SRAM have revealed the new designs of their hydraulic road brakes and also trickled technology – both the hydraulic braking and other features from their existing top-level Red range – down to their third tier Rival groupset.
Let’s start with the hydraulic disc brakes…
SRAM’s recall of their previous hydraulic road brakes has been well documented over the past few months. They put the recall down to faulty quality control on some of the seals in the original system but there's a lot more than revised seals in the new kit, and SRAM said they'd be redesigning from the ground up.
To which the obvious question is: why all the changes if there were only minor issues with the recalled brakes? Maybe SRAM have taken this one on the chin and used the opportunity to move the technology on a notch, or maybe the problems went deeper than SRAM were willing to say. Either way, there's lots to talk about.
Most notably, SRAM haven't just re-designed for the Red 22 groupset. There's now a Rival version, which is now 11-speed at the rear, which has a hydraulic option for both rim and disc. There's even talk that the range extends right down to Apex, although we haven't seen the Apex running gear yet and SRAM don't mention it in their communications. There's a version for Force CX1, too, which uses a 1x11 drivetrain and therefore only needs one shift lever, the other simply being a brake.
There's a new lever body.
"SRAM’s all new lever body design refines the external shape of our HydroR shifter body," they say.
By 'refine' we're assuming they also mean 'compact' as the original Hydro-R lever was a big old beast, and although we haven't seen the new levers in the flesh yet they do look a bit less chunky.
"The new shape improves the internal architecture and material placement around the reservoir and master cylinder bore, which is all about improving consistency and performance," they add.
There's a new master cylinder too which has "incredible amounts of testing" behind it, according to SRAM.
The aim is to improve the perfomance of the brake and the consistency of braking: "Especially in extreme temperatures," which is, of course, where the original Hydro R lever was found wanting. The brake has a new bleed port too on the top of the master cylinder; it's a two-piece design with a removable central core.
The reservoir bladder – which is the main part of the system responsible for the self-centering of the pads – has been redesigned, and at the other end of the hydraulic line the calliper has a new spring that "spreads the pads more effectively".
So that's good. There's a new rotor design too: it's single-piece stainless as opposed to the three-layer Shimano disc. So far as we're aware, the Hydraulic Road rim calliper is unchanged.
The various levels of groupset use ostensibly the same systems, although obviously the materials get lighter the further up you go. Red 22 has carbon brake and shift levers, and titanium hardware. Force gets an alloy shift lever and stainless bolts and Rival's levers are alloy for both braking and shifting.
In terms of weight, the systems run from 449g per wheel for Red 22 discs (387g rim) to 493g per wheel for Rival discs (422g rim).
Prices (suggested retail price, per wheel) are as follows:
Red 22 £448 disc, £386 rim
Force 22 £341 disc, £320 rim
Force CX1 £341 shifter, £305 brake
Rival 22 £292 disc, £254 rim
Rotor £33 (140mm), £42 (160mm)
SRAM are launching a new version of their Rival groupset that features trickle-down technology from their higher level groups with hydraulic brake options and a 2 x 11-speed drivetrain.
Rival is SRAM’s third tier road groupset, sitting below Red and Force in the hierarchy, and it now shares a lot of technology with its higher-level siblings. The full name of the groupset is actually SRAM Rival 22, SRAM saying that you get 22 usable gears with no need for front mech trim. In other words, you can run the chain in the big chainring and the largest sprocket, and in the small chainring and the smallest sprocket. This has been a feature of Red 22 and Force 22 for the past couple of years.
These are the features that SRAM promise for Rival 22, in their own words:
• All-new road group purpose-built for ergonomics, durability and versatile performance for dedicated cyclists.
• Clean distinctive Ice Grey and Black anodized finish to complement any bike frame.
• Brakes accept 28c tyres for when the pavement ends.
• Options for Rival 22 mechanical brakes or HydroR Hydraulic Rim Brakes or Hydraulic Disc Brakes.
• 22 usable gears with Yaw front shifting for no trim, rub or rasp.
• Unrivaled gearing choices with available WiFLi 11-32 cassette, compact chainring and crank-arm length options.
• Shift and brake lever set features same ErgoFit ergonomic design as SRAM RED 22.
Lets go through the key components:
Rival 22 DoubleTap Mechanical Shifters
The mechanical shifters are modelled on those from the Red 22 groupset: the same shape with the same textured cover. The forged aluminium brake lever and shifter paddles are individually reach adjustable.
The mechanical shifters weigh 332g (these are all SRAM’s official figures rather than weights that we’ve checked for ourselves) a pair and are priced at £191.
Rival 22 DoubleTap Hydraulic Shifters
The shifters for use with hydraulic brakes are an all-new design after SRAM’s well-publicised recall of their existing Road Hydraulic brakes.
The shifters are said to have revised ergonomics for better finger wrap and a revised shifter paddle for improved finger clearance. They have individual reach adjustment for the forged aluminium brake lever and the shifter.
It’s a fully sealed system and the SRAM say that there’s easy bleed access when the time comes for maintenance.
The shifters come as a package with the hoses and brake callipers. Speaking of which...
Rival 22 Hydraulic Rim Brakeset
The hydraulic rim brakes are made with forged aluminum arms with a pad compound from SwissStop. They offer tyre clearance of 28mm so they’re compatible with all Zipp Firecrest rims, for example.
The lever, 600mm of hose and the brake calliper weigh 422g per wheel. Each one (shift/brake lever, hose and calliper, per wheel) is priced at £254.
Rival 22 Hydraulic Disc Brakeset
The hydraulic disc brakes feature forged aluminium disc callipers, stainless steel backed pads, and 18mm pistons front and rear. SRAM suggest 160mm rotors (Centerline rotors are sold separately) for the road with a 140mm option for cyclocross.
SRAM claim a weight of 493g per wheel (lever, calliper, hose and 160mm Centerline rotor). The price is £292 per wheel (lever, hose and calliper).
SRAM claim that the Centerline rotors offer good heat management with no cupping or warping at extreme temperatures.
The 140mm rotor is 88g while the 160mm version is 112g. The prices are £33 and £42 respectively.
Rival 22 Mechanical Brakeset
If you want to stick with cable-operated brakes, the Rival 22 version is a dual pivot design made with forged aluminium arms and a SwissStop pad compound, with clearance for tyres up to 28c (as is the Hydraulic Rim Brakeset).
A pair weigh 300g and cost £65.
Rival 22 Front Derailleur
The front derailleur rotates inline with the chain as it moves. This is what allows SRAM to eliminate the need for shifter trim (a small movement of the derailleur to stop the chainrubbing on the side plates). They also reckon that this ‘Yaw’ movement improves the shifting speed and precision.
Like higher-level derailleurs from SRAM, the Rival 22 option features an integrated chain spotter (to stop the chain coming off the inside of the inner chainring) that adjusts independently of the derailleur itself.
The Rival 22 Front Derailleur weighs 88g and costs £29.
Rival 22 Rear Derailleurs
The Rival 22 rear derailleur comes in two different versions: short cage (£45), and mid cage (£55) for WiFLi wide-ranging cassettes. The WiFLi version will work with cassettes up to 32-tooth. They use aluminium outer and inner cages.
The mid cage version weighs 191g and costs £55 while the short cage version is 180g and costs £45.
Rival 22 Yaw Chainset
The chainset comes with aluminium arms and machined alloy rings and spiders. It’s available for GXP, PressFit, BB30, PressFit 30 bottom brackets, and comes in 165, 167.5, 170, 172.5 and 175mm crank length options. The bolt circle diameter (BCD) is 110mm and you get 52/36, 50/34, and 46/36-tooth options.
The weight is given as 844g (GXP 50/34 w/o BB) and the prices range from £146 to £166.
PG 1130 Cassette
The cassette comprises heat-treated steel cogs and an aluminium spider.
There are three options: 11-26 (260g), 11-28 (271g) or 11-32 (310g).
The cassettes are priced from £52 to £58.
PC 1130 chain
SRAM claim that the PC 1130 chain is strong, precise and lightweight, and it comes with a PowerLock connecting link.
It weighs 259g and is priced at £22.
We don’t yet know when SRAM Rival 22 will arrive in the shops.
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.