Sunday, July 15, 2012

2012 SRAM Red Installation & Initial Review

SRAM is finally starting to ship the new 2012 SRAM Red group to bike shops and I just received my group after placing my order back in February. Thanks to Brandon at Fitzgerald’s Bicycles for dealing directly with SRAM and securing my place in line for the earliest possible shipment of this new group.

Why 2012 SRAM Red?

The only road group I have previously owned is Campy Record 10-speed and I love it but I tried to keep an open mind when looking for a new road group. As I was planning my new road bike build I agonized over Campy vs. SRAM vs. Shimano. Everyone is making great stuff right now so I really couldn’t make a bad choice. My decision came down to the power meter. I wanted to run a crank-based power meter so my options were limited to Quarq & SRM. SRAM’s acquisition of Quarq means that the integration with a SRAM crankset is super-clean. Lastly, the new 2012 SRAM Red Quarq crankset is HALF the cost of a SRM...half!  My choice was simple.

Light, Comfortable, and Flashy levers

I chose to build up my new road bike myself because I wanted to learn all the nuances of the new SRAM Red. The 2012 SRAM Red illustrated tech manuals are excellent but what truly helped me was the three You Tube videos that SRAM Tech has produced. I watched each You Tube video before I started and then referred back to them a few times when I got stuck.

The new YAW front derailleur setup is very different and it is important to take your time and get this part right. Here is the key: You have to install and adjust the rear derailleur BEFORE you can dial in the front derailleur and this is NOT clear in the written instructions. Before adjusting the front derailleur, you will shift the chain into the largest cog in the rear. I learned this via the You Tube video.

The Shift/Brake levers are incredibly light and flashy with the bold SRAM graphics. SRAM seems to be paying attention to the little details with this group. Gore cable housing & little gel pads are included in the box with the levers. The gel pads sit where the heels of your hands touch the bar while riding in the hoods and make a noticeable difference in comfort without adding bulk.  The shape of the hoods don't look as innovative as the new Campy 11-speed hoods but they are very comfortable with a nice wide base for the palms of my hands.  Both the shift paddle & brake levers have separate reach adjustments which will be nice for fine tuning once I get my hood position finalized.

Initial Impression

Crisp. Intuitive. Quiet. I really thought it would take me several rides to stop reaching for my beloved Campy thumb paddle to drop a gear but this was not the case. I was pleasantly surprised. Within minutes, I was intuitively making shifts up and down the drivetrain…the DoubleTap just makes sense. It takes very little shift paddle movement to initiate a shift which lends to the group’s crispness and shifting from the drops is easier than it was for me with Campy.

The 2012 SRAM Red cassettes are machined in the same way the SRAM XX mountain cassettes are. However, the new SRAM Red cassettes have little black elastomer bands in between each cog to muffle the sound. Genius! This drivetrain is quiet. The range of gears that the 11-26 cassette provides with 50/34 front chainrings should cover me nicely on everything from steep climbs to flats to bombing descents.

Will it last?

The thing I loved about my Campy Record was that it felt like new with a simple change of cables & housing. I rode the shit out of my Campy-equipped Orbea in all kinds of weather for six years and the drivetrain still works great and feels very smooth. I hope this new SRAM Red Group holds up well over time but the bar has been set very high.

I will post more about the new bike and the 2012 SRAM Red after I have more time on it. So far, I REALLY dig it.

Large shift paddles & contoured brake levers give the 2012 SRAM Red a nice feel
Clean cable attachment + 2.5 hex-adjustable limit screws. Nice.
SRAM includes little gel pads & Gore cables with the levers.  Photo by Red Kite Prayer
SRAM's chain watcher bolts directly into the hollow front derailleur bolt
Quarq Powermeter is cleanly integrated with the 2012 SRAM Red Crankset


Adam Meyer said...

Very nice Dave!

You'll dig the Quarq. Mine has been perfect so far. How'd you decide on Titanium? What's the final weight on that beauty??


Dave Byers said...

Thanks Adam. The new bike weighs in at a respectable 16.6 lbs with pedals & cages.
I have wanted a Moots Ti road bike for years and longevity was a factor in this buying decision. I don't race my road bike and I wanted a smooth-riding all-weather bike that would allow me to run 28c tires if I want to.

Anonymous said...

Groups were received by shops in march, SRAM just starting shipping Compact Cranks 3-4 weeks ago

Anonymous said...

I just completed installation of my new Red 2012 group last night. I found the brakes to be very sensitive to housing length: if the housing is too long, it pushes the caliper towards the wheel, messing up the alignment. Did you experience the same problem?

Unknown said...

The designs are life like and the clothing details absolutely impeccable. This is a must have for the Byers choice collector and a great gift item.