SRAM has introduced a new Rival eTap AXS groupset for road and gravel riding that sees most of the features of higher-level SRAM Red eTap AXS and SRAM Force eTap AXS – including wireless electronic shifting – trickled down to more accessible price points. SRAM Rival eTap AXS is 12-speed, offers hydraulic disc brakes exclusively, comes in 1x and 2x gear options, and includes a new crankset-based power meter.
SRAM says that Rival eTap AXS – pronounced ‘access’ – is an electronic-shifting groupset that’s cheaper than ever before. Prices start at £1,102 for a 1x system without a power meter and top out to £1,516 for a 2x system with a power meter (prices include a shift-brake system, rotors, crankset, bottom bracket, chain, cassette, derailleur(s), batteries, and charger).
Here's SRAM's promo video...
SRAM also says that complete bikes equipped with Rival eTap AXS (without a power meter) will start at about £2,700. The new groupset will be specced as original equipment on new bikes from today.
“When we set out to design Rival eTap AXS, the brief was that we wanted riders to have the same ride experience as you get with Red [top level] and Force [second level] groupsets,” said SRAM EU Road Technical PR Coordinator, Danie Lategan. “If you were to ride three different bikes fitted with the three different tiers of components, yes there would be some subtle differences, but the overall ride experience we wanted to be the same.”
There’s a lot going on here, so let’s first break out some bullet points to give you the basic info on Rival eTap AXS in brief:
Okay, let’s go through the components individually.
SRAM Rival eTap AXS hoods are slightly smaller than those of Red and Force eTap AXS; you can wrap your hands around them more easily. This is possible partly because there are no ports for remote shifters and no contact point adjustment (meaning you can’t alter the point in the lever stroke where the brake pads come into contact with the rotor). SRAM has left these features out to keep the price down. SRAM Red and Force eTap AXS do have these functions, so their hood shapes will not come into line with Rival.
You can adjust the reach to the levers with a 2.5mm hex key for a personalised fit, and both the hoods and the shift paddles are textured.
“We optimised the hood shape to fit hands of all sizes, for comfortable and controlled braking from any position,” says SRAM.
Like other eTap AXS drop handlebar shifters, these use CR2032 batteries. SRAM says these will last about two years if you ride 15 hours per week.
Although SRAM Red and Force eTap AXS both offer a mechanical rim brake option, SRAM Rival eTap AXS is hydraulic disc brake only, flat mount standard. The two-piston brakes callipers are very similar to SRAM Red and Force and the bleed process is the same, although the way you plug in your syringe is different.
You buy each wireless shifter and hydraulic disc brake as a single unit.
As with existing SRAM eTap AXS systems, pushing the right lever moves you to a harder gear, pushing the left lever makes it easier, pushing both together changes the front ring. That said, you can customise your controls and personalise your shift settings via the free SRAM AXS Mobile App, so you can move the derailleur outboard with a left shifter click if you like.
You can also select Sequential mode to avoid shifting into gear combinations with redundant ratios or select Compensating mode to automatically shift the rear derailleur when you shift the front derailleur to reduce the ratio jump.
This brand new component includes both crank arms, the chainring(s), and the power meter itself which is contained within the DUB spindle. SRAM claims that the power meter adds less than 40g over a standard non-power crankset (we’ll use the term crankset as opposed to chainset here to fall in line with SRAM, otherwise it’ll just get confusing).
The Quarq DUB-PWR unit measures left side (non-driveside) power only to calculate your total watts – it assumes that your two legs put out equal amounts of power (the brand’s spider-based Quarq and SRAM power meters measure both legs to calculate total watts). It has an IPX7 waterproof rating, meaning it can theoretically stand being submerged in a metre of water for 30 minutes.
SRAM claims a battery life of over 400 hours. Rather than being rechargeable, the Rival AXS Power Meter uses a replaceable lithium AAA battery (not an alkaline battery, which will provoke low battery messages almost immediately) that fits into a compartment in the spindle.
You can buy the Rival AXS Power Meter with 48/35T and 46/33T chainrings and a standard axle, or with 43/30T chainrings and a Wide axle (see below). You can also buy it in a 1x configuration with a Wide axle, with chainrings from 38T to 46T.
All versions are available in crank lengths of 160mm to 175mm. A bottom bracket is not included in the price.
SRAM recommends manually calibrating the power meter before each use for the best accuracy.
The Rival power meter can be used with any cycling computer or cycling-specific app that supports ANT+ and/or BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) power meter connectivity.
If you buy a bike with a SRAM Rival AXS system fitted as original equipment, it’s unlikely to come with a power meter. Rather than buying an entire Rival AXS Power Meter (above, £322), you can upgrade to a power system for just £230. That’s a relatively cheap route to power measurement.
This gets you a new left crank arm and the Quarq DUB PWR power meter in the spindle. You can use this with your existing right crank arm and chainring(s), no matter if your system is 1x or 2x. You just need to make sure that you get the correct spindle length for your crankset: Standard or Wide.
If you’re not after a power meter, you can buy a Rival crankset in various configurations. The crank arms are made from polished aluminium and come in lengths from 160mm to 175mm.
Go for a double crankset (with two chainrings) and your choice is between 46/33T and 48-35T (or you can choose a Rival Wide system, see below) – what SRAM calls its X-Range gearing (see below). Whichever you opt for, SRAM says that the “tight and consistent 13T gap between chainrings makes for accurate and dependable shifting”.
“X-Range gearing technology gives you more range and a smoother gear progression, so you’re always in the right gear,” says SRAM.
If you go for a 2x setup you get a one-piece crank arm and spider, whereas with SRAM Red and Force you get a crank arm with a separate spider that bolts to it. This means you can’t use a spider-based power meter with a Force crankset.
Rival cranksets are also available in SRAM’s Wide system, first introduced into its Force groupset last year.
“The wider stance of the arms and chainrings provides clearance for extra-wide tyres, giving you the option to explore new, more challenging routes,” says SRAM. “The longer DUB crank spindle accommodates both road and mountain bike width frame bottom bracket standards for unmatched cross-compatibility across brands.”
The Wide chainline is designed for bikes with tyre widths of up to 700c x 45mm or 27.5 x 2.1in, and the crankset requires the use of a SRAM Wide front derailleur (see below).
The chainline for a Rival Wide spindle crankset is 47.5mm, compare with 45mm for a Standard Rival crankset.
A Rival Wide crankset has a Q factor (distance between the pedal attachment points) of 150.5mm, compared with 145.5mm for a standard Rival crankset.
If you want a Wide 2x crankset, the only option is 43/30T.
If you’d like to run a Wide 1x system, you have the option of cranksets with SRAM’s direct-mount X-Sync chainrings (meaning that the spider and chainring are one-piece, allowing for a weight reduction) from 38T up to 46T. X-Sync tooth profiles are designed to increase chain retention and wear life while reducing friction and noise.
The SRAM Rival eTap AXS front derailleur is available in two different flavours: one that’s said to be optimised for use with 46/33T and 48/35T Standard spindle cranksets, and the other for use with a 43/30T Wide crankset (see above) – which has a longer spindle. Each features SRAM’s Yaw technology, meaning that it rotates slightly when you shift to avoid chain rub and the need to trim when you change gear.
A Rival eTap AXS derailleur battery gives you approximately 60 hours of riding, although that will depend on how often you change gear, of course. The battery is the same as for the rear derailleur, and identical to the ones used for SRAM Red and Force eTap AXS.
The Rival eTap AXS rear derailleur is designed for use on both 1x and 2x drivetrains and can cope with a maximum sprocket size of 36T. Rival 12-speed cassettes are offered in 10-30T and 10-36T (see below), but the Rival eTap AXS rear derailleur will work with SRAM Red and Force 10-28T and 10-33T cassettes as well.
The drivetrain tooth capacity (the difference between tooth numbers on the smallest and largest chainrings added to the difference between tooth numbers on the smallest and largest sprockets) is 39.
SRAM uses a mechanical spring clutch mechanism that’s designed to keep the chain in place and the drivetrain quiet when you’re riding over rough roads, whereas Red and Force eTap AXS derailleurs use SRAM’s Orbit fluid damper system.
If you run a 2x system, the small chainring/small cog combination is locked out to stop the chain from rubbing against the inside of the large chainring (meaning that the total number of gear selections available to you is 23). If you try to shift into the small chainring/small cog, the rear derailleur LED will alternate green and red flashes to indicate a rejected shift.
The Rival 12-speed cassette is available in 10-30T and 10-36T options.
Here are the cog sizes of each Rival XG-1250 cassette:
10-36T 10,11,12,13,15,17,19, 21,24,28,32,36
There is no eTap AXS cassette available with an 11T start.
Rival eTap AXS is compatible with SRAM Red and Force 12-speed cassettes from 10-28T up to 10-36T.
All 12 cogs on a Rival Rival XG-1250 cassette are steel with a nickel-chrome plating, and there are damper rings between the cogs to reduce vibration.
The cassettes work with XDR driver bodies. XDR is a mounting system for cassettes that feature cogs with fewer than 11 teeth. The XDR interface is 1.85mm longer than XD and is designed for road hubs (XDR driver bodies are available from most wheel manufacturers to retrofit 11-speed road rear hubs).
Used with a 10-36T cassette, all double chainring combinations allow for a sub-1:1 gear ratio.
48/35T chainrings with 10-36T cassette 494% gear range
46/33T chainrings with 10-36T cassette 502% gear range
43/30T chainrings with 10-36T cassette 516% gear range
The Rival chain comes in SRAM’s Flattop design which has trickled down from the higher level groupsets.
SRAM says, “The Flattop technology allows for a narrower chain with quieter operation and increased strength and durability.”
The plates of 12-speed Flattop chains are thinner than those of 11-speed chains. The extra material added at the top is designed to compensate for what would otherwise be reduced strength.
The Rival chain is compatible with all 12-speed 1x and 2x eTap AXS drivetrains (not Eagle AXS) and includes a Flattop PowerLock tool-less connector.
Here are the key differences between Rival eTap AXS and the more expensive options in SRAM’s range
X-Range gearing isn’t new but this is the first time that it has trickled down to the Rival groupset. Here’s what’s on offer, according to SRAM.
“X-Range offers wider range, more useful and smoother gear progression, as well as smarter shift settings—enabled by AXS,” says SRAM. "X-Range achieves this by moving some of the gear range from the front of the drivetrain to the back.
“We’ve employed a smaller, consistent difference (13-teeth) between the chainrings while giving the cassettes wider range (up to 10-36T, or 360%). That means you can stay on the same ring longer, requiring fewer front shifts, which are inherently less efficient than rear shifts. And when a front shift is executed, the smaller jump is smoother and allows you to get to the right cadence with fewer compensation shifts in the rear. Fewer, faster front shifts make it easier for you to find the right gear, and that’s a distinct performance advantage relative to traditional drivetrains.
“X-Range relies on cassettes built around a 10T start. This allows us to keep the cogs and chainrings smaller overall, eliminating the potential weight gain of a wide- range 11T start drivetrain.”
|Shift-Brake System||845g||£185 each|
|43/30T Wide Crankset||822g||£120|
|1x Wide Crankset||703g||£120|
|Wide Front Derailleur||182g||£162|
|43/30T Wide Power Meter||871g||£322|
|1x Wide Power Meter||745g||£322|
|Power Meter Upgrade||+40g||£230|
SRAM Rival eTap AXS is available from today.
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.