SRAM to go 11-speed and new magnetic chain ring?

Now we’ve had a little more time to digest the news from SRAM of their new XX1 groupset, announced this morning, we are a little clearer about what is actually on offer.

Closer inspection at the photo above reveals there are 11 sprockets on that cassette. So the new groupset is going to be 1×11, wow we didn’t see that coming.

Campaganolo is the first groupset manufacturer to go 11-speed, and they did that a couple of years ago. That was a pure road groupset. It’s widely anticipated that Shimano will follow suit on their new Dura-Ace groupset. The tide is turning towards 11-speed then.

So it seems odd that SRAM is going to release its first 11-speed offering on the mountain bike side, rather than on the road. Having just released the new RED top-end road groupset, with 10 sprockets, it’s clear there’s nothing in the pipeline for our roadie friends. So SRAM is stepping into the 11-speed game with its new XX1 mountain bike groupset.

And this makes a lot of sense. 1×10 is hugely popular with racers and trail riders alike, and is perfect for the way mountain biking is currently evolving. Riding styles are constantly shifting and things are leaning towards the enduro style of riding, where single ring groupset with a wide range cassette work well. It’s simple, offers plenty of gears and there isn’t the risk of dropping the chain to ruin your ride.

Look at the teeth on the chainring in the photo above. Looks a little odd doesn’t it? A very astute comment from Daniel Zoppellini on our Facebook page is a pretty good guess as to what the enlarged tooth profiles are all about:

“Looking at the teeth on the chainring, I wouldn’t be surprised if they had designed magnetic chainring teeth which ‘held onto’ the chain to prevent chain drop.”

We think he’s hit the nail on the head there. Combined with the new clutch-style rear mechs that SRAM released a while back, we can see the perfect setup removing the chance of dropped chains, but without the weight and complexity of a chain device.

So SRAM’s XX1 will be a 1×11 groupset with a magnetic chainring teeth eliminating a conventional chain device, with a Type 2 rear mech. Interesting stuff.

More details on this story when we get them.

  1. Cormac Eason

    Since AFAIK they currently offer 10 speed 11-34 or 12-36 they’re probably going to 11-36, but it would be more interesting again if they did 11-38 or 11-40.

    The derailleur looks to have got a rollamajig back for the cable, which seems a bit of a step backwards given the design they’ve been using based on the DiRT derailleur design they bought with Sachs has eliminated the need for all that messing. The parallelogram seems to be flat rather than set at the cone angle of the cassette too, which again suggests something very different may be going on – possibly to handle very large bottom gear sprockets…

    At a guess I’d say a magnet powerful enough to hold the chain on would also be noticeable while pedalling, but since one magnet lets go of the chain at the bottom another catches it at the top of the chainring they could be quite strong and with the type II derailleur to maintain chain tension the system will resist magnet induced chainsuck well. The blocks may also be to clear shite out of the chain. Or possibly to deal with the ever more extreme chainlines narrower chains running across the full width of the cassette necessitate by centering the chain fully on every second tooth.

    Since the widened blocks may only fit between the farthest apart sideplates on the chain, they could force the chain to sit only one way on the chainring, giving better chain and sprocket life because as the chain pivots wear every second pin moves apart – the chain is pretty much guaranteed to be skipping all over the cassette long before this matters though, so probably irrelevant except to singlespeeders who run sliding dropouts rather than a tensioner… The splits in the chainring teeth where the blocks fit does suggest that the chainring might not deal with wear or knocks as well as a standard one though. The full depth teeth are another move to keep the chain on properly which is definitely an improvement over a chainring designed for gear shifts.

  2. Jez

    Not convinced by the magnetic chainring theory. Firstly, it’s as likely to cause chain suck as to prevent jumping. Secondly lots of iron grit would stick to the teeth.

    1. r1Gel

      “lots of iron grit would stick to the teeth”
      Excellent point. Just this would negate the idea of the magnetized chainring.

  3. Ming the Merciless

    Magnets don’t like being bashed either, cannot see them staying magnetic for too long with all that chain rub

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