Sram Apex has become the go-to groupset for many sportivistes, giving the option of a dinner-plate 32T sprocket on the back to make even the hardest hills doable by mortals. Let's not kid ourselves, either: even the pros will spec a lower gear on the toughest climbs of the WorldTour races if they think they'll ride faster by doing so.
Alberto Contador was one of a number of riders who specced a 32T cassette and an Apex rear mech for the tough, steep climbs of the 2011 Giro. Had he been able to spec a lighter, higher-end mech, no doubt he would have; the good news is that now – or, at least, when he's served his ban – he'll have the pick of the SRAM groupsets, as 11-32 is now an option on Sram Force and even SRAM Red.
That's right, WiFLi – that stands for Wider, Faster, Lighter, fact fans – is being rolled out across the range and will be an option on SRAM's top end groupset, Red. You need a longer cage to handle that range of gears; SRAM are calling it mid cage like they did with Apex but visually it's not far off the length of a mountain bike mech, especially now MTBs are moving over to 2x10 as well. As well as the new mechs there'll be a new Red Exogram 11-32 rear cassette; SRAM Force riders can use the existing PG-1070 cassette. The new Red mech weighs in at 167g with the Force unit 23g heavier at 190g.
So why WiFLi and not a triple? Well, SRAM will tell you that it's because the compact-and-wide-range setup is significantly lighter (about 250gm) than a triple. That's no doubt true, although we'd suggest that the psychological benefit of being able to spec a 2-chainring setup with some seriously low gears is also a real draw for many people. Shimano have been quietly extending the range of their mechs too; everything up to 105 will now handle a 30T sprocket at the rear. It's certainly a trend that's not going away, and if you're in the market for some top-end SRAM kit with easier low-end ratios then the new mechs and Red cassette will be landing some time in June.
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.