AXS setup for gravel & CX?

:wave: Hello all, seeking some opinions on how others might approach a situation. I realize my personal answer might depend on stuff I’m leaving out, but hoping to see opinions how others might handle it if building for themselves.

I’m eyeing SRAM AXS on a gravel/CX build in New England. I’ll be new to CX if I’m able to start it up this year through covid restrictions.

From what I see, my options are 1x mullet, 1x medium cage in back, 2x.

What would you do if building up an AXS drivetrain that would need to handle both gravel and cx events?

I’d have thought a 42T and a 10-36 would have most of your options covered. For me, I’d always go 1x for gravel and Cx, where (imo) the jumps in cadence are less of an issue.

I’d also consider Ekar, which might be an even better solution, although I haven’t actually used it!

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I’d go mullet with an e*thirteen 9-46 out back. I don’t mind the big jumps between gears of a mountain bike cassette, and it’s really nice to have a big under drive granny gear for those steep NE climbs.

This is a good setup for gravel but probably overkill for CX. I’ve never seen a CX course with a hill that requires a 46, anything that steep you’re almost certainly running (happy to be proven wrong!).

IMO, the best setup would be AXS with an MTB rear derailleur. Then you could put on a 10-33 for CX and a 10-50 for gravel.


Having both, a mullet and a long cage force, I think I’d go 2x long cage.
I just don’t really see the disadvantage in going 2x and you get a lot more gears and an even wider range.
For me the 43/30 10-36 is the perfect gravel set up.
The gear jumps on the 10-52 are massive, which isn’t great for road riding…


The Eagle rear cage can shift the 10-33? I highly doubt that.

For me it’s that I can’t use the left shifter for a dropper. OP, are you planning to run a dropper?

That, and I hate front derailleurs off-road.

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Apparently SRAM says no. Lots of good info in the comments here:

I’d be extremely surprised. Considering the short cage AXS can only shift 10-26 10-28 and 10-33, while the mid-cage can go as long as 10-36, but is too long for 10-26.
That in mind, I highly doubt that a cage long enough to shift 10-52 can go as short as 10-33…

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Good point. I was thinking that the Force could do the 10-33 but not the 50 but possibly the Eagle could do both. Then in my setup you’d need two cassettes and two derailleurs, swap out between seasons. That’s not ideal but it would give you the best gearing in both situations.

Is there long cage force eTap? That would be ideal but last I checked it was mechanical only.

Long-Cage is “mid-cage”… it can only go 10-36. The 10-50 is eagle only.

@gjjones I know this isn’t what you’re asking, but mechanical 11-speed Force/Rival is the sweet spot for this setup IMO.

I have this on my CX bike with 11-34 cassettes for cross, and a 10-42 wheelset for gravel. I’m pretty sure the long cage force mech can do up to 46T, even though SRAM doesn’t recommend it. I have an 11-46 cassette on the way to test it on a standard HG wheelset.

Building a gravel/rigid MTB drop bar bike now, and I plan to use the e13 9-46 cassette with Rival 11-speed mech for my trail oriented wheelset. This leaves the left shifter free for the dropper post. I’ll use my 10-42 wheelset for gravel riding where I don’t quite need the 46T.

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Thanks all for the great thoughts! Leaning towards Eagle RD, and if I get serious at CX then getting an additional Force medium cage RD. Whatever I go with, I’ll make sure it gets on one of the bike threads :+1:

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I went with a SRAM AXS Mullet setup with 44 front and a 10-52 on the back for my gravel bike. Super happy with this setup for the roads/trails I’ve ridden so far.


Funny timing, just watched your bike build about an hour ago while searching around. Was considering an aspero too :+1::+1:

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I never knew the man Shane Miller himself is on the forum. Love your YT content…
But I’d still choose the 2x over the mullet :joy:

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I could look this up, but it seems just as easy to as here, plus it may open some conversation:

I have 2x and Force AXS and LOVE it. I have Eagle AXS on my MTB. So, I could swap derailleurs around, go 1x up front and make a mullet gravel bike. No issue.

Since the crank doesn’t change, and the ring is meant for flat top chains- how does that work? Obviously you need a chain swap with the gearing/cassette/rear der. chain, but will that standard chain mess up my Force chainring, or is it more of a cassette issue with the road AXS?

Is any one out there using a standard Eagle chain with their Force AXS cassette and having good results?

You would need to change the chainrings too. Basically everything needs to be Eagle except the shifters for a mullet setup.

Edit: I was wrong, I guess the Eagle chain will fit on the road chainring. But you’d want to change to single ring narrow/wide, and then switch chains based on whether you were using road or mountain cassette/derailleur. So the way I see it you’d need to commit to that bike being 1x unless you were willing to swap chainrings around as well.

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I thought the Derailleur was the only thing that required either the Flat top or Eagle chain? Why would the chainring care? It isn’t running on the flat top side. If going 1x you for sure will want a Narrow/Wide chainring though.