Thursday, December 1, 2011

New Sram bits!

With all the news about Shimano going to 11 speed road grouppos and Campy coming out with their electric road set, I've been wondering what Sram may be up to.

Over the past year, Sram has fought the electric groupset battle with a strong marketing campaign touting its commitment to perfecting the mechanical road group. While the campaign is catchy, its not what I expected from a company I associate with technological innovation.

My first mountain bike, a Specialized Hard Rock I purchased in 1994, was equipped with Grip Shift and I have been a fan of Sram ever since. It seemed to me that Grip Shift was completely different than anything else and so simple in its execution, a real break through. When Sram entered the road market they did so with equal prowess skirting Shimano patents with Double Tap shifters. I've been riding both Sram Rival and Force grouppos over the last 3 years and I love them. Even after demo'ing the new Shimano Ultegra and Dura Ace groups, I love the crisp feeling shifters, simple single lever shifting and light weight of the Sram stuff.

The Chicago based Sram kept up the innovation by introducing 2x10 drivetrains to the MTB world with its XX mountain group. Shimano soon followed proving once again that Sram has had a tech edge on other companies. But the current crop of road bits from Sram is a bit long in the tooth. Aside from some cosmetic changes, the top end Red group has gone largely unchanged for 3 years, while the Japanese and Italians have moved forward with critically acclaimed electric and 11 speed grouppos respectively. Well, the wait for Sram's next big thing is over! I found this little gem this morning:

Cycling news also broke cover on the new Red grouppo this morning.

While the changes may not be ground breaking to some, the new front derailleur design to my eye seems revolutionary. If the new design eliminates the need for trim to cross chain, that would get rid of a lot of noise. The new fronty also promises more solid shifts. The only complaint I have of Sram currently is front shifting, so if this solves those issues, I see no need to spend the coin on electric shifting. From what I've heard, the big improvement of Di2 over mechanical groups is the front shifting under load. Lets hope Sram's new tech puts that issue to rest.

A single pivot break caliper is also a boon to weight weenies. I like simple things, and the new design looks to be such.

The other details of forthcoming hydraulic discs breaks for road bikes is also drool worthy. That will be the next big thing for road bikes and I expect Sram to be on the forefront of the technology.

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