Of all the road bikes we test here at Bicycle Times, SRAM’s Rival group might be the most common drivetrain we see. With most of the technologies and features of the top-tier Red and Force groups, it hits a pricepoint that makes it appealing from weekend warriors to dedicated racers.
New for 2015, SRAM is offering the Rival group in its 11-speed format, first seen on Red and Force. With the change comes a host of other trickle-down features from the levers to the rear derailleur.
The new hood shape should be familiar to anyone who has seen the top-tier groups, and the internals are, in fact, identical. The difference lies in the aluminum shift and brake levers, as opposed to the carbon fiber found in higher-end systems. Both the brake levers and shift paddles can be independently adjust for reach, so riders of all sizes can use them comfortably. MSRP: $251.
The front derailleur also takes after its upmarket counterparts, with the addition of SRAM’s Yaw movement. The derailleur cage moves in line with the chain, so all 22 gear combinations can actually be used. No more worries about cross-chaining. It also comes with an integrated chain keeper to prevent dropped chains on the inside. MSRP: $38.
The aluminum crankset is mated to an aggressively shaped chainring for better shifting, and is interestingly only available in 110bcd with 52/36, 50/34 and 46/36 combinations. The 52/36 is an awesome setup and offers a huge gear range for nearly every purpose. Expect to see it a lot more often in the coming years. It is also available in a variety of lengths and bottom bracket standards. MSRP: starting at $192.
Extending that range is the WiFli derailleur and cassette. With an 11-32 option, it will get you up the steepest of grades. There is a short-cage version available as well for riders who don’t have to face epic climbs. MSRP: $72 and $59, respectively.
Coming back down from those climbs is an opportunity to use the dual pivot mechanical brakes, with room for 28c tires. They’re also designed with a wider arm spread to better accommodate the trent towards wider rims with a wider braking surface. MSRP: $86.
If you want the best braking power, you can now choose the option of SRAM’s new HydroR hydraulic braking system, for both rim and disc brakes. The levers feature an integrated master cylinder, which is either far too large, or offers an awesome extra hand position, depending on your personal preference.
The rim brakes are one of the few on the market that can be adapted to nearly any existing road bike, with the same 28c clearance and quick release for wheel changes.
The big news though is the disc brakes. SRAM had quite a lot of trouble with a disastrous rollout of its first generation hydraulic brakes that were recalled after failures in cold weather. The system was completely redesigned and expanded for 2015 from Red to Rival levels. The calipers are designed specifically for road and cyclocross applications—this isn’t a re-badged mountain bike product. Paired with the new Centerline rotors, they promise to eliminate the “gobble gobble” sound of previous SRAM hydraulic brakes.
Lever, hose and caliper sets MSRP is $384 per wheel.
Watch for more as we will certainly get our hands on a set in the near future and we will see them on plenty of stock 2015 bikes coming this fall.
We first saw the Rival group at PressCamp, a media-only show where we meet one on one with brands to see their latest products. See all our coverage from PressCamp here, and stay tuned for lots more.