SRAM simultaneously introduced two new 11-speed groups and the hydraulic disc and rim road bike brakes. While adding a cog may not seem like much news, there’s enough of a story to separate the drivetrain from the brakes into two posts. Here, the new SRAM RED 22 and SRAM Force 22 groups.
The teaser video on April 1st made a big deal of the number 22, and you’ll be seeing plenty of it in their marketing. The idea is simple: an 11-speed cog should mean 22 useable gears, and with the SRAM 22 groups, you get just that. “True 22” means trim-free shifting and rub-free use of all 22 gears in the majority of standard ring combinations. Big-Big. Small-Small. It’s all good. There’ll be no warnings about certain gear combos. Use it across the range…which is exactly what I was testing in the image above.
With RED getting a complete overhaul just one year ago, the bigger news here is actually Force. The 2nd tier group now has all of the technology and some shared parts with RED. While we didn’t get to test it yet, they’re promising same performance with only a small gain in weight.
UPDATED 1:49pm EST – Freehub and shifter compatibility info added at bottom of post.
SRAM 22 OVERVIEW
For both groups, They are completely new drivetrain parts, including chain, cassette, shifter/levers, derailleurs, chainrings, and most cranksets. The 11-speed parts will have “22” printed on them and, unfortunately, are not compatible with 10-speed parts…mostly. But, they will continue to support 10-speed groups for the time being by maintaining current RED and Force groups and by offering S-700 series hydraulic 10-speed brake levers for those that simply want to add Hydro R brakes (rim or disc) to their current set up.
The standard 11-speed cassettes for both Red and Force will run consecutively from 11-17, with larger cogs jumping numbers as necessary to get to the largest cog. They’ll also offer WiFLi cassettes for both groups.
Road drivetrain product designer Mark Santurbane told us the derailleurs get tweaked geometry, but the biggest change is the front’s cage, which gets narrower. It’s narrower not just because the chain is slightly narrower, but also because the chainrings are a bit closer together, too. There’s not a fixed distance the rings moved closer, each combo is slightly different to affect the shift timing between the two rings. However, the spider’s tab thickness on the crankset is the same, so all of the spacing difference is in the rings. This means you can put new 11-speed rings on the 2012 Red 10-speed cranksets.
Chainring and cog profiles changed, too. They’re not just thinner, and they even might be thicker in parts. The big changes are in the shapes of the teeth, ramps and pins. And the chain. The only similarity between 10- and 11-speed chains is the distance between the pins. Plate profiles are all new.
Why did all this have to change?
“The drivetrain a really complicated, precision system. Unfortunately it’s not as easy as just adding another cog and making the chain thinner. The upside is it was another opportunity to improve shifting further. The crispness is improved, and the precision has gone up. It’s a tighter system overall because all of the tolerances had to get tighter.”
Why not go to 12?
“We have to decide what to work on based on what can be done. There are some things, bike frames for instance, that would have to change. With what’s out there now and the space constraints with current bike geometry, we felt this was where we needed to be for now.”
The recently introduced cyclocross cassette isn’t at the launch party, but expect it to be fashionably late. Hopefully in time for ‘cross season.
Lastly, lever throw is about the same despite a slightly narrower space between cogs.
You might have noticed there’s no hydraulic shifting systems shown here, and all they’d say about that “leaked” spec sheet we posted recently was “we test every concept and we’re always working on new stuff.” That said, the tone didn’t lead me to believe it’s anything we should expect soon.
SRAM FORCE 22
New Force 22 takes on all of the performance characteristics of Red. The crankarms are carbon fiber with a two piece design rather than Red’s one-piece arm/spider, but they use the same chainrings. If we had to guess, it won’t be long before they’re offering a Quarq power meter crankset at this level since these arms are now essentially the same as the prior Red Quarq ones.
The Force 22 Yaw Crankset comes in at a claimed 741g (BB30) / 808g (GXP) and will drop all the way down to a 165mm crank arm length option. It gets the hidden bolt design of the 2012 Red group.
Above and below, Red 22 on the left, Force 22 on the right.
Chainring options for both RED and Force include 53/39, 50/34, 46/36 and a new 52/36.
The front derailleur gets the YAW movement. It’s 18g lighter than the 10 speed version at just 79g (claimed) and includes the integrated chaincatcher.
The rear derailleur gets the AeroGlide pulleys to quiet it down a bit, and there’ll be a WiFLi option for use with up to 32t cog. Weight is the same as before, 178g for short cage.
Brakes (not shown) use dual pivot design new and are unchanged save for gaining 2mm additional clearance at the pads, allowing for easier use with wider rims. Construction gets upgraded to carbon for both brake and shift levers. Claimed weight: 307g/pair.
The cassette’s construction is very similar to before, just with new profiles and an additional cog. Both RED and Force 22 will have the following options:
- 11-25: 11,12,13,14,15,16,17,19,21,23,25
- 11-26: 11,12,13,14,15,16,17,19,21,23,26
- 11-28: 11,12,13,14,15,16,17,19,22,25,28
- 11-32: 11,12,13,14,15,17,19,22,25,28,32 (WiFLi)
Note that all three standard cassettes run one-tooth increments all the way to 17. This helps keep your cadence and/or effort from being erratic as you shift through the middle of the cassette.
Both will fit on any 11-speed compatible hub/freehub body, so they’ll work on any wheel that fits Shimano’s 11-speed cassettes. They will not fit on 10-speed hubs/freehub.
Chain gets narrower profile, and the PowerLock quick connect link turns silver for 11-speed chains, providing a quick visual differentiation versus the gold colored PowerLock for 9/10 speed chains. It’s actually a stronger steel, too, to make up for the thinner plates. It’s 256g, which is 8g lighter than PC-1071. Now called 1171, denoting that it’s designed for 11-speed systems. The rollers are the same width between the plates, it’s just the plates that get thinner.
SRAM RED 22
In addition to the 22 speeds, the big news is the hydraulic brakes. They’ll offer both Hydraulic Road Rim brakes (HRR) and Hydraulic Road Disc (HRD).
The levers keep the same DoubleTap shifting mechanism and placement (the back half of the lever is the same) and all of the hydraulics are in the taller hood ornament. While it looks substantially bigger, it’s only about 1cm taller.
The master cylinder is completely different than their Taperbore design. The lever pushes a plunger upward, directing oil straight into the hose. The bleed port is at the top where air would naturally go, and it’s kept separate from the brake fluid’s normal path, so it’s unlikely to affect performance even if a few bubbles do end up there.
Hydraulic levers are sold with the brake calipers, then rotors are sold separately. More tech details on the Hydro R brakes are in the other post.
Traditional mechanical brake and shift levers will still be offered. Note the “22” on all of these parts.
They even have R2C aero bar end shifters ready for 11-speed.
Red also gets WiFLi rear derailleur option, making it available across the range. It keeps the ceramic bearings in the AeroGlide pulleys and is tweaked for 11-speed cassette use.
For the standard cranksets, the arms are the same as the 2012 Red group. For the Quarq power meter cranksets (shown in the lead photo), the arms look the same, but they’re now hollow on the inside, making them 25g lighter than before. The PM-equipped cranks will be offered all the way down to 162.5mm, 2.5mm shorter than the standard cranks, and all with Exogram construction but a non-integrated spider. Because of that, they could get a slightly shorter crank design.
For the BB30 cranksets, they ship with a spindle to fit standard 68mm bottom bracket shells. The Quarq version has a wider axle and will fit BBright, but requires spacers to fit BB30.
The mechanical brakes will still be offered. They’re the same except they come with the new Zipp Platinum Evo pad compounds developed by SwissStop, which are a bit narrower to accommodate wider rims.
The Hollowdome X-Glide 1190 cassette uses their machined-from-steel construction with the StealthRing Elastomers to keep it quiet and light. 151g claimed weight for 11-25.
MIX & MATCH
Parts are interchangeable between 11-speed Red and Force groups, so if you want Force 22 pricing and hydraulic brakes, you’d need to get the new RED 22 Hydro R shifters and brakes. Or, if you already have a 10-speed group you like and just want to add hydraulic brakes, the new S-700 series Hydro R shifters and levers will drop into both YAW and standard groups from SRAM.
Santurbane said they’re designed for use with YAW front derailleurs, so there’s no trim, but cable pull is sufficient to work with standard derailleurs, too.
But, unlike past 10-speed groups, these new 11-speed parts are not compatible with the recently introduced XX1 11-speed mountain bike parts.
This first group are RED 22 bits that we were told were close enough to production level to be representative of final weights. Their mechanical brakes are unchanged (weighed here).
Next up, the Force 22 parts are still preproduction and should be close to actual weights, but not exact. They said give it a +/- 5% at this stage.
Last up, they had connected hydraulic RED disc brake and lever, a loose 140mm HSX rotor and connected single brake/lever sets of S-700 hydraulic rim and disc brakes. So, not exactly what we’d like to see for comparison purposes, but claimed weights are listed underneath:
RED Hydro R claimed weight is 449g per wheel for lever, disc brake caliper and 160mm rotor. Claimed weight for the HRR (Hydraulic Road Rim) set is 387g per wheel. That means the full mechanical systems are still able to be built up lighter.
Claimed weight for S-700 disc brake lever/caliper combo is 493g with a 160mm HS1 rotor, and rim brakes are 422g per wheel.
2014 COMPONENT PRICING
The Force 22 group will be available in August 2013, Hydro R brakes and RED 22 in July.
Speaking only of the drivetrain, the new RED 22 group is an incremental improvement. The extra cog is nice, and shifting was as quick and snappy as ever. We actually rode the bikes quite a bit before the presentations and talk time with product managers, so I can’t honestly say that the shifting was any crisper or quieter than the RED 2012 group I recently reviewed, but it’s very good. For anyone questioning whether we really need any more cogs, I can say that it’s quite nice having fewer gaps when running up and down the cassette to keep cadence and effort relatively static. Try it. You’ll like it.
What’s more exciting is the coming Force 22 group and the performance it’s likely bringing to the table for an extremely competitive price.
Now, let’s check out those new hydraulic brakes!
These are also incorporated into the post for anyone who hadn’t read it yet. For those that did, here’s what’s new:
- The 11-speed cassette will fit on all current 11-speed compatible hubs and freehub bodies. It will fit any hub that works with Shimano’s new 11-speed groups. They will not fit on 10-speed hubs/freehubs.
- The shifters, cassettes and derailleurs are not compatible with XX1 mountain bike shifter, cassette or derailleurs. Different cable pull and spacing.