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Race leader opts for cheaper components in the mountains

Giro d’Italia leader Alberto Contador sidelined SRAM Red components and opted instead for much more lowly Apex in the mountains of this year’s race for the option of a wider spread of gears. The other members of Saxo-Bank Sungard, Astana and Garmin-Cervélo did the same.

Apex comes with a SRAM WiFLi cassette – wider, faster, lighter. The ‘wider’ bit refers to the fact that you get an 11-32T, and that’s what appears to be fitted here. That’s a big old spread of gear ratios open to you with a double chainset.

When SRAM say it’s ‘faster’ and ‘lighter’, they’re comparing Apex with a triple chainset. We really can’t see El Pistolero ever considering heading into the Dolomites with a triple on board.

A SRAM Red rear derailleur can’t handle that range so the riders all swapped to a mid-cage Apex option at the back. That’s 63 quid’s worth of rear mech instead of the usual £300 one. It’s only about 40g heavier.

 

 

Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.

43 comments

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1961BikiE [228 posts] 5 years ago
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I'm seriously considering changing my Ultegra mech for a med cage XT so I can get a 32 tooth sprocket. My problem being only the peak district hills, but then I am hauling 106kg (hopefully at the moment but even if I hit my target I'll still be 95kg). I can actually get up hills on 34/25 the trouble being my back spasms after too long grinding and so I really need lower gears to restore a spin which I can easily keep up.

I'm sure some one will be along soon to tell me I have not right to be cycling if I can't ride though the peaks on a 42/21 low gear.

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TomAMoore [16 posts] 5 years ago
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I have Sram Force/Apex on the Salsa Vaya, really like it!

When I upgrade the Serotta, will go with the same system.

Tom

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shuttie92 [4 posts] 5 years ago
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You shouldn't be cycling at all if you can't ride through the peaks on a 42/21. Before you sort out your bike, you must first chainge yourself

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Velo_Alex [73 posts] 5 years ago
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I never realised we had Gear Ratio Nazis hanging around!

You're 'fit', yay for you. Don't start telling people they shouldn't be riding if they're not to your 'high standard'.

Whatever gear you need to push to get you out on a bike is just fine.

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cat1commuter [1421 posts] 5 years ago
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shuttie92 wrote:

You shouldn't be cycling at all if you can't ride through the peaks on a 42/21. Before you sort out your bike, you must first change yourself

I'm taking this as irony.

I really like this story. If elite athletes need this gearing on extreme climbs, then it is a reasonable choice for riders like me on lesser hills.

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joemmo [1164 posts] 5 years ago
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but is he using a compact chainset as well or just a regular 39t on the front?

got a 48/34 apex on one bike and a truvativ elita triple (basically same chainset) on another, I'll admit the double looks cleaner but I prefer the triple for the range and the fact that 80% of the gears I use are on the 39T ring. Idefinitely do more double shifting on the compact

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dave atkinson [6223 posts] 5 years ago
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Apex. It's the only thing me and Bertie have in common. Apart from our love of a good steak.

 4

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abudhabiChris [692 posts] 5 years ago
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@velo_alex

The Nazis could award you the Irony Cross.

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mr-andrew [300 posts] 5 years ago
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The cynic in me wonders how much of this is out of necessity and how much is from the SRAM marketing department.

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Mat Brett [624 posts] 5 years ago
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mr-andrew - you might have a point there.

shuttie92 - you don't.

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joemmo [1164 posts] 5 years ago
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dave_atkinson wrote:

Apex. It's the only thing me and Bertie have in common. Apart from our love of a good steak.

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with 'special sauce' Dave?

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dave atkinson [6223 posts] 5 years ago
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Quote:

with 'special sauce' Dave?

I need all the help I can get  1

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Tony Farrelly [2868 posts] 5 years ago
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I think shuttie92 was just responding to 1961BikeIE's apparent invitation…

"I'm sure some one will be along soon to tell me I have not right to be cycling if I can't ride though the peaks on a 42/21 low gear."

I'll bet that '92' refers to the size of the gear that Shuttie pushes  3

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stuartpeck1 [98 posts] 5 years ago
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Some of the giro bikes are also running front mechs from force and rival but are badged up as red - SRAM have the giro and the tour wrapped up for marketing, i don't think i don't think i've seen a campy lever in there.

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koko56 [330 posts] 5 years ago
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shuttie92 wrote:

You shouldn't be cycling at all if you can't ride through the peaks on a 42/21. Before you sort out your bike, you must first chainge yourself

Well, since it's worded almost exaclty as the bit in the first post I see no other way but to take this as sarcasm/funny.

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Celeste08 [38 posts] 5 years ago
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1961BikiE - We all want different things from our cycling - that's why there are so many options out there & not a 'one ratio fits all' setup. Solving the cause of your back pain is far more important than people's opinion of your gear ratios. Good luck with hitting that target.

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cat1commuter [1421 posts] 5 years ago
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stuartpeck1 wrote:

Some of the giro bikes are also running front mechs from force and rival but are badged up as red - SRAM have the giro and the tour wrapped up for marketing, i don't think i don't think i've seen a campy lever in there.

... apart from the two in the picture at the top of this story.

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GrimpeurChris [60 posts] 5 years ago
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I ride a Campy setup and for Alpine Sportives. A Compact Chain set (50/34) with an 11-29 cassette .... the cassette being an amalgamation of the stantard 11-25 and 13-29 as campy don't make that wide a range. Interestingly though the standard short/medium rear mech cage copes with the range very well! It's a lighter option than a triple.

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dave atkinson [6223 posts] 5 years ago
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I wouldn't have got up Hardknott without my trusty Apex rear saucer  1

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Matt_S [255 posts] 5 years ago
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Whether it's SRAM's marketing dept or not, it seemed to work in the ITT yesterday.

Dirty Bertie was really spinning away up that climb, and for me (and Dave Harmon on EuroSport) I really didn't think he looked like he was going as fast as Nibali and Scarponi.

You know, if that's what smaller gears does for you, I might stick an XTR crank/cassette/mech on my race bike. Everyone watch out!

 39

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Mat Brett [624 posts] 5 years ago
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Matt_S wrote:

You know, if that's what smaller gears does for you, I might stick an XTR crank/cassette/mech on my race bike. Everyone watch out!

 39

Funny you should say that: http://road.cc/content/news/36222-giro-tech-millar-goes-all-mtb

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Matt_S [255 posts] 5 years ago
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Mat Brett wrote:

Funny you should say that: http://road.cc/content/news/36222-giro-tech-millar-goes-all-mtb

Yes, but I meant with a 26/38 XTR chainset, not a 42/52 osymmetrics like DM was using.  3

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cat1commuter [1421 posts] 5 years ago
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Are the Shimano 10 speed MTB and Road shifters and rear derailleurs compatible? (I know SRAM are.)

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stuartpeck1 [98 posts] 5 years ago
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cat1commuter wrote:
stuartpeck1 wrote:

Some of the giro bikes are also running front mechs from force and rival but are badged up as red - SRAM have the giro and the tour wrapped up for marketing, i don't think i don't think i've seen a campy lever in there.

... apart from the two in the picture at the top of this story.

Note the 'some' in the text ; )

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stuartpeck1 [98 posts] 5 years ago
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Mat Brett wrote:
Matt_S wrote:

You know, if that's what smaller gears does for you, I might stick an XTR crank/cassette/mech on my race bike. Everyone watch out!

 39

Funny you should say that: http://road.cc/content/news/36222-giro-tech-millar-goes-all-mtb

He also uses rotor chain rings, probably set up full tilt

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Simon E [2722 posts] 5 years ago
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joemmo wrote:

the double looks cleaner but I prefer the triple for the range and the fact that 80% of the gears I use are on the 39T ring. Idefinitely do more double shifting on the compact

These are the reasons I've stuck with my triple to date.

SRAM are using the 'triples are dead' angle for marketing but if a dedicated road wide range cassette gets people riding then I don't mind. There's room for both options.

GrimpeurChris wrote:

It's a lighter option than a triple.

So is only half-filling a water bottle or having a pee before you start the climb. Don't believe the hype - the reduction in weight (200g?) by losing the third chainring is insignificant, even on big hills. For a 70kg rider on 10kg bike it's 0.2% of total weight.

The talk of lower Q-factor is marketing speak too, as the the modified pedals on Cavendish's Giro bike demonstrate.

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stuartpeck1 [98 posts] 5 years ago
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Mat Brett][quote=Matt_S wrote:

You know, if that's what smaller gears does for you, I might stick an XTR crank/cassette/mech on my race bike. Everyone watch out!

 39

Funny you should say that:

Millar has rotor on the front mind, set up full tilt i'd imagine

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MalcolmBinns [115 posts] 5 years ago
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If the gears work for you, then get out and ride your bike.
If your gears don't work, then you're probably either at the velodrome or being a fred!

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italiafirenze [70 posts] 5 years ago
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You wouldn't only drive your car up a hill in 5th gear because you're hard, so why insist on riding a big gear on your bike?

The most appropriate gear is the one which gets you to the top the quickest.

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keefus [8 posts] 5 years ago
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"The most appropriate gear is the one which gets you to the top"

fixed that for you.  1

k

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