Officially launched in 1988, Sram is a relatively young company with a lot of design ingenuity and the original maker of the Grip Shift. They’ve been making their way up through the bike component industry, proving themselves to be a reliable company providing a reliable product.
And they look good too.
They have also forged biking alliances with several companies, including RockShox, Quarq, Avid, Truvativ and Zipp.
So let’s start from the bottom up.
This is Sram’s entry level components group. Here you will find a series of parts which consist of brake levers, shifters, cassettes, chains, crankarms and derailleurs for road, cyclocross and track bikes. The series comes in 8, 9 and 10 speeds and even offer cantilever brakes from Avid.
Although this is not a component group as such, Quarq is worth a mention because it is a power meter that can measure your wattage via the crankarm. It has been engineered to read the force upon the pedal on the drivetrain side and through internal calculations, can tell you with a +/-1.5% accuracy how much wattage you are putting out. A great tool for those of you hardcore cyclists who want to better performance. The Quarq Sram Red Power Meter has ANT + compatibility so that it can be read by your Garmin or any other performance GPS with ANT+.
Apex is your decent, lower-end component group. It also moonlights as the Mountain Kit for its excellent ability for faster, yet steeper, mountain ascents, due to its wider gear range. They come in 10 speeds and have all sorts of tech included in this group, including Reach Adjust on the brakes (helps the brakes adjust perfectly into your hands), DoubleTap (an easier and faster gear shifter) and the Zero-Loss (which refers to Zero Loss of movement when shifting, providing for a crisper pass into different gears). There is a shifter paddle plus a brake lever on top. It comes in either black or white.
With a pro look and bits and pieces borrowed from Red and Force, the Rival component group is your bargain buy. If you haven’t the coin to shell out for Red, this may be an option. The steel front derailleur cage provides for crisper shifting. The Rival offers WiFli (Wider – Faster – Lighter) rear derailleurs. The technology offers a wider range of gears even though it’s got two chainrings and 10 speeds in the back, a three-chainring system.
Shifting is something that Sram is really working hard on and the Sram Force is no exception. Here, we’ve got the Exact Actuation tech, which refers to the shifter cable travel vs the derailleur movement. Zero-Loss and DoubleTap are also part of the ingredients. Ergonomics is also a big thing with the Sram people and the brake-shifter hoods were designed to fit every hand size. It’s light, efficient and performance-oriented. The matte, gunmetal-grey of the rear derailleurs is sure to catch your eye as well.
The heavy hitter of the Sram road bike family. If you want to hit it out of the park, this is what you do it with. Interestingly enough, it’s got a four-arm spider in its crankset and offers the Quarq power meter in this line. It’s got Yaw technology, which eliminates the need for shifter trim and has a rotating front derailleur, as well as all the other goodies like DoubleTap, ErgoDynamics, Exact Actuation, AeroGlide Pulleys (which keep your shifting whisper-silent), Exogram (hollow carbon construction for the crankarm), X-GlideR Chainrings (for optimized shifting), Gutter Seal Technology (a bottom bracket seal against the elements) and a cassette with mud-clearing capabilities. With 10 speeds and sexy design, you’ve got yourself a lightweight group with celery-crisp shifting. This is for those serious cyclists where money is no object.