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REVIEW: SRAM AXS GX Upgrade Kit
Wireless shifting is no new feat for the cycling scene but with SRAM bringing out the more entry level GX AXS, it brings it all to a much more affordable level.
For under $1k you can get yourself into the wireless shifting platform with not too many down sides from the higher options.
The design is almost identical to the higher level SRAM AXS components with some lower cost materials substituted for the higher end carbon fiber and aluminium parts on the cage.
The shifter is identical throughout all of the options.
The GX AXS components are compatible with all SRAM 12 speed drive train components, making it a super easy conversion if you already have an existing 12 speed set up.
We have also successfully used the GX kit on a Shimano cassette and chain combo which makes the kit that much more usable.
The ease of installation of the GX AXS parts is really part of the beauty of it all.
It's going to take you longer to remove the old shifter, derailleur and cables than it will to install and set up your new AXS kit!
All you need to do once it's bolted on is to adjust your limiting screws with the supplied plastic guide then pair the shifter and derailleur by holding the button on both at the same time.
You'll just need to charge up the battery for the derailleur and you should be good for the advertised 20 hours of riding before going flat which means you'd need to be doing a huge ride for that to be an issue.
Adjusting the indexing is as simple as holding the button on the shifter and simply shifting up or down to make the micro adjustments until it's all running smooth.
The first thing i noticed when jumping on the bike is the shifter, the standard AXS shifter uses a rocker style lever where you just move your thumb up or down, you can also use your index finger to shift up, this is all customizable on the handy AXS app.
It's certainly a different feel to the standard layout, luckily there's an option if you dont like this.
SRAM offer a shift paddle that more resembles the standard shift levers for a fairly reasonable price.
My experience for this review is from around 6 months of riding with the AXS kit over multiple bikes.
Once i got used to how the shifter works and feels i was pleasantly surprised with how quickly and accurately it shifted.
It always does exactly what you expect it to do and you dont have the usual issues with your tune changing mid cable stretch like you may find with your regular mechanical set ups.
Even after long rides in the mud and being banged up on rocks and roots i was surprised to see that it's still running flawlessly.
The derailleur still felt like it had a tonne of power and was showing no signs of slowing down from the day it was installed.
The clutch system in the cage kept the chain tension tight the whole time with no dropped chains to report and minimal chain slap when going through the rough stuff.
The SRAM AXS system have two clutches in their derailleurs, your standard cage clutch to keep the chain tension and then they have the overload clutch which will allow the derailleur to move across in the case of a heavy hit which really minimizes the chance of damage.
Throughout the time of testing there where multiple times i heard the zzzt of the derailleur moving across and so far, there are no issues or loss of performance to report which makes me think it's doing it's job well.
PROS & CONS
|Most affordable wireless kit||Heavier than your traditional setup|
|Overload clutch!||Still not as cheap as traditional setup|
|Fast shifting||Batteries need to be charged|
|Easy to tune on the fly||Transition period getting used to shifter|
If you're itching to get into the wireless shifting world there's no cheaper way to jump in.
We found no loss of performance when comparing to the X01 or XX1 options so unless you're wanting to save the few grams of weight the GX is the way to go but then again, if you're seriously worried about weight you'd be sticking with your standard mechanical style shifters as they are generally lighter.
The shifter feel may take some getting used to but the speed and accuracy of your shifting is well worth the small time it takes to get accustomed to and worst case you can switch over to the more traditional feeling rocker paddles.
I think it's pretty unlikely for there to be many cheaper options any time soon so if you want wireless, the GX AXS system might be the best option for you!