I have been on a Trek Superfly since back in early 2011 (check an early write up of the bike here). My current Superfly is the 9.8 SL version and the spec was still largely stock and based on the 2014 spec. The bike has served me well through a whole lot of XC racing, multisport and expedition adventure races. The bulk of the bike has been part of 3 Godzones and an XPD. In my eyes, the simple, lightweight hardtail is the ideal bike for an expedition event. Fewer pieces to break, less mass to ride up hills and plenty of space for attaching additional storage. With so many good miles between us I decided it was a good time to update the bike and get it prepared for some more racing.
In 2015 I added a carbon wheelset after destroying a rear wheel. The wide carbon wheels dropped some weight from the bike and also enhanced the handling through widening the tire profile. For the changes this time I decided to focus on the drivetrain. My Trek Topfuel runs 1×11, and while quite liking the range of a 2×10, I definitely prefer the simplicity of a single front chainring. So the plan was for a 1x setup. In the past I have been a big fan of Shimano. I like the reliability and the fact the products just keep working. I was all set to get Shimano XT 1×11 on the Superfly.
Talking to friends someone suggested, “why not Eagle?” Not a bad idea. 12 gears means extra range and the recently release SRAM GX Eagle would be cheaper than XT 11 speed. I read around a little, GX seemed to be widely applauded. The downsides seemed to be weight (when compared to XO or XX Eagle) and the derailleur also hung a little closer to the ground than 11 speed versions. Neither seemed to be deal breakers. I emailed Darren at Cyco and the arranged to get the bike in to have the new GX Eagle fitted.
When thinking of first impressions of the bike with the updated drivetrain, it is hard to go past the enormous 50 tooth chainring on the cassette. Would I ever need a gear that tall? The derailleur also has huge jockey wheels, making for a quite distinctive look on the rear end of the bike. Cyco also updated the tires with some fresh Vittoria Saguaro 2.2s front and rear.
I’m now nearing 10 rides in on the new setup and I am happy with the choice. I have taken it mainly on rides around Rotorua, but also a short foray into Riverhead Forest in Auckland and some time on tarseal. The 1x setup is definitely quieter and the cockpit sure looks cleaner with one less shifter. In terms of range, I have not yet found a situation where I wasn’t lacking a gear. The 32t chainring is maybe a little small for some high speed descents, but I have been able to up the cadence enough to keep some power on. The shifting has been quick and crisp, definitely nicer than my rather aged XT that it replaced. The climbing end of the range felt similar to the smallest gear on my old XT 2×10. The steepest climb around Rotorua that I regularly ride is a piece of 4wd track from the Tarawera Rd watertanks up to the top of Tokorangi Pa. The 32×50 ratio was comfortable on this section. Stayed seated and kept a good cadence. Definitely no limitation compared to the old 2x setup.
In terms of my main concern around the vulnerabilities of the derailleur; nothing to report so far. I haven’t struck it on anything nor has it picked up more debris. The true test will come in the next adventure race, or next backcountry ride I do. Lets just say I am not intentionally trying to smash it off.
Would I recommend GX Eagle? At this point I would. It was a great way to breathe some new life into my hardtail and prepare it for some more expedition adventure racing. Jump across to www.cyco.co.nz to have a chat with Darren if you are interested in doing the same for your bike.