Understanding Sram's Gravel Gearing Options: XPLR, Mullet, and 2x

Gravel cycling has evolved, requiring more specialized gearing options to tackle varied terrains and long distances. Sram offers three distinct drivetrain setups designed to cater to different aspects of gravel riding: XPLRMullet, and 2x. Here’s a detailed look at each to help you decide which setup might be best for your gravel adventures.

1.  XPLR

The XPLR drivetrain system is designed for a streamlined approach to gravel riding, using a single front chainring setup combined with a wide range rear cassette. The typical chainring size for XPLR setups is 40T or 42T, paired with a rear cassette ranging from 10-44T.

This 1x setup reduces weight and mechanical complexity, eliminating the front derailleur and minimizing the chance of mechanical issues during a ride. The 10-44T cassette offers a broad range that covers most terrain types efficiently, from flat, fast sections to challenging uphill grades.

The XPLR is particularly suitable for riders who prefer simplicity and may not need the ultra-low gears of more mountain bike-oriented setups.

2. MULLET

The Mullet configuration is Sram’s hybrid approach, incorporating a road-style front setup with a mountain bike-oriented rear. This setup often uses a smaller front chainring, such as a 38T or 40T, paired with a significantly larger mountain bike cassette, such as 10-50T or 10-52T.

However, for gravel races where both speed and a huge range are necessary, combining a massive 46T or 48T chainring with the large-range cassette can provide the optimal setup. This wide range of gears makes the Mullet ideal for extremely varied terrains, providing the tight gear steps necessary for maintaining speed on flat or rolling terrain, and very low gears for climbing steep trails.

The Mullet setup excels in endurance races or bikepacking where terrain unpredictability and load carrying are factors, as it offers the efficiency of a road groupset with the climbing prowess of a mountain setup.

3. 2x

For those who prefer traditional gearing systems, Sram's 2x setup provides the most extensive gear range with two chainrings at the front and a versatile rear cassette.

The typical configurations are 46-33T or 43-30T for the chainrings, paired with a 10-36T or 10-33T cassette. This extensive range allows for very fine-tuned gear selection, enabling riders to maintain optimal cadence and power output across diverse riding conditions.

The 2x drivetrain excels in scenarios where riders face varied gradients and need the ability to quickly adapt gear ratios for efficiency and comfort, such as during competitive races or mixed-surface endeavors that blend fast road sections with technical gravel climbs.

Conclusion

Choosing between Sram’s gravel gearing options should be based on your specific riding needs:

  • XPLR offers efficiency and simplicity for those who tackle moderate climbs and prefer the lightness of a 1x setup.
  • Mullet is best for riders facing rugged terrains requiring a vast gear range, blending road efficiency with mountain bike resilience. It is especially suitable for gravel races requiring both high-speed capabilities and extensive gear range.
  • 2x provides the most detailed gear control, suited to riders who demand precision for diverse and changing landscapes.

In conclusion, your choice in Sram's gravel gearing should align with your typical riding terrain, personal preference for bike setup complexity, and performance needs. Whether you are a casual rider exploring local trails or a seasoned racer participating in gravel events, Sram has a drivetrain that can meet your demands and enhance your riding experience.