Reply To: New entry level SRAM/Rockshox


I’m not the most experienced MTBer around, and I lack many technical reference points (I have not ridden many different MTBs). Anyway, here are my views based on the entry-level hardtail I bought at the beginning of the 2019 season, especially about reliability, robustness after 3,000km on the bike

The bike is a basic Decathlon bike that came fully kitted out with SRAM/rockshox/truvativ components

. GX shifter: still works fine. No play. Feels as new with good indexing

. GX rear derailleur: has developped a lot of play around all pivot points, especially the derailleur cage. Clutch still works OK despite no maintenance. Indexing is still OK. Not smashed by chance, but overall design is design feels very cheap (i.e. plastic pulley and pulley support for cable alignment), and design does not allow for any repair. Overall, works well but should be considered a throw-away item. The much-cheaper Shimano Deore 10-speed derailleur on my touring bike is much better designed, engineered and built.

. Truvativ cranks: details on my opinion here: The cranks themselves are OK, and the chainring is not fully worn out after 1 season. But the design of the bearing preload ring (used on all modern SRAM cranks) is just plain awfull: Cheap self-tapping screw, and plastic ring to support all axial load. My conclusion: use Shimano

. NX cassette (11-50 on Shimano-style freehub body).  Setting the upper derailleur jokey wheel very close to the cassette give good shifting on the smaller cogs. Setting the upper derailleur jokey wheel very far form the cassette give surprisingly good shifting on the larger cogs. I was usrpised that the large jumps between cogs did not prevent good shifting. However, I was unable to get a good shifting at both ends of the cassette with the same b-tension setting. The NX has no/few ramps on the 6 smaller cogs despite the large jumps in gearing. My conclusion: It’s cheap for a reason

. RockShox Reba RL (32mm) fork: stiffness is pretty good (much better than the Fox 32 I tested. the smoothness is pretty good. No play has developped is the bushings over the season of use. The spring holds well the pressure over time. The rebound damper works well, though i only use it in its most open setting. The Motion Control damper (compression damper) didn’t work well from the start (details here: . The main valve in the compression damper has so much play/leakage that I have no hope that the damper could work consistently and reliably. My opinion: the fork overall is pretty good except for the Motion Control damper (fitted to most entry-level SRAM forks), which is hopeless. My conclusion: my next bike will be fully rigid

. SRAM Level T brakes. These are rebranded AVID Elixir. I understand that the Elixir were famous for their unreliability and inconsistent braking. From my experience the rebranded SRAM Level T are exactly the same. I wrote in the post here my first impression on those brakes: ” I clearly noticed a decrease in brake performance as I progressed in the descents, I suspect linked to the pads and discs warming up. Typically, after 500m-, I’d have to switch from 1-finger to 2-finger braking. And after 1,000m-, I got strong reminders of my cantilever brakes from previous bikes… More alarmingly, and even on the shorter descents, once every 20 or so braking, one of the brakes would fail to provide any kind of power. The lever would feel very spongy, and provide virtually no braking power. Then, the power would could back after a few minutes just as randomly as it disappeared. Anyway, my conclusion is to switch to 200mm rotor front and back, and Shimano 4-pot calipers (Saint or XT 8120). I had heard that SRAM brakes were hopeless (both local bike shops around me rent MTBs and sale them at the end of the season, and both shops told me that they’ve given up on SRAM brakes because they don’t survive a 3-month season on rental bikes)”. My conlusion: I won’t run again any SRAM brakes

Overall, based on my limited experience, I would say: Use Shimano, MicroShift, Tektro, Hope, and only as a last resort, consider SRAM is that’s all you can afford, but don’t expect it to last