SRAM vs Shimano: Survival of the Fittest!


When it comes to bicycles and bicycle components, there’s no denying the significance of the SRAM vs Shimano rivalry — and the competition is only getting stronger as both brands strive to improve their products. So many of the best bikes are made by these two brands and for good reason – they’ve been in business longer than any other company around! You’re more than likely to find at least one of their components on almost every ride out there today.

Shimano and SRAM are two of the world’s leading bicycle component manufacturers. Shimano is a Japanese-owned company that specializes in high quality, entry-level components as well as some more advanced products for professional athletes such while SRAM focuses on creating only top tier bicycles and bike parts which can be seen at their showroom in Chicago.

The battle of the two industry leaders is finally here. We’ll be looking at their differences, how well they stack up against one another, and ultimately who will come out on top in this SRAM vs Shimano groupset comparison article!

SRAM vs Shimano: Key Differences

SRAM and Shimano are popular components, but what’s the difference between them? There’s no clear distinction, but there are some key differences to know. The biggest ones are the following:

DOT 5.1 Brake Fluid vs. Mineral Oil

Shimano is known for their quality and reliability, but did you know that the company uses mineral oil in its hydraulic disc brakes? SRAM on the other hand prefers to use a DOT 5.1 brake fluid which some say provides better stopping power than Shimano’s choice of braking system lubricant.

High-End vs. Entry to Mid-Level

Shimano is known for supplying entry to mid-level riders with quality components that won’t break the bank while a high-end group can cost more than $1,000 USD. But if you want truly top-shelf gear without spending an arm and leg on it then SRAM has your back. They offer their latest technology at competitive prices which makes them alluring to professionals who don’t need everything wrapped up in flashy packaging as well as amateur racers looking for some extra speed or gearing options they wouldn’t find elsewhere.

Aluminum vs. Carbon Fiber

SRAM cranksets are made from carbon fiber because these types of materials allow them to be lightweight without sacrificing any strength or stability while riding-something that’s especially important with how powerful many modern-day mountain bike pedals can get (and not just when coming out of a turn!). The downside here though is that this material isn’t nearly as durable compared to aluminum which makes up most Shimano products; thus if you plan on buying either type we would recommend taking into account what your primary purpose will.

1:1 vs 2:1

Shimano shifting works on a 1:1 ratio, meaning with one movement of the shifter for every gear shift. SRAM’s actuation is 2:1 which means two movements are required to make an adjustment in gears.

1921 vs. 1987

Shimano is a more experienced player in this field, having been founded way back in 1921. SRAM may be newer to the game but they’re no slouch either, coming into existence just 1987 years ago.

SRAM vs Shimano Groupset

We all know that mountain bikes are a great way to get out and enjoy the world from up high. In your search for the perfect bike, though, you may have come across some new terms describing different parts of these bikes such as groupset or drivetrain. What exactly is this? 

The main parts that make up a bike’s groupset are the cranks, shifters, derailleurs, and cassette. SRAM-like components can be found in bikes like Evil Bikes’ CALLING GX EAGLE MOUNTAIN BIKE aka “The Calling” while Shimano versions such as the Schwinn Mesa Adult Mountain Bike are also popular among cyclists. 

SRAM vs Shimano Brakes

Bike brakes are designed to help riders stop, and it’s often said that you can’t make a bad bike better by adding more expensive components. That said, the quality of your brakes has everything to do with how well they work. Everyone knows that some bikes are more expensive than others, but what’s less well-known is that there isn’t much relationship between price and braking performance.

Speaking of brakes, before you proceed, we have a separate article where we listed the best bicycle disc brake pads. You might want to check that out if you want to have a more powerful braking system. Moving on…

Hydraulic disc brakes are slowly becoming more and more popular in the world of cycling, particularly in the mountain biking community. You’ll see them on mountain, cyclocross, and gravel bikes more often now, and they’re becoming more and more prominent in road bikes, too. They’re far more reliable than traditional rim brakes, and they’re super-fun to use.

While the choice of brake fluid may seem like a minor point, the different types of fluid affect the feel and function of the brakes. Shimano’s mineral oil provides a better feel and modulation than SRAM’s DOT 5.1 brake fluid, but DOT 5.1 offers better-wet weather stopping power.

Next in our SRAM vs Shimano groupset comparison is the chain.

SRAM vs Shimano Chains

Have you ever seen the gears on a bike? The more there are, the tinier they get. You need to make sure that your chain is in tune with this because it can’t be too big or else it won’t go around all of them!

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What we mean is that you’ll need to take a look at your existing gears and ensure they match up with the new chain. If you have a 12-speed system, you can’t use an 11-speed chain and vice versa. If you use an 11-speed chain with a 12-speed drivetrain. It might work for a few rides, but there’s a chance it’ll break in a short period of time. That’s why you should always use the right type of chain for your bike — some have corrosion-resistant coatings and others are made for different riding conditions.

Chains are one of the most important parts of your bike. Without a working chain, you would not be able to ride at all! Chains wear down quickly and can often interrupt cycling performance so it is worth investing in a quality product that will last or else risk serious repercussions for biking as we know it!

Compatibility is the name of the game when it comes to mountain bike chains. They have to work with the chainring and cassette that are already installed on your bike. Also, you need to make sure they’ll work with the gear range that you have too.

Below is one of SRAM’s top-of-the-line chains.

SRAM XX1 Eagle 12-Speed Chain

SRAM vs Shimano: SRAM XX1 Eagle 12-Speed Chain

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The SRAM XX1 Eagle chain is made with the finest materials, so you can expect it to be on your bike for a long time. The gold plating can be kept in pristine condition even after 50+ miles of riding. Not only will you have faster, crisper shifts, but your chain will look great doing it. If you are looking for performance, durable chain, then this is the one for you.

If you’re looking for a Shimano chain instead, you might like their XTR CN-M9100 12 Speed Chain.

SHIMANO XTR CN-M9100 12 Speed Chain

SRAM vs Shimano: SHIMANO XTR CN-M9100 12 Speed Chain

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This Shimano XTR CN-M9100 chain has been designed with compatibility in mind, so it’ll work seamlessly with any 12-speed drivetrain. Thanks to its well-thought-out design, it keeps your front chainring and cassette firmly in place — giving you a perfect, smooth ride every time.

Found the chain you’ve been looking for? Well, you can’t really use that without a matching cassette.

SRAM vs Shimano Cassettes

Cassettes are the sets of gears found on most mountain bikes. The ratio of the cassette is mapped out by how many teeth there are on each sprocket — a 24-tooth sprocket, for example, means that for every turn of the pedals, the bike will go 24 inches. There are a wide variety of cassettes that are available for your bicycle so that you can choose which one is best for your biking needs. 

SRAM XG-1299 XX1 Eagle 12-Speed Cassette Gold

SRAM XG-1299 XX1 Eagle 12-Speed Cassette Gold

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SRAM is known for its innovative and high-quality groupsets, but its new product, the XG-1299 XX1 Eagle 12-Speed Cassette Gold (though it’s on the higher end of the pricing spectrum), challenges conventional wisdom. Its single steel block cogs connect to a chainring at a single point, which allows additional strength and efficiency due to the design. It’s a weight-saving innovation that helps keep both the weight of the groupset and the bike down, making it a fantastic choice for competitive cyclists.

But if it’s a Shimano Cassette that you’re after, below will is a worthy contender of the SRAM XG-1299 XX1 Eagle 12-Speed Cassette Gold. The best thing about it is that it’s priced way lower than SRAM’s XG-1299.

SHIMANO SLX CS-M7100 Cassette

SRAM vs Shimano: SHIMANO SLX CS-M7100 Cassette

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In a world known for its obsession with technology, Shimano is quick to throw its hat into the ring. Though its designers are famous for their meticulous approach to engineering, they’re equally as well-known for taking their sweet time when it comes to implementing new ideas. In fact, that’s why, when the company debuted a 12-speed cassette, the SLX CS-M7100 Cassette, the release was met with nothing short of excitement. Though Shimano was the last major manufacturer to jump into the twelve-speed game, it certainly did so with precision by taking its time developing the new technology and adapting it to trickle down to other parts of the lineup.

Next in our SRAM vs Shimano groupset comparison is the shifter.

SRAM vs Shimano Shifters

Shifters are the arms — normally located on the handlebars — that allow cyclists to change gears. Trigger shifters have two triggers: one for shifting up a gear and one for shifting down a gear. Twist shifters, by contrast, are for those who use non-derailleur gears that are classified according to their mechanism for moving the chain. Twist shifters use a twisting motion to move the chain with a thumb lever. These are normally found on road bikes and commuter bikes.

SRAM offers trigger shifters that let riders shift rapidly down gears, making it easy to change speed and cadence. While SRAM shifters like the GX Eagle are designed for thumb-shift only, you might still have to spend extra time learning how to use them effectively. On the other hand, the Shimano shifters have multiple options that give you the ability to change gears on-the-fly. It will be up to you to decide which you are more comfortable with.

But if SRAM is the kind of brand you’re going for in terms of shifters, you might want to look at their GX Eagle.

SRAM GX Eagle 12-Speed Trigger Shifter

SRAM vs Shimano: SRAM GX Eagle 12-Speed Trigger Shifter

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The SRAM GX Eagle Trigger Shifter is designed to deliver the same fast and precise shifts that mountain bikers demand and gives your drivetrain the edge it needs with its extremely responsive shift actuation. It’s part of SRAM’s GX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain, which was created to deliver the same accurate and efficient transmission for all types of biking, but at a much lower price point that should suit beginner and intermediate users alike.

With Shimano trigger shifters like their XT SL-M8100 shifters, you can shift with your thumb or your finger, making for a speedy gear change. This means you can shift fast with Shimano trigger shifters, making them a solid choice if speed and versatility are your priorities.

SHIMANO XT SL-M8100 12-Speed Shifter

SRAM vs Shimano: SHIMANO XT SL-M8100 12-Speed Shifter

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The Shimano Deore XT SL-M8100 front shifter is engineered to work on 12-speed drivetrain systems. Its dial makes it faster to use, meaning you can access gear selection quickly and easily with less hand movement. This makes it comfortable to use, as well as easy to access multiple gears at once.

Onto the next SRAM vs Shimano groupset comparison — the Front and Rear Derailleurs.

SRAM vs Shimano Front and Rear Derailleurs

While the basics of changing gears on a bike are easy, it’s important to know how that works under the hood. Derailleurs are considered the heart and soul of any all-terrain or street-riding bike. Both front and rear derailleurs make sure your bike’s chain is in place, so you can move smoothly from one gear to another without having to stop pedaling. Without a derailleur, it would be impossible to change gears without taking your foot off the pedal.

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At present, the most common way of shifting gears is through cable-based gear shifters. But both Shimano and SRAM have released electronic drivetrains that can change gears by simply tapping a button on your handlebars. This new technology is a welcome upgrade to cable-driven gear shifts, which were prone to issues, such as stiff and sluggish gear changes. 

But if you prefer cable-driven gear shifts, look no further than SHIMANO’s XT RD-M8100-SGS. 

SHIMANO XT RD-M8100-SGS RD-M8120-SGS Rear Derailleur

SHIMANO XT RD-M8100-SGS RD-M8120-SGS Rear Derailleur

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Shimano’s Deore RD-M8100 SGS Rear Derailleur cuts through the wilderness like a whisper. This fast-shifting, low-profile rear derailleur is ideal for off-road excursions, with its reduced tension and shockless shifting. The large 13T pulleys create a more efficient system and are compatible with Shimano’s 12-speed cassettes — allowing you to conquer tough terrain with ease.

But if you prefer cable-driven gear shifts that come from SRAM, you’ve got to check out their GX Eagle.

SRAM GX Eagle 12-Speed Rear Derailleur

SRAM vs Shimano: SRAM GX Eagle 12-Speed Rear Derailleur

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Riders want their derailleur to shift, no matter what. Sometimes the load is heavy, sometimes it’s light — but they always have to shift fast and accurately. The GX Eagle derailleur shifts under pressure, thanks to a redesigned cage structure that keeps the chain on track. Available for 11-50t cassettes, it’s also backward compatible with 10-52t versions.

Shimano now also offers electronic shifters like the 11-speed XT Di2 RD-M8050 Rear Derailleur.

SHIMANO XT Di2 RD-M8050 Rear Derailleur

SHIMANO XT Di2 RD-M8050 Rear Derailleur

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The SHIMANO XT Di2 RD-M8050 is an excellent rear derailleur for mountain bikes. With gear ratios that can handle anything from grassy climbs to steep, rocky descents, it’s crafted for speed and precision. Now available in a Di2 version, the SHIMANO DEORE XT M8000 offers electronic shifting for the ultimate MTB performance.

If you’re going electronic, we highly recommend getting SRAM’s XX1 Eagle AXS Upgrade Kit.

SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS Upgrade Kit

SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS Upgrade Kit

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More than just a simple motorized derailleur with a battery and a few gears bolted on, the XX1 Eagle AXS 12-Speed Rear Derailleur is the heart of the entire AXS system. It lets you instantly shift from one gear to another, letting you enjoy seamless off-road riding and competition. The derailleur is built out of durable titanium hardware and a carbon fiber cage, making it ideal for cross-country riding and racing.

Let’s not forget front derailleurs as well. Take a look at one of the best ones from Shimano below.

SHIMANO XTR FD-M9100 Front Derailleur

SHIMANO XTR FD-M9100 Front Derailleur

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Shimano’s XTR FD-M9100 Front Derailleur is a carefully engineered bit of kit that puts a smile on the face of mountain bikers around the globe. Its near-silent side-swing action keeps the front shifting smooth, while its meticulously thought-out design lets you mount it on almost any bike.

But if you’re looking for the real deal when it comes to the front derailleur and if you’re willing to invest, SRAM’s Red eTap AXS Front Derailleur is unbeatable.

SRAM Red eTap AXS Front Derailleur

SRAM Red eTap AXS Front Derailleur

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The new RED eTap AXS front derailleur is SRAM’s next step to the future of the drivetrain. With Yaw Technology, which allows the derailleur to move slightly when shifted into the small ring in order to eliminate chain rub, regardless of what cog it’s on the outback.

Over-geared and under-geared combinations can leave you feeling sluggish and uncoordinated — that’s why the RED eTap AXS also features a unique cage profile to help shift smoothly between close-ratio (33/46, 35/48, 37/50) X-Range front chainring combinations.

The RED eTap AXS combines the best of both worlds: weight and durability. Using a combination of aluminum, steel, and composite, this front derailleur is lighter than most but has the durability that can withstand long rides and bad weather. Because it’s compatible with existing eTap batteries, gravel riders rejoice — SRAM upped the tire clearance to accommodate up to 700c tires, which is more than enough for any gravel race.

Moving on to our next SRAM vs Shimano groupset comparison is the Bottom Bracket.

SRAM vs Shimano Bottom Bracket

Without a bottom bracket, you won’t be able to pedal at all. The bottom bracket is the part of a bicycle drivetrain that connects the crankset to the frame of the bike, and it’s very important for keeping all of the gears running smoothly. If you want your bike to function properly, you need a good bottom bracket in order to get there.

Bike bottom brackets are perhaps the most nuanced system on the bike, in terms of components. They have a lot of different parts that can be swapped out and a fair amount of maintenance is required to keep the system running smoothly.

As two of the leading bicycle component manufacturers in the world, SRAM and Shimano are known for their excellent array of components. In terms of bottom brackets, both brands are compatible with any bicycle frame and crankset — but you need to choose carefully. Compatibility is key with bottom brackets because there are hundreds of different frame shapes and drivetrain setups on the market today.

SRAM vs Shimano Crankset

To turn the rear wheel of a mountain bike, you need to pedal. For this, you’ll need a crankset that’s well-suited for the job. Generally made of carbon fiber, steel, titanium, or aluminum alloy, the crankset is the part of the groupset that is responsible for pedaling efficiency and smoother gear transitions.

Cranksets are categorized into three types:

1. Triple Cranksets

Triple cranksets give you three chainrings to choose from — usually with a small, middle, and big ring — which gives you a large gear range. However, they are heavier than double cranksets, so they aren’t commonly found on newer models.

SHIMANO M361 Hybrid Crankset

SHIMANO M361 Hybrid Crankset

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No one can use the SHIMANO M361 Hybrid Crankset without being impressed with its lightweight and durable construction. The design features make this crank perfect for aggressive trail riders, from pro-level cyclists to weekend warriors alike. The M361 crankset is available in 175mm crank arm length and 40-32-22T chainring combinations. It’s compatible with a square bottom bracket and includes a chainguard.

2. Double Cranksets

Double cranksets are generally used to help boost speeds, especially when going uphill. They typically have two chainrings (one on each side of the crank), one large and one small. The smaller ring is used for easier climbs, while the larger one can be used for steeper inclines.

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SHIMANO XT FC-M8100 2X Crankset

SHIMANO XT FC-M8100 2X Crankset

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There are naysayers out there who claim that mountain bikes should have a single-ring drivetrain, but Shimano isn’t among them. Even in the age of 1x drivetrains, the company offers the XT FC-M8100 2x Crankset — and for good reason. The new direct-mount chainrings mean you’ll never have to worry about your chain coming off no matter how hard you push yourself, but it also means more power can be transferred from pedal stroke to wheel momentum! With its narrower 172mm Q-factor, this version of the venerable Hollowtech II construction was designed specifically with non-boost 12 x 142mm rear hub spacing in mind – meaning quicker acceleration on any type of terrain or condition.

SHIMANO’s XT FC-M8100 2X Crankset is pretty hard to beat, but SRAM is unintimidated and competes with their SRAM Red Dub 12-Speed Crankset. Prepare to break the bank!

SRAM Red Dub 12-Speed Crankset

SRAM Red Dub 12-Speed Crankset

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A wider cassette range and smaller chainrings define the SRAM RED AXS crankset. With a 13-tooth gap across all gear combinations, this revolutionary crankset gives riders an extra edge when it comes to cadence, efficiency, and performance. The sleek and efficient design of this SRAM crankset makes it an ideal choice for cyclists who want to take their cycling performance to the next level. The bottom bracket is not included in this purchase, but can be purchased separately if you desire a more durable crank arm that will last through years of hard riding! With carefully calculated gearing technology, X-Range offers twelve gears which are perfect for any terrain or rider’s ability. It also has unique chainrings that provide stiffer gear shifts under heavy pressure–perfect on those mountain bike trails where your palms get sweaty just thinking about them!

If you’re looking to save some money, but still want a high-quality crankset with SRAM or Shimano’s quality pedigree behind it, have a look at the best single cranksets from each brand below.

3. Single Cranksets

A single crankset is a drivetrain setup with only one chainring (rear cog) on the left crank. It’s popular in downhill cycling, where riders need massive jumps in gear range and lightweight builds.

SHIMANO FC-M6130-1 Crank Set

SHIMANO FC-M6130-1 Crank Set

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SHIMANO has always been at the forefront of innovation with their drivetrains and now they are giving you even more freedom to customize your 12-speeds. The FC-M9130-1 Boost 1x Crankset is designed for riders who like a single chainring setup, but want it paired up in an innovative new way that gives them total control over what gear ratio feels perfect on any terrain or riding style!

Now let’s take a look at its top competitor, SRAM’s GX Eagle Dub Crankset!

SRAM GX Eagle Dub Crankset

SRAM GX Eagle Dub Crankset

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The SRAM GX Eagle DUB crankset is an excellent choice for riders who are looking to take their performance up a notch while also striving for simplicity. The design features solid 7000 series forged aluminum arms that support the X-SYNC 2 chainring, ensuring complete control over your bike’s drivetrain and making sure that you always have just enough power when you need it most. 

SRAM vs Shimano — how do they differ in terms of pricing?  

SRAM vs Shimano Pricing

The two bike component manufacturing giants have been competing in the cycling market for decades, with SRAM more popular among a higher-end demographic while Shimano is favored by riders who don’t want to spend as much. However, it’s no secret that many of SRAM’s products are significantly more expensive than Shimano’s.

SRAM and Shimano both make a number of sets that will suit your budget. Not only do they offer different price ranges to choose from, but the groupsets also vary in performance level depending on what you need it for.

SRAM vs Shimano Market Share

While many brands have tried to compete with market leaders Shimano and SRAM, none have come close to competing with them. While Campagnolo has tried to maintain a presence, it largely focuses on the road bike market now.

Shimano and SRAM both produce high-quality components and groupsets. However, these two major players have very different markets — Shimano’s XT and XTR components tend to be found on trail bikes and enduro machines, whereas SRAM’s XX1 and XO1 are typically found on hardtail race machines.

Shimano has a near-monopoly on the road bike market, with SRAM taking over in mountain biking. In cyclocross and gravel bikes, Shimano takes just shy of 50%, but at least we can have some fun when it comes to choosing gearsets!

SRAM vs Shimano vs Campagnolo

Campagnolo is a well-established name in the cycling industry. Established in 1933, the company has been a market leader, though not as popular as SRAM and Shimano. The company is in Vicenza, Italy, and is affectionately known as “Campey”.

They might not be leading in mountain biking anymore, but Campagnolo has been making some of the best components for road bikes. They mainly focus on these because they have a lot more experience with them and it’s where they’re investing their energy into nowadays.

Let’s wrap it up!


When it comes to SRAM vs. Shimano, most consumers are split down the middle: Each half of the population loves one brand and despises the other. However, each side has its own reasons for its preference. It is hard to decide which bike groupset offers the better performance, Shimano or SRAM because while most people assume one group is better than the other, it’s not exactly correct. There’s a lot of products out there, and they’re all aimed at different consumers.

At the end of the day, Shimano and SRAM are two very well-known groupsets. If you dive into their individual parts, you’ll find that SRAM has a slight edge: It produces better quality parts — like brakes and derailleurs — than Shimano does, and can be picked up at a lower price. Plus, its components can be found in bikes used by professional road cyclists and mountain bikers alike, while Shimano is more popular among recreational cyclists and the mountain bike community.

We want you to fully know the products on the market before making a purchase. And we’re always here to help. If you have any questions about groupsets or cycling, just drop us a line below or contact us, and we’ll be happy to help you out!


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By Marco

Marco is an avid cyclist and passionate blogger. He takes great pride in sharing his insights and experiences with the cycling community, hoping to inspire others to take up the sport and enjoy its many benefits. His words are an ode to the joys of cycling, and the exhilaration it brings.

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