is the most budget-friendly groupset that supports AXS, enabling riders to eliminate cables from their bikes, leading to weight savings and sharper, more dependable shifting.

#4: SRAM X01 Eagle

SRAM X01 Eagle Groupset: Manufacturer Image
Credit: SRAM
  • Gearing: 12-speed
  • Shifting: Mechanical or electronic
  • Weight: 1,502 g
  • Cassette Range: 10-52t
  • AXS Option: Yes

Moving up the hierarchy, we encounter SRAM’s premium groupsets. The X01 Eagle groupset shares all the same attributes as the GX Eagle, but comes in a lighter and more robust design.

The materials utilized in the X01 Eagle groupset are slightly heavier and less durable compared to the top-of-the-line XX1 groupset.

While not the lightest, the X01 Eagle boasts exceptional strength, with its X-Sync 2 chainring and a short aluminum derailleur cage providing 10 mm of extra ground clearance, it is particularly adept for trail and enduro riding.

SRAM X01 Eagle AXS

Additionally, it is fully compatible with SRAM’s AXS electronic shifting system, allowing riders to achieve weight savings by eliminating cables.

#5: SRAM XX Eagle

SRAM XX Eagle Groupset: Manufacturer Image
Credit: SRAM
  • Gearing: 12-speed
  • Shifting: Mechanical or electronic
  • Weight: 1,502 g
  • Cassette Range: 10-52t
  • AXS Option: Yes

If you prioritize having the lightest possible groupset, then the SRAM XX1 Eagle is the perfect choice.

The XX1 Eagle groupset takes all the splendor of the Eagle lineup and sheds further grams. It is considered the flagship professional-standard SRAM MTB groupset, particularly in its AXS variant.

Crafted mainly from carbon and premium-quality aluminum, this groupset weighs 32 g less than the X01 Eagle.

Although the XX1 group sacrifices a bit on durability compared to the X01, it compensates with a lighter and faster shifting experience.

While the X01 is designed for trail and enduro riding, the XX1 is tailored specifically for cross-country disciplines.

Equipped with a SRAM XD freehub body, the XX1 groupset offers a cassette range of 520%. To suit your style, you can choose from a rainbow-colored, gold, or copper finish.


Just like other Eagle models, the X11 is fully compatible with the AXS system, allowing riders to enjoy the convenience of a wireless and personalized setup.

The SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS is the pinnacle of SRAM’s MTB groups. This groupset features SRAM’s lightest components and incorporates wireless shifting technology.

Weighing only 1415 g, the XX1 Eagle AXS boasts exceptional quality and lightweight design. Shifting is seamless and less prone to wear, ensuring a dream-like experience on the trails.

Close-up of the cassette of a mountain bike groupset on a black bike.

Now You Know The SRAM MTB Groupset Hierarchy…

Choosing the right groupset depends on your riding style, budget, and preferences.

For budget-conscious riders, the GX Eagle provides excellent performance at a reasonable price. If you prioritize lightweight and aggressive riding and have a budget to blow, the X01 or XX1 Eagle might be more suitable.

The GX Eagle AXS offers wireless technology at a more accessible price point, making it an attractive option for those seeking advanced features.

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As a qualified sports massage therapist and personal trainer with eight years' experience in the field, Ben plays a leading role in BikeTips' injury and recovery content. Alongside his professional experience, Ben is an avid cyclist, splitting his time between his road and mountain bike. He is a particular fan of XC ultra-endurance biking, but nothing beats bikepacking with his mates. Ben has toured extensively throughout the United Kingdom, French Alps, and the Pyrenees ticking off as many iconic cycling mountains as he can find. He currently lives in the Picos de Europa of Spain's Asturias region, a stone's throw from the legendary Altu de 'Angliru - a spot that allows him to watch the Vuelta a España roll past his doorstep each summer.

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