The new Sram X-4, in its 2011 version, has undergone a few modifications as compared to the previous version, now weighing 35 grams less. People at Sram placed a new spring on the X- 4 but the cage currently in use is made of steel. Designed for 7 or 8 sprockets, it is a direct competitor for the new Shimano Alivio derailleur.
Compared to its Japanese rival, Sram X-4 weighs 7 grams less, but in terms of material, it occupies the same position. From Shimano you can purchase the Deore derailleur with the same weight of 280 grams but with Shadow technology. This technology is used neither by the Sram X-4, nor by its correspondent, the Shimano Alivio. To better understand the uses of the Shadow technology, you can look at the derailleur from above. You will notice that it comes out, practically exceeding the size of the bicycle. In some situations, especially on mountain trails, this can be a disadvantage, in that the derailleur may easily get hung up on branches or simply hit. You also need to be careful when you’re propping up your bike.
In terms of functionality, the Sram X-4 offers everything you expect from an entry-level product at a good price. Shifting is decent, noise is acceptable, even lower than that produced by the Alivio, and weight is modest. I also experienced ghost-shifting on some climbs, though the derailleur was well adjusted. That was largely due to dusty trail I approached. Actually, in normal operation conditions, I shouldn’t have faced such problems.
The feeling at shifting doesn’t leave the impression of precision, but is quite soft. At the same time, I would have appreciated a stronger spring to be installed on this derailleur to ensure more firmness. However, the chain moves properly from one sprocket to the other when you act the lever mounted on the handlebar. Furthermore, if connected with a SRAM X – 4 shifter in the same range, it will provide satisfactorily. Malfunctions occur after several weeks of intense use, so a visit to the bikes service center is recommended if you if you often ride in the mountains. Of course, you can make the adjustments yourself, as there will be no big trouble.
Choosing between the Shimano Alivio and the Sram X-4 and can be difficult, especially if you have no preference for any of the two brands. If a Shimano transmission (chain, sprockets, gears etc.) is installed on your bike, then you can opt for the Japanese product in order to keep compatibility of the components and ensure proper functionality. The same rule applies to those with Sram transmissions. I would just mention that the Alivio shifts somewhat more brutally than the X-4. The price of the Sram X-4 is good, like that of the Alivio, but if you want more precision and more rapid shifts, I encourage you to opt for the Sram x-7, or, why not, for the Shimano SLX.
For cyclists riding on forest trails or parks, the Sram X-4 derailleur is more than enough. It will keep you satisfied both on mountain trails and in competitions, but not so much for extraordinary performance, as for durability.
Weight: 280 grams
Use: Cross Country, recreational