In 2006 SRAM introduced the world of road riders to a new concept by releasing two new groupsets; (Force and Rival). At the time SRAM had for 20 years been primarily making components for the MTB world and since the turn of the millennium, they made a real impression on the market by taking a lot of Shimano’s MTB business away, not only from the consumer, but also SRAM was becoming the component of choice for many bicycle company’s specifying parts for their new bikes.
Back to 2006 and with the release of the Force and Rival groupsets, SRAM had jumped two footed into the world of the road bike. At the time it was an easy choice, you were either a fan of Shimano or Campag and there was a big divide between the two. Then along comes the new kid on the block with their new fancy haircut, but luckily for all concerned there is a lot more to the SRAM road groupsets than just looks.
At the time of its release everyone was blown away with the elegance of the system SRAM had introduced and the Double Tap levers were hailed by many as a “true improvement” and the “next step” forward for road drivetrain offerings.
The Red groupset was a great leap forward from Force and Rival and it answered the critics of the few niggles people had with the first two offerings and really showed the road community that SRAM meant business.
The DoubleTap levers still remain at the heart and soul of the groupset, with the levers having a substantially reduced shift lever throw courtesy of SRAM’s Zero Loss technology. This makes the shifting precise and fast with a lever throw of about 40% less than that required for Dura-Ace. Add to that the excellent Gore Ride-On low-friction cables (included with the levers) and you have one of greatest shifts you’ll ever experience.
The derailleur’s carry on from their elder siblings, but with weight losses from a titanium cage on the front mech, carbon fibre inner link on the rear and some liposuction on the aluminium, this gives them the edge on their rivals.
The cassette has to be one of the coolest bike components out there and sadly most will never get to see its inner beauty. At the time when the gossip columns were a wash with speculation of what the Red cassette was going to be made out of, titanium, a carbon fibre skeleton, everything was discussed and prophesised. On its release, the world held its breath as SRAM announced that the cassette was made out of…………….. Steel!! I like to think that SRAM purposely decided to use steel to make a mockery of all of the hype surrounding what exotic material they were going to use, but we all know they are cleverer than that.
The cassette is a hollowed out cone with an aluminium backing plate and freehub body spline that seals the whole thing up and with a traditional lock ring and two loose outer cogs. The whole thing comes in at 169g (11-26T) and thanks to the PowerDome construction, SRAM have produced an extremely stiff cassette which has proved it can handle the torque of the Pro Peleton.
It’s the Pro Peleton where SRAM has put a big stamp on the road world. This year seven teams will be using SRAM Red in the Tour de France. The magnificent seven are Team Milram, Team Saxo Bank, Footon-Servetto, AG2R La Mondiale, Astana, Team RadioShack and Cervelo Test Team.
Now if that doesn’t make you stand up and take notice nothing will.