The new SRAM Force AXS “Wide” group does a lot. It offers a super-compact 43/30 chainring combo for hilly terrain or loaded bikepacking adventure bikes. It adds tire clearance across all of their chainring combos, albeit by swapping in one of their other 12-speed chainring pairs after you buy their new 43/30 crankset. It gives you a wider range cassette option in the back, too.

And it does all this with a modular nature that helps it blend into an existing setup or let you build a new bike exactly the way you want it.

For the full technical details, pricing and a visual comparison of the improved tire clearance between all three generations of eTap/AXS front derailleurs, check out the launch post. Here, we’ll cover actual weights, install notes and first ride impressions…

Force AXS Wide video overview

That’s the overview, keep reading for actual weights. One note: This video was shot before we had clarification from SRAM on the compatibility matrix of this new “Wide” front derailleur and their complete chainring lineup. So let’s clear that up first.

Which SRAM 12-speed chainrings work with Force Wide?

sram force axs wide 43-30 compact gearing for 12-speed road bikes

Basically they’re ALL cross compatible, here’s how it works:

  • The new “Wide” crankset uses a 5mm wider spindle, adding 2.5mm width per side.
  • All of SRAM’s 12-speed chainrings sets will mount to that wider spindle.
  • They will have a 2.5mm wider chainline once mounted to the wider spindle.
  • The Force Wide front derailleur sits 2.5mm farther out from the seat tube.
  • If you want to run any of SRAM’s 12-speed chainrings on the wider spindle, you need to use the Wide front derailleur.
  • So, yes, you can put the 50/37, 48/35, and 46,33 chainring combos on it, but you’ll need to get the 107bcd spider with them because the 43/30 compact chainring combo that comes on the wider spindle uses a smaller 94bcd spider.
  • The wider spindle comes with the new 43/30 chainring combo installed, it’s not sold separately yet.

sram force axs wide 43-30 compact gearing for 12-speed road bikes sram force axs wide 43-30 compact gearing for 12-speed road bikes

Why would you want to put the other chainring combos on the wider crank spindle? To add tire clearance, up to 700×45 or 650B x 2.1″. Or to add taller gearing to your bike that has wider tires.

What about the Force wide range cassette?

sram force wide range 10-36 cassette

What you do on the front of the bike has no impact on the rear. The new 10-36 wide range cassette will work with any of the front chainring combos and spindle widths. It mounts to their XDR freehub body, just like all the rest of their 12 speed cassettes.

And the rear derailleur?

sram force axs wide 36t max rear derailleur for use with wide range cassettes on gravel bikes

You will, however, need the new 36T Max AXS rear derailleur to run the new cassette. It’s B-knuckle is longer and lower, which positions the upper pulley wheel so that it can clear the 36T cog.

Fortunately, it also works with the 10-33 and 10-28 12-speed cassettes, too. So, like the front, you can mix and match, so long as you’re ensuring the max tooth capacity printed on the derailleur matches the max tooth size on your cassette.

They’ll still offer the 33T Max version of the derailleur for pure road bikes, which works with their smallest 10-26 12-speed cassette.

So, basically, it’s best to think of this new “Wide” group as two separate systems…one for the front, and one for the rear.

SRAM Force AXS “Wide” actual weights

sram force axs wide actual weights for each component

Actual weights for the new SRAM Force AXS Wide components are:

  • Crankset with 43/30 chainrings: 418g + 278g = 696g
  • Wide front derailleur: 156g
  • Chain (full length w/ quick link): 259g
  • sram force axs wide actual weights for each componentRear derailleur: 302g
  • 10-36 Cassette: 302g
  • Battery: 24g

sram force axs wide actual weights for each component

  • HRD eTap AXS levers with brake calipers: 406g + 422g =828g
  • 160mm Centerline XR Centerlock Rotor: 131g
  • PFBB30 DUB bottom bracket w/ Wide spacers: 89g

Notes: Subtract a few grams for the brake spacers, which were impossible to remove until we connected the hose to the lever and opened the system. Derailleurs were weighed without batteries, so you’ll need to double the battery weight. We trimmed a few inches off each of the brake hoses to fit a Niner RLT 9 RDO frame, size 58, and removed a two links from the chain.

Complete weight for the group with all parts adds up to 2,942g. This is only 16g less than the standard Force AXS group Zach tested, albeit with 46/33 cranks and a different BB and rotor setup.

SRAM Force AXS Wide install notes

sram force axs wide range group installation notes

Installation is straightforward, with two things worth calling out if you’ve never installed a SRAM AXS drivetrain. First, you’ll need to line up the front derailleur with the large chainring using the lines and indents on the cage. It’s easy, but important. SRAM has a complete PDF installation guide available for download, too.

sram axs front derailleur wedges

Second, you’ll need to choose the wedge that best fits between your frame and the front derailleur, then bolt it onto the inside of the derailleur.

how to install the front derailleur wedge on a sram axs wireless front derailleur

Because the motor is pushing against its mount on the clamp or braze-on, as opposed to you pulling cable, and because it’s powerful, the wedge gives it piece of support so it doesn’t budge. The result is quick, precise, and strong outboard shifts.

Because you’re probably wondering what’s up with that front derailleur clamp, here’s the deal: Parlee makes amazing carbon fiber FD clamps. But because they’re Parlee, and because they’re carbon, they’re precision. Which means layers of paint make a tube too fat. So, with Niner’s in the loop on this, I sanded down the frame to make the clamp fit. If you’re not willing to do this, use a standard hinged clamp as they’re more forgiving. Just uglier. And heavier.

sram force axs wide review

Out back, it’s standard installation procedure. Bolt the parts on, then use the buttons on the shift paddles to fine tune the derailleur’s position.

sram force axs wide review

It comes with a plastic guide to help you set the B-screw’s tension to position the upper pulley in the right place for the best shifting.

SRAM Force “Wide” ride review

sram force axs wide review sram force axs wide review

SRAM’s electronic front shifting has always been good. Strong, powerful, and quick. As you’d expect from a top level group. This Wide version is no different. Toward the end of the video, you’ll see me shifting it back and forth very quickly with no chain loss or hesitation.

sram force axs wide review

Same for the rear, and it keeps SRAM’s forceful (no pun intended) chunk sound when shifting under pressure, just without the mechanical click at the lever. The Orbit hydraulic “clutch” chain management system works great, you can see it in action in this post.

The 2.5mm wider chainline doesn’t seem to affect shifting performance at the tall end of the cassette. It also doesn’t seem to increase noise or perceptible friction.

sram force wide review

The levers carry over and keep the deeper nubs on the shift paddles. They’re detectable even with full finger gloves, and provide a nice tactile feel. Compared to SRAM’s mechanical shifters, the tops of these paddles sit just a hair lower. Or, at least, it feels like there’s more of a gap between the bottom of the hood body and the top of the paddle.

This adds finger clearance when braking, which means it’s easier to keep my pinky finger wrapped around the bar on hairy descents. I can’t do that so well with their mechanical shifters.

If you’re already a fan of SRAM’s wireless shifting, you’ll like this, too. I couldn’t really feel any downside to the wider Q-Factor, but I’m also a larger rider (6’2″ with 13US feet). And I’m frequently bouncing between road, gravel and MTB, so I’m quite tolerant of differences.

I like that it’s a mostly modular system, so you can build the exact bike you need. And I like the left-right paddle shifting, it’s extremely intuitive and hard to forget when going back to other bikes. With the key differences here merely being more options and wider tire clearance, as opposed to performance updates, it’s an overall win and worth a test ride if you’re in the market for such things.

For the full technical story on this new group, with a visual comparison of tire clearance and shape changes for every generation of eTap/AXS front derailleurs, check out this post.

SRAM.com

26 COMMENTS

  1. I’m pretty sure you’re confusing “precision” with “lazy engineering” on that FD clamp. If your parts can’t accommodate varying tube diameters that are inevitable across different bicycle manufacturers, all that precision is pointless. I mean, I get it. It’s a clever part. No hinge = less weight. But don’t confuse that with actual good design.

    • Also, the SRAM updates are pretty cool. I wish they had a second button on either of the shifters so you can run the Reverb AXS without a bodge

    • To second Josh’s comment…..It sounds like the Parlee clamp could be a bit more “forgiving” in its design. And what is uglier (I’m sure your comment was in jest in the article but……) a clamp with a hinge or having to scuff the hell out of your frame with sandpaper?

      • Regarding the Parlee clamp, if you use it on a metal frame, like titanium, that’s unpainted, it fits perfectly. I agree, it’d be nice if there were a bit of wiggle room, but there were also at least four layers of paint on this Niner frame to achieve the different graphics, etc.

  2. I don’t get the small 13t gap between their AXS chainrings. Even more so given this is an electronic groupset facilitating smart shifting. Is this SRAM’s aknowledgement of their front derailleurs not being up to scratch?
    46/30, 48/32, 48/33 (or 48/31 as seen in the GRX groupset) are a lot more useful, meaning you don’t need to resort to a heavy cassette with big gaps.

    • I’m with you. The 13T chain ring gap and the nearly useless 10T smallest cog are the two things I can’t get behind with the AXS stuff. Everything else out there has a more useful chain ring range and adding a useless cog makes the idea of “12 speed” less appealing when existing 11 speed stuff is just as, if not more capable.

      I have miles on the AXS stuff and it works very well, just wish they’d thought through the gearing combos a little better. When it comes to cogs, smaller isn’t better.

  3. Couldn’t they have simply redesigned the front derailleur without the longer spindle? The only issue is the battery, right?

  4. So basically they made a boost spaced crankset and front derailleur for road bikes. They just aren’t calling it boost. The funny thing is that sram does not recommend using boost cranks on non-boost frames because it messes with the chain line. But now it’s okay because it’s only 2.5mm outboard instead of 3mm (boost)?

  5. Checked to see if anyone felt strongly enough to comment that while a hinged clamp may be uglier, taking a mm off your paint so it fits defies that logic! Parlee precision likely works best with frames that have precision, accuracy and repeatability to their standards, starting with their own frames!

  6. Every time SRAM releases new stuff I eagerly look to see if it’s mechanical 1 x 12. Still, this rear derailleur is more like what they should have released in the first place.

  7. So I can upgrade my current force setup simply by buying a new chainset,a new front mech,a new cassette, and a new rear mech.
    Brilliant.

  8. What I can’t figure out is why you’d damage the paint when you could just remove the same amount of material from the inside of the clamp instead

    • Easy! So they could sell more sh*t. Every major bicycle brand does this and they likely have it planned out 2-5 years in advance. They know what they are doing, milking the consumer for money. It’s smart on their part, don’t think that they aren’t doing this on purpose. Once you have an inside eye on the way the industry works, you’ll grow accustomed to hating it.

      Just the way it works.

      • Not quite Shimano. Their 11spd stuff is all compatible, and I’ve done road levers with Zee calipers. SRAM takes all this big business crap to a new level. And it doesn’t work very well to boot!

    • Because SRAM AXS is designed to be as incompatible as possible with everything else, including other brands, SRAM Red eTap, and even SRAM AXS itself.

  9. using a longer spindle, 2.5mm on both sides of the BB, also helps for more clearance between crankarms/chainrings and chainstays. So the chainstays can be designed to clear bigger tires and perhaps no need to drop (like 3T exploro and other bikes) or be really thin (or solid like the new Diverge)

  10. i think there are a few options with that, can’t you get a blip or something? and if you run 1x i think you can program the front shift to activate the seatpost

  11. this piece is primarily intended to fit their raw carbon Z- series frames. the lack of precision arguably comes from the folks that paint their frames but don’t take the change in OD into account.

  12. … but if the chain is new-ish and not stretched at all, you can reuse it. that’s gotta be at least half the overall system value, right?

  13. Funny… talking about the weight of a front derailleur clamp on a disk brake, Force AXS bike… both of which are HEAVY. A bike with Force AXS and disk brakes (I don’t think they make a Force AXS rim groupset) will weigh in excess of 19lb unless you are willing to drop over $6k on it. The bike I raced 30 years ago was lighter by almost 2lbs… progress.

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