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SRAM Apex is now 1×12 with Eagle, XPLR, AXS & Mechanical Options!

sram apex Eagle mechanical 12-speed road and gravel bike group
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The new SRAM Apex is designed for the core rider that wants something simple and intuitive, but fully featured. It’s for roadies that want to try gravel, or mountain bikers that want a drop bar bike, with gearing and options to fit every type of rider.

It’s now 1×12 only, dropping the front derailleur and adding a cog, making it SRAM’s first 12-speed DoubleTap mechanical road group (finally!). And there’s a wireless AXS group, too, letting you use batteries, or not, and choose between 11-44 XPLR gravel gearing or 11-50 Eagle mountain bike gearing.

Apex 1×12 Gearing

sram apex XPLR AXS 12-speed road and gravel bike group

SRAM’s XPLR gravel groups have a cassette that sits between road and mountain bike range, with 10-44 cassettes, giving groadies the closer gear steps they like for drop bar bikes, but with the necessary range for off-road exploration.

Eagle riders, however, want all the range and might want to pack more stuff and need the easiest gear they can for bigger, bolder adventures. For them, the 10-50 and 10-52 cassettes work.

For the new Apex groups, the only key difference is the cassette fits on a standard HG freehub body, using an 11-tooth small cog for both XPLR (11-44) and Eagle (11-50) cassettes:

  • XPLR 11-44: 11-12-13-15-17-19-21-24-28-32-38-44
  • EAGLE 11-50: 11-13-15-17-19-22-25-28-32-36-42-50

Shared Parts & Differences

sram apex XPLR AXS 12-speed road and gravel bike group

The beauty of the new groups are that almost every part is interchangeable with their other groups. Any XPLR cassette, crank, or (AXS) derailleur can be subbed in for other XPLR parts.

Basically, anything from the new Apex XPLR group is compatible with any of their XPLR parts. The Apex XPLR AXS derailleurs will shift the 10-44, 11-44, and the smaller 10-36 road cassette, but the Apex Mechanical will only shift the 10/11-44 cassettes.

And any of the Apex Eagle parts are compatible with other Eagle parts (except T-Type), and both AXS & mechanical versions work with the larger 10-52 cassettes, too. So, you could upgrade the crankset or cassette (or both) and still have a 1×12 mechanical group, only lighter.

All of the Apex derailleurs have Cage Lock and a spring-loaded clutch (not the hydraulic Orbit damper from the road groups), and AXS derailleurs get their Overload Clutch that decouples the shifting motor in the event of an impact, then resets automatically.

sram apex 12-speed road and gravel bike cranksets

The Apex Crankset is essentially the same as Rival, but with new graphics and finish, including the aftermarket direct mount alloy chainring. For OE, you may find a new steel chainring, too. There’s even a spindle-based power meter option, same as the Rival group.

It comes only with the longer spindle to fit both road and MTB bottom bracket standards. It’s designed around a 47.5mm chainline, which offers more tire clearance than the narrower 45mm chainline available on higher performance road groups.

New Apex FlatTop chain is the same as the others, but without the Nickel-Chrome finish.

sram apex 12-speed road and gravel bike flat mount brakes

The brakes are all Flat Mount now, too, and they’re basically a Flat Mount version of their Level MTB brakes. It uses the same pads as their other road brakes, but doesn’t get the Bleeding Edge bleed ports like the higher-end stuff.

There’s also an Apex flat bar brake lever, which can pair with any of their Eagle 12-speed mountain bike shifters, mechanical or AXS depending on which derailleur you choose.

sram apex 12-speed road and gravel bike shifter levers

The new brake levers are broad, with a flatter radius providing a bigger area for your finger to pull on.

Compared to Rival, the Apex brake lever is stamped, not forged, the derailleur pulleys have bushings rather bearings, and the cassettes start at 11 rather than 10. And Apex isn’t as shiny.

Apex AXS Wireless Details

sram apex XPLR AXS 12-speed road and gravel bike group

The XPLR derailleur uses the same spring clutch chain management as the Rival derailleur for both AXS and mechanical versions, similar to their mountain bike derailleurs, but with no Cage Lock. These will use the standard road Flattop chain.

sram apex Eagle AXS 12-speed road and gravel bike group

If you wanted to do a “mullet” drivetrain with a mountain bike cassette and derailleur, there’s a new X1 Eagle rear derailleur that’s similar to GX but with different materials, and it’ll be an OE-only option. If you wanted to build your own, you’ll need to get a GX AXS derailleur and a standard Eagle chain (not the new T-Type MTB Flattop chain).

Put another way, if you buy a complete bike with an Apex Eagle AXS build, you’ll get this X1 derailleur. If you’re buying an aftermarket “Apex Eagle” group to add to your existing bike, you’ll get a GX AXS derailleur.

sram apex Eagle AXS 12-speed road and gravel bike group

Shifters have the same ergonomics as the latest Force and Rival groups, with a smaller hood circumference and easier-to-reach levers.

Apex Mechanical Details

sram apex XPLR mechanical 12-speed road and gravel bike group

Why did it take so long for them to make a 12-speed mechanical road group? Because they wanted to get the gearing and the details right, and make sure it was properly positioned in the market.

When their first 1×11 groups came out and started getting used for the nascent gravel scene, people were pairing road shifters with mountain bike cassettes and cobbling stuff together. Now, with SRAM’s XPLR groups having dialed in their gearing and concepts, they’ve got two new derailleurs and an all-new shifter to give you the options you want.

sram apex XPLR mechanical 12-speed road and gravel bike shifter levers

The shifters are paired with the same hydraulic brake levers as the AXS group, but they click through 12 cable-actuated gears. The hood and body are shaped the same as the latest Rival and Force groups, designed for riding more on the hoods.

They use an EAGLE 12-speed gear actuation inside, which means it works with their remaining 12-speed mountain bike derailleurs (more on that compatibility in a minute). The DoubleTap mechanism is pushed up higher into the “pommel” (that part at the front that sticks up), which they say gives you plenty of leverage for easy shift actuation.

sram apex XPLR mechanical 12-speed road and gravel bike group

To make this work, they modified their GX mechanical derailleurs by adding a barrel adjuster on the derailleur’s B-knuckle…because SRAM’s mechanical mountain bike groups put the barrel adjuster on the shifter, not the derailleur. And they made two versions of it, one for Eagle cassettes and one for XPLR cassettes.

sram apex Eagle mechanical 12-speed road and gravel bike group

For Eagle, it’s essentially a GX mechanical MTB derailleur, but with the barrel adjuster. This means that the new Apex mechanical shifters are compatible with GX, XO & XX1 mechanical derailleurs, too, as long as you add an inline barrel adjuster in the cable housing.

For XPLR, there’s a different pulley position and fin to adjust its cable pull ratio, because the cog spacing and position on the 11-44 road/gravel cassette is different than the 11-50 Eagle Cassette.

Which means you can’t just swap cassettes, you’ll need to swap derailleurs, too, if you want to go between XPLR and Eagle. And probably chains to get the proper length.

Pricing & Availability

sram apex XPLR AXS 12-speed road and gravel bike group
Groups shown here with OE Steel Chainring, the alloy version has a wider spider and is shown throughout this post.

Apex AXS is available June 2023, expect it to show up on bikes ranging from $2,500 to $2800 with Apex AXS.

sram apex Eagle AXS 12-speed road and gravel bike group

Crank lengths offered are 160/165/170/172.5/175mm. Chainrings come in 38-46 tooth counts, and OE parts have a new steel chainring option, aftermarket will get alloy chainrings.

sram apex XPLR mechanical 12-speed road and gravel bike group
sram apex Eagle mechanical 12-speed road and gravel bike group

Apex Mechanical follows in September. Expect it to show up on bikes ranging from $1,850 to $2,000 with Apex Mechanical.

Complete group prices are (include VAT for £/€):

  • Apex AXS XPLR – $1,195 / £1262 / €1411
  • Apex AXS Eagle – $1,294 / £1303 / €1460
  • Apex AXS Flat Bar XPLR – $1,063 / £1099 / €1225
  • Apex AXS Eagle Flat Bar – $1,162 / £1140 / €1274
  • Apex mechanical XPLR – $987 / £1060 / €1176
  • Apex mechanical Eagle – $971 / £1035 / €1149
  • Apex mechanical XPLR Flat Bar – $696 / £730 / €811
  • Apex mechanical Eagle Flat Bar – $680 / £705 / €784

Complete group claimed weights are:

  • Apex AXS XPLR – 2,890g
  • Apex AXS Eagle – 3,181g
  • Apex mechanical XPLR – 2,872g
  • Apex mechanical Eagle – 3,062

Individual parts weights have not been announced, but we have groups on the way for long term testing.

SRAM.com

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31 Comments
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jonathan
jonathan
11 months ago

I’m curious to see how Shimano responds, if at all. What’s 12 speed GRX going to look like? Will they keep the groups’ actuation separate still?

Alternately, how has Sram braking been lately? Might be time for me to switch, sadly.

Exodux
11 months ago
Reply to  jonathan

I once had problems with Sram brakes( Avid) back around 10 years ago. I have not had any braking issues since and been exclusively on Sram brakes on all my bikes.
My wife’s bike has Shimano brakes and while they get praise by a lot of riders, I can’t stand them.

It is very good to see that Sram is not abandoning mechanical shifting. It would be interesting to see if Sram makes a higher tier mechanical road/ gravel group.

Exodux
11 months ago
Reply to  Exodux

I forgot…my single speed runs Hope brakes, those are awesome!

Seraph
Seraph
11 months ago
Reply to  jonathan

GRX 12-speed has already been spotted. It looks a lot like their 12-speed MTB stuff.

Brian
Brian
11 months ago
Reply to  jonathan

12-speed GRX will follow in Dura-Ace and Ultegra’s footsteps and will be wireless and use the same battery and wires. They will also be launching 12-speed 105 mechanical later this summer.

will
will
11 months ago
Reply to  Brian

when do you predict 12s GRX ?

Arne
Arne
11 months ago
Reply to  will

GRX 12-spd was used on this past Unbound gravel race

Chris
Chris
11 months ago

Alright SRAM, you proved you can 12 speed mechanical road. Now bring out a light weight Red 2 x 12 mechanical version please.

Hexsense
Hexsense
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris

I’m not waiting on Sram. I’ve been riding the modified Sram Red 22 HRD with Ratio Technology’s ratchet replacement kit for a long while already.
Sram is no longer interested in making things light. Their new stuff keep gaining weight every generation since the days of Sram Red Exogram/ Red 22.

will
will
11 months ago
Reply to  Hexsense

but the sram red 22 HRD brakes aren’t very good. I have this on my current bike. its nice. its light. But i also have 180mm rotors and it’s barely enough, on the real steep stuff its sketchy.

also: ratio is expensive honestly.

Hexsense
Hexsense
11 months ago
Reply to  will

Does Sram Red​ Etap HRD and Sram Red​ AXS HRD brake better than Sram Red​22 HRD?
I don’t recall Sram making any statement about improving hydraulic brake quality when they release Etap, and then AXS. I thought they are still on the same compatibility chart, using same hydraulic line and compatible with the same calipers.

pinecycles
pinecycles
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris

Have you looked into the Ratio 2×12 Road Kit? You can convert Red 11 Shifters to 12 and swap pulleys to allow mechanical compatibility with the 12 speed Crank and Cassette.

Bikerumor should hire Peter Hilby
Bikerumor should hire Peter Hilby
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris

#sramredbelikecampyrecord

Jay Ess
Jay Ess
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris

Don’t think they are going to waste development time to appease a few weight weenies on forums.

pizzaface
pizzaface
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris

Mechanical is such a step backwards at the top end. Riding a cable shift bike after being on electric for years is depressing

Speshy
Speshy
11 months ago
Reply to  pizzaface

Except for when your battery dies on a trail. Then everyone around you with cable actuated systems are like, ‘I told you so.’

Don’t tell me it doesn’t happen. I seen’t it.

pizzaface
pizzaface
11 months ago
Reply to  Speshy

Except for when your cable snaps on a trail. Then everyone around you with battery actuated systems who keep them charged are like, ‘I told you so.’

Don’t tell me it doesn’t happen. I seen’t it.

Fake Namerton
Fake Namerton
11 months ago
Reply to  pizzaface

Infant cancer is depressing cable actuated shifting is just cable actuated shifting.

Seraph
Seraph
11 months ago

All of the Apex derailleurs have Cage Lock and a spring-loaded clutch (not the hydraulic Orbit damper from the road groups)…” I don’t think this is correct. The XPLR derailleur looks like it has the same fluid clutch that the road AXS stuff has. I wish it had the stronger clutch like the MTB stuff though. Makes sense for gravel.

mattydubs
mattydubs
11 months ago
Reply to  Seraph

It’s spring. I have both XPLR and regular Rival AXS rear derailleurs and I’ve used Force and Red. There’s a big difference between the clutch strength (and weight penalty, but IDGAF). It is part of how they got that cost down, I doubt they put a lighter (but less strong) clutch on Apex.

mud
mud
11 months ago

So, there I no Sram road group with cable brakes?

The retail on Apex AXS is a ripoff. Rival I going for a lot less than that now.

Exodux
11 months ago
Reply to  mud

Then its not a ripoff since, as you mentioned, you can get a higher tier group(Rival) for less than the lower tier (Apex)

ezgone
ezgone
11 months ago

Any chance the new shifters can be used with an 11-speed Force 1 rear derailleur?

Ullulu
Ullulu
10 months ago
Reply to  ezgone

They probably can with updated pulley wheels from Ratio Technology.

Jay Ess
Jay Ess
11 months ago

Shimano better get their act together, their Asian hierarchy management style which leads to long development cycles (Seriously, 11 speed GRX still) is going to be their doom. They are starting to lose their dominance on entry level stuff and recently released top tier groups showed no innovation other than an extra gear. This is just on the road, in the mountainbike world nobody I know rides the stuff anymore.

Speed565
Speed565
11 months ago
Reply to  Jay Ess

Here where I ride (Poland) most use Shimano derailleurs on mountain bikes. On the road, these numbers look even more in favor of Shimano. SRAM is simply too expensive to run for use on a racing bike (one drop and the derailleur goes to the trash) or a second traning bike.

will
will
11 months ago

im surprised how good this is, especially for apex, and that they put at least level calipers, given that sram road brakes have always been underwelhming. in some regard the apex groupset seems better than red/force/rival eh!

Ullulu
Ullulu
11 months ago

“Compared to Rival, the Apex brake lever is stamped, not forged, the derailleur pulleys have bushings rather bearings

Hope this will turn out well. Heard bad things about the (unsealed) bushings in the Apex 1×11 RD. Like failing after wet/muddy/sandy rides (due to dirt ingress and rust), so not really suitable for off-road use (unless you’re prepared to service it very regularly).

Fake Namerton
Fake Namerton
11 months ago

The good thing about SRAM is that their product naming conventions outside of Red are very confusing so very few people know if Apex is a mid tier or a bottom tier group. I’ve long been a believer that 95+% of bike and group set decisions revolve around how other people perceive the branding/level. Kind of like how people buy a used low spec Fender instead of a superior high end new Squire for the same money.

fitness
fitness
11 months ago
Reply to  Fake Namerton

That is true, Dura Ace, Ultegra, 105, Tiagra, Sora is so easy to understand from a normal persons perspective too

Fake Namerton
Fake Namerton
11 months ago
Reply to  fitness

It is, for roadies those groups are basically top tier, acceptable, cheap, ohh my god, and “do you listen to music on a cassette Player?”

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