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652g. Racers and weightweenies alike spend gobs of time and money for 652g. Hell, they'll gobs for 50g. But 652g? Unreal. 652g is what I shaved from my personal Gaulzetti Carbon when I "made the leap" to SRAM's new CX-1 drivetrain recently from my all-but-perfect Shimano R785 drivetrain.
Why the switch? There are a couple of answers to that question, the most basic of which is that I was asked to try it out. Simple as that. And I love new stuff.
But the real answer is much deeper than that. Being in bicycle retail, I've felt burned a few times over the last couple of seasons by SRAM. First, Elixir brakes, their noises, air leaks, and crazy bleed procedures. Quite literally, more sets were sent in under warranty replacement than I sold. Not good. Then came Gen 1 Red front shifting, or lack thereof. Recently that's been readily addressed by SRAM's YAW technology, so we're getting somewhere.
Most recently, the straw on the camel's back if you will, was the HydroR recall. I commend SRAM for stepping up to the plate, admitting fault, and doing everything in their power to remedy the situation. As a retailer though, I had to go back and call numerous customers to let them know the drivetrain I recommended they use could now lead to serious injury.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, and I get a call. The voice on the other end of the line says "hey, I know you have a lot of time on Shimano's hydro system, want to try our new one out and see if we've done a better job?" After 6+ months of perfectly silent and strong braking as well as flawless shifting, I thought they were asking for trouble. How could SRAM ever compete?
Right on time, the boxes rolled in and I wasted no time yanking parts out. SRAM is known for pushing the weight envelope, so I knew I needed to pay attention here. I weighed every piece out of the box from SRAM that was going to find it's way onto my bike. Hoses were uncut, as was housing. When I pulled the R785 from my bike I kept every piece that was getting replaced together. Cassette and chain were not weighed since they carried over, though the chain was cut a couple of links shorter. The net result was a savings of 652g. 1.44lbs. .103 stone.
That's the difference of going from Aksium to Carbone Ultimate. CAAD10 to SuperSix HiMod.
Though, both of those upgrades cost you money. In this instance, CX1 is actually cheaper. $650 cheaper at MSRP than R785 for those of you counting.
Enough with that, what did I notice once the group was installed? Shifting is crisp, which I expect to remain with my full housing run setup. Not much room for contamination.
Also supremely important, the ergonomics are great. When SRAM first introduced HydroR last year, they were critiqued for the size of the front of the hood, myself being one of those people. It's a large hood, no doubt. But from the cockpit, it's not overwhelming and actually provides another measure of safety in rough terrain. Also a nice touch, you'll notice on the front of the hood, above the lever, is a groove cut that seems to fit my hands like I was used for the mold.
Of course we know braking is the real question here. I have to report that initially I was a bit let down. I had some of the turkey gobble that SRAM/Avid are known for. Though after closer examination of their setup instructions, I had only done about 15-20 runs on the bedding period, and SRAM recommends 30. I am THIRLLED (no joke) to report that after roughly 40 miles on the road the gobble is all but completely gone, and only barely noticeable under extremely heavy braking, such as avoiding disaster (cars). I have yet to really jump on the brakes off-road, though I don't know how much that will realistically happen since these brakes do have quite a lot of power. To grab enough lever to get the gobble I would have some pretty nasty wheel lockup offroad.
What does this mean? SRAM did their homework this time. Time will tell what happens in the cold, which will be the real proving ground for CX1. Until then, I tend to log as many miles as possible, flog this group and see where it's at come mid-season, or maybe even January.....
photos and words by Brandon Elliott