Upon Further Review: SRAM Rival Components

Nearly four years ago I tested and reviewed the SRAM Rival components for issue 127 of Dirt Rag. This first generation of SRAM road shifters gave the industry leader Shimano and old reliable Campagnolo their first real competition in that corner of the market. So after year-round commuting in sun, rain and snow, a few crashes, some off-road abuse, swapping them to a cyclocross bike, and days of sitting dirty in the basement, how have the components held up to real-life usage? 

Overall, They held up great. My favorite part of the group is the DoubleTap shifter/brake levers. The ergonomic hoods provide comfortable grip and allow for easy positioning on dropbars. This creates a natural transition that has never put unwanted pressure on my wrists nor kinked them at a funky angle. I’ve gotten use to using one lever for shifting both up and down, and as long as the cables are replaced twice a year, the shifting has remained smooth. No mechanical issues have occurred and nothing has broken. My only complaint with the Rival shifter is that it can be difficult to feed some cables through the shift mechanism. Right now I’m testing GORE derailleur cables and their thin and super-flexy cable was a headache to thread through.

Newer DoubleTap shifters have a carbon brake blade and shift lever, a trim adjuster on the front shifter, and added cable routing options allowing both the brake and shift cables to be run on either side of the handlebar.

The front and rear derailleurs are still shifting smooth and strong, the pulley wheels spin fine, and albeit some scuffs they still look good and are performing with no problems. SRAM’s Exact Actuation creates a balanced and even shift across the entire cog, with 3mm of adjustment from gear to gear. Newer versions come in black and have upgraded pulley wheels.  

I recently replaced the cassette and the 50t front chain ring with SRAM parts, but that was the first time in three and half years. I’ve gone through a couple chains, but I really feel that I got the most life possible out of the drive components before changing them. They were completely shark-finned and would hold the chain up, not allowing for a smooth or predictable gear change.

The 172.5mm crank arms are showing their age and are scratched up pretty good. I blame it on riding alongside railroad tracks. Those rocks are not forgiving. Leaning the bike against parking meters and cruising through gravel and snow also have taken the shine from these once sparkling crank arms.  They may not look brand new anymore, but they haven’t broken and still do what they are supposed to. The GXP bottom bracket hasn’t been the greatest and I’ve gone through three of them. Seems like that component should have seen better seals by now. At least it is easy to replace.  A ceramic bearing version is available. Maybe someday I’ll splurge and buy one. Probably not, though.

Besides all the parts being dirty and in need of a degreasing, the SRAM Rival components have demonstrated their strength and reliability to me. I didn’t hesitate to replace the worn cassette and chainring with OEM parts and will do it again when these wear out in three years time. Ride on.   

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