Saturday, October 10, 2009


I've been meaning to try the SRAM bar end shifters for some time. Unfortunately, you need a SRAM drivetrain to run with it, and the RED drivetrain does not work with a triple crankset. So...welcome SRAM XX! SRAM XX offers two cassette sizes in 10 speed - 11-32 and 11-36. The long cage XX rear derailleur will handle the triple cranks as well as the wide range cassettes. Finally, SRAM confirmed that the road bar end shifters will work fine with the XX system - perfect!

I currently run Dura Ace bar end shifters with a SRAM 1070 11-28 cassette, Dura Ace medium cage derailleur, and an FSA SLK Light triple crankset. This system has always worked well for me, but I am limited to a 28t max cog in the rear. I have tried the IRD 11-32 and 11-34 cassettes, but they aren't exceptional. In fact, the 11-34 is downright impossible to get dialed in! The SRAM XX system gives me the best of both worlds

I've had the chance to ride a couple times with this new system, and my overall impressions are very favorable. The shifters feel quite different from the Shimano counterparts. They are smoother, with less of a "ka-chunk" feel. The size of the TT500 shifter is wider for better connection when shifting, but they also feel more blunt. Of course, the Dura Ace shifters have the rubber/plastic-like cover that are more comfortable, but the darn things always fall off!

The XX system, with an 11-32 cassette and compact 34/50 cranks, will give you the same low gear as a triple crankset with an 11-28 cassette. Need lower gearing? The 11-36 with a compact double will give you one lower gear, with a triple, you get two lower gears! However, I'm not sure the rear derailleur can handle the 15t spread in the back with a 22t spread up front associated with the triple cranks.

The downside? These cassettes are quite expensive at $328. My hope is that the technology will trickle down next year to the less expensive lines.

Pros - Get a wider gear range in 10 speed or simplify to a 20 speed system and get the same low end. Great alternative to the IRD cassettes, regardless of which rear derailleur you use. Smooth shifting.

Cons- Expensive. Not as comfortable as the Shimano shifters.

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