Just in: SRAM Red 2013 groupset
SRAM's updated top-end groupset is now the lightest groupsets on the market, we put it on the road.cc scales to see for ourselves
This here is the latest SRAM Red groupset, the lightest on the market at just 1,670g. With a focus on weight, the US company resisted any urges they might have had to jump to 11-speed or go electronic.
We do know that SRAM is working on hydraulic rim and disc brakes and the next generation brake lever has been spotted on the web, a sign of the direction of the next iteration of Red. It's all speculation at the moment. SRAM could decide to keep Red as is, and introduce another groupset alongside.
Until such rumours become reality, Red, introduced last summer, is their current flagship product. And what an offering it is. It's some 250g lighter than old Red, which wasn't really that heavy in the first place at 1,920g. What it isn’t is 11-speed. Or electronic.
Yes, for now SRAM has decided to stick with 10-speed and mechanical. Now, that may change in the future, who knows what the US company have up their sleeves, but for now I applaud them for resisting the temptation to add extra features and instead concentrate on making an already good groupset even better, and lighter.
Most of the weight savings have been in the new chainset. The Exogram crank spider and arm are made as one-piece from carbon fibre, and a new spider design sees one of the arms being integrated into the back of the crank arm. This is the BB30 version. They also do GXP (24mm).
The X Glide R chainrings are new, and reckoned to be a lot stiffer than the previous design. They’re machined from 7075-T6 aluminium plates that are each 5mm thick.
The carbon fibre crank arms have a larger cross section to increase stiffness and they’re hollow all the way to the spider now, to trim more weight.
The axle is co-moulded to the non-driveside crank arm.
Often the first part of the groupset that your eye is drawn to, the new rear mech is a stunner. It’s been designed to accommodate 28t cassettes, and there’s even a WiFli version with even more capacity for wide range cassettes.
It’s been given a more sculpted look and now has a hollow titanium cable bolt and updated jockey wheels to make the system more efficient.
Perhaps one of the key changes to the groupset is to the humble front mech. Now when you shift between the two chainrings, the mech cage pivots slightly as it moves.
This - SRAM have dubbed it Yaw Technology - is claimed to reduce the need for any trim adjustment. The trimming on previous SRAM groupsets was usually slightly annoying and took loads of fettling to get just right.
They seemed to have cracked it with this simple but clever approach.
The Powerdome X cassette is a work of art and its unique construction makes it incredibly light. The middle sprockets are machined from a solid block of steel. The 11-tooth sprocket is a separate steel piece that slides on individually and the biggest aluminium sprocket does the same thing at the other side of the cassette.
While they haven’t shaved a huge amount of weight off, SRAM have worked on making the transmission quieter in use. They’ve fitted elastomer rings in the gaps between the sprockets to prevent metal-on-metal din.
The brakes have been totally redesigned. They used to be a dual pivot design, they’re not anymore. They're now a single pivot and SRAM say it’s for aero reasons that they’ve adopted this design, as there’s less frontal area.
To deliver the necessary braking performance they’ve developed the AeroLink, a cam which increases the leverage rate when you pull the brake lever. With Zipp’s rims getting wider, these brakes are now able to operate with 28mm width rims.
When you place your hands on the hoods you’ll notice SRAM have improved the ergonomics. I alway felt the shape of the hoods was about spot on, my only criticism would be that the raised section at the front is a bit on the short side.
Well they’ve addressed that, making the bump a bit taller so there’s more to grip your hand around - useful when climbing out of the saddle. The rubber material also has larger textured sections so it feels a bit grippier and more tactile in the hands.
The brake lever has come in for a minor change too. It’s a little longer so easier to reach when in the drops. Adjusting the reach for the brake and shifter levers is now a simple case of dialling in the 2.5mm Allen key on the side, and it’s clearly marked.
Here’s the weight of the parts on the road.cc Scales of Truth:
Chainset (53/39 172.5mm) 558g
PressFit 30 BB 84g
Front mech 76g
Rear mech 145g
Shifters (pair) 298g
Brakes (pair) 253g
Chain (114 links) 239g
Groupset weight 1,803g
SRAM claimed a weight of 1,739g in their press material at the launch. Ours came in 64g heavier. Even so, that’s still very light and it’s lighter than the next nearest groupset, Campagnolo Super Record. Will we see much more development in groupsets getting lighter, now that electronic is all the rage? This could be the last hurrah for mechanical groupsets.
And here's the breakdown of RRPs on the individual components:
Rear mech £296.99
Front mech £114.99
Chainset GXP £374.99, BB30 £409.99
Bottom bracket GXP £184.99, BB30 £99.99
Now I just need to install it on a bike and see how it performs in the long term.