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Groupset choices and why?

MPN's picture

By MPN - Posted on 27 August 2017

NB: Originally posted elsewhere on the Global Riders Network and appears via syndication.

What groupset do you prefer and why?

SRAM or Shimano

1x11 - 1x12 - Di2 - other

Ian_A's picture

Can of worms.......
I run XT 11 speed on my XC bike. Why? It's cheap and reliable. I have a 34 front ring and 11/42 cassette. It's fine for short races but at the back end of long rides, I sometimes wish for another climbing gear (next cassette may be a 11/46). I would probably be running SRAM 11 speed and a 32 front ring but I can't shift SRAM triggers and haven't tried a grip-shift to convince me.

ptpete's picture

was always a Shimano man through and through. 3x9, 2x10, 1x10, This was until I spent a bloody long time on my XX1 equipped trail bike competing in Single Track 6 in canada. I am hooked and converted to Sram.. Though I have no other groupset in their range to compare with, the XX1 is soo crisp, so quick, and soo shiny; and never missed a beat whilst shifting through the most technical of terrain.


Lach's picture

2 x 11, 26/36 up front, 11-46 at the rear. XT never misses a beat. Went with that gearing to keep the same bottom end, at the cost of losing a few cogs at the top end, compared to my previous 3 x 10 set-up. Rarely miss the taller gears. Side pull front der on the 2x is proving even more reliable than the old 3x top pull set up.

hawkeye's picture

I like the reliability and longevity.

Perhaps it has improved recently but I formed the view awhile back that SRAM chains are made of cheese and don't last, wearing everything else out twice as fast as Shimano and even KMC chains. Even their top end stuff as used on a couple of review bikes I had in my possession at different times was ordinary, with shifter levers breaking in normal use. It felt nice up until that point, though.

And then there was the episode where they had to recall *all* their road disc brake gruppos because (I think it was) the seals failed in cold weather. I'm not a fan of companies that use their customers for crash test dummies, especially with brakes. That should be complete before they go to production. And how long has it taken them to come up with a decent hydraulic MTB brake? Still trailing Shimano though if the industry polls are anything to go by.

Shimano stuff on the other hand just works. Even though I run 2x on the front I've only dropped the chain off the front 3 times in the last 4 years. At least one of those was from forgetting to engage the derailleur clutch after a wheel change. I prefer the range of 2x as I'm a spinner not a grinder, and I also prefer the closer gear spacing so I'm unlikely to go 1x. Still 10-speed as that's what came on the bike. Very nice light crisp action with the shifting front and rear.

I think the main reason SRAM went 1x was because their front shifters and derailleurs were generally hard to use agricultural crap (at least in my experience) and they gave up, figuring they might as well try and make a marketing virtue out of it.

I'll be back in a moment with some more popcorn if anybody wants some. Eye-wink

skipper_nz's picture

I am shimano:
1x10, 32front, 11-40 rear, with a 30 and 34 spare front rings. no major issues, past the 5-6hour mark i wish i had a easier gearing. cannot beat the XT brakes for price/quality. Not having a front derailleur means i can have the dropper post super close my hand which is great.

MrMez's picture

Probably best to ask what and where you ride.
Do you have steep hills?

I run Shimano Saint 1x for both DH and AM. 11-36 is plenty of range for WA hill both up and down.
If i rode XC I'd probably stick with Shimano (as my road bikes are too), and look at XT/R 11-38/42ish Again, I personally don't need the range of a 10-46, and don't like the big gap between gears after growing up road racing.

As for brand, it's all personal. I find Shimano easier to work on, and as mentioned, I also don't like the way SRAM levers work ergonomically, doesn't feel natural somehow.

Oldernslower's picture

It is darn big can of worms! Tried nearly all, and what suits YOU will depend on (surprise) your strength and abilities; what terrain/bike you ride; competition or just for fun; AM, XCM, Enduro, DH or XC or all of them!; Long(60K+), medium(35 to 60k), or short(XC or < 35K) distances + other factors!

My choice "for me" for everything but XC (I don't DH), is 2x11 Di2 with modified gearing. Standard 2x11 Di2 gear ratios are pathetic, IMO, at 11x40 with 36x26 (or 34x24), giving almost the same ratios as 1x12. So I run an e'Thirteen cassette 9x44, with front rings of 22x34, on an XTR9000 crank. (yes I know Shimano says it can't be done which is BS!). Also the auto shift on Di2 on the front means you don't go over the derailleur capacity. Plus no front shifter Smiling

1x11 or 1x12 of any brand has not enough range "for me", it may have for you. Gear the front ring for climbing and I run out of gears on fast downhills. 1x12 has 500% gearing range – enough for most people I suspect, 1x11 (9x46) e'Thirteen has 510% - my set-up has 755% so I don't run out of gears unless it is really really steep and I'm knackered, but I can spin and not grind up most of the steep stuff.

Standard SRAM has better gear range than Shimano and, IMO, SRAM shifts better, but Shimano is a little more durable and reliable IMO, and the brakes are much better. e'Thirteen has wider range cassettes, BUT the jumps (gaps) between gears are larger than Shimano or SRAM 11 speed, though the smaller the front ring (eg 22T) the lower the jumps (in speed x cadence).

I prefer Di2 as after a long ride and hands that are stuffed it is a LOT easier to shift as there is no pressure on the thumb. Electronic shifting is much easier on the hands.

Cable operated 2x10 can have as large a range than even the 2 x 11. I ran for ages a 2x10 SRAM XX setup with a 20 x 36 front rings that gave 14 or 15 distinct, non-overlapping gears. 2 x 11 will normally give 13 distinct gears.

My "XC" bike has 1x11 cable shifted, with e'Thirteen cassette and 26 or 28 front ring, is geared, what for me, are moderate climbs.

Example Ratios (## : 1) and speeds (AT 90 CADENCE) with rolling diameter of 2.290. (allowing for tyre compression in measuring rolling diameter)

My Di2 2x11:----34x 9 = 3.78; 22x44 = 0.50 (47.0 and 6.2 kph)
Standard Di2:----34x11 = 3.01; 24x40 = 0.60 (38.2 and 7.4 kph)
Shimano 1x11:---34x11 = 3.01; 34x42 = 0.81 (38.2 and 10.1 kph)
SRAM 1x11:-----34x10 = 3.40; 34x46 = 0.74 (42.0 and 9.1 kph)
SRAM 1x11:-----32x10 = 3.20; 32x46 = 0.69 (39.6 and 8.6 kph)
SRAM 1x12:-----32x10 = 3.20; 32x50 = 0.64 (39.6 and 7.9 kph)
SRAM 1x12:-----30x10 = 3.20; 30x50 = 0.64 (37.1 and 7.4 kph)
E'Thirteen1x11:--28x 9 = 3.111; 28x46 = 0.61 (38.5 and 7.5 kph)

Shimano over SRAM but only just and others will disagree. Mix and match may be better.
Shimano Brakes over SRAM.
Unless you are a good climber or don't have much elevation changes where you ride, a 2 x 11 may be better as a 2x11 can give more range than a 1x11 (an extra 3 gears). But IF you are ok with the range of a 1 x 10/11/12 then that may be better for you. So what suits YOU will depend on what terrain you ride and how strong you are.

Oh by the way, I'm an awful climber Sad (My road bike has a XTR cassette!)

staffe's picture

XT for every day use and XTR cassette for events.

On my commuter I use XT brakes, shifters, cranks, derailleurs from my 2008 Scott that I snapped the frame on. That is 10 year old components that take me to and from work every day year round and it just works. It's so old it's 3x9 - you can read about it in the history books Eye-wink. Just replace chain, chainring and cassette and brake pads when required the rest just keeps on going.

On my 29er XC it is XT 2x10 and there is no need to change that. Works day in and day out. If I change it I'd go 2x11 to get smaller jumps in gearing. Once fatigue sets in towards the end of long events the last thing you want is big jumps between gears trying to find the optimal gear going uphill. 2x10 is good for that and 2x11 would be even better.

Never used SRAM so I cannot comment on that.

Pete B's picture

Another Shimano fan boy here.

1x11 XT 34 chainring with 11-42 cassette on my XC bike which suits me just fine. I've never needed any more range apart from once at The Convict on the road section where a 10t on the cassette would be good.

I chose XT for the same as everyone else, it just works. Covered in mud, full of sand and anything in-between, even at the end of a 100km race. And it's cheap to replace parts, chain and cassette for just over $100 - bargain!

The only negative I've found is the cassette weight. When I'm ready to replace it, I'm considering putting an XD driver on my hub and getting a SRAM X1 10-42 cassette. It's lighter and got a bigger range, but at 4x the price, plus the XD driver, I'll probably stay with the XT!

Scratchy's picture

I've struggled with the 1x11 for my riding and terrain, I loose something on one end whatever ratio I do. I can get away with it on casual rides but it is far from ideal.
The Shimano XT 2 x 11 with the double shift on the trigger (half pull for single shift or full pull for double shift) was very nice.

But riding SRAM Eagle GX (the cheap version) the 12 speed to me is the future. 500% coverage. Sure Shimano 11-46 11 Speed has a similar range but that massive jump from 37 tooth to 46 (24%) is just ugly riding, it really breaks your rhythm. The 10-50 cassette spread seems the biggest you can get away with in 12 gears and still keep it smooth.

Here is the Shimano XT 11-46 top vs Sram Eagle 12 Speed (this is a great site to play on and see ratios)

Scratchy's picture

Opps double post

Geegee's picture

Anyone using these 9-44 or 46 fits on a SRAM hub and is compatible with shimano and SRAM? I'm running sram at the moment but but might consider this when it's time to change.

Oldernslower's picture

I'm using e-Thirteen 9-44 on a SRAM hub. on my second cassette now -but a positive of the E-Thirteen cassette is made up of 3 clusters and you can buy the individual clusters separately. To see the ratios it gives see earlier post. I've used them with SRAM and Shimano derailleurs on both 1x and 2x systems and found that there is very little difference in operation. Though I found that a SRAM chain seemed to shift easier than a Shimano chain. Just make sure your der has sufficient capacity. Most derailleurs (front and rear) will take a couple of teeth more than stated in the specs. You could also use a goatlink ( if required. I use a roadlink on my Ultegra roady system with an XTR 11-40 cassette Smiling.

PS anyone interested in a 2016/17 S-works Epic 2x11, medium frame Knees have finally rebelled at climbing Sad

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