It was about due…the SRAM Red group hasn’t been updated beyond color options since its debut years ago. Now, here’s the first sneak peek at the forthcoming overhaul of their top end group.

We’ve been promised some sort of info on this today, so look for another post or update as soon as we get something in. Rumors are running rampant at the moment that SRAM is pushing up the official launch (or at least info leaks) of this group in response to the unofficial leaks of Shimano’s new 11-speed Dura-Ace that we broke first earlier this week. Dealer meetings have apparently been pushed from January to mid-December. While we were thinking we’d see an official launch around Sea Otter, looks like we’ll be seeing the full launch in February 2012.

UPDATED! See updates throughout post for insight from our anonymous inside source at SRAM!

UPDATE 2! Pretty much just confirmed that both a hydraulic and mechanical disc brake option will be available for the new Red group, which likely puts them more than a year ahead of anyone else for this. One pro who’s raced it simply said “It’ll blow your f—in’ mind.”

Screen grabs and arm chair analysis after the break…

2012 SRAM Red cassette sneak peek

Perhaps the most expected change is a chiseling of the cassette to mimic the XX mountain bike version. This is likely the easiest way for them to save weight on the group. The current Red cassette is 155g (claimed) in it’s smallest 11-23 iteration. We wouldn’t be surprised if this one comes in around 130g, putting it in the ballpark of the most chi-chi ultra lightweight bits from boutique brands. The other reason to go with a machined out cassette is to hopefully reduce drivetrain noise, a common complaint about Red, and make it a little more cyclocross friendly by letting mud and crud shed through easier.

UPDATE: Should be the lightest mass production cassette ever made.

2012 SRAM Red rear derailleur sneak peek

2012 SRAM Red rear derailleur sneak peek

This one’s harder to tell. The rear derailleur looks like the cable clamping bolt has moved down a bit and positioned at more of an angle. Perhaps offering a bit easier installation?

UPDATE: Some of the bolts, like the adjustment screws and cable bolt, are recessed and repositioned with a focus on aerodynamics as well as weight savings. The crank arms’ shape takes this into consideration, too.

2012 SRAM Red front derailleur sneak peek

Again, not a lot of visual differences on the front derailleur from what we can see in the video. The parallelogram arms look a like they’re a bit more angular and edgy, which would give it a good, strong look. Cages are probably still titanium. Hard to get much lighter than 58g!

2012 SRAM Red cranks sneak peek

Cranks look like the arms are maybe a bit more rounded off on the corners but definitely still carbon. Shown here with their GXP spindle. Big ring is still pretty tall.

2012 SRAM Red brakes sneak peek

Brakes look like they are heavily redesigned with a recessed center section rather than the current ones. The design could give them extra strength by using a triangle with a relief to save weight rather than a full cutout like Campy’s skeleton brakes.

UPDATE: Brakes will have a narrower profile and look like they have a small cantilever at the clamp.

SPECULATION: If you look at what products they’ve used in a racing situation in the past that weren’t necessarily race products, you’d know that Contador used one of their Wi-Fli wide range cassettes and long cage derailleurs for some of the climbing stages last year. It’s not a stretch to think they could eventually offer Wi-Fli options in the Red and Force groups, too. Currently, it’s only available in Rival and Apex. Moving it to the lighter groups would give their sponsored teams a lightweight option for the mountains.


  1. I love SRAM have it on both bikes, but if this is just a lighter Red with BNG this is a big ole FAIL. It appears its just a 10 speed and no electric shifter. I they don’t have something else up their sleeve than all that hard work that they have done to get market share from Shimano and Campy is going to erode. Currently it looks like the boys from Chicago are OTB.

  2. Looks like they are trying to polish a turd. Red has always sucked, sub par brakes, worst FD ever, loudest cassette that shifted poorly. The only nice thing on the whole group is shifting from low to hi gears in the rear, other than that its a waste of money. SRAM needs to do some of their own R&D since it seems they’ve run out of companies to buy.

  3. I have never had a problem with the SRAM front ders, like some folks have.

    I welcome a new version of RED, I think it needs to set apart from the existing Force and Rival notably for there to be a big impact.
    I think the rear der can be stiffen some to make the shifting snappier and I don’t think it’s necessary for SRAM to jump on board with the electronic shifting game. I think it will come, but I don’t want to see it until it’s ready for market.

    The crank has always been a little on the steaky side, so if they can save weight there it would be a boon. And the old Red brakes were plenty powerful, so lightening them up makes sense to me. Notice how the “A” frame is missing from these brakes.
    If their game is to be “the most aerodynamic group” available, then it’s an angle no one else is persuing and will have a real claim in the industry and the tri world.

    Interested to see the rest of the details.

  4. So far the cassette looks like a big improvement that will reduce the number of pros using PG 1070 cassettes and aero is a new angle. Will they start offering a steel cage FD as a catalog option instead of pro only for those who value shift quality over bragging rights at the scale? A rear cage option that handles a an 11-28 cassette would also be nice for steep climbing and mere mortals.

  5. Slow Joe
    Last time I ordered some SRAM components, the steel cage Red F der WAS an option. I thought it was widely available at this point.

    And I believe that SRAM rear ders currently accept 28T cassettes, but not the larger Wi-Fli options, such as Apex, etc.

  6. Yea, I think not. Working on it day in and day out I would have an idea of how well it works, and look @ Garmin-cervelo, they get paid to ride it and they don’t want to.

  7. This was a pretty vague and blurry promo in recent time. Intentional? Prolly.

    Other rumors are replaceable/changeable gel pads in the shifter grips, and they have a different shape:

    I got ’09 Rival (the first in black) in September 2008 for $580 (shifters, brakes, crankset, cassette, FD/RD), being a grad student, I honestly don’t think I can afford anything soon. SRAM putting this promo out right before christmas may have some cycling fans hold onto their money over the holiday months until it is released…?

    I honestly would have put this video out about mid-November.

  8. @mattl, who cares how long you’ve worked on it….just because a chef has been a chef for 30 yrs doesn’t make him a good one. I do think that the setup of SRAM shifting is less idiot proof than Shimano. However, when setup correctly I have no complaints.

  9. @mattl

    could you be more specific on the garmin-cervele sram story? I know that some teams switched from sram to shimano and are very (more than that) happy with it, but I never heard of teams, that are forced to use a groupo they don’t want. Thanks in advance!

  10. i love these threads on here
    no one reads anything, just hates on what ever product is featured. happens with all the brands here.
    I read it and looked at it and i see some stuff i like
    >those single pivot brakes look to have mad clearance and modulation
    >the rear deraileur has a whole new shape that really doesn’t have a big parallelogram on it
    >took care of cassette noise
    >totally new lever blade shape
    >hydro levers(not a personal fav. but floats some boats)

    rumor also is the they have taller knob on the levers and the comparison i heard was more along the lines of campy shape not shimano.

  11. @mattl
    most of the garmin team had been on shimano for several years and if you ride something long enough you like it.
    If you put campy on a bike for any one under the age of 30 they probably wouldn’t like it
    because they grew up on sram and shimano, group sets are not an instant love thing, they are something you grow into.

  12. I agree with Mark W

    This has got to be lighter than my current SRAM red and I love it. I spend money on making my bike lighter, not $$$$ to make it heavier.

    Nice work SRAM!! Can’t wait to see more!

  13. i’ve seen the levers in person a few times. on the brake levers there is a nob at the end, similar to campagnolo’s levers, & they’re longer than the current generation sram levers. i also counted 10 on the cassette.

    @ MarkW: i’m also under 30 & whenever i shift my campagnolo bike, i think to myself “this is how a bicycle shift should feel/work.” that being said, you’re kind of right. i find people stay away from campagnolo because it’s so hard to get cables, switch over wheels, the price, etc, not because of how it feels/shifts.

  14. the FD sounds like the wick-works design – i wonder if they bought someone else now. and to slow joe crow – current sram red/force/rival/apex all work on 11-28.

  15. Lighter, considerable improvements, and nothing silly. Rich folk can have their Di2 and SR11, this is great for the rest of us.

  16. Funny, I thought you wound up saying some muddled crap about steel and 8-speed shifters, prior to ushering youths off your lawn.

  17. @steve
    I think they mean the drive train, and maybe the caliper brakes.
    if you look at some of the parts on the Team Astana bikes this year they used the chain rings
    if you look at Levi’s bike you will see the cassette, at the U.S.A.P.C.C.
    I dont know who was racing on the full group, im sure it was on some over looked riders at some of the bigger races this year.

  18. I have been a mechanic since before Sram was on the market. I have had 5 of there groups starting from first generation rival to force to apex. I have ridden red bikes and work on them as well. Set up properly it all works or they would not have gotten such a big percentage of the market so quick. I think Sram is amazing at what they do and always look forward to seeing new products from them. If you have issues with your group I would take it somewhere that has experience with setting them up properly.

  19. Is it just me or lack of information from the screen shots, but that rear derailleur look weird. Can’t seem to make out where the main body is that bolts to the hanger. Nor can i see the spring or other common parts. I’m sure its just me, but it’d be pretty sweet if they redefined the mechanics behind the rear d.

  20. I really, truly hope that, with this upgrade, SRAM has dramatically improved the performance of Red, because right now, that stuff is absolute ‘effin garbage.

  21. the little “bridge” connector in front of the front derailleur parallelogram reminds me of the M950 xtr front derailleur, with its articulating cage. the description of it on Bicycling Mag’s website supports this.

  22. Honestly I don’t expect major changes to every single part, or care for it, my Red group works really well now. I like it when manufacturers make small incremental improvements, shave a bit of weight here and fix nagging issues, instead of making huge changes that don’t have enough test time. All I really was hoping for was a smoother cassette and hydro drop levers for a cyclocross bike. If they can just get that right, I think the group would be near perfect. I really don’t care for electronic or 11-speed, I would not consider either of those things even an upgrade, simply, a change.

    So far the info looks promising, I may just get what I want! Lucky me.

  23. Now that they have confirmed the introduction of hydraulic brakes, you may officially call me impressed. Just imagine how cool it would be to use a simple splitter for the brake hose and install an extra brake lever on TT extensions without any loss of braking power or awkward cable routing!

  24. Hey guys, as with everything in life, if its properly setup its works perfectly, I have been running SRAM Red for 3-4yrs and never had a problem. I run it on 2 bikes. For those people who hate it, well all I can say that maybe go back to your bike mechanic and tell him to shove it up where the sun don’t shine and go back to school, and setup it up properly. If you have set it up yourself, well take it to someone who knows what the ???? their doing. It is the best system in the world. The only reason why Shimano brought Di2 out, cause there regular Durace is so shyte and slow that it was the only way for them to move forward. And yes, I have tried Durace, you cannot compare the 2 groupsets at all. Its like comparing a Mercedes to a Toyota. There is no need for 11 speed. All the Pro Teams that have used Campy 11 speed ALWAYS loose a gear by the end of the day, so each bike has to be setup again the day after. The same will be with Shimano, they will have the same issues, Guaranteed.

  25. *NO* contemporary group by the big three is crap, garbage, or otherwise. The only things that *are* crap are bad wrenches, “just-riding-along” denial in the face of crashes, and pea-brain whingers who can spend lots of money without ever realizing cable stretch is inevitable.

  26. @lunderhill- Well said. All the groups work well. I avoid Campy for one reason. . . money. I had Shimano for years and I loved it. Now I have SRAM and I love it too. I built my bike up myself and haven’t had any shifting difficulty with SRAM and I am not a pro mechanic.

  27. Sold my RED for Campy for two reasons- the hardware on the SRAM consistently rusted and the noise of the cassette…. Otherwise it works pretty well.

  28. As someone who has been contemplating a RED group upgrade for X-mas , I have to wonder if current generation will go on sale anytime soon.

  29. I enjoy reading the COMMENTS more than the stories… I have both Red and DA… and it makes no difference to me which bike I use… I just know I will get the new stuff when it is out

  30. Niko,
    You bring up a really good point about shifting performance, and I find it interesting that even though many claim to be good mechanics, not more is being said about the flat-out inconsistency of the current era of Shimano STI! It’s amazing! Just as amazing as the SRAM Red front derailleur issue (though it seems this issue is just as much due to the chainring and clamp type as it is the “faulty” derailleur design). After having had to adjust perhaps hundreds of STI systems I’ve been impressed by how most systems seem impossible to dial (as if the parts were not actually compatible. Once in a long while, it does work perfectly, and if you are the owner of a bike on which it works perfectly, you are truly in in a blessed minority. Of those I’ve interviewed who claim to love their Shimano, after inspecting their their shifting set up, I don’t really understand why they enjoy delayed shifts or having to throw the lever past the click to get the chain to climb a cog.

    Of all these major players, Shimano always impresses me with the quality of their materials. Which is why it’s so disconcerting when Apex consistently shifts far better than Dura Ace, Ultegra and 105, or even Red sometimes! My old 8-speed shifts with more reliability than most Shimano STI, and I truly wish this were not the case.

    Having a spent 3 days riding a DI2 demo, Shimano may be truly giving their competitors something to worry about, cause when perfectly set up, it absolutely out-shifts everyone’s stuff. That said, I continue to ride Apex/Rival, old Campy 10, and as long as my stuff set up nicely, I don’t miss DI2 at all. As planned obsolescence seems to be the rule, if you find something that works good for you, it’s wise to buy a back up set, until they work out the kinks with the latest and greatest. I may be ready for Campy 11 next year, or maybe 2013.

  31. While I’m a Campy fan and currently ride Campy 10 exclusively (except for SRAM on my MTBs), I agree that all the major groups work well, IF they’re setup up correctly, which is a big IF. When it comes to choosing a group, I prefer to do it on the merits of the design for the type of riding intended, combined with personal preferences.

    I have to admit to being impressed with the shifting smoothness and precision of the Dura Ace 7800 that came on my ‘cross bike. However, I switched it to Campy when I started having problem with the stupid pivoting brake levers slipping out of my hands when braking from the hoods on rough surfaces. I never liked the dual-function idea, anyway. It’s now on my girlfriend’s road bike – where it belongs – and she loves it. I hate Shimano’s “when it wears or breaks, toss it and buy a new one” philosophy. That’s easy to say when you’re not paying for it, but harder to live with in the real world. I’ll wait on the electronic stuff for now, mainly due to price, but I’ll give Shimano credit for trickling-down the technology pretty quickly.

    SRAM scores points for weight, price and repair-ability. Styling is a personal choice, but some of their stuff looks pretty sharp, too. The one gripe I have with Double-Tap shifting is what happens when you reach the largest cog on the cassette. If you don’t realize you’re there and you punch the shifter looking for a lower gear, it up-shifts, which is the worst possible scenario. This may not be a huge issue on the road, but for ‘cross, it can be a momentum killer and force a dismount. It’s hard to understand why they can’t add a “ghost” second click that will allow you to stay in the lowest gear if you screw up and try to downshift further. It’s a significant flaw in an otherwise elegant design.

    For me, Campy combines the best of the other two groups and it works equally well for road and ‘cross. Shifts are crisp and audible/tactile, which I like better than the low feedback of Shimano or the excessively noisy SRAM. Their parts are rebuildable, rather than disposable. I live in hilly country and the ability to “dump the cassette” when performing front/rear shifts simultaneously is handy when hitting the bottom of climbs and cresting the tops, and even when just changing chainrings on the flats. Again, I’ll hold off on the electronic stuff for now, but I like the lowered “mouse ears” on the levers and wish they would move them down on the mechanical groups, too. If they do, it might convince me to make the jump to 11 speed. The multi-shift capability on the electronic groups is also a great feature, IMO.

    High on my wish list is that all 11 speed groups will have compatible cassette spacing, so Campy and Shimano-standard wheels can finally be interchanged at will. That would be huge!

  32. “SRAM scores points for weight, price and repair-ability. Styling is a personal choice, but some of their stuff looks pretty sharp, too. The one gripe I have with Double-Tap shifting is what happens when you reach the largest cog on the cassette. If you don’t realize you’re there and you punch the shifter looking for a lower gear, it up-shifts, which is the worst possible scenario. This may not be a huge issue on the road, but for ‘cross, it can be a momentum killer and force a dismount. It’s hard to understand why they can’t add a “ghost” second click that will allow you to stay in the lowest gear if you screw up and try to downshift further. It’s a significant flaw in an otherwise elegant design.”

    nope, it doesn’t work like that, not on the road groups. if you “double tap” when you’re already on the biggest cog, you stay on the biggest cog.

  33. @zach – agreed. The shifter does make a clicking sound as if it was shifting, but if it is set up properly (IMHO it works best if you leave about 2 mm of RD travel beyond the plane of the largest cog) it will NOT over-shift or drop the chain.

  34. @Bnystrom
    I have sram on a bike and have had several levers and derailluers on that bike
    and i can explain how this not an issue easily, it the limit screws are set right then its just fine.
    I have never ever seen a customer come into the shop on heard of anyone doing what you say sram will do it you are on the top cog of the cassette.
    Now if the system is set up wrong the, even with campy and shimano, and the low limit is set to far out and you are in the top cog and reach to shift up again it will pull a small amount of cable which may be enough to shift over and in to the wheel. This is because the system is pulling cable each time you move up the cassette and because they give you a little extra to make the derailleur move past to cog a little then come back right into place.

  35. Red hasn’t been updated because the best-performing and lightest gruppo hasn’t been contested on either count. Hope the revisions don’t compromise performance. Either way, I’m excited to ride it.

  36. With Dura-Ace about to come into 11spd and Campy revealing EPS, Red seems like such a non-factor. I mean it’s decent stuff I suppose, certainly nothing overly WRONG with it. It’s just not as…BAM! As the other options. Seems like it’d be cool as a cross gruppo with the hydro-brakes at least.

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