Choosing the right MTB groupset for you can make a world of difference in your cycling experience. But you’re probably reading this because you need a little help deciding which is better between SRAM NX vs GX.
First, let’s clarify something.
One is not necessarily better than the other. Instead, they are both great options but geared toward different riding conditions.
That’s another way of saying you get to decide which option is better for you!
Keep reading and you’ll soon figure out which groupset suits you best.
- 1 What is SRAM NX?
- 2 Pros and Cons of SRAM NX
- 3 What is SRAM GX?
- 4 Pros and Cons of SRAM GX
- 5 SRAM NX Vs GX: Similarities
- 6 SRAM NX Vs GX: Differences
- 7 SRAM NX Vs GX: Which Should You Choose?
What is SRAM NX?
The SRAM NX groupset is an excellent entry-level 1 x 12 drivetrain.
For those who aren’t familiar with the term, 1 x 12 drivetrain simply refers to one front chainring paired with 12 rear gears.
It is usually a great idea to go with the NX groupset if you’re looking to make the switch from the traditional two or three-chainring setup.
And here’s why.
The NX is one of the most affordable aftermarket 12-speed groupsets you can find for mountain bikes.
And while it is a lot cheaper and offers plenty of bang for your buck, it is by no means flimsy!
Here is a summary of what you get with the NX groupset.
The NX crankset is constructed using forged aluminum. It features DUB system cranks with bottom bracket bearings that come with a lock ring.
This is featured on the non-drive side and plays a great role in setting the bearing tension.
NX cranks are compatible with the direct-mount chainring. They are equipped with the brand’s X-Sync 2 Eagle chainring that has a narrow-wide tooth profile.
All of these means you’ll have fewer cases of dropped chains.
The shifter in the NX line is equipped with a Matchmaker. This allows for direct clamping onto brake levers.
The result is more space on the bike’s handlebars.
While shifting into harder gears can only happen one at a time, the NX shifter is designed to offer increased performance when it comes to changing easier gears.
With easier gears, the shifter can make five gear changes with just one push of the pedal.
All of these are a result of SRAM’s Zero Loss and X-Actuation features.
NX Rear Derailleur
The derailleur features the manufacturer’s Type-3 Roller Bearing clutch.
This improves chain control.
It also comes with a Cage and Lock system that locks the derailleur cage in a forward position.
The benefit of this is that it allows for easier wheel removal.
The NX rear derailleur can work with 10-50t cassettes. That means it is compatible with XD driver cassettes, which are SRAM’s previous models.
The rear derailleur is also compatible with 11-50t cassettes.
But it won’t fit with SRAM’s 10-52t cassettes.
Pros and Cons of SRAM NX
SRAM’s NX groupset might be an excellent entry-level 1 x 12 drivetrain. But it’s not without a few flops.
Here’s a quick rundown of the good and not-so-good sides of SRAM’s NX.
- Lots of value for money
- Reliable shifting
- Impressive shifter ergonomics
- Lever feel light
- Extremely durable chainrings and steel sprockets
- Offers freehub body compatibility
- Not the best derailleur build quality
- The clutch is not adjustable
- It has a heavy cassette
- SRAM’s NX offers less gear range compared to GX and others
What is SRAM GX?
SRAM GX is the brand’s mid-range groupset that offers plenty of gears and impressive performance.
The GX is one groupset above the NX. That means you get more cassette range with this option.
More specifically, you get a 10-52t cassette, opening the doors to a huge 520% range!
Here is a summary of what you get with the SRAM GX groupset.
The major attraction of the GX line is the cassette. It holds the cogs together using 123 stainless steel pins.
You get a huge jump with the 52t cog. And if that’s too much for your liking, you can still get SRAM’s10-50t cassette.
GX 12-Speed Groupset Performance
The GX offers smooth and precise shifting on the trail. You’ll hardly experience any dramatic changes in cadence if you use the 10-42t easy gears.
And when it comes time to take on prolonged climbs, you’ll find the 52t clog quite handy.
Think of the 52t cog as the bailout gear!
It makes a world of difference and offers incredible relief when you slowly winch up steep climbs.
GX Rear Mech
GX mech comes with a revised pulley wheel offset. In addition to this, it has a lengthened parallelogram, shorter cage, and pivot hardware.
All of these combine to increase chain wrap and boost chain and cassette lifespan. In turn, you get a better shift feel.
Pros and Cons of SRAM GX
Here’s a summary of the highs and lows to expect from SRAM’s latest mid-range groupset.
- Provides very smooth and crisp shifting
- Highly reliable and extremely durable
- Whopping 520% gear range for increased flexibility
- Highly adjustable and easy to customize
- More cost-effective option
- Simplified shifting increases efficiency and ease of use
- Not very suitable for tackling more technical climbs
- Carbon finishing leaves more to be desired
- More expensive than SRAM NX
SRAM NX Vs GX: Similarities
Besides being owned by the same company, there are a few other similarities between NX and GX.
Both groupsets share similar 12 gears, X-Sync 2 chainrings, and Matchmaker shifter. Also, while the NX and GX feature slightly different chains, they both use solid pins.
But that’s not all.
Nearly everything in the NX and GX groupsets is interchangeable. This is true for the derailleurs, shifters, and chains.
However, the cassettes are not interchangeable, at least, not without changing the hub.
With some hub models, you only need to change the hub driver if you want to use an NX cassette for GX or vice-versa.
But this is not possible with some hubs. The only way to interchange the cassettes would be to replace the entire hub!
SRAM NX Vs GX: Differences
Generally, switching from NX to GX is considered an upgrade. To help you understand why this is so, here are the major differences between SRAM’s NX and GX.
The NX and GX lines of SRAM have only a few noticeable differences, but perhaps the biggest of them all is the cassettes.
In simple terms, the cassette on the NX line features loose gears.
The gears have plastic spacers between them and are compatible with any standard freehub body.
With SRAM’s NX, the cassette is 11-50t range.
On the other hand, the GX cassette uses pinned cogs. That means you get a cassette that comes in one piece.
When it comes to range, the newer GX cassette features a 10-52t range.
For most people, the most glaring difference between NX and GX is the price.
The NX groupset offers an insane price-to-performance ratio!
This makes it a more budget-friendly option and suitable for those just starting with mountain bikes.
SRAM’s NX is a good way to get your feet wet if you are still not sure whether you want to give up on the traditional chainring setup you currently use.
Opting for this low-price option means you can easily sell it off and recoup most of your investment if you end up changing your mind.
Plus, spending such a low amount of money on the setup will leave you with spare change to get a new mountain bike saddle or even a pair of gloves.
By now you would have figured out that SRAM’s GX groupset is priced higher than NX.
The groupset focuses more on users who want lighter bikes and are willing to pay more money for them.
Typically, there’s about a $100 difference between NX and GX. It can even be more in some cases, depending on where you’re buying from.
There is only a slight difference between the two groupsets when it comes to the chain. And this has to do with the material used in constructing the chain.
With SRAM’s NX you get a chain made from plain steel plates, while the chain on GX comes with a chrome and nickel finish.
The chrome treatment gives the pins more strength.
Bottom line: It may be worthwhile to go with the NX if you are not buying a complete set. You’ll likely save some money.
One of the reasons for the lower price of NX is the shifter.
The line features a shifter with a full plastic body. While this keeps costs low, it is not the best pick if you are crashing often.
However, it is the lightest shifter with Matchmaker mounts.
Also, the NX full plastic shifter is the only shifter that comes with a fixed bar clamp mount.
The GX line has shifters that feature alloy in the lower body. This makes them more durable and suitable for more challenging trails.
Of course, this means it costs more money!
Another noticeable difference with the SRAM NX vs GX lines is the cranks.
The NX line has cranks made of 6000-series alloy. This doesn’t offer the highest stiffness but it has good strength.
With the GX line, you get cranks constructed using 7000-series alloy.
This provides greater stiffness. Plus, it offers better strength to weight ratio compared to NX cranks.
But that’s not all.
GX cranks are lighter in comparison to NX.
That’s because the GX cranks have alloy chainrings. In contrast, NX cranks come with stamped steel chainrings.
Keep in mind that the GX line has two other lines above it – the X01 and XX1 lines. These have cranks made from carbon fiber and hollow carbon fiber respectively.
That makes them lighter and stiffer than the GX line.
However, there’s one small drawback.
They are less likely to hold up as well as GX cranks when it comes to taking punishments and thrashing in the woods!
NX is rather on the heavy side.
The crankset, rear derailleur, cassette, and chain all weigh more than GX. Only the trigger shifter in NX is lighter than that of GX.
To paint a better picture, the SRAM NX Eagle groupset weighs a total of 2,032g against 1,754g of SRAM GX Eagle groupset.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with having a bike that’s slightly on the heavy side.
But there’s a catch!
It doesn’t offer the type of handling and performance you’ll want.
This is especially the case when you’re faced with more technical climbs and other challenging terrains.
In other words, you’re better off with the GX groupset if you want smoother shifting, particularly when you are going uphill and down-shifting under load.
GX is designed with more precise construction and tighter tolerances, making it more suited to provide a bit more performance than NX.
SRAM NX Vs GX: Which Should You Choose?
No doubt, SRAM’s 1x groupsets (and 1x setups in general) provide impressive benefits.
First, riding is a lot simpler and easier with only one shifter. You don’t have to think too much about finding the perfect chainring and cog combination while also paying attention to the flow of the trail.
Also, there are no overlapping gears to worry about.
Plus, 1x setups mean your bike is rid of extra (and unnecessary) weights! That means you can ride faster and enjoy improved bike handling.
All of these benefits are great, but you still have to decide which 1x groupset to pick: NX or GX?
If you’re super hard on your drivetrains – perhaps a jumper, speed demon, or basher – you might want to go with something that offers a bigger cog size.
SRAM’s GX has 52t gearing, making it a better choice for tackling climbs or more challenging terrains.
On the flips side, NX is slightly heavier but significantly cheaper.
Consider opting for this SRAM groupset if you want a budget option that doesn’t require new wheels when upgrading an older bike frame.
Last Updated on February 18, 2022 by Matthew Carpenter