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Comparaison transmissions gravel Sram et Shimano

In this Article

SRAM vs Shimano gravel groups: comparison and analysis

In this Article

Published August 2, 2023

While the first gravel bikes were equipped with road groupsets, the practice is rapidly gaining in popularity, and the main drivetrain manufacturers have released their gravel-specific ranges: Shimano GRX, SRAM XPLR and Campagnolo Ekar.

The practice has also diversified, from competitive gravel on UCI races to bikepacking in alpine environments. The question of groupsets is therefore of paramount importance for enthusiasts looking for the best equipment for their specific practice. In this article, we'll help you make sense of it all.


What is a bike group?

If you're a regular reader of the The Cyclist House, you've probably already read our articles dedicated to road bike groupset comparisons and mountain bike.

If you're new around here, first of all: welcome👋

And the answer to today's question: a bicycle groupset is the set of components that make up the transmission system, namely crankset, gear selectors, chain, chainring, cassette and derailleur(s).

Drivetrain Sram Xplr for gravel

What's the difference between a gravel groupset and a road or mountain bike groupset?

Gravel groupsets use both road and mountain bike technologies, to the best compromise between speed on the road and climbing steep trails with bike bags. While the gravel groupset remains broadly similar to that of a road groupset, the ratios are more like those of a mountain bike with smaller chainrings and wider cassettes. MTB are generally fitted with a single chainring (1x), whereas road bikes have two (2x).

In gravel, The 2 options coexist.


So which to choose: 1x or 2x?

As is often the case when it comes to cycling equipment, the answer is: it depends! Your riding style, your budget, your preferences... Our experts have dedicated an entire article to the subject if you'd like to delve deeper.

1x

The simplicity of a 1x groupset is very attractive to many cyclists: 1 single shifter, no front derailleur so less equipment to adjust and less chance of breakage. All gear combinations are possible, there's no chain crossing and less chance of derailing. It's also easier to clean and there's fewer parts to change.

On the other hand, 1x groupsets have wide cassettes to compensate for the absence of a second chainring, so there are bigger gaps in gear ratios. And without a front derailleur, you may need to make numerous gear changes quickly if there are big variations in gradient.

If you're a bikepacker who prefers to explore more rugged itineraries, and you're not worried about achieving the optimum pedaling cadence in all conditions, a single-deck bike may be just what you're looking for.


Campagnolo fans will find only a single-plate model.
Similarly, SRAM's XPLR range only offers single chainrings, but we'll see that it's possible to mix a gravel groupset with a road groupset to get a double chainring on your gravel bike.

2x

A dual chainring configuration offers smaller increments in the sprockets of the cassette while offering a similar overall speed range, and means you can fine-tune your gears. The double chainring therefore offers greater efficiency on all types of terrain and will be more suitable for competitors.


What are the ranges by brand?

With the exception of Campagnolo, which offers just one Ekar model for its gravel range, Shimano and SRAM come in several versions, from entry-level to very high-end.

 

Shimano

SRAM

Entry-level

GRX400

Apex

Mid-range

GRX600

Rival

High-end

GRX800

Force

Ultra high-end

GRX815

Red


Which range of gravel groupsets to choose?

What's your level?

A beginner? Entry-level bikes are often all you need to get your first feel for the bike. If your budget allows, we advise you to take a look at the mid-range, which will enable you to progress more quickly.
Experienced cyclists, the mid-range is for you! Reliable, solid and precise, the best value for money for regular use..
If you're looking to get your hands on the components used by the pros, choose the top of the range. Speed, ergonomics, design: no compromises (except on your budget!).
For committed competitors and lovers of beautiful machines, the ultra-high end should delight you. The smoothest, most innovative and lightest equipment from each manufacturer: simply irreproachable.

What's your budget?

As you move upmarket, you gain in quality, lightness, precision and functionality. Materials are more noble, gear changes faster, braking more efficient and prices, naturally, higher.

What's your riding style?

Your riding style will determine whether you prefer a double or single-plate groupset, and which range level to choose according to their compatibility with a particular type of bike. Cassette more or less large. We'll go into more detail in the next paragraph.


What are the differences between ranges and brands?

Gravel groupsets from Japanese manufacturer Shimano

Model

Speeds

Platens

Cassette max

Mechanical or electric

RX400

2x10

30-46

11-36

mechanical

RX600

2x11 / 1x11

30-46 / 40

11-34 / 11-42

mechanics

RX800

2x11 / 1x11

31-48 / 40 or 42

11-34 / 11-42

both

 With Shimano, the choice of model will depend on your riding style. The same gears are not available in all ranges. However, it is possible to mix gravel derailleurs with a Cassette road or mountainbike depending on your riding style, up to 11-42.

If you need help choosing between mechanical or electric transmission, our experts will help you.


Gravel groupsets from American manufacturer SRAM

Model

Speeds

Platens

Cassette max

Mechanical or electric

Apex

1x12

38-40-42-44-46

10-44

both

Rival

1x12

38-40-42-44-46

10-44

both

Force

1x12

38-40-42-44-46

10-44

both

Red

1x12

38-40-42-44-46

10-44

both

This table shows that the groups have similar specificities in terms of gear ratios. The choice of model will therefore be determined more by the quality of the range you want. It's also possible to mix the gravel collection with a Cassette to obtain a double chainring or a Cassette from mountainbike to go up to 10-52.

The gravel groupset from Italian manufacturer Campagnolo

Model

Speeds

Platens

Sprockets

Mechanical or electric

Ekar

1x13

38-40-42-44

9-36, 9-42 and 10-44

mechanics

Campagnolo currently offers only one gravel model. It is not possible to mix it with other road or MTB ranges.


Nathalie Baillon's opinion

This article gives you the keys to choosing the right groupset for you. It will depend on your riding style, your budget and your preferences.
If you're a competitive rider and tend to ride on rolling terrain, opt for a model with a double chainring, or mix and match with the road range. If you travel in alpine terrain and aren't looking for performance at any price, a single chainring model, possibly mixed with a road model, is the best choice. Cassette from mountainbike will give you complete satisfaction.

To conclude, we'd like to give the floor to Nathalie Baillon, ultra-endurance cyclist:
"For me, who likes to mix these different practices, I chose a double chainring from the SRAM Force eTap AXS 12-speed 10-36 road range, which allows me to be competitive on bikepacking races and easily recharge the batteries in my derailleur."


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