Photos by Justin Steiner
Rival sits above SRAM’s entry level Apex group and below the better-known Force and Red groups. After a painful recall of the first generation hydraulic disc groups, SRAM is back on track and has expanded the hydraulic disc option (and the 11 speeds) to Rival level.
Rival is all about options. Cranks come in 165, 167.5, 170, 172.5, 175 and 177.5 mm lengths, making this a great way to fine tune fit at an affordable price. Chainring options are 52/36, 50/34 and 46/36. Pair those up with a cassette in 11-26, 11-28 or 11-32 for plenty of range, though I was hoping for a 46/34 option for a more off-road oriented adventure bike.
I suppose the 34 be could paired with the 46, but shifting may suffer. The crank is a basic forged design and is far from svelte compared to the hollow-forged or carbon cranks from Force and Red. The cassettes carry the largest three cogs on an aluminum carrier; the rest are individual and may bite into softer aluminum cassette bodies.
The Yaw front derailleur has a built-in chain keeper to prevent derailment to the inside. Yaw derailleurs move at an angle in relation to the chainrings, eliminating the need to trim and giving you access to all 22 gear combos. Once set up properly the front shifting was acceptable, but took awhile to tune out a tendency to shift past the big ring. The rear derailleur is a workhorse, setting up easily and firing off shifts without complaint.
The integrated shift and brake levers are chunky, but comfortable. There are small reach adjust bolts for the brake and shift levers; care must be taken to adjust both properly or the shift lever can hang up on the brake lever. I’ve adapted to SRAM’s DoubleTap single lever shifting, but still find Shimano’s two levers to be more intuitive. While the shifting performs well, the tactile feel at the levers isn’t as precise as I’d like, with a feel of plastic and bushings rather than metal and bearings.
The real stars of the show are the brakes. Much like SRAM’s newly released Guide mountain bike brakes, the Rival discs have an stellar feel at the lever, with excellent modulation building up to very controllable power. The caliper mounting surfaces are nicely machined and the brakes set up easily on the two bikes used for testing. Other than an odd vibration on the rear of one bike that I was never able to track down, the brakes were quiet and fade free, even after some sketchy and fast fire road descents under a bikepacking load.
While electronic shifting gets all the attention lately, personally I think hydro discs are a bigger upgrade to performance than adding batteries and servo motors to shifting. The Rival group is hugely versatile, with enough options to keep everyone except fully-loaded touring cyclists happy with the gear range and fit options. With performance that rivals (HA!) more expensive groups, particularly the brakes, Rival parts are a less expensive replacement option for the high-end groups. For rough and tumble adventure bikes, the Rival group is right at home, particularly for riders used to the power and control of modern mountain bike brakes.
- Hydraulic brakeset and shifters: $384 per wheel
- Front derailleur: $38
- Rear derailleur: $72
- Crankset: $218 BB30/$192 GXP
- Cassette: $69-$76
- Chain: $29
- Centerline rotors: $44-$55
Most of the world’s roads are unpaved
The perception of road cycling as an asphalt-only discipline is a construct of recent history. Roads have been unpaved since roads began and cyclists have been riding them as long as bikes have existed. That’s why SRAM 1x (say: one by) drivetrainsfor road are so relevant. We invite you to ride with us in Richmond on September 20 or Gloucester on September 26 as the 700c world celebrates the autumn of one discipline and the revolution of another.
As a Bicycle Times email subscriber you are invited to join SRAM for a free, first come-first serve ride and experience the improved chain security, simpler sequential shifting and an all the gear range you could need with the SRAM 1x system. It means “road riding” is no longer constrained to just asphalt.
To attend just sign up for a ride and select a bike in your size. The password is OPENTHEROAD1x. Bring your pedals, kit and helmet and we’ll make fit adjustments on your bike. You’ll roll with SRAM and friends on a fully supported ride adventure and gather afterwards to share a meal, some stories and some time for us to listen to your feed back. All for free.
The inevitable march of technology continues, and today SRAM made official one of the worst-kept secrets in the industry, the new wireless drivetrain known as Red eTap. The new shifters and derailleurs work in conjunction with existing SRAM Red cranksets, chains and cassettes. As bicycle frames become more and more complex, the absence of wires or cables allows them to take on even more aggressive forms. Modern wireless technology, battery technology and tiny servo motors all converge in the new system.
To shift to a harder gear, tap the right hand button. To shift to an easier gear, tap the left hand button. To shift the front chainring back and forth, click both buttons at the same time. Up to four extra remote shifters, SRAM calls them Blips, can be positioned anywhere on the handlebars for sprinting or climbing positions. The shift levers themselves have carbon fiber blades and offer reach adjustments for a perfect fit.
Small, removable battery packs on each of the derailleurs are interchangeable and can last a claimed 1,000 kilometers between recharges, which take 45 minutes. The wireless transmissions are encrypted to make it almost impossible for outside interference to influence the system. It uses a proprietary communications protocol and has been tested by the professional peloton for years. Firmware updates can be made with the included USB memory stick.
The SRAM Red eTap group will go on sale in spring 2016 and it won’t be cheap: $2,758 for the full aftermarket setup. It will also be included on several 2016 model bikes from the major brands.
This type of technology is still far beyond the reach of average cyclists, but it’s interesting to how the bicycle continues to evolve with technology, and it might someday be more common than mechanical shifting.Tweet Print
The definition of road is changing. Paved or gravel. Well-planned or uncharted journeys. SRAM and Bicycle Times are inviting you to ride the latest SRAM 1x™ gear (pronounced one-by) to have just such an adventure.
As a Bicycle Times email subscriber, you are invited to join SRAM for a free, first come — first served demo and ride on Saturday, July 18, in Beacon, New York.
You’ll roll with SRAM ambassadors and professional cyclocross racers Gabby and Jeremy Durrin on a fully supported ride adventure and gather afterwards to share a meal, some stories and your feedback.
Don’t miss this free opportunity to sample the latest SRAM components on some of the nicest bikes on the road. When you sign up, select a bike in your size and SRAM will have it ready for you. All you need to bring is your pedals, cycling kit and a helmet.
The demo ride will traverse 41 miles of scenic roads that are half paved and half gravel, and gain 3,350 feet of elevation. It’s the perfect way to experience the new SRAM 1x drivetrains.
It’s the perfect ride to challenge yourself and the day-to-day. So come out if you’re ready on Saturday, July 18 for a great time. Hurry! Space and bikes are limited. The password to register is Beacon1x. Please note, the password is CaSe sEnSiTiVe. Register now!Tweet Print
Images by Jake Orness, courtesy of SRAM
We joined SRAM in Boulder, Colorado, for an awesome ride on the new single chainring drivetrains as part of the Open the Road Tour. We rode 40 miles through Four Mile Canyon, along the stunning Switzerland Trail to Gold Hill and the iconic Gold Hill Store. The SRAM disc brakes were a huge help on the rough and loose Lick Skillet descent and through Lefthand Canyon, then we made it up over Old Stage and back to the Sanitas Brewery for tacos, beers and an informal focus group to see how the gear performed.
Special thanks goes to Skratch Labs and Real Athlete Diets for the nutrition along the way and to pro racers Nicole Duke and Kristin Weber for leading the way.
Stay tuned to see if the SRAM Open the Road Tour will be coming to a city near you.
To see full-size photos, click the magnifying glass.
In 1998, a small group of California engineers developed bicycle components and called the company TruVativ. Six years later, the mighty SRAM purchased the San Luis Obispo company, followed by the company’s introduction of its Rival, then Force, then Red road group sets. We were in the area for a Zipp 30 Course wheel introduction, so on the way out of town we toured the new SRAM lab, a brand-new 20,000-square foot facility across from the SLO airport, about a mile down the road from the original 8,600-square foot building. Thirty employees—engineers, lab technicians, marketing, public relations and machine shop wizards—share a custom work space which might be the envy of the industry.
The SRAM SLO lab is where drivetrain components, seat posts, cranksets, handlebars and stems are developed, prototyped, and tested until failure. It’s in the early stages of development, and we weren’t able to take photos of the early development stuff, but one thing stood out: engineers have the equipment necessary to create a carbon prototype crankset in-house and have it on the stress test machines the next day, a process that just a few years ago would take months.
And yes, SRAM breaks a lot of stuff. They break stuff so you don’t have to!
And with the recent introduction of its expanded 1x drivetrain platform, it was cool to watch their chainline test, which took cross chaining to the extreme.
Shifting and all it encompasses includes too many variables for a feeble-minded journalist to count, but SRAM built its own test mule to cover all possibilities.
Zipp brand manager Declan Doyle—based in Indianapolis—hails from the Emerald Isle, and was pleased to see a conference room named in his honor.
This man gets to build prototypes, and has the world-class equipment to play with every day. Can’t wait to see how his workspace evolves over the next few months.
Click the magnifying glass to enlarge photos:
After a disastrous release (and recall) of hydraulic road brakes , SRAM is back and ready to ride with a three different groups featuring disc brakes and mechanical shifting. We just received the Rival 22 group and peeled off most of the wrapping to show it to you.
We’ve got a frame set on the way to mount everything up, and a pretty fancy set of wheels from Zipp in the works to keep us rolling. These parts arrived just in time for the weather to get truly awful, so we aren’t going to take it easy on this group. And with that low gearing for the crank, and a frame with some tire clearance, it will is see its fair share of dirt as well as pavement, and perhaps the fast side of the course tape at a cyclcocross race or two. And maybe, just maybe, if family plans and a damaged shoulder agree, another attempt at the Dirty Dozen.Tweet Print
Several brands including SRAM, Liv, United Bicycle Institute (UBI), Quality Bicycle Products, Pedro’s, and Park Tool have joined together to offer ten scholarships for women to attend United Bicycle Institute.
Recognizing the bike industry needs to reach out to more women, these industry heavyweights have collaborated to fund a scholarship program for women. Additional support for the scholarship is provided by Nuu-Muu and the Outdoor Industry Women’s Coalition (OIWC).
The scholarship was created for women who are aspiring or experienced bike mechanics wishing to increase their technical knowledge and actively pursue a career in the cycling industry.
“It can be challenging for women to join the bike industry, and it will take numerous efforts to create a talent pipeline,” said Alix Magner, QBP’s Distribution Sales Manager and QBP’s scholarship program manager. “This is one step, and we’re thrilled at the level of initiative from our partners to start leading change in how women are included in our industry.”
Recipients will receive scholarships to attend UBI’s Professional Shop Repair and Operations Workshop. Lodging will be provided for those attending the Ashland, Oregon campus. Travel and other expenses are the responsibility of the recipient.
Interested parties can apply at qbp.com/womensscholarship through November 15, 2014. Applicants must be currently employed at a bike shop, at least 18 years old, a U.S. resident, and must be available to attend the February, March or April sessions. Winners will be notified via email by December 19, 2014.Tweet Print
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.Tweet Print
There is little argument that SRAM’s 1×11 drivetrains work and work well, at least no argument among those who have ridden them And therein lies the problem, as both the XX1 and X01 groups are very expensive. But now the new X1 group trickles the 1×11 tech down to a lower price point, allowing it to be spec’ed on bikes at much lowe price points, and make sence as an aftermarket upgrade.Tweet Print
In what seems to be a trend this month, another CEO of a major cycling brand falls on his sword and apologizes to consumers. Here, SRAM’s president Stan Day discusses what led to the recall of all SRAM hydraulic road and cyclocross brakes and what steps consumers should take if they have them. For the latest on the recall, visit sramroadhydraulicbrakerecall.com.Tweet Print
Disc brakes have made a big push into the cyclocross and even road bike markets in the past year, but they certainly have had their share of bumps in the road along the way. SRAM, Shimano and TRP have all issued recalls for some of their disc brake products, but the latest news from SRAM trumps them all.
Despite an earlier recall that affected only a small production group of SRAM RED hydraulic disc road brakes, the new recall covers ALL hydraulic disc and rim brakes, and recommend riders stop using them immediately for their own safety.Tweet Print