While SRAM weren’t the first to introduce electronic shifting (that honour goes to Shimano’s Di2 system), their AXS drivetrains are the MTB world’s first wireless set-ups. They come at a high financial cost, but do include some brilliant technological advances.
The mech and shifter are where the action takes place. They communicate via an encrypted wireless network, with each press on the shifter activating a motor on the mech that drives the gear changes. This does away with the mechanical play of a regular shifter and cable, meaning that shifts are crisp and precise.
To keep them this way, SRAM have developed an Overload Clutch, which disengages the motor and gearbox when the mech gets knocked, allowing it to move out of the way and then return to its last position – a useful feature on such an expensive product (replacement mechs are £670).
SRAM AXS comes in two models – XX1 for weight watchers and X01 (here) for more aggressive riders. If you already have a SRAM Eagle drivetrain, the components are cross-compatible, so you can buy an upgrade kit containing just the mech, shifter, battery and a chain-gap gauge, rather than having to stump up for a whole new transmission.
The AXS drivetrains are expensive, but we reckon they deliver the best electronic shifting available, building on the already impressive innovation of SRAM’s groundbreaking 1×11 and 1×12 drivetrains.
Pricing: £1,900 full drivetrain / £975 upgrade kit
Read Rob Weaver’s full review of SRAM X01 Eagle AXS on BikeRadar
About MBUK’s Most Wanted (2020)
For the January issue of Mountain Biking UK magazine we put together a glossy guide to our Most Wanted gear for 2020, containing some of the most incredible, highly desirable mountain bike kit on the market. It seemed a shame not to share it with our website users, so now we’re posting each category online too.
The selection process wasn’t easy. We were determined to pick products that genuinely stood out, so just narrowing down the categories was hard. Then our test team discussed the pros and cons of each bit of kit that had been shortlisted – and had some heated debates over which should make it in!
You can rest assured that all of our Most Wanted gear has been given this accolade for good reason. It’s either performed amazingly in our tests (in which case we’ve provided links to the original review) or, in the case of just-released kit, has wowed us on the trails during initial rides and shown huge potential.
Cast an eye over the gear and you’ll notice that a lot of it doesn’t come cheap. That’s because these are our Most Wanted products, and not necessarily the parts and accessories that represent the best value for money. We know that not all readers will be able to afford them, but think they’re worth showcasing. Firstly, because they show just how far MTB kit has come. But also because innovation and improvements at the top end of the market inevitably trickle down to lower price points within a couple of years, for the rest of us to enjoy. In some categories we’ve suggested a cheaper alternative – but only if it genuinely performs almost as well as the lust-inspiring headline product, with a significant cost saving.