Pinkbike Product Picks

Jul 27, 2012
by Mike Levy  
SRAM X5 Rear Derailleur

SRAM's ten speed X5 rear derailleur may occupy a position five steps down from the top tier XX group, but its reasonable asking price means that it is a much more realistic option for many riders. It employs the same Exact Actuation cable pull ratio as the other models, meaning that every bit of cable pulled at the shifter is equal to the amount the derailleur actually travels, and is also compatible with today's pie plate sized 36 tooth large cogs. The P-knuckle is also prevented from traveling up and hitting the dropout, greatly limiting the annoying clanging that can happen over rough ground. Long and medium cage lengths are available, although there is no short cage option, and you can choose from either a black or silver finish. Weight: 302 grams, MSRP: $64.00 USD (black, medium cage). www.sram.com


SRAM X5 rear derailleur
More robust than we expected, the X5 proved itself on the trail.


Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesThe X5's relatively inexpensive cost may have some riders thinking it's a fragile unit that will need to be replaced often, but that hasn't been our experience with it so far. A few thousand kilometers on our X5 equipped test bike have shown it to be more than robust enough for some serious off-road use, with the long cage derailleur shrugging off plenty of bangs during that time. It's as straight as the day it was installed, with only some cosmetic damage to show for the abuse. Our single concern is with the plastic inserts that the derailleur's limit screws thread into that, while acting to prevent screw migration, can also be damaged easily. No, we haven't had any such issues with our particular derailleur, but we have certainly seen it happen to others. At nearly 100 grams heavier than an XO unit, the X5 derailleur is far from light. Having said that, we'd guess that the average X5 user is more concerned about the derailleur's reliability than shaving grams, and it does score high marks in the former. All told, it is an inexpensive and reliable entry into the world of ten speed gearing. Hey Sram, how about a short cage model for use on a downhill bike? - Mike Levy




SRAM X5 Shifters

Updated for 2012, the X5 shifters are now ten speed compatible, as well as utilizing aluminum thumb shifter paddles that replace the older version's plastic units. Just as on the rear derailleur, it employs an Exact Actuation shift ratio that better fights off contamination, as well as cable and housing stretch. Cable changes are performed via a port covered by a rubber hatch, meaning that the shifter doesn't have to be removed to do a cable change. Mounted to the bar by way of a traditional clamp, the X5 shifters do not employ SRAM's clever MatchMaker system. Front shifters are available in either double or triple ring compatible versions, and the rear is now ten speed only. MSRP $62.00 USD (set).www.sram.com


SRAM X5 shifters
They lack the ergonomic adjustments found on SRAM's higher-end shifters, and the tolerances feel slightly looser, but shifting was spot on and had a very SRAM-esque feel to it.


Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesThe X5 shifters lack some of the bells and whistles found on SRAM's more expensive offerings - the thumb paddle doesn't rotate on ball bearings like on X9 and higher, and it is lacks any of the ergonomic adjustments as well - but it still has that familiar, tactile SRAM 'ka-chung' to each shift. Moving the chain across the cassette is perhaps a touch slower than we've found on X9 and above, although the lower-end cassette and chain also play a large part in shift speed, and we found ourselves missing the multiple position adjustments as well. Thumb lever force felt to be about on par to anything that costs quite a bit more money, but we did notice that each levers on both the front and rear shifters had looser feel to them, almost as if their fixing bolts hadn't be tightened down. Whether this was down to possibly more open tolerances with X5, or the lack of ball bearings as found on the more expensive shifters, it didn't seem to affect performance and wasn't noticeable on the trail. In fact, we don't recall being required to turn either shifter's barrel adjusters after the first few rides. If you are particular about your cockpit setup, you might want to spring for the more expensive and more adjustable X7 or X9 shifters, but we certainly don't have any outright performance gripes about the entry level ten speed shifters. - Mike Levy




SRAM X5 Crankset

The subdued looking X5 crankset uses arms forged from 6061 alloy, along with chain rings that employ their X-Glide shifting technology - rings that are sized relative to each other to result in quick shifting, as well as shift aids timed to further improve chain movement. While the 39 tooth ring on our test crankset is aluminum, the smaller 26 tooth ring is a simple stamped steel piece that will last much longer than an aluminum small ring. Bottom bracket compatibility includes GXP, Pressfit GXP, Pressfit 30, and BB30. Double ring options include 36/22, 38/24, 39/26, and a mid-West friendly 42/28. The sole triple ring offering uses a 44/33/22 ring combination. Crank arms can be had in either a black or silver finish. MSRP $136.00 - $195.00 USD. www.sram.com


SRAM X5 crankset
Want to go to a 2 x 10 drivetrain without breaking the bank? The X5 arms are a good choice.


Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesThe X5 cranks don't exactly stir up the stoke level as much as most other arms, but then again, that isn't their goal. What they lack in flash, they more than make up for in common sense, allowing riders to jump into the dual ring, ten speed arena without having to spend an obscene amount of hard earned money. Paired with a wide range cassette, the X5 arms offer a smart gear range with less useless gear duplications of a triple ring crankset. Cross gearing with a SRAM front derailleur produced no ill results, allowing us to focus more on the trail than what our chain was doing, and shift speed up front was certainly more than acceptable. The two-piece crankset also felt quite stiff to us, although that isn't much of a surprise given their burly looking construction, and the GXP bottom bracket that our cranks run on has stood up well to a nasty Winter riding season. Speaking of bottom brackets, the X5's compatibility with multiple BB standards certainly opens the doors for the this crankset to be used on many different bikes. - Mike Levy






94 Comments

  • 60 4
 Every week people complain about how prohibitively expensive the cost of each "product pick" is, but now, pinkbike chooses a few reasonable ones - and the majority of users polled wouldn't touch any of these components.

Can't ever please everyone!

Personally built a few cheapo commuter bikes (even one for myself) with this x-5 groupo and it works great considering how cheap it is.
  • 8 4
 personally, I wouldn't touch anything with a GXP BB, as they're usually crap. There's little point buying an X5 shifter, as the X7 ones only cost a few quid more, though I'd think about buying an X5 mech (as long as it comes in short cage), seeing as I break so many of them.
  • 17 4
 People complain no matter what gets posted up. And I have a feeling a lot of the people who clicked "none of the above" are too proud to admit they have similar components hanging off their bike. Good write up PB keep it up.
  • 1 1
 dat people man...
  • 2 0
 @Circes- You're so right man!
  • 8 16
flag ktmmxrider (Jul 27, 2012 at 7:42) (Below Threshold)
 LOL Circes is a girl
  • 7 1
 Well I clicked "none of the above" 'cause I hated the stuff :-( I eventually changed everything to SLX and haven't touched it since. Especially the Shifters annoyed with poor definition and the Front Shifter just pushed through without shifting 30% of the time.
  • 9 0
 Shimano has mid-range offerings nailed. SLX works so well. Very crisp, eyes closed you would think you were using XT.
  • 1 0
 @ktmmxrider- whoops, you're right! @Circes- Really sorry!
  • 8 1
 I would take SLX over X-5 any day..

problems I have seen through my workshop this season has included brand new X-5 mechs with so much slop in the main pivot (where the mech is bolted to the mech hanger on the bike) that we have not been able to set a reliable and consistent shift, which is critical with the tighter tolerances on 10 speed shifting

all of these have of course, been covered very quickly under warranty by SRAM who offer excellent service through their UK service centre, but its a little worrying when this happens to new parts (not even used)

we have also seen this quickly develop on customer's commuters and mountain bikes by the first free service (approx 6 weeks)

the previous X-5 (9 speed) was another example where within 4 months of installing a new mech on my commuting bike, the main pivot was so sloppy I had to get warranty, this happened twice and then I switched to Shimano SLX and now to Shimano Tiagra / Ultegra 10 speed which is fantastic and not as pricy as some think!

the higher end SRAM is fantastic, I am running SRAM X-0 in 1 x 10 format on my MTB, and its been solid in 7 months of riding in the wettest summer on record for the UK
  • 14 0
 The SLX to X-5 comparison is unfair, as the SLX components cost considerably more than X-5. The X-5 rear mech retails for $65, while the comparable SLX derailler is $90. The correct comparison is X5 to Deore, X7 to SLX, X9 to XT, and X0 to XTR ( or XX to XTR race.)
  • 4 0
 I wasn't really comparing X5 to SLX. Just stating the fact I like it, and it's reasonably priced. That being said.......I would take Deore over X5 any day of the week.
  • 12 0
 Well what about thursday?
  • 1 0
 depends if it rains....well i have had X5s before and even tho i ride Shimano better, i have to admit that (at least for dh) the X5 worked just fine...i mean...dh u dont really that a that good of a shift, u just need something that will hold everything in place...and i am being a bit hipocrate here cuz u used also to pedal that bike a lot...it simply worked...no probs at all (x5 shifter aswell)...and that was with a 2008 X5...
  • 1 1
 I should quit giving props on my phone. Sorry for the neg circes. I feel like my experience with x5 was amazing at the time, it being the first 'real' gruppo I'd used on a decent bike. Obviously after many many substantial upgrades it would be really hard to go back to it, but at the time it worked brilliantly and improved biking for me exponentially.
  • 1 6
flag samtomkins (Jul 29, 2012 at 7:37) (Below Threshold)
 X5 is the shittiest crap ever dont be a hobo just buy an X0 build or a saint build do be a cheap ass
  • 17 1
 Pretty awsome to see you guys testing the low end stuff. My gf currently rides 3x9 and I've been thinking about upgrading her bike to 2x10, but cost vs reliability was always an issue in my mind. Now I might get her some X5 stuff to try...cheers
  • 5 0
 I bought my Sram SX-5 medium cage derailleur and my 8 speed X-7 shifter in 2006, i used it on my Downhill rig for 4 years without a problem. The only reason i chaged it was that i tought the fully banished derailleur started to skip the 7. shift, but unfortunately this was the casette and not the deraillerur as i firstly tought - so i bought the short cage x-9, but i still use the this 6 six years old derailleur on my XC bike, still perform as new! I put to my XC rig my Sram 5.0 10+ years gripshift to complete the derailleur and it just works.

As for the X-7 shifter, this is the 6. year i use it on my downhill rig, and it was never on my XC, it still works like i bought it - there were only a problem, in a crash the shifter took the whole damage it banished to a rock, it became useless, i rebuilt it at my home, and it works again like new from this point and never had another issue with it. I highly recommend these two (or 4) product.
  • 5 0
 we have X-5 components on our XC rental fleet and have had nothing but problems with them shifters are breaking at the point right under the handle mount crankset washers are snapping and cause play between the crank and BB and last of all we have had lots of trouble with the deraillers not wanting to down shift as the mechanism it self gets jammed bottom line X.5 is crap
  • 7 0
 I've used X5 derailleurs and shifters. I saw no problem with them. They worked. They did as expected. They didn't break.
  • 9 1
 no "All of the Above option"...
  • 10 3
 Product picks, or Sram X5 group advertising?
  • 2 0
 Looks like it went wrong for sram if it is !
Now they gotta try to think of how to make them mroe appealing other wise there is gonna be a lot of unsold stock judging by these votes.
X5 stuff would be perfect for my XC/hack/whatever bike i'm trying to build.
  • 5 0
 People always complain about how Pinkbike never reviews reasonably priced products. Now that they actually did, no one would even buy it judging from the poll.
  • 4 2
 I am not a fan of sram/truvativ cranks so those were off the table immediately. I am not careful enough when tightening the bolt and it eventually ruins the interface. I haven't had to be as careful with shimano.

The prohibitive cost of replacing my x0 shifters is a lot of what had kept me from looking at 10 speed systems. I can't see myself stepping down that far so x5 shifters came off the table unless I was putting them on a DH sled.

I could see using the derailleur if I destroyed mine and needed a quick cheapo replacement.

great picks for review. If I build up a secondary bike this is the price group I'll be looking at.
  • 2 0
 I never fully understood the 1:1 or Exact Actuation method of sram. I do love how Srams shifters can easily be mounted on both sides of the brake lever. Unlike Shimano's units which usually have the dial indicator limiting which side of the brake it can be mounted. Not that I need a dial indicator, just still using my older Shimano pods till they die.
  • 2 0
 You can remove the indicator with a small screwdriver. Then, remove the provided cover plate from said indicator and install in in it's place. Unless you are using really old shifters... but with those you can still just remove them without leaving much exposed.
  • 1 0
 The 1:1 was supposedly 1mm of cable movement meant 1mm of derailleur movement, but then exact actuation is supposedly to mean the same thing. But they're NOT compatible to one another, so at some stage of the game, SRAM was lying to consumers on what the geometry ratios of their derailleurs actually were as a marketing spin to set them as being different and better than shimano.
  • 4 0
 Sram marketing is loaded with mumbo jumbo.
  • 4 0
 Not just SRAM, all marketing depts are 90 percent loaded with doodoo and 10 percent fact.
  • 1 1
 I agree, to an extent. SRAM really rules the roost.
  • 1 0
 @deeeight, there are an infinite number to ways to get a 1:1 ratio out of a shifter and derailleur. For Exact Actuation SRAM either made the shifter spool larger or smaller and correspondingly made the lever arm and cable fixing point different on the rear derailleur. It can still be 1:1 but won't be compatible with the older systems. It is all about matching the geometry of the shifter to the rear derailleur.
  • 2 0
 I would run a X9 most of the time I think its the best grupo out there and for the money its a great price I mean were I'm at the derailer cost 110-120 with is a far price I would rather buy that and it come in short option and X9 is been one of the best selling derailers on DH bike besides saint
  • 2 0
 Run three x-5 shifter/derrailleurs/Ruktion/Holzfeller/Sram BB on dh-bikes. After many impacts and heavy use - shifter and derrail.still work - sort off.

My short x-9 with Racefaccrank and proper Rollerchainretention setup holds up a little bit better, barely. x-9 is not really better.

X-5
Price/Durability: Best in class
Shifting quality: Horrible, shifter is a distressed design.
Sram BB: Fine, not well sealed, needs a lot of grease as wateringress barrier.
Cranks: Fine, sandpaper and flatblack paintcan keeps them fresh.
Maintenance: Easy

Do I like X5? If you stay in top 3 gears only. Yes. Otherwise its a flawed and unhappy cost cutting exercise on top of a flawed powertrain concept.
Would I spend more money on powertrain/derrailleur/shifter? Only if there is a longlasting 5 speed hubgearbox or bbgearbox. Unless I get a good quality gearbox -I limit my exposure to Sramano to bare necessity.
  • 2 0
 SRAM components have been slipping in quality as of late. Working at a shop, I see more broken SRAM stuff than I do anything else. It's frustrating, because the high-end stuff works forever. Hell, my XO shifters and derailleurs are from 2002, and are still as crisp as ever. I hate to say it, but I'd rather put low-end Shimano stuff on a customers bike than low-end SRAM stuff. That being said, in 5 years or so, we'll all be bitching about how shit Shimano stuff is, and bemoaning how it all used to be good.
  • 4 1
 I ride x7 rear derailleur and x5 shifters since 2007 (same one!) with crisp shifting and no problems, just not as shiny as x9 but gets the job done!
  • 10 6
 No one made the obvious "I ride Shimano" comment yet?

I ride Shimano.

Big Grin
  • 2 0
 So do I.
  • 5 0
 Me too. I love Shimano stuff, so durable, and always easy to set up. Just works.
  • 3 4
 I ride Shimano... ...cassettes. Everything else, SRAM does better.
  • 1 0
 I just don't agree. Not that high end Sram stuff is bad, because it's not... but it's not better.
  • 2 0
 That's fine, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion about what works better to them. But to me SRAM has always shifted more smoothly and more reliably. Shimano feels too mechanical, I like the organic feel of SRAM much more.
  • 1 0
 Im speaking more to the long term durability and reliability of Shimano, which is fantastic. I can understand your viewpoint, although I rather like the "mechanical feel" of Shimano shifts.
  • 1 0
 I'm sure Shimano is nice, but I prefer SRAM and I think that everything they make (in terms of drivetrain, excluding cassettes) is nicer. When it comes to brakes I prefer Shimano over SRAM, but I prefer Formula over both.
  • 2 0
 Yeah brakes Shimano clearly has the win. Shimano cranks though? Does Sram really best them? I have not owned anything other than Shimano Saint cranks on my bikes for the past several years .......they are fantastic. However, the Trek Fuel I picked up recently had Stylo cranks and I have to say that GXP design is complete garbage.
  • 1 0
 I'm really only talking about the shifting, i.e. the shifters, derailleurs, and chain. Shimano cranks are nice, but GXP works fine too. I have used Holzfeller, Hussefelt, Stylo, and Stylo OCT cranks and have not had an issue with any of them.
  • 1 0
 I find it interesting you use Shimano cassetes though. why? I find it especially funny because I use Sram cassettes and chains. I do that because I can find them cheaper and I end up buying chains a couple times a year, a Cassette once a year. I find they work pretty well.
  • 2 0
 The issue I am having with my Stylo's is that the isis style interface has developed play, and so I must over-tighten the compression bolt to keep the non-drive side arm from moving. This type of thing has not happened with my Saint cranks, nor could it due to the design of the interface and incorperation of pinch bolts on the arm.
  • 3 1
 I prefer Shimano cassettes because they have superior shift ramps.
  • 1 2
 no f**k off shimano is horrible its all about sram
  • 2 1
 save yourself the trouble with cranksets: go for shimano, fsa, raceface, etc. other than sram. google it out and see how many results/problems you get with sram/truvativ crank sets. what you are missing is the other side of the crankset: the non drive side. where the problems exist to begin with.
  • 3 3
 been through 2 sets of shimano cranks whereas my truvativs have never even needed touching
  • 1 2
 bikeaddict123 they will do soon though
  • 1 0
 Everyone at my shop hate sram except for me. I been running everything from x7-xx for many years with minimal problems. This x5 is great on a budget trail build and will do better than expected. Some people think they need xo or xx but really not neccessary unless racing.
  • 5 1
 if youre gonna buy a cheaper drivetrain ALWAYS go Shimano... their stuff is good top to bottom...
  • 1 0
 It's funny how before the gen1 Saint Group came out from shimano - not many people were interested in Shimano (when considering AM/FR and DH use) and everyone was fascinated by SRAM.... Now that Shimano's got their shit together people are jumping boat from SRAM! Almost reminds me of the AMD/Intel battles lol. I still don't like 10spd one bit for FR/DH though! I'm sure the 2X10 kicks ass for XC/AM riding.
  • 3 2
 Shimano FTW not a fan of sram in any way shape or form i work in a bike shop and have seen sooooooooooooooooooo many bent x5 x7 and x9's it would make your eyes water how much people have spent to repair broken sram. only broken shimanos i have seen are crapy tourneys you get on halfords bikes or ones that have been destroyed buy someone who does not care or has no idea.
  • 1 0
 Just sold my trusty X7 shifter set and derailleurs. Worked perfectly since day 1 without any tunes. I was seriously impressed with it. They only thing you could whine about is the weight which is why I consider getting the lighter versions for next bike.
  • 1 0
 I love SRAM, but with the prices I pay it's more worth it to take a few steps up and get X.0 for crisper shifting, lighter components, and better aesthetics. That being said, X.5 and X.7 are great values for the money. Except when you cross-chain on a full suspension bike and compress the shock at all...

www.pinkbike.com/photo/8447390
  • 1 0
 Chain length = biggest ring to biggest cog plus 2 links w/ shock fully compressed (or wherever in the stroke CS is longest)...
  • 1 0
 With SRAM you have to leave an extra link with any chain sizing method. Also it was Trek's fault, not mine.
  • 1 0
 Yeah brakes Shimano clearly has the win. Shimano cranks though? Does Sram really best them? I have not owned anything other than Shimano Saint cranks on my bikes for the past several years .......they are fantastic. However, the Trek Fuel I picked up recently had Stylo cranks and I have to say that GXP design is complete garbage.
  • 1 0
 This is slightly off topic So if the main difference between 3x and 2x cranks is chainline (and some potential bcd issues) - does any one make an outboard bb that compensates for the difference? With all the spacers you have to put on a shimano for a 68 mm bb shell, I would figure that you should be able to move the chainrings out 2.5mm more and get the same effect. But then we wouldn't need to buy new cranks.
  • 3 0
 These may go on my next bike. I have no shame of rockin cheaper parts as long as it works like it suppose too.
  • 1 1
 I love what I've started. I really only care that my derailleur says Shimano, which means the shifter does too.
I've had two friends have problems with their mid-priced SRAM derailleur going into the spokes. One guy was in the air and went down, the other guy just ripped out a quarter of his spokes. It may be a coincidence that both were SRAM and broke, but I haven't had anyone tell me the same story with a Shimano derailleur, so that's what I run.
One of those guys ripped the pedal out of a Truvative/SRAM descendent crank because the threads were aluminum and stripped right out on a little drop. I now opt for Shimano cranks too.
For everything else I generally run whatever is cheaper or feels better.
  • 3 1
 I'd get SLX if I were you dear reader... But it is indeed your rig- up to you Sir!
  • 1 0
 I have my first bike lying around as a frame set, a 2001 Giant Warp DS1. This would make a nice build set-up for a buddy bike or general larking around rig. Thanks SRAM!!!
  • 1 1
 this is more informative for those who own them. I woiuld never consider any Sram , let alone an X5. If you were reviewing any bike with an X5 system it would get slammed for cheap componentry. This article is filler.
  • 1 0
 I might actually agree on that, but I like the positive "mechanical" feel myself. I speak more about reliability and long term durability when I say Shimano is my top pick.
  • 2 0
 i never really look into these products , if it works it will do !
  • 3 1
 my x5 on my DJ bike still works way better than my x9 on my AM bike, why?
  • 1 0
 Shorter housing lengths and more direct routing.
  • 2 0
 Frequency of use - how often do you shift on a DJ bike compared to an AM bike? Conditions - you probably ride the AM bike in all sorts of conditions, and the DJ would b mainly dry. DJ bikes tend to be 1x, AM bikes will usually be 2x or maybe 3x which makes them harder to tune. Hanger could be bent when i'm having shifting problems, I find it's a hanger issue more often than a deraileur issue.
Point being - there are a lot of possible reason why. But it shouldn't be the case, so I would try to get it taken care of.
  • 1 1
 good if you are in a budget but not my cup of teaSmile , I still prefer high tag prices components for beauty design and reliability....
  • 1 0
 One pick should have been the X5 group, and then we could've had a couple more picks.
  • 1 1
 I like how when they do reviews for expensive stuff....its all pretty. But when its a review of X5 components, they're all dirty and non-flattering pictures. Haha.
  • 1 0
 I have had an x5 on my bike since the begging of the season and its been flawless. The shifting feels.great for what it is
  • 3 2
 Notice no ridiculous $300 overpriced SRAM gripshifts...?
  • 1 0
 thank god
  • 1 0
 Notice the fact SRAM doesn't make 10sp gripshift for anything other than the XX and X0 groups at all ?!? When they trickle them down to X5... they'll be cheaper.
  • 2 1
 Save your money, get shimano slx !
  • 2 0
 I think X5 is more along the lines of Deore, than SLX. Although from what I've heard, the new Deore is very impressive too.
  • 1 0
 I'm gonna stay with my xo Wink
  • 3 4
 I have been running my X5 for the past 3 years. Works as good as the day i got it. I'm staying with sram
  • 10 2
 That's because it was broken when you got it
  • 1 2
 I don't understand skipper
  • 1 1
 I am saying they aren't very good, my friend had these (or some other scram X chain-ring) and they broke straight away, he hit a rock after a drop-off and it cracked
  • 1 0
 I'm running sram on all my bikes and i love it. What ever works for you.
  • 1 0
 Fair enough
  • 1 0
 Fk 10speed.
  • 1 3
 gross
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