Review: SRAM NX Eagle

NX Eagle drivetrain is SRAM’s most affordable entry into the 12-speed Eagle ecosystem. We reviewed the system to see how much has trickled down from the higher priced editions and what you might be losing out on paying the lower sticker price.

SRAM Eagle NX-21.jpg

 

Since the announcement of NX Eagle, almost a year ago, we’ve seen the release of the ultra high-end electronic Eagle AXS systems. With these sort of components more often than not making the headlines, it's good to remind ourselves that SRAM is cognisant of the everyday rider and their budgets. That said, entering the world of 12-speed is still a fair investment but consider that the entire NX Eagle groupset costs less than an XX1 Eagle cassette on its own.

 

SRAM Eagle NX-3.jpg

SRAM Eagle NX-1.jpg
SRAM Eagle NX-11.jpg

 

In comparison to the early(ish) one-by systems I mucked about with in the past, the Eagle systems (including NX Eagle) are simply brilliant. I started off with a bodged together 1x9 configuration which, in hindsight, was pretty terrible. The progression to 10 speed and a clutch derailleur helped somewhat. I finally got the taste of 11-speed luxury with a SRAM NX upgrade kit and later I moved onto the GX version. At the time, I was fairly convinced that 11-speed covered my needs. But (as should be expected really) the new 12-speed Eagle platform quickly changed my mind, with the utility of the additional range quickly becoming apparent.

 

Diving into the differences


The NX Eagle groupset is largely similar to the more expensive Eagle groupsets. The big difference is the materials used in construction along with more efficient manufacturing techniques taking up less machine time. Where the more expensive Eagle components use carbon and aluminium, NX Eagle uses steel and plastic and bearings are replaced with bushing. This makes that NX Eagle heavier but the underpinning technology remains largely the same, with almost indistinguishable functioning out on the trail. The material difference with the NX Eagle groupset, however, is the cassette.

 

The Cassette


With the demise of the double, or even triple chainring, the cassette is the heart of the groupset. So it is important to note that the NX Eagle cassette (much like the NX 11-speed cassette) differs from the rest of the Eagle family in two ways: 1) the gear range and 2) the freehub body interface.

 

SRAM Eagle NX-16.jpg

 

The Eagle XX1, X01, and GX cassettes all have a a gear spread starting at 10 tooth up to the near dinner plate sized 50 tooth. The NX Eagle cassette has a larger 11 tooth cog while maintaining the large 50 tooth biggest cog. One tooth might not sound like much but the difference is a 454.5% range on the NX Eagle cassette versus a 500% range on the other Eagle cassettes.

 

A benefit of the larger 11 tooth cog is that the Eagle NX cassette can accommodate a normal spline (Shimano-type) freehub body. All other Eagle cassettes require SRAM’s XD Driver system. This results in additional costs for riders needing to adapt their existing hub from a spline type to an XD Driver. This is one way that NX Eagle helps to reduce the costs of upgrading to 12-speed. As the XD Driver Body is hub brand specific, it cannot be included as a part in the groupset.

 

SRAM Eagle NX-6.jpg

 

The NX Eagle cassette is fairly heavy at 614 grams. That is a result of the materials used and cost effective construction techniques. The NX Eagle cassette is pieced together from 12 stamped steel cogs. The largest four cogs are then riveted to an aluminium spider with the remaining cogs sliding onto the freehub and separated by spacers. A lockring holds all the cogs in place. Because of this bulkier construction and the use of steel for all cogs, the NX Eagle cassette is the only cassette in the Eagle range that SRAM a confident for use on ebikes.

 

The cranks and gears


The NX Eagle cranks are shaped from 6000 series aluminium, where GX Eagle uses the higher grade 7000 series. The cranks are designed for direct mounted chainrings, specifically SRAM’s own X-Sync 2 chainring which is held in place by three Torx bolts. The crankset pairs with SRAM’s Dub bottom bracket (generally not included in the groupset bundle) which is compatible with most frames. The chainring is stamped from steel and features all the same Eagle technology including the kinked tooth profile to improve chain retention.

 

SRAM Eagle NX-10.jpg

 

Likewise, the derailleur is packed with all the same features found further up the Eagle range. The same straight parallelogram design featuring a roller bearing clutch to keep the chain tight and the cage lock to hold the derailleur out of harm's way when removing the back wheel. The Eagle shifter lever is plastic compared to the carbon one found at the top of the range and it rotates on a bushing versus a bearing. Interestingly, the NX Eagle shifter is the lightest shifter in the Eagle range. The NX Eagle chain uses a heavier solid pin construction.

 

SRAM Eagle NX-14.jpg

 

Eagle Compatibility


Aside from the cassette and the freehub body requirements, NX Eagle is fully interchangeable with components across the Eagle family. This is convenient for mixing and matching while dipping into another Eagle range for a specific component when it makes sense.

 

For example, if I were upgrading to NX Eagle under my own steam, I’d have taken advantage of this cross-compatibility. My bike already has an XD Drive freehub body, as I have a GX 11-speed drivetrain fitted. So hunting for a splined freehub body makes little sense when I could spend that additional money on a GX Eagle cassette with the full 10-50T range while still benefiting from the cost saving of NX Eagle through the rest of the groupset.

 

Weights


You can see a comparison of the claimed weights of each component across the SRAM Eagle family compared to the NX Eagle groupset, along with the real-life weights from our review parts below:

 

Weight comparison across the SRAM Eagle family (in grams):

 

SRAM Eagle weight comparision table.png

 

SRAM NX Eagle Claimed Weights vs Our Measurements (in grams):

 

SRAM NX EAGLE weights actual.png

 

Pricing


The pricing for the NX Eagle groupset and upgrade kit varies from retailer to retailer. But it seems that without any sort of discount, a complete NX Eagle groupset is priced at around R6,500 while the upgrade kit is approximately R5,000. The upgrade kit includes the cassette, derailleur, chain, and shifter, excluding the crankset with chainring.

 

Riding Eagle NX


I've had the Eagle NX groupset on my Pyga Stage for just over three months. It is the same bike that I tested the GX Eagle system on a few years ago. When not sporting test drivetrains, the bike is dressed in 11-speed GX.

 

I notice very little difference between the general performance and shifting between NX Eagle and GX Eagle groupsets. From my experience with XX1 and X01 Eagle on other bikes, the feel of the shifter is a little more premium to the touch (the plastic NX Eagle shifter gives it away) but there is little to distinguish them at their main task, changing gears. Weight is really the defining difference between the Eagle families and, of course, the slightly reduced gear range of the NX Eagle cassette.

 

SRAM Eagle NX-15.jpg

 

Over the three months of testing, the NX Eagle groupset has functioned flawlessly. The only maintenance required was a twist or two of the barrel adjuster to accommodate the stretching of the new cable. Otherwise, the shifter developed no play and the derailleur remained crisp and accurate. SRAM’s chain retention is renowned and NX Eagle did not disappoint, with clatter and noise kept mostly underwraps.

 

The test groupset arrived with a 32 tooth chainring. I understand that for many riders this might be the optimal size but, for me, sizing up to a 34 tooth chainring would better suit my riding. Furthermore, if you consider that NX Eagle lacks the smaller 10 tooth cog on the cassette, you’re going to need some added grunt if you plan to power along dirt road at any considerable speed in the 11 tooth.

 

SRAM Eagle NX-20.jpg

 

Conclusion


The NX Eagle groupset offers a 12-speed entry point that competes in features and functionality with groupsets twice the price. While NX Eagle performances flawlessly, there are two obvious compromises with the lower price tag: weight and gear range. As a fan of brands trying to bring their high-end technology to a broader market, the Eagle NX groupset certainly opens up more options.




23 Comments

Allrounder, May 28 2019 09:29

Nice, You can send it to me if you need or want a second opinion! The problem with the x12 is the cost unfortunately,  with then NX cassette still costing R1600. But man, it would look nice on my bike. 

 

I see that you are doing the GMBN death grip challenge with no brakes! 

marne44, May 28 2019 09:33

Although this is a good product and SRAM is a quality company, I have had a bad experience with this. Initially the derailleur wouldn't shift down once from the biggest gear. Currently the arm mechanism doesn't keep tension on the chain and it drops off consistently.

Nick, May 28 2019 09:39

Nice, You can send it to me if you need or want a second opinion! The problem with the x12 is the cost unfortunately,  with then NX cassette still costing R1600. But man, it would look nice on my bike. 

 

I see that you are doing the GMBN death grip challenge with no brakes! 

 

A second opinion is always valuable but, sadly, it's gone back home already. Back to 11-speed for me.

There is evidence (here and here) of an even cheaper 12-speed option from SRAM but it still uses the NX cassette.

Robbie Stewart, May 28 2019 09:44

I have the NX on my bike, also for the last 3 months. It performs very well for me, and I am not too bothered by the lower range due to the 11 t cog rather than the 10 t on the GX. As mentioned, that could quite adequately be remedied by changing the chain ring to a 34 t (I also have a 32 t), which is much cheaper than having to change the hub to XD and buying the more expensive GX cassette.

Only issue I have on mine at the moment is that when I am climbing up steep technical trails in the 50 t granny, the derailleur gets some love from the spokes, as it is very close. This may be due to a semi-bent derailleur hanger. That, or the wheel is out of true (which I think it may well be).

DieselnDust, May 28 2019 10:10

As far as I can ascertain SX is an OEM groupset only, for entry level spec bikes. Its not a complete groupset but a mix of parts that allows OEMS to compete with a quality system in the Sub R25K market

Iwan Kemp, May 28 2019 10:29

As far as I can ascertain SX is an OEM groupset only, for entry level spec bikes. Its not a complete groupset but a mix of parts that allows OEMS to compete with a quality system in the Sub R25K market

 

OEM only, yes. From what I've seen it has made sub R15k 12 speed bikes possible. 

Headshot, May 28 2019 11:25

Nice, You can send it to me if you need or want a second opinion! The problem with the x12 is the cost unfortunately,  with then NX cassette still costing R1600. But man, it would look nice on my bike. 

 

I see that you are doing the GMBN death grip challenge with no brakes! 

I think sunrace make a 12 speed casette that is lighter for less $. I just put the 11 speed 11 to 50 on a friends bike. Its a quality and lightweight piece of kit.

Schnavel, May 28 2019 12:47

I think sunrace make a 12 speed casette that is lighter for less $. I just put the 11 speed 11 to 50 on a friends bike. Its a quality and lightweight piece of kit.

 

How do the 11 speed derailleurs cope with the 50T cassette? I read somewhere that most of them only handle up to 46T.

robsc, May 28 2019 02:29

How do the 11 speed derailleurs cope with the 50T cassette? I read somewhere that most of them only handle up to 46T.

Thats exactly the problem , have 2 mates that have tried a XT derailleur with Sunrace 11-50 with problems . However the 11-46 works just fine 

RustyHWR, May 28 2019 04:31

Thats exactly the problem , have 2 mates that have tried a XT derailleur with Sunrace 11-50 with problems . However the 11-46 works just fine 

I'm using a 10 spd XT long cage derailleur with a derailleur hanger extender (R100 from Summit) with a 12 speed Sunrace shifter and cassette and it works perfect.

RiverInTheRoad, May 28 2019 06:17

In this price bracket you are better of going Shimano SLX.

V18, May 28 2019 07:01

Nice review. That 50t position just looks a touch close to the spokes.

bambooozle, May 28 2019 07:15

Although this is a good product and SRAM is a quality company, I have had a bad experience with this. Initially the derailleur wouldn't shift down once from the biggest gear. Currently the arm mechanism doesn't keep tension on the chain and it drops off consistently.

Have a chat to the store you bought the eagle from, mine replaced as I had the same issue a faulty batch was given as a reason.

El Guapo, May 28 2019 08:34

Although this is a good product and SRAM is a quality company, I have had a bad experience with this. Initially the derailleur wouldn't shift down once from the biggest gear. Currently the arm mechanism doesn't keep tension on the chain and it drops off consistently.


I am experiencing the very same phenomenon on my new bike fitted with NX Eagle drivetrain. After just one short ride it won’t shift down from the 50t to next largest cog without a stop of the pedal stroke and small backpedal.

At least I am happy that I am not alone! Will be taking this up with the bike shop as soon as possible and investigate further...

juanvd2, May 29 2019 09:49

Thats exactly the problem , have 2 mates that have tried a XT derailleur with Sunrace 11-50 with problems . However the 11-46 works just fine 

No problem here. Running smoothly after some adjusting on rear derailleur. Mainly the height adjuster to lower the derailleur to fit the 50 tooth.

Headshot, May 29 2019 11:54

Thats exactly the problem , have 2 mates that have tried a XT derailleur with Sunrace 11-50 with problems . However the 11-46 works just fine 

This was fitted to a GX 11 Speed equipped bike. The clearances are close. Its very important to get the chain length just right. Too short and you risk damaging the derailleur. The B adjuster screw is long on the SRAM derailleurs and provides a lot of adjustment. You need to be careful though and find the setting that still clears the derailleur top pulley and the 50T but doesnt restrict the derailleur cage's movement too much. Shirfting into the 50 was super smooth  and aparently worked well on the test ride.

Dirt Tracker, May 29 2019 01:44

Been running my NX Eagle for about 4 months now. Got the full groupset (inc crank) from CRC at below the cost of the upgrade here. 

 

Performance wise it's been great. Haven't noticed it to be honest and that is the best thing. It just gets on. It was part of a new build and my previous system was a XT 11 sp. I do miss the multiple shifts and the dual direction shifts of shimano a little but in the day to day riding, not really. 

 

Haven't had to tighten anything or change anything and didn't have to shell out on a new Hope free hub for the SD thing which was a great relief. 

JohanDiv, May 29 2019 03:01

Thats exactly the problem , have 2 mates that have tried a XT derailleur with Sunrace 11-50 with problems . However the 11-46 works just fine 

 

I'm running the Sunrace 11 speed 11-50 cassette with my XT derailleur with minimal problems. I converted from a XT 11-46 cassette, so I guess I have the long cage derailleur. I say minimal problems because when I first installed the Sunrace cassette the shifting wasn't completely as crisp as the XT for a few months, but after I had the bike serviced two weeks ago and fitted new shifter cables it's running flawlessly at the moment. 

scubes, May 30 2019 12:51

How do the 11 speed derailleurs cope with the 50T cassette? I read somewhere that most of them only handle up to 46T.

 

Just fine.. with lots of tweaking to get the shifting crisp.

scubes, May 30 2019 12:54

I'm running the Sunrace 11 speed 11-50 cassette with my XT derailleur with minimal problems. I converted from a XT 11-46 cassette, so I guess I have the long cage derailleur. I say minimal problems because when I first installed the Sunrace cassette the shifting wasn't completely as crisp as the XT for a few months, but after I had the bike serviced two weeks ago and fitted new shifter cables it's running flawlessly at the moment. 

 

Also running the Sunrace 11-50 , with an NX 11 spd derailleur - set up the shifting myself with a GX shifter to make the 50T cog work, took lots of patience and it is pretty good now with no issues, I'd say 99% happy- it would work best however with a max 46T setup - real max is probably the 48 or 49 limit.

RobertWhitehead, May 31 2019 01:09

I don't own the SRAM NX but I've been in the cockpit of another bike with the NX components the other day. The plastic is a let down in my opinion, it doesn't give a quality feel.

Then my second observation is that I rode with another group over the weekend and the one guy (had NX on his bike), broke the jockey wheel out of the hanger (on a flat road). After about 30 min of getting this back into place one of the other riders mentioned that he has had 2 NX rear mechs that has done exactly the same thing. 

 

Makes me wonder how good the quality will be of the items after more than a few months. More like 2000 - 3000km 

RiverInTheRoad, Oct 18 2019 12:36

Thought I would add a longer term user review on NX Eagle.

 

Spoiler: I do not like the product.

 

My chain (2.5% LOL) and cassette are done for in < 1400km (only used 1 chain), admittedly I should have replaced the chain earlier. I don't ride in mud and make sure that my drivetrain is relatively clean and lubed. 

 

The shifter feels cheap. The derailleur has play at the attachment bolt interface and can be wiggled significantly. The derailleur spring is also weak. 

 

Shifting when new was OK. Shifting now is bad.