SRAM rival 1x vs shimano 105 2x shifting “smoothness”

So my gravel bike has sram rival 1 with 11-42 cassette and a 40t oval wolf tooth chain ring on the front.

My road bike has shimano 105 with 11-28 cassette and 50/34 chainrings on the front.

I know many like sram’s shifters more tactile feel and double tap shifter. I definitely prefer shimano a shifting levers though. It’s more
Subtle and feels smoother. But that’s just personal preference.

My question is with the smoothness in shifting across the cassette. With shimano 105 always feels super smooth unless the indexing is out of whack of course. SRAM never feels quite as smooth and more often feels clunkier even after a tuneup. Mind you it’s not awful but is definitely different.

Is this a sram thing or just a byproduct of 1x where the 1x cassette has much larger gaps between the cogs compared to the 11-28 cassette?

I’ve had this bike with sram for 2.5 years so I’m obviously not suffering. I’m just thinking about switching to electronic shifting next year wondering if I should stick with sram since rival xplr is reasonably priced.

I think it’s a combination of both but mostly the gaps. Clutch derailleur doesn’t help either. I wouldn’t say you’d get much improvement in that aspect with AXS.

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Ah. I didn’t think about the clutch derailleur. That makes sense. It’s not awful of course it’s just something I notice switching between bikes.

I think my dream setup would be Rival AXS derailleur and shifters, Shimano XT chain and 10-45 MTB cassette, and a nicer crankset with a shimano 12sp compatible chainring. It would still clunk on shifts but I think you’d get better shifting under power with the shimano shift ramps.

My N=1 experience…

I have Ultegra Di2 on my road bike, and SRAM Force AXS shifters/Eagle derailleur on my gravel bike. Ultegra Di2 is very smooth and quiet, while my SRAM set up shifts with a bit more of a “clunk”. Both work beautifully I just think the Shimano is a bit more “refined”…part could be the bigger gaps in the Eagle cassette (X01 cassette and X01 chain though).


Just a +1 to say it’s both. A 2x SRAM shift “clunks” more than a 2x Shimano, AND the gaps on a typical 1x setup “clunk” more than 1 tooth shifts.


I have had SRAM double tap road with several cassettes (11-25, 11-26, 11-28, 11-32) and SRAM 1x double tap too with 11-32, 11-36, and 11-42. Also, I rode for a while with Ultegra R8000. Now all my bikes have SRAM eTap or AXS.

The clunk that you’re experiencing is definitely from mechanical double tap. I liked the double tap logic and that’s why I stayed on them, but it’s not the same as the smoothness from Shimano that you’re experiencing.

With electronic is a different story. The smoothness is heavily improved. Still not on par with Di2, but close and miles away from the mechanical double tap.

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I disagree. I have one bike with mechanical 11 speed Force, and one bike with Force AXS. Both use the e13 9-46 cassette (one with 11sp and one with 12sp) and they “clunk” about the same. It’s the big gaps and the way SRAM engineers the shifting at the cassette IMO.

Right I see your point. However, I’d ask if you have tried a Shimano system with the e13 9-46 cassette and confirm that it is smoother compared to SRAM? I would say if you’re not using a “complete” SRAM system, then you might not be experiencing the way they intended.

Like I said, I have used all sort of road cassettes with Double Tap and even with the 11-25, which doesn’t have those big jumps, there was still a big clunk compared to Shimano.

With AXS, I have used 10-25, 10-28, 10-33, 10-36, and XPLR 10-44 an there is no clunk whatsoever on any cassette.

Duh, I wasn’t thinking. Obviously the e13 cassette is a factor. I guess because the clunk is similar to my 11sp sram mechanical bikes with SRAM cassettes I thought it was all the same. I can see how the SRAM AXS cassette and chain likely improves on this. Thanks for pointing this out!

I have found with sram it depends on the cassette design also, if using any of the machined block cassettes the clunking is amplified. Cassettes with individual cogs and only a few riveted to the spider fair better. Shimano cassettes on sram drivetrains improved the noise a bit as well.

It’s not enough to justify moving anything. Shimano HG+ (current 12sp road) is going to smoother under high load. 105 should get that.

I just moved to AXS XPLR 10-36 from SRAM 1x11 11-36 (w/ Eagle 12sp chain) on my gravel bike. I prefer the cable shifters to the short throw of the buttons. Shifting feels the same on both (using both the Eagle and Flattop chain on the AXS side). High quality cables work for a season as well as AXS. AXS basically give you maintenance free cables and an electronic cable adjuster (but you can’t tune each gear).

I also prefer changing wheels with the mechanical 1x RD as it has the cagelock. Sram didn’t put that button on the XPLR and it’s annoying.

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Interesting. I was curious about that. I have 2 wheel sets for my gravel bike (1 with skinnier tires) but both have sram cassettes.

That’s annoying sram didn’t include that cage lock. It’s a nice feature. With the sram rival mech shifters I’m not a fan of the tall hoods compared to my shimano 105 hoods.

Agreed…I have a hard time running SRAM cassettes on any of my bikes since Shimano cassettes are so much quieter…and generally better shifting as well.


I’ve never had an issue with SRAM noise.

I did have an issue with my 10-36 12sp AXS cassette was popping in the middle gear. I put a bit of tape on the cassette to ‘clock’ the position of the cassette and saw it was the same spots every go-around. A chain link wasn’t loading/release from the tooth right. I ended having to file a tooth on the next smaller cog down a touch because the chain was hitting the smaller cog. I think it had to do with the orientation of the cogs, tooth profiles, and two profiles not lining up right - basically a design/testing error, not a manufacturing issue.

My 10-12T cogs needed to break in as well, but that only took a ride.

I felt the tall hoods give you more hand positions. I’ve got size 10 hands and like my shifters at an off angle. Shimano has weird shapes too though - they’re on version 6 of their road hydro shifters, with their best ones being the ugliest (the R505 and GRX)

The Rival AXS shifter are a weird shape too. I don’t think any of the reviewers tried adjusting their bikes or taping the bars. The base of the shifter doesn’t ‘land’ on my 3T bars very closely - these are weird gravel bars with a tight curve there though. The brake hose also sits funny on the interior space. I ended up putting 2.5 layers of tape at the base and building a bridge over the brakehose / bar space. Doesn’t look so bad on traditional bars.

Electronics give you the opportunity to separate the brakes and shifters, but they choose not to do that. I think that will change as brake companies start selling brake levers with shifter pockets.

One huge advantage of AXS are the batteries. Shimano’s setup is cleaner around the derailleurs, but if you run out of battery, you’re screwed. I bought two aftermarket batteries so I don’t have any worries. The batteries are SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper than DI2’s batteries and cables if you’re retrofitting. SRAM also has better brakes and gearing flexibility (XPLR) for gravel setups.

Shimano wins for cleanliness at the RD, battery capacity, and HG+ high load shifting.

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I like that sram axs doesn’t have the wires that di2 does. I won’t be upgrading anytime soon if at all. I have a lauf true grit. Lauf doesn’t even offer mechanical versions of their new Seigla bike.

The XPLR RD looks like it’s 3x the size of the comparable shimano unit. Some of that is the excessive battery size and the other part is that it is the size of a baby’s arm. It’d be nice if you could remote mount the battery. I’ll take a small wire over a big weighty looking part.

I have medium large hands except for HandUp gloves where I’m XL. For my gravel bike I just have bars with mild flare so my shifters are just at a little angle. I didn’t like bars with larger flare. My Lauf smoothie bars are perfect for that.

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