Review: the NEW SRAM Red
article & images by Nick Salazar
Oct 8, 2012
It wasn't too long ago that SRAM entered the road group market with its initial release of Force and Rival back in 2006. When it released Red the following year, it became an undeniable force in the world of cycling componentry. Red was the lightest groupset available when it was released, and offered some compelling new technological ideas including their novel DoubleTap shifting method, 1-to-1 cable pull ratios, and a cutting-edge style to match its forward-thinking philosophy.
Fast-forward to 2011, and the landscape had changed dramatically. Red still lays claim to being incredibly light, reliable, and with R2C shifting, provided a great ergonomic benefit to triathletes. But the ascendency of Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 electronic group had changed the game. And while Shimano and Campagnolo have marched on with the evolution of their electronic groups, SRAM has continued to champion their mechanical group.
We're going to set aside the comparisons to electric shifting for the most part, but I'll bring it up at the conclusion of this article. I'm going to review the new Red at face value, picking it apart from the inside out. SRAM has made a rather huge effort to update their highest-end component group, and there's a lot worth taking about here.
Before we dive in, it's important to note from the outset exactly what was reviewed here. Given that TriRig is focused exclusively on triathlon equipment, I didn't conduct a review of the DoubleTap road shifters. There are pictures of them in the gallery, and I've used other SRAM DoubleTap controls before, but these aren't making the cut for our purposes here.
I also didn't review the new Red brakes, because of my obvious bias in the area of triathlon brakes. I have a philosophy about what kind of brake a tri bike should have, and traditional road calipers don't fit into it. That said, I can tell you that SRAM has made an effort to make their traditionally-shaped caliper a bit more aero than competing models, and they are quite simple to install and service. If you're dead set on road calipers, and you're spec'ing a bike out with Red, there's no reason not to grab these.
So what I am primarily reviewing, in my opinion, is the heart of the group. That consists of the front and rear derailleurs, along with the cassette, chain, crankset, and TT shifters. So with all that said, let's get right into it. Hit the jump for my part-by-part review of the 2012 edition of SRAM's impressive Red group.