Brand new SRAM RED AXS claims to be the lightest electronic groupset on the market

A totally new lever design is said to require 80% less effort when braking on the hoods

Clock14:00, Wednesday 15th May 2024
SRAM has just released the third generation of its electronic RED groupset

© SRAM

SRAM has just released the third generation of its electronic RED groupset

SRAM has unveiled the latest generation of its flagship RED AXS groupset today which it claims to be "the lightest electronic groupset on the market". Images of the groupset have been circulating for a few months now, but it was only last week at the start of the Giro d’Italia that we got our first official look at SRAM’s new top-tier group.

A complete lever redesign

The most obvious difference from a first look at the groupset is the redesign of the brake levers. The lever looks to mirror what was recently found in a patent, filed by SRAM, moving the pivot point higher up to provide a better leverage ratio. The new levers also feature independent contact point and reach adjustments to accommodate riders of all sizes and preferences.

As is the theme for the whole groupset, the levers have been on a diet, coming in 83 grams lighter than the previous generation. New to the hoods of the lever is the inclusion of a ‘Bonus Button’ that can be configured to control ANT+ devices.

Read more: Is SRAM getting ready to release a new RED AXS shifter?

Stiffer brake callipers

The brake callipers have been stripped back and lightened with a new skeletal look that sees all unnecessary material removed. The brand is confident that pad clearance has improved to reduce the potential for pad rub. Meanwhile, SRAM says the new calliper body is stiffer.

Front derailleur

Although SRAM has been a pioneering force in bringing one-by drivetrains to the road market it certainly isn’t ready to kill off the front derailleur anytime soon. In this latest SRAM RED groupset, the front derailleur can accommodate 46/33T, 48/35T, 50/37T, 52/39T, 54/41T, and 56/43T chainring configurations. It also has an auto trim function that is aimed at micro-adjusting the position of the derailleur to prevent chain rub whilst running the chain at the extremes of its range. Although cross-chaining is not recommended, at least from an efficiency point of view, this technology aims to prevent the dragging noise that can come from it.

Rear derailleur

SRAM has extended the gearing range of the rear derailleur, which can now accommodate a 36-tooth cassette, giving riders the option to run an even wider ratio cassette than before. In a bid to increase efficiency, the pulley wheels have grown in size for the latest iteration of the RED AXS rear derailleur. This means that the chain has to articulate less to navigate through the cassette and derailleur. Less chain articulation results in less frictional losses which improves drivetrain efficiency. This is the same principle that we have seen with oversized pulley wheels from brands like Ceramic Speed.

SRAM has also included 'Orbit chain management', which aims to improve chain retention on loose or rough surfaces. With the latest breed of modern all-road bikes blurring the boundaries between road and gravel, even a road groupset needs to keep the chain secure for rough surfaces.

Cleaner crankset and power meter integration

Joining the lineup are two variants of a new power meter. Available on both 1x and 2x configurations, the new power meter features active temperature compensation with a claimed accuracy of +/-1.5% making it the most accurate meter SRAM has ever made. The new power meter is 29 grams lighter than the previous models partly thanks to a new hollow carbon crank design.

The two-by power meter is available in 50/37T, 48/35T and 46/33T configurations and the one-by option is available with a 50-tooth ring. Both the power-ready and non-power versions of the crankset embrace the emerging trend for shorter crank lengths with the range available from a 160mm crank through to 175mm. If you decide you want to upgrade to the power meter version at a later date, both the one and two-by cranks can be upgraded retrospectively.

Four cassettes to choose from

Choice is a big theme across the whole of the SRAM RED groupset. Nowhere is that more obvious than with the range of cassettes on offer. Depending on the type of riding you like to do there are four cassettes to choose from (10-28T, 10-30T, 10-33T and 10-36T) with the 10-30T and 10-36T cassettes new for the RED group. Once again, with a nod to the emerging niche of all-road riding, the broad 10-36T cassette opens up the possibility of riding on steeper, more challenging terrain.

A lighter and more durable chain

Although very closely resembling the existing chain the new RED flattop chain is claimed to be 13 grams lighter and features chrome-plated inner links and rollers to increase durability.

Paceline X rotor lighter than ever

Rounding off the updates to the groupset is a new Paceline X rotor that takes the standard Paceline rotor and pairs it with the lightest aluminium-carrying spider that SRAM has used. The Paceline X rotor is available in both 160 and 140mm sizes with a centerlock fitment.

Tools to get the job done

SRAM has also developed two new tools to make setting up the groupset a straightforward task. The red front derailleur tool is designed to ensure that the front derailleur is positioned and held in the right place whilst it is torqued up when using chainrings up to 50 teeth in size. Above this size, there is a different green tool that works up to a 56-tooth ring.

Hammerhead Karoo integration

After being acquired by SRAM in 2021, Hammerhead has been integrated into this new groupset allowing increased functionality and control. The ‘Bonus Buttons’ can control the head unit allowing riders to keep their hands in place whilst scrolling through menus. The integration will enable riders to sync their phone seamlessly with the head unit and groupset for total control and customisation. The complete groupset will be shipped with the head unit included. Some brands including Specialized will also be including the head unit in complete bikes fitted with the new groupset.

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How much does SRAM RED AXS cost?

A complete groupset has a retail price of £3,000 / €3,350 / $3,000 including the Hammerhead Karoo head unit but excluding the crankset and cassette. When these are factored in the groupset sits at £4,090 / €4,135 / $4,090 putting it between Dura-Ace Di2 and Super Record Wireless. As far as complete builds are concerned Canyon has said that there will not be an increase in price for bikes featuring the new groupset when compared to bikes that were available with the previous generation of the groupset.

What do you think of the new flagship groupset from SRAM? Let us know in the comments below. For all the latest news from the world of bike tech make sure to head to the tech news section of the GCN website.

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