XPLR gravel equip launched by SRAM, RockShox & Zipp

Neither of us can say definitively better, regarding the naming conventions. I prefer and understand shimano’s word-names, and find sram’s convention silly. I’d understand the random letters and number thing if it followed some sort of logic (for example, BMW’s X1-X2-X3… SUVs).

Regarding brakes… Yes I agree that either fluid type can be used as part of a system that works well… So my question then is why did SRAM choose to use the one that is more complex in terms of cleanup/maintenance?

Maybe it does?

SX - sucky
NX - Not sucky
GX - good
X1 - xtra good
XX1 xtra, xtra good
X01 - so good we add an extra zero to the price


I don’t think DOT fluid is more complex in terms of cleanup and maintenance. With my mineral oil-based brakes, I’ve always taken the same precautions that I would for DOT fluid, simply because I’d like to keep my bike clean. Plus, DOT fluid has some advantages over mineral oil as well, although I think overall, it is probably a wash between the two. And the issue of patents surely is also part of all this.

I think you are just more accustomed to Shimano’s naming scheme because they have a much larger market share, and thus, you have been exposed to it for much longer.


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As far as Dot vs Mineral, I understand DOT fluid is pretty bad for skin, paint and all sorts of stuff?

SRAM have some pretty clever tech in their brakes to reduce the need for bleeding, plus DOT fluid absorbs less water (I think). If both systems were the same I’d prefer mineral.

I prefer Shimano, but that’s just me, and I understand the reasoning that some prefer SRAM since they solved the brakes clamping on issues.

I have a Specialized Diverge, and the 2cm of squish in the steerer tube really helps. Agree that a full-on suspension fork is overkill for 99.9% of gravel that most people ride (me anyway) - although there have been a few times this year when I would have liked a suspension fork :grimacing:

I also think that to get full benefit of a suspension fork on a gravel bike, you either need very big tires - like 45mm+ - or inserts, or both.

Regarding droppers on a gravel bike, I can definitely see these being helpful for tall riders. I’m 5’9” and there is no way I need a dropper on my gravel bike. But if I was 6’5”, I bet I’d want one.


DOT fluids have been engineered specifically for brake systems in e. g. cars. Yes, they are corrosive, but you are not dealing with sulphuric acid that eats through your frame in a matter of seconds. If you look at e. g. the Park Tool videos for the bleeding procedure, you see that all the steps are largely the same. Also when bleeding my Shimano brakes I glove up and cover the relevant bits and pieces in paper towels. After all, I don’t want to leave a mess behind or have to clean up my bike again. You don’t want oil on your brake rotors and pads either, that’d be a big no-no.

I get that people prefer Shimano over SRAM or the other way around. I’ve been very happy with Shimano drive trains and brakes on my mountain bikes over the years. My switch to SRAM on my road bike has more to do with me disliking the way Shimano’s STI levers work (both, electronic and mechanical) and their hood shape. Performance-wise, my SRAM setup is better, although perhaps if I had upgraded my previous road bike with IceTech rotors, perhaps the performance gap would be smaller. Just to be clear, the difference in performance isn’t so large that it’d sway me away from Shimano if I preferred Shimano’s STI levers.

On a mountain bike, I have had Hayes FX9 disc brakes (DOT fluid), Magura Julies (mineral oil) and Shimano XT from circa 9 year ago. Only the Hayes brakes broke, the DOT fluid had crystallized so the brakes needed to be replaced (with the Julies). But that was 12, 15 years ago, and perhaps just a case of bad luck. In terms of brake feel, I preferred the Hayes to the Julies, though, at least initially.

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That’d be great! Please report back with any news

I’d venture that if the course is so burly that you want 40+mm of travel on the front, that you’d be faster on an HT XC rig. No reason you can’t get aero on a modern XC bike either. Also seems weird to say ‘I wanna be aero’ and also say ‘I want these big round tubes on the front of my bike’

That said this all applies to racing. Gravel is soooo much more than just racing and some people just want to be more comfortable and don’t care about speed.

Sure, if comfort is a primary goal, hit the gravel with a hard tail and have at it.

But you asked why someone would choose a gravel bike w/ suspension over a hard tail and I gave you a reason. It doesn’t mean that it is universal or applies to everyone.

I also noted above that u would have paid a lot of money on The Rift for some suspension over the stutter bumps / washboards that littered the second half of the course. Dragging a hard tail around that whole course would have meant a much longer day.

Only on the downhills. If you are pedaling on the flats with your dropper down you aren’t in the optimal pedaling position for max power and efficiency OR you need help with your bike setup.

??? The question was about why you would choose a suspension fork gravel bike over a hardtail MTB. You can almost always be in a more aerodynamic position on a gravel bike vs a MTB.

I was not addressing a dropper post, just body position.

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I haven’t listened to this, but may shed light on some of SRAM’s choices and direction:

Thoughts on this vs. going straight to 10-50 (or 10-52) Eagle?

The main thing is the two options use different chains/chainrings/derailleurs. If you’re coming from SRAM road 12 speed this allows you to get a bigger range cassette without changing chainring and maybe chain depending on chain length (you still need a new derailleur to accommodate the 44 cog).

Eagle is an option for even more range if you’re starting from scratch with a new drivetrain. In that case it’s mostly a decision of bigger vs smaller jumps in the gearing (I’d stick to smaller if you definitely don’t need the 10-50 range), what chain you prefer (flattop can be a bit of a pain), and whether you might want to swap to more roadie gearing in the future or for certain use cases (in which case road groupset is better of course).

Personally, for 1x road/gravel I prefer the 10-50 range. In the mountains range is more important than small jumps. If I want small jumps (for more of a racing/pack riding bike) I’d rather have 2x anyway.


Sure they have to ride sponsor correct stuff but I doubt cannondale cares much if Ted King uses the Topstone, Topstone with a suspension fork, or a Super X. As long as it doesn’t snap in half and he puts on a good show with their name on the downtube it’s all the same for them.

I’m not an industry insider, but I’d venture to say the opposite is true. Didn’t VC say he prefers his Canyon Grail but for the latest round of gravel races Canyon had him riding the new Grizl? Maybe someone who is familiar with these “influencer” athletes can shed some light on those contractual obligations. It would seem odd for a company to push marketing for a new product (ex. a Topstone) and not have their marketing team (sponsored athletes) use the new product at big races.

I don’t follow VC so I hadn’t seen that. I just did a quick look at some Canyon sponsored riders (Eddie Anderson, Pete Stetina, and Alexey Vermeulen) and it seems like for the past several months Pete has been on the Grizl while the other 2 have been on the Grail at races like Unbound and others. So it would be interesting to know what drives those differences. Is it a bit of personal preference, marketing decisions, bike availability?

Hard to compare those two athletes. VC’s very fast, but he’s not a podium contender at major races against the pros.

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Sure, but he’s in the same “influencer” cyclist domain that these gravel racers are operating in. These guys are getting paid and supplied with equipment by bike/apparel/etc. sponsors, not by a cycling team.

I think for what I do the 10-44 sounds a nicer solution. I haven’t tried, but I have heard, and think it is mentioned above, that going to eagle / 10-50 gives you very big jumps between gears which can be annoying depending on the terrain you are riding.