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@thelawnet has given a very descriptive answer to my previous question which seeks an Explanation on the lineup of Shimano Derailleurs. I am pretty sure that there are people who confuse about the SRAM lineup too and I cannot find a similar question that addresses their complicated lineup. It would be really nice if someone could provide a proper explanation of their MTB and Road lineup. Thank you!

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SRAM's road hierarchy is essentially extremely simple:

  1. Red eTap AXS cf. Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 (1/2 x 12 electronic vs 2 x 11 electronic)
  2. Force eTap AXS cf. Shimano Ultegra Di2 (1/2 x 12 electronic vs 2 x 11 electronic)
  3. Force cf. Shimano Ultegra (both 2 x 11 mechanical)
  4. Rival cf. Shimano 105 (both 2 x 11)
  5. Apex cf. Shimano Tiagra (both 2 x 10)

That's it. Five levels, no more, no less.

Other things mentioned:

  • eTap without the AXS, is simply old 11-speed Etap. It's not a separate level.
  • Red without the eTap is obsolete - SRAM deem their top kit is all-electronic. They don't make 12-speed road gear that's not electronic. Red is the former top-of-the-line mechanical, but is now outside the hierarchy. Formerly it would have been above Force mechanical, and below Red Etap.
  • S is not a groupset. It refers to odd parts (e.g., flat bar shifters for road groupsets, or triathlon levers) that are different quality levels. 900 = Red, 700 = Force, 500 = Rival/Apex.
  • the '1' designation is not a different quality level per se, but for example 'Apex 1' refers to a 1 x 11 system, which is of 'Apex' quality level but more expensive as it had hydrualic disc brakes, which is a feature, not a groupset level per se.

Other designations:

  • HRD - hydraulic disc brake
  • HRR - hydraulic rim brake

Note that SRAM offer discounts on their Rockshox suspension for MTB kit if specifying their drivetrain, but for road they are not as attractive as Shimano except at the 'eTap AXS' level, as that is wireless whereas Di2 is not. In addition, their 1 x 11 drivetrain is sometime specified as it may offer gear/brake combinations that Shimano do not.

Sram's MTB hierarchy is more complicated.

Previously:

  1. XX - 2x 10-speed (hence XX) - renamed to XX1 after switch to 11-speed, 10-42t 1x
  2. X.0 - 9-speed, later 10-speed - renamed to X01 after switch to 11-speed https://www.pinkbike.com/news/sram-x01-drivetrain-explained.html
  3. X.9 - 9-speed - upgraded to 10-speed
  4. X.7 - 9/8-speed - upgraded to 10-speed
  5. X.5 - 9-8-speed - later also upgraded to 10-speed
  6. X.4 - 8-speed
  7. X.3 - 7-speed

X1 was a much cheaper 11-speed system:

https://www.pinkbike.com/news/sram-x1-drivetrain-first-ride.html

then GX below that

https://www.pinkbike.com/news/sram-gx-drivetrain-review-2015.html

So you had:

  1. XX1
  2. X01 - only slightly cheaper
  3. X1
  4. GX

then NX below that, with the major cost saving of not using a 10t cassette, only an 11t one.

https://www.pinkbike.com/news/sram-announces-nx-1x11-drivetrain-2016.html

When Shimano moved to 12-speed it didn't change much, but they called everything Eagle.

This results in this hierarchy:

  1. XX1 Eagle (with or without AXS), formerly XX1 and XX
  2. X01 Eagle (with or without AXS), formerly X01 and X.0. Also X01 DH.
  3. GX Eagle formerly GX and X.9. Also GX DH.
  4. NX Eagle, formerly NX, and X.7
  5. SX Eagle, formerly X.5
  6. X.4
  7. X.3

Note that that is 5 12-speed groupsets, where 3 use SRAM's 10t freehub, and 2 do not.

There is also EX1, which is priced between X01 and GX, but is 8-speed specifically designed for e-bikes.

By comparison, Shimano:

  1. XTR
  2. Deore XT
  3. SLX
  4. Deore

are four levels of 12-speed with a 10t cassette/freehub

Shimano's 11-speed Deore probably maps closely to NX & SX Eagle, in that it has an 11-51t cassette, whereas those use 11-50t.

Shimano sell both lighter and heavier components for XTR, depending on your goals (e.g. 4-piston and 2-piston brakes).

So XX1 AND X01 both roughly map to XTR, while GX Eagle is doing the work of THREE Shimano groupsets (XT, SLX, Deore-12 speed). GX Eagle corresponds to Shimano Deore/SLX (which aren't very far apart)

Note that Shimano have dumped Di2 for MTBs, so they have nothing to match AXS for MTBs.

Because SRAM released 12-speed before Shimano and grabbed lots of market share, they have milked their 'Eagle' brand by releasing steadily lower quality/cheaper 12-speed groupsets. SX Eagle is probably around Shimano's Alivio/Acera quality levels. Shimano don't need to make cheap 12-speed kit, as their 9-speed kit is very popular on new bikes, whereas SRAM is not. People looking for an alternative to Shimano for 9-speed bikes tend to spec Microshift.

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  • What do you mean by "Note that Shimano have dumped Di2 "? – Vladimir F Oct 6 at 14:21
  • I said "Note that Shimano have dumped Di2 for MTBs", not that they have dumped Di2. M9000 Di2 was introduced 2014 alongside mechanical. M8000 mechanical was introduced 2015, and Di2 2016. M9100 followed in 2018, m8100 in 2019, but there is no Di2 version for either. If they make another version, it is not a part of the current lineup – thelawnet Oct 6 at 14:38
  • Yes, I do understand you meant for MTB, sorry for missing the last word when copy-pasting on the phone. That is really strange, I think the TV-commenters said that all the pros in the last double-round world cup used electronic shifting. – Vladimir F Oct 6 at 19:33
  • However, it is quite possible I misunderstood their words, At east this one pinkbike.com/news/… is clearly mechanical. – Vladimir F Oct 6 at 19:41
  • definitely nobody selling old XTR/XT Di2 on new bikes this year. Mostly SRAM Axs on the most expensive MTBs. More Sram XX1/X01 mechanical than XTR I think also. – thelawnet Oct 6 at 19:44
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SRAM's road/gravel hierarchy is easy to understand at least, in decreasing order:

  • SRAM RED eTap AXS
  • SRAM RED eTAP
  • SRAM RED
  • SRAM Force eTap AXS
  • SRAM Force / Force 1
  • SRAM Rival / Rival 1
  • SRAM Apex / Apex 1
  • S-Series

"1" obviously means there is a specific one-by version available. I don't believe basic RED has a 1x variant. AXS can be set up one-by or two-by.

There appears to be a well defined hierarchy of MTB groupsets also:

  • XX1 Eagle AXS
  • XX1 Eagle
  • XX1
  • X01 Eagle AXS
  • X01 Eagle
  • X01 / X01 Downhill
  • EX1
  • GX Eagle
  • GX / GX Downhill
  • NX Eagle
  • NX
  • SX Eagle

What's confusing is that there are so many levels and you get a choice of technologies (Eagle, AXS) within each group, so it's hard to know what you get with each level, what you get and what the differences are.

As far as I can see unlike Shimano SRAM just keeps adding 'upgrades' to groupsets such as Eagle and AXS tech, and adding groupsets on top of the stack. Compare this to Shimano that trickles down tech to lower groups and iterates series (e.g. Ultegra 6700, 6800, R8000 etc).

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  • Another complication is that Force and Red have 12s groups only in the AXS versions. Red eTap is 11s. Red and Force mechanical are 11s, and it's not clear when SRAM plans to update them to 12s. – Weiwen Ng Oct 5 at 20:37
  • In my opinion, it'd make since to keep the 7-spd DH groups separate from the XC/Trail/Enduro groups – Paul H Oct 5 at 20:44
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    @PaulH Actually I think giving theDH groups a 'level' (GX and X01) is a good idea. Compare to Shimano: what level (Deore though XTR) do Zee and Saint compare too? – Argenti Apparatus Oct 5 at 20:54
  • I agree they the DH groups need a level, I'm simply suggesting that they get a separate list for the same reason the XC/Trail/Enduro groups get pulled away from the road groups – Paul H Oct 5 at 21:18
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    Shimano had one descending hierarchy, from XTR to Tourney, with the two parallel Saint and Zee at exactly Deore XT & Deore leveels, respectively, but now they have their complications: they decided to rebrand Acera parts Alivio (downgrading them), so there is old Alivio, and Acera Alivio. plus Deore now splits more-or-less into three tiers: 10-speed (more like old Alivio with an extra cog), 11-speed and 12-speed (higher quality cranks and shifters) – thelawnet Oct 5 at 21:54

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