SRAM X0 DH - First Look

Jun 28, 2011 at 12:56
by Mike Levy  

What is it: SRAM's X0 drivetrain has been designed to be versatile enough to span the gamut of uses, and true to form, we've seen it mounted on everything from top flight cross-country hardtails to World Cup downhill bikes, all with great success. But SRAM's high end product range is driven by their competition focused BlackBox racing program, a development team consisting of some of the world's top riders who, with the help of SRAM's engineers, are always developing components that are designed to get them over the finish line faster. Consisting of a new rear derailleur, chain guide and a carbon-armed 83mm crankset, SRAM's new X0 DH family is a specialized component range that was born from the BlackBox program and is designed for the very focused world of downhill racing, 4-cross and slalom.


X0 DH in Les Gets France
SRAM's X0 DH family consists of a DH specific rear derailleur, chain guide and carbon cranks that use an 83mm spindle.


How is X0 DH different? The 10 speed X0 DH rear derailleur looks very similar to the standard X0 unit from a distance, and the difference is not easy to spot, save the "DH" moniker on the carbon cage, even when both units are in your hands. But the difference is in the P knuckle - the segment between the cage and parallelogram - which is shorter on the X0 DH derailleur than on the standard version. This seemingly small modification has a drastic effect on how the derailleur functions, allowing the upper pulley wheel to track the tight ratio DH cassettes that racers use closer, which results in more chain wrap, faster shifting and a more reliable setup under demanding conditions. A standard X0 rear derailleur has enough clearance to easily handle today's modern wide range cassettes that feature 36 tooth large cogs, but you'll never find such a wide gearing range on a downhill race bike - they'll usually feature a 26 or 28 tooth cog at the largest position - and while a standard derailleur can and does shift quite well when combined with a tight ratio cassette, getting that upper pulley wheel even closer to the cogs should improve reliability and shift speed, two points that racers are always looking to improve. SRAM's head of drivetrain development, Chris Hilton, expands on the role that the BlackBox program plays in product development:
bigquotesBlackBox is an environment that allows us to test products at the highest level of intended use. Sometimes we are testing products that we intend to move into a production product, as was the case with our X0 DH components. Other times we are simply putting concepts into an arena that allows us to get an elite level view of the performance, durability and usefulness of the idea. For X0 DH we saw a desire from BlackBox to create lighter race bikes and use a high performance 10 speed drive train on downhill race bikes. Steve Peat rode the first prototype 10 speed X0 DH RD in 2009 for the Worlds and won. Sam Hill rode the first prototype X0 DH carbon crank at worlds in 2010 and won. Since those events, we have had a number of prototypes in and out of the BlackBox program to fine tune the product to the production product it represents today. It feels awesome when you can take a 100 percent stock production product, and replace the BlackBox part on a racer like Peat or Fairclough's bike and know it's going to perform. So ultimately, the difference between BlackBox product and production product in this case is just time. Those riders get it before you, but you get the same exact specification, performance, and product that those guys have on their bikes today. Until of course we put more ideas into BlackBox... - Chris Hilton




X0 DH in Les Gets France
The X0 DH rear derailleur uses the same construction and carbon cage as the standard version, but a shorter P knuckle allows it to track close ratio cassettes closer.

X0 DH rear derailleur details:

- A shorter P knuckle lets the upper pulley wheel track a tight ratio DH cassette closer
- Will work with up to a 28 tooth cog
- Works with any SRAM 10 speed shifter
- Cage length is the same as a standard X0 short cage unit
- 2 graphic colors: New Silver and Red
- 203 grams
- MSRP $234 USD
X0 DH in Les Gets France
The X0 DH derailleur bolted to the back of a beautiful Intense M9
Les Gets X0 DH launch
SRAM's Chris Hilton, along with his team of engineers, has been working on the X0 DH group for many seasons. You're now seeing the finished product of their hard work.


Carbon DH cranks: While the new rear derailleur is certainly noteworthy, the carbon X0 DH cranks are actually the first DH specific carbon arms that use an 83mm bottom bracket spindle on the market and weigh in at an impressive 750 grams - including the bottom bracket and 36 tooth ring. How different are the X0 DH cranks from the standard X0 arms? The carbon arms themselves, besides now being offered in a 165mm version, are actually the very same as used on the conventional model, but are mated to a longer and burlier 83mm spindle (a DH strength 73mm spindle is also available) to allow them to be fitted to the majority of downhill bikes on the market. Again, the BlackBox program played a major role in the X0 DH crankset becoming a reality, with Sam Hill using his BlackBox modified X0 cranks, which were actually a modified standard X0 crankset shortened to 167.5mm, to take gold at the Mont Saint Anne World Championships.


X0 DH in Les Gets France
SRAM's X0 DH cranks are the first production downhill cranks made from carbon fiber

X0 DH crankset details:

- Carbon DH crankset intended for downhill racing
- 750 grams (including GXP83 bottom bracket, 36 tooth ring)
- Available in 170 and 165mm lengths
- Available in GXP, Press Fit GXP, 73 and 83mm spindles
- 2 graphic colors: New Silver and Red
- MSRP $444 USD (w/o bottom bracket, including ring)
X0 chain guide
Debuted at Sea Otter, the X0 guide has been designed by MRP and is part of the X0 DH family.

Truvativ XO chain guide details:
- Integrated replaceable skid plate design
- Sealed bearing pulley wheel integrated into skid plate
- Aluminum back plate
- Available in BB-Mount, ISCG or ISCG 05 mounting standards
- Models to fit 32-36 tooth rings (168 gramsand 36-40 tooth rings (185 grams)
- Black and white color options
Les Gets
Pinkbike spent six amazing days in Les Gets, France, riding the new X0 DH gear and hanging out with the SRAM crew, including Peaty and Fairclough. Cheese, booze and bikes, all in the French Alps! My X0 DH equipped Mondraker (top right) took the mud and abuse in strike, peforming wonderfully throughout my time on it.
Les Gets X0 DH launch





Pinkbike's take: Downhill racing is arguably the most specialized discipline of our sport and often requires the most specialized equipment as well, with aggressive riders putting demands on their gear that the components would otherwise not see. Pinkbike has to give major props to SRAM for developing a component family, however small the niche, that downhillers have been requesting for years: more reliable shifting that should perform better in race situations, and components that can survive on a DH race bike that are still relatively lightweight.

Visit the SRAM website to see their entire lineup.

Photos by Sven Martin
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131 Comments

  • + 66
 considering the life span of a derailleur on a dh bike for me, can be between 1 and 100 runs i dont see my self shelling out the 230 bucks to be raplacing my already broken xo with this new gimmick, the cranks are bad ass but to save less then 100 grams from descendents does not seem worth the extra 300 out of the piggy bank
  • + 18
 Where are you gonna get a good set of DH cracks for $144??? Saint cracks are about $350-400 and RaceFace isnt much cheaper. $444 is pretty good for cabon DH cracks.
  • + 7
 You can't really compare the 2 cranks, sure there are always cheaper options that will work just fine. Its like saying why get Avid Codes when I can use Juicy 3s. Plus those prices must be USD, cuz its always more expsensive in Canada.
  • - 20
flag peterman1234 (Jun 28, 2011 at 16:20) (Below Threshold)
 because juicy 3's are two-piston brakes and have only one pad that moves to push the rotor into the stationary pad. no adjustable lever, or pad contact adjustment.
  • + 7
 235$ for a derailleur, for the one piece that gets FUBAR'ed the most often on a bike, with a difference so subtle that we don't even know if it's actually going to matter in the end. Since it might be sent into oblivion the next run I use it, I'll save 155$ and buy a x9 or a sc x7.
  • + 4
 im pretty sure the canadian dollar is about the same as the american dollar.
  • + 7
 the dollar rate is the same, but the prices aren't
  • + 1
 never said they were better, just a good cheap dh crank. shredted, i didnt see he ref'd the descendents up there, oops
  • + 2
 @PLC07 DO NOT buy an x.7 mine is loose at every point of the deraillerur it rattles like hell and you cant change th cage or tighten the loose parts. and doesn't shift as good as an x.0.

you get what you pay for...
  • + 8
 All i can say is, Cheese Fondue!
  • + 8
 I'd say... GO saint! Whether it's cranks or derailleur saint rocks
  • - 1
 gimick
  • + 3
 @goonrider I'm guilty of it myself sometimes but you can't judge a product by only 1 occurence, that's unfair in my book. Never had any problem with my X7s. I went X9 since X7s didn't have a short cage and it was only a 10$ difference and they work awesome too. It seems like X7s have the short cage now so I might actually give it a go since I have a x9 shifter and shifter seems to be making a much bigger difference in shifting quality. I REALLY have a hard time to rationalize paying more than twice the price for an XO, for an extremely minor improvement in shifting performance, when the odds are that it will be destroyed by the end of the season anyway. I really couldn't care less if I lose 0,03second when shifting.

On the other hand I'd spend a LOT of money on a real innovation like a gearbox.
  • + 2
 Agree with PLC07. If you're WC material, maybe you can justify it. Otherwise, A LOT more form than function. FUBAR - great use of the Kurt Vonnegut term!
  • + 3
 my rear x9 is f*cked to pieces ,limit screws are bent , cage is loose, stop screw is gone ,jockey wheels are essentially gone

but it still works really well somehow and the shock is the only part that has been on the bike for as long a time

200+ is ridiculous for a rear derailer though , unless .02 of a second saved off a shift time is worth that much to you

And is that just an MRP chainguide with a sticker on it? lol
  • + 2
 @sean:yeah its rebranded
  • + 2
 This might be karma related... I destroyed my derailleur today and I'm very happy it wasn't worth 235$
  • + 26
 The only cool part is the pressfit 83 BB, assuming that is what it is. What's with a 10 speed dh cassette? Most people don't even use 9, now they are trying to sell us 10. Stop with the garbage and get on the 9 tooth, 6 speed rear already.
  • + 4
 +1 bro.
if this new x.0 dh came in 9 speed i would be keen to try it out.
  • + 6
 or better yet, imagine a DH worthy 5 or 6 speed gearbox hub for the rear. goodbye to derailers and cassettes all together. rholoff was too heavy because they tried to give 14 gears... a 6 spd. with 60% less internals would be a game winner.
  • + 2
 get on the 9 tooth, 6 speed rear already.
touché !!
  • + 4
 There is too much money to be made from these over priced , Victorian relics for manufacturers to make a gear box yet.
Gimmie a Sturmey Archer with 5-7 speeds and disk tabs and I would be happy!!
Mechs are the most pathetic , archaic , weak and unreliable part of a bike these days ( other then the rider perhaps xD ) and it's about time we ditched them and moved on , the technology is there already some one fking make it happen.
  • + 1
 ok all you people dou you know that the chainstay distance changes throu the travel of the rear wheel? well that happens on most of the dh bikes today and that is why you need a mech the shifting is mor or less a secundary function... and that is why there is no gearbox hub because you still need something to tighten and loosen your chain
  • + 2
 saso , have you ever heard of chain tensioners ? All that's needed for a gear boxed hub to work is the lower half of a mech to allow for growth , it may vary from bike to bike so it would be available in various lengths.
Technology is not the problem here , it's all out there and has been for years , the problem is companies have way to much money to make out of highly priced ( over priced ) gear systems that will need replacing due to wear and tear fairly quickly and often get smashed in to rocks and stumps.
A sealed gear box type hub could last for many years with no need for a service , not a good idea if you are a company that's in it for the $$$.
  • + 1
 yes but the chain tensioner looks the same as a mec right? so why bodder and name one company that is not in for the $$
  • + 1
 it's not the looks of a mech that is the problem , it's the old fashioned way it changes gear , you know dragging the chain across teeth is a very medieval way of doing things , having to pedal to change is a bad way of doing things to and also how far from the bike and low to the ground it is , a chain tensioner would only need to a few CM long to do it's job and you could also always have perfect chain line which means less wear and much less chance of snapping.
  • + 1
 yes that is all true but the inner gear hub wuld cost a friggin lot and if you replace the chain wen it is worn out doesn't kill you except if you have a extra expensive chain that is your fault i am staying with mecs wen i find a tecnology that is not too exspensive and reliable than i shall change my mind but for now nicolai is one of the few gearbox bikes i'd have but i haven't got the $$$ for it.
  • + 1
 cost is the point. rholloff was $1500. it was waterproof, could shift under a load, and could go 100k miles without even needing to be cleaned. open it up and service it and go another 100k miles. how many mechs have you destroyed and replaced in the last 100k miles of riding?
  • + 23
 It took many seasons of development to take an existing crank and change the spindle, and slap a sticker on an mrp chain guide? HYMMM
  • + 3
 haha seriously!
  • + 2
 Did you even read that text? They shortened those arms to 165mm...

seriously haha
  • + 1
 yeah it doesn't seem like they've done an awful lot... especially that chain guide, i guarantee they'll charge more for it just because of the XO sticker, even though it's an MRP G2 (and the MRP looks nicer anyway IMO)
  • + 17
 When i first heard the rumors about and XO DH i hoped it would be more like the 6-speed kinda thing that Hill and Fairclough were using Frown
  • + 10
 Clavicula has had full carbon cranks for 83mm BB shells for years: www.pinkbike.com/photo/6749288
  • + 1
 fugly
  • + 3
 Not that fugly looking.I kind of like the weird look of them.
  • + 5
 Full ACK. What about Clavicula? I hate how some companies advertise their products as the newest and best, when they clearly are not. GG marketing spending, SRAM.
  • + 4
 I say get a 9sp slx rear mech with short cage, xtr shifter, and you'll end up below the price of x.0 shifter alone. This p nuckle stuff is WTF worthy, Shimano has the top roller of the cage much closer to cassette cogs, and shadow system to top that, which seems way better for dh purpose than huge sram bodies.

Sorry paying sooo much for stuff that is next to disposable, taking into account this is for a DH bike?! No
  • + 1
 Is Slx SS available aftermarket? Or do you have to modify it ala Xtr and Saint cage thing?
  • + 3
 The tiny weak mount for the shadow derailleurs makes it way easier to break than any sram derailleur
  • + 1
 Too bad you can only get the Saint derailleur with a short cage for now.
  • + 1
 Yeah... Frown Almost all Shimano athletes in the DHI WC series are on Xtr mechs + brake levers. Butter shifting and lighter tup
  • + 1
 yes but your not a sponsered wc rider now are you.... i agree (for once, cz most of what he says is utter shite) with waki. Slx is good enough for most of us and if you want to be able to afford to run 2/3 bikes then it's definatly the sensible option.
  • + 1
 I was just saying bro, relax.
  • + 3
 I thought the advantage of running a 10 speed cassette is to have a larger gear ratio while still having small gaps between gears. If this is the only advantage than why would you run a 10 speed system that can only take a maximum cog size of 28? The cranks look awesome.
  • + 3
 because in marketing terms it would be a huge step back for SRAM. 10 speed is originally a road thing, where you want literally 1 tooth changes perhaps 2 between gears (for example a time trial rider will run a 11-21) to keep your cadence the same through the range for better efficiency in your legs.

In MTB and especially DH, you really dont use your legs in the efficient way you do in road riding, so a jump of 2-3 teeth isnt a big issue, you just mash away a little harder, we really dont need 10 speed!

To the knowledgeable rider, we only need a few gears, but to the mass market, the more gears the better! Its not right for all applications, but for sales its important, and as much as SRAM or Shimano pretend they want the perfect groupo for us all, in all reality, its sales that count, and as marketing goes, a 5 speed group set would be a flop
  • + 3
 The XO branded, made by MRP, chainguide seems like an odd addition to the group... Why not just go with a standard MRP ore13? Or are there compatability issues with other guides & these cranks that aren't being mentioned? The cranks do look sweet though!
  • + 3
 Cause they'll make bank packaging them OEM.
  • + 1
 Oh yeah... good point. Wasn't even thinking of the OEM market but you're right, they're gonna make a killing there.
  • + 7
 So beautiful.
  • + 2
 The kit does look tidy. Props for sure. This should be included as oem components in top specced DH rigs for 2012, and for those wanting to build a custom bike, these should be in there as well; fat wallet provided Big Grin


I love the rd, man thats just sick Drool
  • + 1
 I would like to see a complete X.0 DH group. Shifter with shorter paddles, derailleur, cassette with a reinforced spider for a stiffer cog, cranks/ring, and guide. You know Santa Cruz would be all over that for their top-end DH kit.
  • + 1
 XO blows. I used to run strictly sram dérailleurs until shimano released the shadow design. since then i haven't looked back. Mostly cause my first saint lasted 2 years. While an XO usually lasted 3 months before it was clapped. i am now on my second saint.
  • + 1
 X0 now into its 3rd year and working like the day I got it. Everybody is different.
  • + 2
 have had the same x9 on my rig for 3 years, works perfect, shifters on the other hand, i tend to buy x7s cause they break on me alot and i dont want to go more expensive if its just going to break as well. beleive i have been through about 3 shifters in the past year
  • + 1
 Bit disappointed, the rd is just been adj for close ratio, am a Sram fan for years but the rest they can keep I aint running carbon cranks and will stick to Saint for my transmission, this won't shift me to change back sorry Sram but not enough and as others say to high price for DH, Dhers are not XC weanie magpies!
  • + 0
 This thing is SEXY AS HELL! - but i would consider if there will be X-9 DH too, becouse the X0 is just out of my budget Frown . - But im also in wonder why we need 10 speed in a DH bike (Actually i use just 8 tooth casette - but i use like 5 speeds from them). And secondly: This X0 DH Group is for DH racing, which means it has the lowest weight possible, but what about reliability in long time? Will it take the long time abuse or i have to replace them in every half year? --- Otherwise i would put it on my bike anyday!
  • + 3
 the XTR Plus rear mech med cage would get my money instead.(if i had money!)
  • + 2
 10 speed cassette seems kind of pointless to me for a downhill bike. i dont know about everyone else but i usually only use 4 or 5 different gears when im doing a trail
  • + 3
 I think Pinkbike should focus on reviewing components that we readers will actually be riding.
  • + 15
 Funny you say that. I race DH and this is EXACTLY what I want to see reviewed.
  • + 3
 Haha, you're one of the few fortunate ones. Seriously though, as an average joe I would like to read reviws of affordable products a bit more often. Now it seems like most reviews are written of the highest end components (remember hydraulic shifters and carbon wheelset for instance) that many of us can just dream of.
  • + 1
 I am an average joe that makes average money, and I save up for the RIGHT parts, no matter the cost. I want what is GOOD, well built, and USEFUL, not just basic and cheap. The two rarely coincide. This product will be useful to someone who needs it and may be up for a replacement anyway!
  • + 2
 I see, I see. Articles like these are definitely not pointless, and they sure are very useful for some people. I would just like to see more well written reviews of lower budget components, and see how they can handle serious abuse. After all, not everyone is looking for wc level performance, but are happy to run a bit heavier components that still perform well.
  • + 1
 I hope Shimano gets the message and start selling a XTR 980SS even with the saint cage is around 180g vs 240g (!!!) of the saint ss.
  • + 1
 I have a Deore on my bike, hardly worth spending a fortune, its not like I'm a top 50 downhill rider, simply not worth the price for the average joe.
  • + 1
 Not a fan of truvativ's crank design. They perform great for a while. Then you get to re-tighten the bolt three times a ride. Not cool.
  • + 2
 i wouldnt spend the money on all of this...the chainguide looks great but i would definetly buy an mrp or e 13 and save $50.
  • + 1
 hey Dose anyone know if SRAM made 8 speed stuff? Ive heard that the old Black Box stuff was 8 speed. Cuz I need a 8 speed stuff for my 06 DHR.
  • + 1
 You could, ya know, just look it up on SRAM's website.
  • + 1
 Yeah they have 8 speed shifters and deraiullers and I can just run an 9 speed deraiuller.
  • + 1
 Great strategy, brand an existing guide with X-O then sell it for $50 more then its worth. Jeeze -
  • + 1
 Why not use a 7 speed cassette for DH racing?

...besides that, i like this stuff very much! Big Grin
  • + 0
 what is the point of a 10 speed on a dh bike... all it does is make less of a gap between gears and alot of the pros only have a 6 or 7 speed cassete
  • + 2
 Those homemade 5/6/7 speed ranges usually still use 10 speed spacing. They do that limited range so that the gearing matches the course better to prevent any mis-shifts into a too easy or too hard gear.
  • + 2
 Do they still use 10sp shifters in say a 6sp cassette with the 10 spacing? I can see setting the shifter from the smallest cog, and just being careful not to go too low; hence the metal plate behind the biggest cog on some blackbox athletes' cassettes.
  • + 1
 They still use 10spd shifters, or else the shifter wouldnt pull the correct amount of cable for each gear change. They just lock out the missing gears with the limit screws on the derailleur.
  • + 2
 I may have to use that X.0 DH derailleur on my road bike.
  • + 1
 WTF, why did I get negative propped? This derailleur would be great for my road bike.
  • + 2
 hmmm I will just keep rolling my HammerSchmidt Cranks
  • + 1
 AWESOME DUDE!!
  • + 2
 The cracks/chain guide combo looks awesome!
  • + 1
 how about they make something affordable ? "MSRP $444 USD (w/o bottom bracket, including ring)" seems a bit ridiculous to me
  • + 14
 Carbon downhill race cranks aren't meant for the "affordable" market. They've got affordable covered with the Descendants, this is meant to be exotic and is for the dedicated racer or bike nerd with $$... the people who are buying SRAM Red instead of Rival or Force.

If price is an issue, you should be looking at X9 instead of X0.
  • + 2
 is it just me or are the SRAM product lines the most confusing out there?
  • + 3
 looks so smooth
  • + 2
 Ya, but 240$ for something I bend/break almost every two weeks? Ill stick to my x7's thank you...
  • - 1
 you can spend 240$ once, or you can spend 75$ 8 times in a season... your choice...
  • + 1
 Yea, spend $240 once cause you can't afford it twice. Just because it's more expensive, doesn't make it stronger.
  • + 1
 That said, I'd still pay the money for the crisp shifting.
  • + 2
 love how he sneaked in a little section about his mondraker Wink
  • + 2
 wish you could see the carbon fiber in the cranks though
  • + 3
 The carbon weave that can be seen on a lot of carbon components is usually simply a cosmetic finishing touch that adds weight, but I'll admit that it does add to the look.
  • + 2
 Sweet! Looks great on an M9!
  • + 3
 About time
  • + 1
 Clavicula dh crankset is 480g with bottom bracket, so much lighter !
  • + 1
 yep, they are!
  • + 1
 weight isn't the only factor. these are going on 35lb DH bikes after all, there is also stiffness to consider, when you only have space for two pedal rotations you want to be sure that every ounce of energy is going to move you forward rather than flex the cranks.....on the other hand i have not ridden with either so take what i say as opinions and nothing more.
  • + 2
 Yes, you are right, stiffness is important. But properly laid carbon is stiffer than most metals.
  • + 1
 I cant wait to buy some used ones off of Pinkbike.
  • + 1
 Goddamnit, I JUST bought an X0 Rear der + shifter for my TR250
  • + 1
 they look amasing just think how much they cost
  • + 1
 for the cranks and chainring
  • + 5
 Ummm, Im pretty sure the prices are listed in the article.
  • + 2
 sick !!
  • + 1
 I'll have to pass, $400 is a chunk of cash just for a crankset.
  • + 2
 sweeeet
  • + 1
 levy is the mondraker your personal ride?
  • + 1
 i still think i will get a x9 short cage with a x0 shifter pod, on my rig.
  • + 1
 with a 980 32 tooth cog.
  • + 1
 Perfection has its price
  • + 1
 expensive.
  • + 0
 CHAINGUIDE IS SICK!!!!!
  • - 1
 10 speed DH derailleur???? gimme a break.
  • - 3
 Hey guys check out this awsome site www.demondirt.com
  • + 2
 Yeah great, I did check it out and actually it wasn't very awsome (sic) at all.
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