If you’re familiar with my blogs then you’ll know I’ve recently published an article on 1×11 vs 2×10/11. In that article, I wished to provoke thought about why we make the choices we do. I left quite a few gaps in my arguments, about singlespeeds, 3×9 and mostly 1×12. I did so, because without understanding those first points in that article, most of my readers may find this article to techie to follow.
To open, I think the Eagle is superb. The offering of a cassette that has a gargantuan 50T granny gear on whilst maintaining the same ratios (which are proven to be perfect) as the 11 speed predecessor is pretty cool. I idea behind this setup is simply, that on a 1×11 setup, the only way you could change the ratio was by fitting a new chainring in front. The same can be said for Eagle, the difference is that you get a wider spread of gears out back that make up for you “weakness” on the old 1×11 system.
What are you talking about Lance? Let me explain quick, if you run a 30T front chainring (considered small-allow for nice climbing cadence) you end up cruising nicely uphill, but find it difficult to keep up on the flats and downhills were you effectively run out of gears. And if you put a larger ring on the front say a 32T or 34T, you are fine on the flats and downhills, but never find an easier or light enough gear to spin uphill. Problem. The Eagle groupset has smashed a 50T cog on the back the cassette changes this completely. With this 8T increase in size over the 1×11 cassette, Eagle gives the rider the ability to ride a large enough chainring up front, say a 34T which allows the rider to keep up on the downhills and flats, but also climb with a comfortable and easy cadence. Simple! Genius.
The Eagle groupset sports it’s own chain (narrower), which is a masterful piece of engineering from SRAM, and a new Derailleur that sports 14T pulley wheel to acommodate that large 50T cog. The shifter is furnished with 12 speed index system and the Eagle Carbon Crankset is hollow form. (Previous cranksets had foam cores). Groupset prices are around R22 000 +/- in RSA.
In my opinion, this is a Mountain Bike Groupset of note. Clever, very simple and quiet (new sync chainring design sheds mud better and last longer as a result). Less to go wrong, and does away with pesky front derailleurs. The ratio is 500%, this means it’s the equivalent gear range from top to bottom as a 2x system! It’s brilliant, but have the engineers gone to far?
Why do I ask this? Well, that rather large 50T cog on the back has a hell of a lot of leverage on the hub, axle and freebody. Have the engineers thought about this? I’m sure they have but you’ll recall that Shimano had an issue with 2×10 systems when it made a cassette range for the weaker riders (SLX level only) that ended up cracking freebodies. The gearing was to strong for the hub engineering! Chicken before the egg stuff. They had to change a few things to get that right, and they did. But it’s just a thought. How many other manufacturers have seen this coming and beefed up their designs to handle this new load? I’m sure we are going to see hub failures in the not so distant future, and I’ll bet it’s due to this problem. Will this be enough to stop the masses buying it? No. That is a fact.
So there is an alternative, lets say you already have invested in a SRAM 1×11 groupset and you absolutely love it’s simplicity. It’s like running a singlespeed, very little to go wrong and quiet. But you run out of puff uphill, and downhill you can catch your friends? E*Thirteen have come up with a plan, that solves this problem. SRAM’s cassette ratio is 10-42T, and what E*Thirteen has done is manufactured their own cassette that is a 9-44T! How does this help? If you stay using a 32T front chainring, you can keep up downhill and able to climb more effectively uphill. Is this a nail in the Eagles coffin? It certainly a lot cheaper! Alot. It’s only the price of a new cassette, which I think is maybe R3800 (uncomfirmed) vs the R22 000 bill to gain around 8% more ratio. Is the difference in price the extra gearing?
Only the consumer can tell. Personally, I’ll replace my cassette with the E*Thirteen system thank you very much!