SRAM has announced the introduction of Apex 1, a single chainring version of its entry-level groupset with hydraulic braking. It brings the cost of a 1x system down to much lower levels than previously.
SRAM first introduced 1x (pronounced ‘one by’) groupsets for the road last year; SRAM Force 1 and SRAM Rival 1 are already in the range. The single chainring chainsets are paired up with wide-ranging cassettes.
What’s the point of switching to a 1x setup? When we reviewed the SRAM Rival 1 groupset we said that it offered shifting simplicity, a useable range of gears, secure chain retention, plus SRAM’s powerful hydraulic disc brakes.
SRAM doesn’t suggest that a 1x setup is the best choice for everyone, but that it’s a sensible option for many people. 1x is particularly popular in cyclocross, although that’s by no means the only application. SRAM certainly sees it as a product for the road too.
The Apex 1 rear mech (£58) uses SRAM’s existing 1x technology, including the Roller Bearing Clutch that’s designed to avoid derailleur bounce and chain slap. It’s built to SRAM’s X-Horizon geometry.
“The X-Horizon rear derailleur’s ‘straight parallelogram’ design limits all movement to the horizontal axis, which makes ghost shifting impossible while also reducing shift force,” says SRAM. “For quicker, more exact shifting, the large upper pulley offset design maintains a constant chain gap across all gears.”
With the Cage Lock design you push the derailleur cage forward and lock it in place, as the name suggests, to make wheel removal and installation easier.
SRAM’s S350 chainset uses what SRAM calls X-Sync tooth profiles designed to engage the chain earlier than standard teeth, avoid chain deflection, and clear mud. It’s available with 38, 40, 42 and 44 tooth chainrings, and in 170, 172.5 and 175mm lengths. The cranks are forged aluminium.
SRAM haven’t told us about an asymmetric chainring spider but there is a picture of one with a 24mm axle in the info they provided so it looks like the US brand is following Shimano and Campagnolo down that route. There’s also a version with a chainguard.
The Apex 1 HRD Shift-Brake Control uses SRAM’s existing HydroR system. The brake is a forged aluminium disc calliper that uses steel-backed organic pads and steel hardware. It’s a two piston hydraulic design.
You can convert the brakes between 160mm and 140mm rotors with adaptor brackets.
The right hand hand lever uses SRAM’s usual DoubleTap design where the distance you push the shifting paddle determines the direction of rear mech movement. It’s 11-speed compatible.
If you prefer a flat handlebar, the relevant 11-speed flat bar shifter will be available.
The cassette is SRAM’s existing 11-speed PG-1130 – it’s used in the Rival 1 groupset – in an 11-42-tooth range. It’s compatible with standard Shimano/SRAM hubs whereas more expensive 10-42-tooth 1x cassettes require a mountain bike-style XD cassette driver body. It uses heat-treated steel sprockets on an aluminium spider.
The PG-1130 cassette isn’t light at 538g. That compares with 315g for the 10-42-tooth XG-1180 mini cluster cassette used in SRAM’s Force 1 groupset, for example. On the other hand, it’s a helluva lot cheaper at £68. The high cost of the cassette has previously been a big hurdle for many with SRAM’s 1x groupsets. This lower pricing opens up 1x to many more people
The PC-1130 chain is the same one SRAM uses for its Rival 1 groupset too.
Weights and prices
Here are SRAM’s official weights and prices for the Apex 1 components.
Rear derailleur 314g, £58
S350 chainset 762g (24mm axle, 42-tooth, 172.5mm cranks), £92 (GXP), £120 (BB30)
11-speed flat bar shifter 142g, £22
HRD shift-brake control left 344g (inc hoses and calliper), £179
HRD shift-brake control right 360g (inc hoses and calliper), £226
Chain 259g (114 links), £11
Cassette 538g, £68
Assuming you go for a drop handlebar rather than a flat handlebar system, that lot will cost you from £634 at RRP.
A SRAM Rival 1 groupset with hydraulic braking is priced from £916 at RRP while a Force 1 groupset with hydraulic braking is priced from £1,180, so Apex 1 represents a considerable saving over both.
Apex 1 is a 2017 model year groupset. The components that aren’t yet available will be in the shops from June.
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight 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.