With its positioning in the mid-category of the American’s producer range, the X7 groupset takes on Shimano’s SLX components. If SRAM did a good job with the set and if it manages to surpass its opponent, you can find out in this review.
First off we have the X7 rear derailleur, with an interesting design given its nice paintjob, but with a slightly outdated appereance. As far as compatibilty goes, the manufacturer is offering it in a 9 or 10 speed version, with a long or medium cage, and for our test we found out what the 9-speed, long cage model was capable of. Shifting isn’t exactly at its fastest, some delay occuring between the moment you push the shifter’s lever until the derailleur executes your command. Although this is not something that the SLX manages to avoid, in Shimano’s case the delay is shorter, and gives you the feeling that the derailleur’s spring is stiffer. Also, on rough trails, the chain slaps without any obstacle, and the Type II technology isn’t there to help the X7 derailleur do better, like Shimano did with Shadow Plus, which is present on the SLX. Another design flaw is the fact that the X7 rear derailleur outgrows the frame, thus being exposed to hits or scratching. Yet, it does manage to excel in terms of weight, with a 20 gram difference compared to the SLX.
As far as the front derailleur is concerned, actuating it is very easy and simple, the chain behaves as expected, but it does not achieve a higher speed than SLX in doing so. Weight is once again the ace up the sleeve of this derailleur, the aluminum clamp and steel cage construction besting SLX by 20 grams.
Lastly, the shifters of the X7 drivetrain confirm our opinion so far, which states that quality materials have been used, with fine finishes, but not good enough to overshadow the SLX groupset. If you add the lack of a corresponding technology of the 2-Way-Relese system, Shimano’s gain grows. All in all, SRAM X7 is a decent groupset for cross-country or all-mountain mountain bikes, yet it’s behind Shimano’s SLX in most terms, except for weight.
Rear derailleur weight: 263 grams
Front derailleur weight: 137 grams
Shifter weight: 260 grams/pair