RRP: $2,170

“I was eager to pull out the UDH hanger from my battle-scarred frame and slide on a new Transmission…”

After hearing whispers that a more affordable GX groupset may be in the pipeline, I was eager to pull out the UDH hanger from my battle-scarred frame and slide on a new Transmission.

SRAM has launched the GX series – continuing their ‘All Day’ theme with a groupset designed for all-mountain, all-day missions, at a far more affordable price.

What you find on the GX system is largely the same as the higher-end Transmissions released earlier this year. There are some subtle differences which are visually noticeable from those higher-end units. In particular, the battery is hidden away in what I’ll refer to as the “Derailleur Garage” – keeping it out of harm’s way – essentially inside the derailleur. Replaceable, protective skid plates have been added, and a two-piece outer link. It also features a tool-free cage assembly – so it’s both removable and upgradeable, should you want to do so. A steel inner cage replaces the carbon of its higher-end brethren. Like the GX AXS of old, it’s been built for riders of the real world.


A couple of weeks before the launch date, a nice cardboard cube arrived on the courier. I quickly watched an install video, and it was game on. It’s been a long time since I’ve installed anything on my bike that required a proper read of the instructions or, in this case, a video. SRAM does a killer job of stepping through the installation process: whoa-to-go in around 30 minutes. I’d imagine after another couple of goes, a whole Transmission could be installed in about 15 – 20 minutes, maybe even quicker. It really is pretty simple provided you’ve watched the video. My only install hiccup was my inability to pair the system to my phone (no doubt user error, but I’ll figure that out soon) as well as the compatibility of the shifter clamp with my brakes, which aren’t SRAM. It took a bit of jimmying, but I managed to get the two to work together – it did mean that I couldn’t take full advantage of the adjustment that should have been available. Fortunately, the one spot I could get the shifter to sit was just right for me. I see in their documentation a different shifter pod mount is available and this would have completely solved my issue.

Te Miro MTB Park, just out the back of Cambridge, was my first testing ground. For the uninitiated, the trails are reasonably varied but the general theme is clay and native roots, dispersed amongst meandering climbs with the odd pinch or crux move requiring low cadence torque and fast, precise shifting to get the most out of your bike if speed is your aim. Coming off the back of a few days of intermittent rain, I wasn’t expecting much aside from mud and muck – perfect for bedding in a fresh groupset.

Leaving the car park, I snapped through the gears and made sure everything was still as it should be. I shifted through the cassette and took a couple of looks back just to be sure it had shifted, as it was so smooth and quiet, just a small ‘zit’ noise and a rolling increase of resistance at the pedals. I spun my way up the Easy As climb, taking the harder, steeper lines where possible, purposely shifting at the wrong time and under full power. Thoroughly impressed at how positive the shifting feel and accuracy was I pressed on, thinking to myself, ‘sure, it’s good now, but I bet once there’s some mud in the system it will be just like everything else’.

‘Easy As’ caps out and links into the Miro climb; its mellow gradients are broken up with some proper NZ native roots. Regular traffic polishes off the bark and pulls slimy dirt up onto them. You have to have your wits about you to keep the power down and maintain forward momentum, a situation where a mis-shift or slipped gear will likely see you stalled out or on the floor. Again, I was impressed by how accurate the shift was, with no slipping or mis-shifts, regardless of how many shifts under full power, and regardless of cadence.

Climbing to the top of the native bush, Miro finished, and I dropped into ‘Phil’s Gold’ – a test of a rider’s fitness, line choice and cornering ability; no steeps, but lots of corners, and a fair smattering of slimy roots. Eager to make this thing mis-shift, I again banged through gears, up and down the cassette, forcing shifts out of near-dead-stop corners. Nought. Nothing. Nada. I couldn’t get it to fault. I wondered whether I’d be so positive after a few months aboard the groupset – would the crispness remain after riding the second half of winter on it?

Another climb up Miro and a lap down ‘Native DH’ and my time was up for the day. I was only one proper ride in but so far, so good. I found myself shifting way more than I would aboard my previous group, and shifting from dead stops, under full power, and over chunky surfaces. I’d be concerned about heading over the bars and losing teeth on any of my other setups with that sort of carry-on.

SRAM made some pretty bold claims about their remapped Cassette, new X-sync technology (i.e. redesigned shifting ramps) and use of their flat-top chain to make it all work: ‘Creating seamless shifts even during your hardest power output.’ I’ve gotta say, there’s something in this combination of marketing speak and fancy nomenclature that really makes this thing shift impressively under power – something other brands claimed they’d done years ago – but SRAM has taken it up a level. I’ll be very interested if it continues to perform to this level, even after many km’s and battery charges.

So far, I have three main concerns. One, will the shifting with buttons mean I lose my right thumb muscle tone, rendering it useless when I go back to a cable system? Two, will I smash off the low-hanging shifter Pod? And three, will I want to give this groupset back after the next few months of testing is over?

This article is taken from:NZ Mountain Biker, Issue #111

Considering SubscribingPurchase Issue #111