Finally it has happened, today SRAM has launched a Force eTap groupset, Force eTap AXS to be specific. A few months after the US company unveiled its radical new 12-speed Red eTap AXS groupset, the new Force groupset brings all the same new tech to a more affordable price.
The 1x hydraulic road disc brake configuration will set you back £1,924, the 2x road disc brake version is £2,274 while 2x rim brake groupset is £2,164. The cheapest incarnation is 1x rim brake aero coming in at £1,814. It’s still expensive mind, but a whole bunch cheaper than Red, which starts at £2,559 and rises to £3,794.
While the price is lower, the weight is a bit higher. The lightest groupset, Rim 1x Aero, comes in at a claimed 1,983g whilst a 2x disc groupset is 2,812g. That compares to 1,868g and 2,518g for respective Red groupsets.
Here are all the weights in full:
Despite the lower prices, you get all the same fundamental technology as first debuted with Red eTap AXS. That means a new approach to gearing called X-Range, comprising three cassettes - 10-26, 10-28 and 10-33 - starting with a 10-tooth sprocket using an XDR driver body.
However, there are just two chainset options, 48/35 and 46/33, there’s no 50/37 you get with Red. Single ring options range from 36 to 46t. Here’s how these new ratios compare to conventional groupsets:
And this graph shows how SRAM’s new X-Range gearing offers a wider range of gears compared to conventional groupsets, with between 260 and 330% range.
Just like Red, as well as wider range you also get more one-tooth jumps, with up to seven one-tooth steps with the 10-26 and 10-33t cassettes.
SRAM has utilised the same Orbit fluid damper in the rear mech and the same Flattop chain, with the same batteries as the previous generation eTap groupset. Like Red, the same rear mech is used across both 1x and 2x groupsets.
There’s also the same AXS technology which lets you control, monitor and personalise the components from a new smartphone app. From the app you check the battery level and personalise the controls amongst other things. It also lets you mix-and-match road and mountain bike components with seamless integration.
The updated hoods have the same essential shape as Red with textured paddles and hood rubber material for extra control and comfort. There are separate contact point and reach adjustment for tuning the levers to your preference.
Cranks use the new DUB bottom bracket standard introduced by SRAM last year and a power meter upgrade is available. There’s the same 13-tooth gap between the big and small ring on a 2x setup. The optional Quarq DZero power meter offers a claimed +/-1.5% accuracy and measures left and right leg balance provides a claimed 200 hours of runtime from a CR3032 battery and uses Bluetooth and ANT+ wireless protocols.
The disc brakes are unchanged but there are new CenterLine XR disc rotors which are optimised for road use and claimed to offer quieter braking performance. They also have rounded edges.
You can still opt for rim brakes. The dual pivot calipers provide clearance for up to 28mm tyres and include SwissStop brake pads.
A Force level eTap groupset has been a long time coming. Pretty much since SRAM first launched Red eTap back in 2015 have people been asking about a Force version. SRAM has a good track record of quickly following the introduction of new top-end releases with lower level versions, just look at how quickly it has brought down the price of entry to its Eagle mountain bike 1x groupset.
But years rolled by and for a while it started to look like it might never happen, but the announcement came at the launch of the second-generation Red eTap groupset. This is big news because eTap has been a commercial and critical success but the high price is clearly a barrier to many potentail customers. The lower price of Force opens it up to a much wider audience and we expect to see many bike brands speccing it on bikes very soon.
We can't wait to get our hands on it. We haven't ridden the new groupset yet, but we have ridden the new Red eTap AXS groupset which you can read here.
SRAM Force eTap AXS is available now. More info at www.sram.com
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.