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SRAM Red first pics


Even lighter brake caliper

Double Tap levers adjustable for reach

Meaty-looking crankset runs on ceramic bearings

Ti cage for front mech

Titanium, carbon, ceramics… you name it…

Sub 2000g for a complete groupset? That’s some claim, even if it does not include hubs, but with the forthcoming Red component group, SRAM has achieved it. Until recently a specialist in MTB components, the company stunned the cycling world at the beginning of 2006 with the release of the Rival and Force road groups. Both received favourable reviews, with the higher-level Force group going on to equip the Saunier Duval professional road squad for the 2007 season.

At the heart of both groups is SRAM’s innovative Double Tap shift technology, which uses just one lever to make both up-and down-shifts. The system further benefits from Exact Actuation, which is designed to employ a constant cable pull across the range of rear sprockets, and Open Glide sprockets, which each lose one tooth in order to speed shifting across the cassette. SRAM’s Skeletonized Dual Pivot brake calipers employ a braced ‘Y’ arm and multi-adjustable brake shoes for perfect rim alignment.

Red represents the next step for the US-owned company; not only is it lighter than Force and Rival, but it addresses reservations expressed over aspects of the previous groups’ performance and brings new finishes and technologies to the contruction of the components themselves.

The group is expected to take Double Tap one step further by making the rear shift action lighter, adding a trim function to the front shift and making both dual control levers tuneable for reach. New pawl geometry is said to achieve something called zero-loss travel, which translates to faster, more precise shifts made with less effort. Although it is the brake lever that is adjustable for reach, this adjustment affects the shift lever at the same time, so it can be said that both brake and shift levers are adjustable. At the rear of the lever perch, Dual Cable Routing means the casings can be led on to the handlebars as desired. Finally, the left-hand shifter incorporates a trim function to ensure that there is no chain rub on the front mech when using extreme cross-over between the chainrings and cassette.

The Red rear derailleur gets parts in titanium and ‘structural carbon’ plus titanium parallelogram pivot bearings and hybrid ceramic bearings in the jockey wheels. The result is a claimed 25g weight loss, improved durability and faster shifting. The front mech gets a hardened titanium cage to go with its trim function.

Red’s carbon crankset looks like a revamped version of the Force design, but gets BlackBox Ceramic bearings in the GXP outboard bottom bracket housings plus stiffness-optimised Red PowerGlide chainrings with a vaguely familiar solid side profile.

The Skeletonized Dual Pivot brake caliper design has been upgraded with a new, even more skeletal ‘Y’ arm that sheds another 15g; more exciting in some ways, however, is the PowerDome cassette. This combines the largest eight sprockets in a single forged, heat treated and CNC-machined piece of cromoly steel that shaves weight while apparently achieving exceptional rigidity and, thanks to the hard-wearing material used, impressive longevity. The remaining two sprockets are installed separately.

From road newcomer to lightest top-end groupset on the market in two years is some going, but here’s the evidence. Going by the pics, there’s not much to complain about on the aesthetics front, although a more considered opinion will have to wait until RCUK gets a test group to play with. As they say, ‘watch this space.’

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