SRAM XX - Bike Magic

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SRAM has announced that it’ll be launching an all-new groupset, dubbed SRAM XX, in summer 2009. That would put it in the 2010 model year. Having told bike manufacturers something about the new group, SRAM knew that the press would find out about it sooner or later and that it’d best if we heard it from them. It’s not giving much away, though – here’s the announcement in full:

“Next summer, SRAM, RockShox, Avid and Truvativ will jointly launch an MTB group called XX™. The group will exceed the demands of the cross-country athlete through all-new technologies focused on precision, efficiency, and weight. Further details will not be released until a global launch during Summer 2009.”

Not much to go on there, but we’ve put on our official BM Hat Of Wild Speculation (yes, it’s a helicopter beanie, how did you guess?) and come up with some (probably poorly) educated guesswork.

Given that the SRAM XX will be pitched at XC racers, we’d expect a fair bit of tech crossover from SRAM’s road groups. In particular, the single-lever DoubleTap shifting technology (one click to upshift, two clicks to downshift) could perhaps make an appearance – SRAM already makes DoubleTap shifters for flat-bar road bikes.

And of course the name itself could give a clue – while XX has a clear lineage from SRAM’s existing MTB gear, it’s also “20” in Roman numerals. Now we might be reading too much into this, but we wouldn’t bet against a 2×10 transmission setup. Many XC racers are already using double-chainring setups, after all. A Red-style one-piece cassette looks likely.

It’s notable that nearly all of SRAM’s brands are mentioned in the teaser announcement, including RockShox. We’re going to stick our neck out and say that there’s a strong possibility of some serious integration in the pursuit of ultimate light weight – stuff like a fork with an integrated brake caliper, shifters with built-in lockout levers, that kind of thing. And although the brand isn’t mentioned, given SRAM’s recent acquisition of wheel company Zipp, we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see XX marking the debut of an MTB wheelset.

Swathes of carbon fibre and ceramic bearings all over the place are pretty much certainties, as are startling low weight and equally startling price. SRAM’s top-line Red road group made waves by coming in at under 2kg for shifters, brakes, chainset, BB, chain and cassette – around 200g lighter than Shimano’s Dura-Ace. If we apply a similar sort of percentage margin to XTR, then we’re looking at a target weight for XX of about 2.3kg, like for like. If SRAM does go integration-crazy, though, then these numbers probably go straight out of the window…

One thing that we’d be very surprised to see is any kind of HammerSchmidt-style planetary front transmssion – given the state of play at the moment, it’s hard to see them getting the kinds of ultra-low weight and high efficiency that the XC race market will demand.


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