Just in: SRAM Red 22 Disc groupset + Zipp 303 Disc wheels

We’re going to long-term test SRAM’s hydraulic disc brake groupset this winter

by David Arthur   October 30, 2013  

SRAM launched its brand new RED 22 groupset this year, with 11-speed and a hydraulic rim and disc brake option. We've just received the disc brake groupset for a long-term test and before we get it bolted onto a frame, here's a quick look at it while it's still shiny. 

Disc brakes on road bikes has been the key talking point this year, and the huge Eurobike show a few months ago the stands were awash with disc-equipped road bikes. With Shimano and SRAM both now offering hydraulic disc brakes in 2014, and Campagnolo confirming their intentions to deliver a disc groupset in a few years time, it’s clear the trade is interested in this new technology. Paul Lew has an interesting take on disc brakes and the UCI’s acceptance of them, while the man from TRP believes disc brakes will take over. 

But in the real world it seems road bikes with disc brakes is dividing opinion. And quite ferociously in some quarters. As with most new technologies, there are always as many early adopters as there are cynics. Personally, I've been keeping an open mind. I want to wait until I've spent some serious time on road disc brakes. 

Which is the plan with this groupset. I'm going to fit it to a road frame and test it over the winter months, and see how it performs. Dave recently jetted out to Sicily to test Shimano’s new hydro discs and came back quite impressed.  A far cry from those sun-baked roads, the dirt, grime and rain of a typical British winter will serve as a demanding test for the brakes. 

Will they transform my riding? How much difference will they make in less-than-ideal conditions? Will my fingers get sliced off in a crash? I aim to try and answer some of these questions and more over the coming months. I’ll be reporting back at regular intervals with my findings. If I still have my fingers.

I have reasonably high expectations for them. Mat was at the SRAM Red 22 launch back in April, and said this in his first ride report: “The HRD brakes provide an exceptional amount of power, allowing you to brake considerably harder and later than with mechanical rim brakes without any fear of losing control. They really do make a significant difference to the way that you can ride.”

That last sentence is the most interesting observation, and one that I’ll be assessing in this long-term test. For now, here’s a first look at the groupset, just removed from the packaging and hence very shiny. It won’t stay that way for long that is for sure. Not on my local roads. 

About the SRAM Red 22 groupset

SRAM launched its new Red 22 groupset earlier this year, Mat was on the launch. The groupset is SRAM’s first 11-speed groupset, as well as offering three braking choices; hydraulic discs, hydraulic rim brakes and regular callipers. Choice is what SRAM is offering with the new flagship groupset.

While there’s many improvements to the new groupset (you can read about them all here) it’s the new brakes that are the key talking point. Most notably is the taller brake lever body to house the master cylinder.

Yes, it’s a bit of a shock compared to previous Red levers and anything from Shimano and Campagnolo. In the hand though and looking ahead, it feels much the same as regular Red though. How it fares in testing is something I’ll be keeping an eye on. The DoubleTap mechanism is maintained and you get reach adjustment here, as you do with the mechanical model.

SRAM offers 140 and 160mm rotors, they recommend the later for the road (smaller for ‘cross) and that is what we have. The callipers use a 19mm piston at the front and an 18mm piston at the rear.

We put all the main parts on the roadcc scales:

Hydro Shifter & Brake: 810g/pair
Rear Derailleur: 142
Front Derailleur: 75
Crankset (BB30 53/39): 561
X-Glide 1190 Cassette: 162
Chain: 247
AVID HSX Rotor 160mm x2: 200
BB 30 bottom bracket: 88
Total: 2,297g

Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher Disc wheels

Wheel choice is another concern with going down the disc brake route, but there’s clear evidence that wheel manufacturers are being quick to adapt current designs, or offer completely new wheelsets, that are compatible with disc brakes. SRAM has been very generous with us and supplied a set of Zipp 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher Disc wheels for us to use with the groupset.

They’re based on the regular ZIpp 303, the rim profile even looks identical, with the patented dimpled surface. They just don’t have the sanded brake track of the regular wheels.

The front hub has 100mm spacing and the rear 135mm - which is rapidly becoming the ‘standard’ for road disc bikes. The hubs have 6-bolt disc mounts and inside the new 11-speed rear hub are larger diameter Swiss sourced stainless steel bearings with a custom cartridge in the rear hub shell to increase durability.

Spoke count is 24 front and rear with a 3-cross lacing pattern used on the rear wheel, and 2-cross used on the front wheel.

More at www.sram.com

Now, I just need to sort a suitable frame and fork to put the groupset on. I have something in mind, but do you have any suggestions?

15 user comments

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What about the Genesis Equilibrium Disk? You'll be able to add mudguards too.

I have a wet butt right now - mudguards are in my thoughts

posted by CGT [17 posts]
30th October 2013 - 18:46

21 Likes

CGT wrote:
What about the Genesis Equilibrium Disk? You'll be able to add mudguards too.

I have a wet butt right now - mudguards are in my thoughts

Ah yes but it wasn't my size, too big for me. Big Dave is riding that one. I'm more interested in hydraulic disc brakes on a regular performance road bike for the purposes of this test

David Arthur's picture

posted by David Arthur [1605 posts]
30th October 2013 - 18:52

23 Likes

Dogma K Hydro?

posted by jarredscycling [453 posts]
30th October 2013 - 19:46

19 Likes

Volagi Liscio

Carbon
25mm tyres (possibly 28s)
full length mud guards

posted by Shred [13 posts]
30th October 2013 - 19:54

26 Likes

David Arthur wrote:
CGT wrote:
What about the Genesis Equilibrium Disk? You'll be able to add mudguards too.

I have a wet butt right now - mudguards are in my thoughts

Ah yes but it wasn't my size, too big for me. Big Dave is riding that one. I'm more interested in hydraulic disc brakes on a regular performance road bike for the purposes of this test

Why? You're testing the performance of hydraulic brakes. Yes, the Equilibrium is heavy but surely that's ok?

And what is a regular performance road bike? There aren't many yet, choices are limited. But your high end crossers, think Cannondale, Kinesis Pro 6, are pretty much road like.

posted by bendertherobot [303 posts]
30th October 2013 - 21:24

32 Likes

Colnago C59. End of discussion.

posted by TheSpaniard [61 posts]
30th October 2013 - 21:27

24 Likes

CGT wrote:
What about the Genesis Equilibrium Disk? You'll be able to add mudguards too.

I have a wet butt right now - mudguards are in my thoughts

Maybe but my vote the Kinesis Tripster ATR...as Al Murray would say British roads British bike.......Would he really say that.

posted by Guyz2010 [287 posts]
30th October 2013 - 21:48

28 Likes

Can I be the first to look 6 months into the future and bring back this report:

"Yes, I was 'optimistically sceptical'. Looking back on late 2013, it was de rigeur for the cycling press to slate discs as marketing-driven hype of its own making. Here at Road.CC Towers we reserved judgement but like any organisation straddling the journalistic boundary between club racer and sportive gent, we were bound to cop flak whichever way the piston retracted.

Well, I am somewhat pleased to report after a filthy, cold, gritty winter, when we all yearned for the sunlit kiss of June's Grand Depart: THESE THINGS ARE THE SHIT".

OK, possibly the last sentence is a bit out.

No-one seriously expects it to be sunny in Yorkshire in June Wink

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

KiwiMike's picture

posted by KiwiMike [529 posts]
30th October 2013 - 22:52

17 Likes

Can I have them when you're done "testing"?

posted by Initialised [144 posts]
31st October 2013 - 0:33

15 Likes

after your glowing review of the Bianchi Infinito CV, why not try the disc version of that bike?

posted by Metjas [296 posts]
31st October 2013 - 10:56

16 Likes

KiwiMike wrote:

Well, I am somewhat pleased to report after a filthy, cold, gritty winter, when we all yearned for the sunlit kiss of June's*** Grand Depart: THESE THINGS ARE THE SHIT".

OK, possibly the last sentence is a bit out.

No-one seriously expects it to be sunny in Yorkshire in June Wink

*** July Wink

posted by VeloPeo [220 posts]
31st October 2013 - 11:02

19 Likes

How about the BMC Granfondo GF01 disc?

posted by boardmanrider [69 posts]
31st October 2013 - 11:52

15 Likes

You have such an awful job, Dave. You keep sacrificing yourself on our behalf.

(If you lose your fingers, this sentence may come back to haunt me)

Cracking looking wheels.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3311 posts]
31st October 2013 - 13:04

16 Likes

VeloPeo wrote:

*** July Wink

Let's face it: either month. (I now need to change my kaks after a momentary 'did we book the wrong month' panic)

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

KiwiMike's picture

posted by KiwiMike [529 posts]
31st October 2013 - 14:04

18 Likes

No sram for me thanks - too many negative experiences with sram-owned products, namely Avid discs and Rockshox forks.

posted by allez neg [4 posts]
1st November 2013 - 8:50

13 Likes