9-Speeds, A Thing of the Past?

Mountain Biking

SRAM has a new off road components group called “XX”. Rumors abound, but James Huang of Bike Radar/Cycling News is reporting that a major change is going to be a 2×10 drivetrain. Ever since road grouppo’s started coming out with a 10-cog cassette, it was inevitable that this change would occur on the mountain side.

If you take the group’s moniker as Roman numerals, XX looks likely to have not only the first ten-speed off-road transmission, but a dedicated 2×10 system specifically aimed at fit racer-types.

The rear cassette will likely be based on the innovative PowerDome design of the road-going Red group but modified for better performance in muddy conditions with a more open architecture. The 11-34 tooth range is unlikely to change much but the additional ratio in the middle will mean smaller jumps between gears, something racers always like.

I’ve got a couple of concerns:
1. With 10 speeds, does that mean my current 9 speed drivetrain will be a thing of the past? My single speed friends would have me believe that 9 speeds IS already a thing of the past. haha. Will 9 speeds bikes then be regulated to the Walmart’s of the world? We can only wait and see.

2. I remember when the industry moved from 7 to 8, then to 9 speed cassettes. The outcry with each additional cog was that all the cogs would be thinner and wear faster causing more trouble than the weight savings and cost were worth. Now we’re seeing 10 speed cassettes without increasing the rear spacing. Will this be the point where the durability of the cassette is compromised?

Interesting stuff going on over there at SRAM. I love how they’ve improved just about every brand they’ve touched. And I’m definitely looking forward to the new potential carbon goodies especially since all the engineers have been saying for years that carbon fiber can be made stronger and lighter than aluminum. 10 speed cassettes though? I’m tempering my enthusiasm and taking a wait and see approach.

For James Huang’s article, click here.

10 thoughts on “9-Speeds, A Thing of the Past?

  1. It’ll be a while before 9 speed systems are a thing of the past…hell, in the mountain bike world, it’s still possible to track down 8-speed systems!

    And as for durability, it’s more of a concern of premature chain wear rather than of cog wear. That chain is mighty skinny, but the 10-speed cogs are only a tiny bit thinner than the corresponding 9 speed cogs.

  2. I agree 8 speeds are still around but they’re an anomaly when seen on the trail and certainly do not come on new (non-mart) mountain bikes.

    Chain concerns too! Add that to the list. 🙂

    Thanks G.

  3. I’ve got an 8speed drive train that is only a few months old sitting there waiting for me to to install. I had played with the idea of making a 1×8 since I still have the shifters that came with it.


  4. 9 speed bikes are said to have 27 speeds but we all know that in reality that is not true as you of course do not cross over the chain from small cogs to small ring and vice versa, big cogs to big ring. In reality, with 9 speed, the bike is really only a 20 or 21 speed bike.

    A 2×10 would be considered a 20 speed. But can you use all gears for each ring? If not, is it really going to be an effective 17 or 18 speed bike?

    If so, what’s the point?

  5. What’s the point? Well, that’s simple: to vacuum more money out of your wallet. Bike component manufacturers prey on us by developing all these “must have” choices and by telling us that the stuff we love is outdated and obsolete.

  6. Moe, are you serious? Shimano is the WORST offender out there! The highly specialized parts and the specialized tools that go with them (that don’t work on anything else) are enough to make even the most dedicated cyclist pull his/her own hair out!!!

  7. GR, Shimano the worst? I totally disagree! In my opinion, Campy is the worst, at least Shimano and SRAM share some compatibility.

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