Spotted: Prototype SRAM CX1 Drivetrain


New CX1 is almost here.

The not-so-secret SRAM CX1 drivetrain made another sneak-peek appearance at U.S. cyclocross nationals on the Cannondale SuperX disc cyclocross bike of Ryan Trebon, second place finisher in the men’s elite race. The SRAM PR team was keeping mum on details, but by the looks of Trebon’s set-up, this 1×11 set-up is getting very close to being production ready.

For the uninitiated, CX1 looks to be the mud-bog jumping cousin of SRAM’s wildly-popular XX1 mountain bike drivetrain, which is designed specifically for single-chainring use without the need for guides, catchers or other safety measures. Instead extra tall chainring teeth alternating between wide and thin, or what the Chicago-based company calls its X-Sync technology, keep the chain from jumping off. This will also make it a better choice muddy races, because you’re striping away those potential mud catchers and the need for a front derailleur.

The new derailleur looks a lot like the one used with SRAM’s popular XX1 mountain bike group.

Meanwhile, the rear derailleur looks to closely mimic XX1, where straight parallelogram geometry is combined with an offset and larger jockey pulleys. This will mean that CX1 can only be used in a 1x format; no switching back and forth between single and double chainrings. A built–in roller clutch mechanism will help keep the chain tight even on the bumpy of courses, such as the Valmont Bike Park track that played hosted to this year’s national championships in Boulder, Colorado.

The chainring itself mounts outboard on what looked like a regular Red 22 crankset that had been covered up with black spray paint. Prior to Sunday’s race, there was talk of as many as 4-5 top racers (including new men’s national champion Jeremy Powers) using the prototype set-up. But come startline time, only Trebon and Elle Anderson (second in the women’s elite race) actually showed up with CX1 installed.

Both riders were running a 44-tooth chain ring paired with a standard 11-28 cassette. No word yet on what other chainring sizes will be available, but if the mountain bike system is any indication, expect there to be some more mortal-friendly options.

If you are currently running Red 22 and want to make the switch to the presumably lighter system for next year’s cyclocross season, expect the investment to include new chainring, new chain, and of course the revamped rear derailleur. Official launch for CX1 (or whatever the new system is called) was slated for February 1 but was later pushed back to March, with product availability set for June 1 (though that could change, too). Look for more details on as soon as they become available.

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the / staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying time with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora.

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