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New SRAM RED AXS Unveiled – Tech, Details & Those Brakes!!!

new SRAM RED AXS 2x road group shown on a bike.
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When the first edition of RED eTap AXS launched, it introduced SRAM’s new gear ratio philosophy, which trickled across all of their road bike groups as those were updated to 12 speeds, from Force to Rival and even down to Apex.

Some of those groups introduced new features of their own, with Rivals’s updated hood shapes eventually trickling up to Force. Along the way, their drop bar groups also branched off into gravel with XPLR variants.

new SRAM RED AXS 2x road group shown being ridden.

With the new RED AXS, they took all of the feedback from those other groups, their top Pro Tour riders, and current RED riders, then boiled it down into a newer, simpler, and faster RED group that sits at the very top of the category. To do that, they chased two goals:

  • Make it simpler to use
  • Make it lighter

In the process, they also gave it the best drop bar brake levers ever. Here’s how it all comes together…

KISS: Keep It Simple, SRAM

front view of new SRAM RED AXS 2x road group brake levers.

Chances are you’ll buy a bike with the new SRAM on it and won’t have to pair anything other than your computer and the AXS App. But as someone who’s installed quite a few SRAM AXS groups over the years, I appreciate that they’ve made the DIY installation easier. And some of that translates to what you’ll see as an end consumer buying a complete bike, too, so bear with me.

Initial setup is quicker

SRAM says they wanted to make setup effortless. From shifting to pairing to updating with the app, the group should require only your performance as an input. If you’re installing from scratch, you’ll still need to pair the rear derailleur to the front derailleur and shifters before connecting them with the AXS app (here’s how). But then once you pair the group with the app, everything seems shows up more quickly and all together in the app.

Easier gearing options & backward compatibility

closeup of new SRAM RED AXS 2x road group rear derailleur.

SRAM knows that Bikes have gotten faster, gearing has gotten wider, and rider expectations higher. So, the new RED makes ownership simpler and easier, too, while delivering all the modern options.

First, there’s no “Wide” derailleur variant (yet…?). One front derailleur and one rear derailleur handles all gearing combinations, so you can mix and match chainring combos and cassettes however you like without worrying about whether the derailleurs can handle it.

new sram red axs cassette options shown lined up.

To do that, they lose the 10-26 cassette that no one was buying anyway, and offer four options. Choose from 10-28, 10-30, 10-33, and 10-36 cassettes. Both the 10-33 and 10-36 are new for RED level groups..

Second, everything here is backward compatible with all 12-speed AXS groups currently on the market, from Apex up to RED. Which is good, because you may only want to upgrade to the new brake levers & brakes after reading this, eventually replacing the drivetrain parts as they wear.

The sum total of these updates means you can simply focus on the ride and improving the overall experience, not worrying about component compatibility and pairing…which is the way it should be.

“Lightest electronic groupset ever.”

new sram red axs complete road bike group  shown together.

The original RED group was the lightest road group ever. And now they’re reclaiming that title in the electronic era. Every component is lighter:

-83g from brake levers and calipers
-23g from crankarms
-29g from crankset as a whole
-13g from chain
-16g rear derailleur

That’s 153g lighter than the original RED eTap AXS. That group was 2,649g before, and now it’s 2,496g with a power meter.

So, what’s new exactly?

Besides the weight, SRAM made big aesthetic and functional changes across almost every part. Here’s what’s changed for each component…

Controls & Brakes

closeup of new SRAM RED AXS 2x road group brake levers.

RED gets more comfortable hoods with a slimmer surface and smaller diameter. But these are all-new designs, not a rebadged version of what came with Rival and Force. They say it provides a better grip and results in less hand fatigue.

sram red hoods with alignment lines on top and sides to aid setup.

Textures and grooves on the sides and top of the hoods help with alignment and initial setup. Point the top ones forward and get the side ones level and you’re off to a good start, then fine tune as you wish.

Brake lever reach adjustment is accessed directly from the front of the lever by removing a small plug. The plug has a leash so you won’t lose it, too. If you’ve ever had to adjust your lever’s reach, you’ll appreciate just how big of an improvement this is.

A separate pad contact adjustment is on the side of the hoods, accessible by peeling back the cover.

Original Red eTap AXS on left, new Red AXS

All that’s nice, but the biggest improvement comes from the redesigned brake levers themselves. Compared to the original eTap model, the new levers have a higher pivot point that’s also farther forward. They say it requires an incredible 80% less effort when braking from hoods, and 33% less effort when braking from the drops.

rider braking with one finger from the hoods on new sram red axs.

In real world terms, it means you can truly one-finger brake from the hoods.

It also switches to a “push piston” design, similar to how mountain bike brakes work, which simplifies the internals. Not only does this mean a more direct hose installation without requiring a second wrench, it also works with the new lever pivot placement to give you more leverage and lower force for a very light feel.

Those changes also shed a lot of weight, which SRAM says results in a noticeably lighter “swing weight” when you’re flicking the handlebar around while standing and climbing.

closeup of new SRAM RED AXS 2x road group brake caliper.

Those levers work a new, stiffer two-piece caliper with a lot of cut-outs and wide open pad slot. This gives it plenty of airflow and minimal weight, and plenty of pad clearance for rub-free performance.

new sram red brakes and paceline x rotors.

New Paceline X rotors have a new, lighter center carrier and will come in 140 & 160 sizes, Center Lock only.

closeup of bonus button on new SRAM RED AXS 2x road group brake levers.

Back to the controls – A new bonus button on the inside of both hoods comes out of the box mimicking the shifter paddle on that same side. But, you can customize its function to reverse the shifting or have it control compatible ANT+ devices paired with the group. Set it up with the AXS App, or with the new Karoo (more on that below).

Cranks, Chainrings & Powermeters

new sram red cranksets shown with 2x and 1x aero chainrings and quarq power meters.

The crank arms have a refined hollow carbon fiber layup that’s 29g lighter than before. They come in 160 (new), 165, 167.5, 170, 172.5, and 175mm lengths.

The one-piece 2x chainring combos have a little more material machined away at the top and bottom edges (90º from the crankarms). They’re available in 50/37, 48/35, and 46/33 when buying a complete crankset, plus bigger 52/39, 54/41, and 56/43 combos for the aftermarket.

The 1x aero chainring gets new graphics but is otherwise the same. It comes only in 50T size when purchased with the crankset, but smaller sizes are available aftermarket. All 2x chainring combos and the 50T 1x are available with or without a Quarq power meter, which carries over unchanged. All attach with SRAM’s 8-bolt mounting pattern.

Front Derailleur

closeup of new SRAM RED AXS 2x road group front derailleur.

The new front derailleur has a narrower front cage, which means less distance to move for faster and more precise shifts. They can get away with this without chain rub for two reasons. First, the new RED is only available as a disc brake group, with no more rim brakes, so the cage is designed specifically for chain lines on disc brake bikes. Second, it has an improved auto trim to eliminate rasp on the extreme ends of the cassette, making its own slight adjustments as you shift across the rear gears.

It now comes with one support wedge pre-installed behind it, two others are included in the box. They’re now adjustable from a front-facing screw, too, which makes installation and adjustment much easier than before, even with the rear wheel still on the bike.

Both High and Low limit screws are now labeled, so you know what you’re doing. And it all comes with a new front derailleur setup guide tool that slides over the chainring. Lines on the top match up with the guide marks on top of the cage, which you line up with the big chainring, making it all very easy.

Two mounting holes on the front let you adjust its position on the bike to fit any of the six available chainring combos.

Rear Derailleur

closeup of new SRAM RED AXS 2x road group rear derailleur.

The rear derailleur gets more material chiseled away for a 16g weight loss, but keeps their Orbit fluid damper for good chain management. The lower pulley is larger, both for aesthetics and marginal performance gains in terms of smoothness and reduced friction and noise, and gets ceramic bearings. No, it’s not a Magic Pulley like on their T-Type derailleurs.

It fits all of the new cassettes, from 10-28 up to 10-36. The only thing that’s not backward compatible about the entire group is that this won’t work with prior 10-26 cassettes.

SRAM RED chain

The new RED E1 chain is their lightest ever, dropping 13g by adding cutouts to both inner and outer plates. It keeps the hollow pins, which they say are stronger than their solid pins. It’s optimized for road, not MTB, even though it looks similar to the T-Type MTB chains.

It’s compatible with all other SRAM 12-speed road groups, but they don’t recommend it for MTB or e-bikes. The Rainbow “oil slick” finished chain and cassette are available aftermarket in all sizes.

But wait, there’s more…

All groups have now dropped the “eTap” moniker, it’s just AXS now. This new SRAM RED AXS is the “E1” group, so if you’re ordering online, look for that designation in the part number.

There’s also a new Hammerhead Karoo GPS cycling computer that integrates with this group to offer easy on-bike, app-free customization.

You could set up your group with the AXS app. Or you can just turn on the all-new Hammerhead Karoo, which is included with all complete groupsets at launch. It was developed in conjunction with this RED group, and it’ll automatically connect and pair all devices. It also lets you configure the controls and show individual battery charge for each component.

SRAM RED AXS weights, pricing & availability

Complete SRAM RED AXS E1 groupsets are available at launch (now) with the new Karoo included. Individual components will be available in June and July for riders who want to upgrade individual parts.

Claimed weights

claimed weights for SRAM RED AXS E1 as shown on Bikerumor.

This chart compares weights for the new SRAM RED AXS with and without power meters to the original eTap version and the new and prior Force groups. The bottom section lists the specs for the parts weighed.

Pricing

A complete SRAM RED AXS E1 group, with Karoo, is $3,000 (€3,350 / £3,000). Individual component prices are:

  • Cassette – Standard: $390
  • Cassette – Rainbow: $410
  • Chain – Standard: $89
  • Chain – Rainbow: $99
  • Quick Link Connector: $18
  • Crankset w/ Standard Chainrings: $700
  • Crankset w/ Power Meter Chainrings: $1,200
  • Crankset w/o Chainrings: $400
  • Chainrings w/ Power Meter: $800 (1x or 2x, all sizes)
  • Chainrings – 2x Standard: $300
  • Chainrings – 1x Standard: $135 – $240
  • Shifter/Brake Levers w/ Caliper: $675 (per side)
  • Paceline X rotors: $70
  • Front Derailleur: $450
  • Rear Derailleur: $700
  • Hammerhead Karoo: $475

Stay tuned for first impressions with install notes and actual weights, and check out the new Karoo and new Zipp x Goodyear tires, too!

SRAM.com

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49 Comments
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Nathan
Nathan
8 days ago

Mineral? DOT?

Gerd
Gerd
8 days ago
Reply to  Nathan

DOT

Oliver
Oliver
8 days ago
Reply to  Nathan

Sadly DOT. They really missed the boat on this … with mineral oil, if you bought hoods and derailleurs you’d have a drop-in upgrade / switch from Shimano.

Billyshoo
Billyshoo
8 days ago
Reply to  Oliver

Agreed!

Sentient Lincoln Town Car
Sentient Lincoln Town Car
8 days ago
Reply to  Oliver

DOT keeps backward compatibility with the previous AXS groups

qillie
qillie
7 days ago
Reply to  Oliver

the only diff would be 10usd syringes and 15usd fluid 😉

mineral oil is just less scary, stable once opened and more environmentally friendly to most people without much difference in performance. from that point of view i think they should do mineral oil. but that wont make the switch easier lol.

Mayhem
Mayhem
8 days ago

Not mentioned, but I assume the power meters are still of the silly disposable variety when the chainrings wear out? I had hoped they would adopt the threaded chainring design of the XX SL power meter…

Ymaz
Ymaz
8 days ago
Reply to  Mayhem

Sram is offering 50% discount for those chainrings with powermeter which wear out and reuse or dispose them in house

Rob
Rob
8 days ago
Reply to  Mayhem

Me too but it’s pressed on.

Terry Kerry
Terry Kerry
8 days ago
Reply to  Mayhem

It is a threaded chainring similar to current mtb

Osman Isvan
Osman Isvan
7 days ago
Reply to  Mayhem

Originally I had the same opinion, that a disposable power meter was a silly idea, when I bought a new bike that came with it. But in practice, I realize that my chainrings will probably not need to be replaced during the life expectancy of conventional power meters. Unbelievably, 25,000 miles in (yes, 40000 kilometers), I am still on the original chain, still with zero elongation wear and no other sign of degredation. When the chain eventually wears out (say, at 60 thousand kilometers), I am advised to replace it together with the cassette and “power meter chainrings”, but by that time I may be on the market for a new bike. How many cyclists put more than 60,000 km on a single power meter?

Antoine Martin
Antoine Martin
6 days ago
Reply to  Osman Isvan

Something is weird with your no wear chain. even with a good lube 20000 looks like a maximum. However given road chainring have so many teeth i usually do many chains before chaingin a chainring. I’m around 50000 on my (1X) 50T ring and it has no sign of wear. Changing chain a bit sooner also helps keeping the other part of the drivetrain for more km.

Osman Isvan
Osman Isvan
6 days ago
Reply to  Antoine Martin

Yes, something is weird, and I’m wondering if I should consider other criteria besides elongation, to evaluate chain wear. SRAM says “no, but when the chain eventually needs to be replaced at 0.5% elongation, you should also replace the cassette and chainrings.” I don’t understand the rationale for that. Normally I replace those about 10 times less often than chains, because I never use them with a worn chain. I don’t see why this would be different. But on the other hand, I can see that the teeth profiles would eventually change shape due to wear, even if the chain pitch did not change.

Neo
Neo
7 days ago
Reply to  Mayhem

Yeah its still utterly ridiculous. Gives SRM and Power2Max a market however

Osman Isvan
Osman Isvan
6 days ago
Reply to  Neo

On another bike I have PowerTap power meter pedals. They are 7 years old and worn out (I just ordered a new set from Favero Assioma.) That bike has gone through many chains (KMC), but the single chainring (SR) is not worn yet. So, in practice, I replace power meters more often than chainrings. SRAM has a valid point here.

nooner
nooner
8 days ago

This is racism! The one-piece 2x chainring combos have a little more material machined away at the top and bottom edges (90º from the crankarms). They’re available in 50/37, 48/35 and 46/33 when buying a complete crankset, plus bigger 52/39, 54/41, and 56/43 combos for the aftermarket. Everyone knows 1X is best dammit.1X for life, one speed slow AF. Coasting down hills, and if you ever get smoked, hey, you got a built in excuse… Kidding! Well done SRAMers.

Bike&Fish
Bike&Fish
8 days ago

Cassette Correction: 10-30 and 10-36 are new for Red. 10-33 has always been available, and 10-30/36 are finally upgraded from the Force level.
Can’t wait for SRAM to launch an XG 10-44 XPLR!

Hehe haha hoho
Hehe haha hoho
8 days ago

Still circa 500g heavier than di2 9170

seraph
seraph
8 days ago

Sorry but the 10-33 cassette is not new for the new Red. I had it with the original Red AXS when it first came out.

Billyshoo
Billyshoo
8 days ago
Reply to  seraph

Correct, I’ve got a Red XG-1290 10-33 cassette.

threeringcircus
threeringcircus
8 days ago

I like the silver in the group, particularly the brakes and RD. Those lever bodies look loooong.

Osman Isvan
Osman Isvan
7 days ago

Is the new 10-36 cassette compatible with my old eTap 12sp AXS RED rear derailleur?

Billyshoo
Billyshoo
7 days ago
Reply to  Osman Isvan

Doubtful.

seraph
seraph
7 days ago
Reply to  Osman Isvan

Old Red AXS derailleurs have a 33t maximum cog. That said, I used to fit 9-46 cassettes on SRAM derailleurs that “only” fit 42t cogs.

SomeGuy
SomeGuy
7 days ago

$3000 can’t be right. Basic math puts a complete group around $3800US

Kool Stop Tyre Lever Sales Dept.
Kool Stop Tyre Lever Sales Dept.
7 days ago
Reply to  SomeGuy

https://www.biketiresdirect.com/product/sram-red-axs-e1-electronic-hrd-12-speed-groupset

$3000, which includes a Karoo.
Now we just need a Ratio Tech, cable brake conversion kit.

MIke
MIke
7 days ago
Reply to  SomeGuy

Buying as a complete set is always cheaper than buying individual items.

Andre
Andre
7 days ago
Reply to  SomeGuy

When they say “complete,” they mean everything except crank, cassette, and chain. It should actually be termed an “upgrade kit.”

Nels
Nels
7 days ago
Reply to  SomeGuy

It’s not right. The $3000 price does not include cranks, chain, or cassette.

Oliver
Oliver
7 days ago
Reply to  SomeGuy

It is wrong. €5000 in EU including VAT for the groupset with PM and without Karoo. They’re not going to permit discounting at all for the first 3 months, and then only very small discounting for another 3 months.

gibbon
gibbon
7 days ago

That reads more like an advert than a review to be honest.

ShopMechanic
ShopMechanic
7 days ago
Reply to  gibbon

Review? Where does this article claim to be a review?

WhateverBikes
6 days ago
Reply to  ShopMechanic

It reads more like an advert (or press release) than an article.

blahblahblah
blahblahblah
7 days ago

not new just rehashed

Tim
Tim
7 days ago

Am I the only who thinks we’re chasing very marginal gains for very high prices?

Tim
Tim
7 days ago
Reply to  Tim

I mean, Front Derailleur: $450″. If you’ve got the money for that, that’s amazing. But a 10 speed Dura Ace or SRAM Red front derailleur is like 40 bucks.

seraph
seraph
7 days ago
Reply to  Tim

Welcome to the bike industry. First day?

Ullulu
Ullulu
5 days ago
Reply to  Tim

Snake oil always has been expensive.

HupHup
HupHup
5 days ago
Reply to  Tim

I was about to agree but this level of kit is so irrelevant and OTT for my needs that it doesn’t matter to me. I’m a keen, fit rider doing a fair mileage but I’m not racing and I don’t see the need to put $6+ into a bike, so crack on if you’re into it, I’m just buying whatever mechanical kit is around and wishing any of it looked even half as nice as Campagnolo did 15+ years ago. It’s all gotten too techy looking along with the tech price tag.

Tim
Tim
4 days ago
Reply to  HupHup

Agree one hundred percent. If you have the money to buy something like this, I mean, go ahead. But it seems to me that in the medium term the plan for electronic shifting is to get us all to eventually think of it as part of the sport, like for most mountain bikers a suspension fork and now rear suspension are. It’s just too much now. I don’t consider myself a retro-grump, but prices could make me into one.

tertius_decimus
tertius_decimus
7 days ago

But can I stand on my derailleur? For $3800 for everything I’d better be able to.

Bumscag
Bumscag
7 days ago

Opens the article with “…it introduced SRAM’s new gear ratio philosophy…”

Proceeds to never explain what that is or how it works.

tech9
tech9
7 days ago

The ONLY time exclamation marks (in your title of this article) should be used when referencing ANY sram hydraulic brake would be with the word “suck” in it.

As a long time mechanic, I gave up hope with SRAM hydraulic brakes years ago. They just can’t do it.

seraph
seraph
7 days ago
Reply to  tech9

As a long time mechanic, they’re the only brakes I run and recommend to customers. Powerful, great modulation, easy to maintain, and good price points.

mud
mud
7 days ago

Love the new levers, but I’ll wait for the Force upgrade. Nobody will pay those prices anyway. The Hammerhead integration is smart.

mud
mud
7 days ago
Reply to  mud

And DOT is the way to go: you don’t see mineral oil in auto or moto applications for a reason. So you have to wear gloves. Get over it!

Bre Rue
Bre Rue
6 days ago

So stoked to see 160mm cranks!!! Finally the industry is starting to listen to the fact that everyone isn’t tall or need long cranks!

Alex
Alex
5 days ago

Forget RED I’m looking forward to the updated Force.

Dave in Asheboro
Dave in Asheboro
5 days ago
Reply to  Alex

I’m waiting until it trickles down to Apex someday

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