For a few months I have been hassling Rob about Sram and their palns for the road side of the cycling market.
If you have a mountain bike the chances are you are running one of two makes on the gears/transmission; SRAM or Shimano. Shimano have always been the leader but since SRAM broke into a MTB world they have taken it by storm, there simple ergonomic approch to levers and gears just works. On the other hand if you have a road bike your running either Shimano or Campag. Notice something; Shimano are the Microsoft of the cycling world they have cornered everything and trademarked or patented everything they can!
So when I heard of SRAM’s plans to take on the road scene I expected to me impressed, waiting for the third groupset to hit the shelves.
Last week Rob was lucky enough to get invited to a press release and demo of the new gear, no I could not go aas it was only one person per shop. Anyway the morning after Rob calls me:
Adam: So what’s it like?
Rob: Start saving now!
Adam: What good?
Rob: It will turn the world upside down!
Adam: Seriously, your saying good then?
Rob: They are so comfortable
Adam: So does the whole double tap thing work?
Rob: Like a dream, great if your sprinting!
Adam: Awwh Man I wish I was there!?!
Rob: You could have done, there was loads of room.
OK yeah thanks for that!
Well the story so far on the groupset is that there will be two sets released, the Force and the Rival. The Force will be lined in direct competition with the Shimano Dura Ace or Compag Record. The Rival will be a slightly reduced version with out all the bells and whistles, around Ultegra level. Due to patents on all the levers and stuff already out there SRAM have opted for a double tap method of changing gear, push the lever half way and you change up a gear, all the way and you change down a gear. Sounds very confusing I know up it does appear to work. You really should view the SRAM site for a bit more details if your confused.
The next best thing is that the gear lever is seperate from the brake lever, meaning that you can pull the gear shifter towards the bar and hold it there without engaging the brake. Handy? Well very handy if you are on a sprint, imagine on the drops sprinting for the line, no more letting go and reaching forward to change gear, you just flick your wrist and it will change gear.
Despite this they have not lost the picture and the entire groupset is built on quality, I’ve heard a few mixed reviews on the brake calipers, but everything else looks as good as the SRAM gear of the MTB world.
The Force set being the flag ship model is of course kitted out with carbon levers to take on the Campag Record image, the crankset is a carbon but no where was strength swapped for bling and yet it is still lighter than a Dura Ace set. The Rival set which is still steal is a whole 100grams lighter than the Ultegra counterpart. In a few years time if the competition are getting close they just swap steal for titanium and off we go again on the gram shaving mission.
So what is with the Frog? Well the frog is called leap and it is based upon the technologies used in the shifters. The levers use two pawled wheels to change gear and when you push past the first it leap-frogs over the first wheel to engage the second. Hence Leap the frog was born. This does result in a much simplier life, (I think these figures are correct but please feel free to let me know if not) there are around 58 moving parts in a Dura Ace lever, only 28 in the SRAM. Less parts, less wear, less time on the side of the road.
Later this year two teams will be running on SRAM Force kit in the Tour de France, also look out for a lot of publicity surrounding this groupset and lots of red frogs painted along the road.
If all goes well Rob should have a set in later as well and I’ll hopefully get a test ride. Until then I’ll just make do with my free hat.