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SRAM Groupset Levels Explained:

Mountain Bike, Road, and Gravel

By: Danielle Vilaplana, Product Content Writer  |  Last Updated: April 30, 2024
SRAM Groupset levels explained

What is a Groupset?

A groupset is a collection of components that work together to control the drivetrain, shifting, and braking of a bike. All SRAM groupset levels include a cassette, rear derailleur, chain, cranks, and shifter, and sometimes a front derailleur too. Groupsets that are designed for drop bar bikes (road bikes and gravel bikes) include brakes because the shifters and brakes are often integrated, but SRAM mountain bike groupsets typically do not.

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SRAM Groupset Hierarchy - Included Drivetrain Components

SRAM Groupset Levels

SRAM has been the force of progress in the realm of bike drivetrains, so it’s key to keep up to date on the SRAM groupset levels. They were the first major component maker to ditch the front derailleur for a 1x11-speed range and the first to introduce the 1x12 mountain bike drivetrains. Where Shimano tends to take a reliable, tried-and-true stance on their products and stick behind them forever, SRAM is a little more focused on pushing the sport forward. Check out our other guide to learn more about Shimano Groupset Levels.

Most SRAM components are cross compatible across their groupset tiers — i.e. you can usually mix and match components within each level or purchase an entire groupset as a package.

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SRAM MTB Groupset Hierarchy

SRAM's claim to fame is their Eagle mountain bike groupsets. SRAM cut their teeth in the 1980s mtb scene and revolutionized the mountain biking world with their 1x drivetrains. Though they lack the climbing prowess of 2x and 3x derailleurs, 1x setups are better for keeping your chain in place and streamlining the components on your bike.

Though there’s a price difference in SRAM’s highest end components, XX1 and X01, SRAM advertises them for different purposes. XX1 is lighter and intended for fast cross-country races, whereas X01 is designed to take a beating on burlier enduro trails. You’ll often see GX on bikes as the working man’s hero, providing excellent performance at an affordable price point. As of 2021, GX even comes with electronic AXS shifting for those who want precise performance without springing for the pricier groupsets.

It’s worth noting that mountain bike groupsets do not come with brakes. The brakes and shifting are not integrated on a mountain bike as they are on drop bar bikes, so the components are all sold separately. Mountain bike brakes are the one instance where SRAM is not as intuitive as Shimano, as they created different names for their brake lines. For SRAM brakes, the hierarchy goes: Code, G2 (formerly Guide), and Level.


SRAM Mountain Bike Groupset Tiers
ProSRAM XX1 EagleThis is SRAM's top-of-the-line mountain bike groupset, designed for elite riders and racers. It features a 12-speed drivetrain with a wide gear range, lightweight components, and advanced technologies such as X-Sync chainrings and a carbon fiber crankset. XX1 components tend to be slightly more vibrant as well - the oil slick cassette is an easily identifiable XX1 component. These components are meant to shave grams on cross-country or trail race bikes at the expense of durability. They also have the option for electronic AXS shifting.
HighSRAM X01 EagleThis is a premium mountain bike groupset that shares many of the features of the XX1 Eagle but at a slightly more affordable price point. It features a 12-speed drivetrain, carbon fiber components, and X-Sync chainrings. X01 has a little less carbon than XX1 and is therefore slightly heavier and more durable and better suited for downhill and enduro riders. X01 also has the option for electronic AXS shifting. SRAM considers X01 and XX1 to have the same level of performance, but they cater to different audiences (cross-country vs enduro).
MidSRAM GX EagleThis is the working class hero that first spiked Eagle’s popularity. It offers many of the same features as the higher-end options but at a more affordable price. It has a number of color options to suit different tastes and has the option for electronic AXS shifting.
EnthusiastSRAM NX EagleThis is an entry-level mountain bike groupset that still offers impressive quality components and features. It features a 12-speed drivetrain with a wide gear range, durable components, and cranks made of aluminum and steel. NX and SX below do not have quite the same range as the other tiers, though, featuring 11-50t cassettes instead of 10-52t.
EntrySRAM SX EagleThis is the most affordable mountain bike groupset from SRAM. It features a 12-speed drivetrain with a wide gear range, basic components, and cranks made of aluminum and steel. SX components are generally not available for purchase by consumers and will only be found on OEM, entry-level bikes. SX uses a different freehub body than the other tiers (Shimano HG style) so it’s ideal for upgrading older bikes.

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SRAM Road Groupset Hierarchy

SRAM is better known for their mountain bike groupsets, as they’ve been around since the 1980s. SRAM didn’t introduce their first road offering, SRAM Red, until 2007.

There is usually some overlap between road and gravel groupsets, which you can see with SRAM’s XPLR series that allows some customization to their road groupsets. You can generally expect road bike groupsets to have larger chainrings with fewer teeth, emphasizing speed on smooth terrain.

Note: because of their lever design, road and gravel bikes have integrated brakes and thus follow the same hierarchy as the groupsets above. Road biking is also the only cycling discipline to still utilize rim brakes, though SRAM offers a hydraulic disc brake option.


SRAM Road Bike Groupset Tiers
ProSRAM RedThis road bike groupset is lightweight and efficient for pro racers and elite riders who demand the best of the best performance. It features a 11-speed drivetrain for the mechanical shifting components and 12-speed for eTap AXS components. Hydraulic brakes, and lightweight components made from carbon fiber, titanium, and ceramic provide premium performance. SRAM offers Red eTap AXS electronic shifting for an absolutely premium setup.
HighSRAM ForceForce is another road bike groupset that offers lightweight carbon or aluminum components at a more affordable price point than the Red. It features a 1x12 or 2x12-speed drivetrain with hydraulic disc or rim brakes. Force also has an option for electronic AXS shifting in the Force eTap AXS group.
MidSRAM RivalThis is an mid-level road bike groupset that provides components at a budget-friendly price. It features 1x12 or 2x12 drivetrain options, hydraulic disc or rim brakes, and mechanical shifting. You can also purchase electronic components as part of SRAM’s Rival eTap AXS group.
EnthusiastSRAM Apex 1 and ApexThis is an mid-level road bike groupset that provides components at a budget-friendly price. It features 1x12 or 2x12 drivetrain options, hydraulic disc or rim brakes, and mechanical shifting. You can also purchase electronic components as part of SRAM’s Rival eTap AXS group.

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SRAM Gravel Groupset Hierarchy


SRAM doesn’t currently offer a gravel-specific groupset, but they do offer a few key gravel components under their XPLR collection. The XPLR 1x12 derailleur, 10-44t cassette, and cranks and an eTap AXS electronic shifting system fit within the Red, Force, and Rival collections. Gravel-specific features like chain management and a 10-44 tooth cassette are made to optimize their pavement setups for dirt roads.


SRAM Brakes

Things get a little more confusing when it comes to brakes. Road and gravel bike groupsets come with the brakes because they're integrated into the drop bar level. Mountain bike groupsets do not include brakes, are named differenty, and have a different type of hierarchy. We think it's worthwhile to include the brake hierachies as well, especially if you're interested in upgrading the OEM brakes that came with your bike. 
SRAM Mountain Bike Brake Tiers
XCSRAM LevelThe Level is SRAM's cross-country brake. The brakes borrow internals from the Guide brakes but have limited, tooled adjustability. Level's models range from the most basic Level to the Level Ultimate, which includes SRAM's lightest and nicest features. The Levels are mostly 2-piston brakes, which keeps them lightweight though the higher end models do have 4-piston options.

Within the Level model, the brakes have the following hierarchy (low to high):
  • SRAM Level
  • SRAM Level T
  • SRAM Level TL
  • SRAM Level TLM
  • SRAM Level Ultimate
TrailSRAM G2SRAM G2 brakes are the redesigned Guide brakes and they balance weight and power for trail riding. They have a stiffer caliper body than the Guides and increased power, plus SRAM's Bleeding Edge system, SwingLink, and more.

Within the G2 lineup, the brakes have the following hierarchy (low to high):
  • SRAM G2 R
  • SRAM G2 RS
  • SRAM G2 Ultimate
Enduro /  DHSRAM CodeSRAM Codes are the best brakes you can buy for downhill-focused bikes.They have impressive modulation and power, as well as for heavier e-bikes. The feature 4-piston calipers and a larger fluid reservior to combat brake fade. They also have tool-free adjustments and a heaveir, durable design that is not trying to save weight.

Within the Code model, the brakes have the following hierarchy (low to high):
  • Code R
  • Code RSC
SRAM Road and Gravel Bike Brake Tiers
ProSRAM RedSRAM Red brakes are the pinnacle of SRAM's braking technology. They engineered to be more aerodynamic and powerful. They come in both hydraulic and mechanical options.
HighSRAM ForceSRAM Force brakes are even lighter than Rival brakes and feature titanium pivot bolts for reduced weight and an indexed quick-release lever for easier adjustments. The rim brake version uses skeletonized arms for further weight reduction and a powerful return spring for crisp responsiveness. They also come in a hydraulic brake version.
MidSRAM RivalThe Rival offers increased tire clearance for up to 28mm tires and high-quality SwissStop pads for confident stopping power. This mid-tier option sheds weight and comes as mechanical or hydralic disc options.
EnthusiastSRAM Apex 1 and ApexThe Apex brakes offer high-performance braking in a user-friendly design. These entry-level brakes are available in both mechanical rim brake and hydraulic disc brake options. Whether you're a seasoned rider or just starting out, Apex brakes provide reliable stopping power at a great price.

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SRAM groupset author

About the Author

Danielle is a Product Content Writer in Salt Lake City, UT. She worked at several bike shops before realizing her desk job potential. She currently has five bikes for urban riding, bikepacking, gravel biking, road biking, and mountain biking, each with a different brake and different groupset. If she had to pick a favorite, it would be SRAM GX.

This is evo. We are a ski, snowboard, wake, skate, bike, surf, camp, and clothing online retailer with physical stores in SeattlePortlandDenver, Salt Lake City, Whistler, and Snoqualmie Pass. Our goal is to provide you with great information to make both your purchase and upkeep easy.

evo also likes to travel to remote places across the globe in search of world-class powder turns, epic waves, or legendary mountain biking locations through evoTrip Adventure Travel Trips. Or, if you prefer to travel on your own, check out our ski & snowboard resort travel guides and mountain bike trail guides.


Still have questions? Please call our customer care team at 1.866.386.1590 during Customer Care Hours. They can help you find the right setup to fit your needs.

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