SRAM set to launch Eagle 12-speed mountain bike groups

According to SRAM, global spec for 3x drivetrains drops 70% every year, and has done so year over year for quite some time. Now, they say even 2x spec is diminishing as 1x has become fully developed across the price spectrum.

The growth was a surprise for them, actually. When they first made XX1, they thought it might be a niche product. That was 2007. Now, between road, mountain and cyclocross, they have nine different 1x groups because demand has far exceeded expectations.

But there were hold outs. Even with a 420% range on their 1×11, some riders wanted more. SRAM’s GX 2×11 boasts a ridiculous 630% range, but most 2×10 setups are in the ~515% range. But, then you’ve got the weight and complexity of a front derailleur and multiple chainrings. Surely there was a way, so they started tinkering.

The result is Eagle, a 1×12 group with 10-50 cassette spread that gets you darn close to what a double provides. But who needs that kind of range? Turns out even their top pros wanted it after trying it. Dominant riders like Nino Schurter and Jerome Clementz. Why? Not because they need more range, but because they can go faster.

Basically, Eagle is substantially lighter than a 2x, has a 500% range, and makes the bike simpler. In other words, it frees you from ever needing a front derailleur again. How serious is SRAM about this? Drivetrain product manager Chris Hilton says they’ll never tell us about another mountain bike front derailleur again. They are no longer doing any development work on mountain bike front derailleurs, and those engineers have been moved to other projects.

At launch, Eagle will be a premium offering at the XX1 and X01 level. Because the chainrings are direct mount, you’ll be able to build it up with lower level cranks to save a little money (and expect OEM buyers to do just that on MY17 bikes). More on that in a bit. First, it’s worth mentioning that this is a complete system. SRAM’s not a derailleur company, they’re a drivetrain company. So, in their mind, if you’re not designing a drivetrain as a system, how do you know that it’s optimized to work together as well as possible?