SRAM landed in the world of road cycling with a loud thump when, in 2006, it launched its Rival and Force groupsets. Their arrival heralded a third choice in the often heated ‘which groupset’ debate and last year the company upped the ante with RED, one of the lightest groupsets money can buy.
SRAM’s development of these groupsets has been backed up with the support of several professional cycling teams, with the Force group celebrating some 29 pro race wins in 2007. Not a bad start for a design so fresh off the blocks.
With 2008 dedicated to the launch of RED, 2009 ushers in updated Rival and Force groups, with both benefiting from trickle-down RED features that only serve to make Rival and Force even better value for money.
Force, SRAM’s mid-level offering, is arguably the most attractive of the three. It’s not far off the sub-2kg weight of RED but is hugely more affordable, and stacks up well against Shimano’s and Campagnolo’s offerings, both in terms of weight and price.
What are the main changes for 2009?
Interestingly, changes are actually few and far between, and it’s a case of minor tweaks rather than anything major. The ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mantra has been adhered to, and most of the changes are in the shifter units. On the surface then, Force remains identical.
So, like RED, shifting is improved with the integration of Zero Loss lever movement (but only on the front shift lever) which removes the initial slack when you first push the lever, making for much quicker gear changes. Along with Zero Loss, the front mech trim adjustment has moved from the inner chainring to the outer, as debuted on RED.
That’s not all. Ergonomics have been improved, with the brake lever now a full 1cm longer and the shift paddle wider, too. There’s also individual brake and gear lever reach adjustment so you can fine tune the setup to your liking. The last change to the levers is new cable routing options – you can now route the brake and shift cables along the front side of the handlebars.
Those are the key changes. The other parts remain unchanged into 2009. All that remains then is to build the groupset onto a bike and put in enough miles to report back with our verdict. Watch this space…
– Price: £999
– Weight: 2,052g
– Website: www.sram.com