New SRAM Red AXS groupset unreleased but out in force at Giro d’Italia

A closer look at the new parts that would appear to constitute an upgraded top-of-the-range electronic groupset from SRAM

Clock01:47, Sunday 5th May 2024
A new SRAM groupset has been spotted in the wild

© GCN

A new SRAM groupset has been spotted in the wild

Rumours of a new top-end road groupset from SRAM have raged for several weeks now, and while we await any official communication from SRAM, what looks to be the new Red AXS was certainly not hiding away at the Giro d’Italia.

On the opening day of the race, three of the four SRAM-sponsored teams were sporting an updated groupset: Visma-Lease a Bike, Lidl-Trek, and Bora-Hansgrohe. Representatives from SRAM were buzzing around each team bus, too.

Movistar were still using the old Red AXS, but the prospect of a nearby release date for a new product was heightened by the fact that the entire fleet of bikes for those three teams, including spares, were equipped with new parts.

SRAM’s RED AXS is the top road groupset in the US component manufacturer’s range, following on from the launch of SRAM’s first electronic groupset, Red eTap in 2015, and updated to its current iteration in 2019.

A major theme of this new groupset is hollowing-out, with material cut from a number of the components in a bid to shave off a few grams of weight.

This is evident in the rear derailleur, both the disc brake rotors and callipers, the jockey wheels, and the chain. Put simply, there are holes everywhere.

The other most marked difference involves the shifters/levers, which have been completely refigured. The levers are lengthier and curvier than the current model, while the shifter paddles have more length, less depth, and a more pronounced diagonal groove.

One key ergonomic change on the brake lever is that the pivot point has been bumped up, which along with a small indentation towards the top, would appear to aid braking while positioned on the hoods. There’s also more of a curved ‘catch’ at the bottom for braking in the drops. The levers also feature a small cut-out at the top with a rubber cover, although it’s unclear at this point what would be housed inside.

Read more: SRAM files patent for new Red shifters

There are more modest modifications elsewhere. The crankset has only seen subtle changes to the shape of the spider. Back at the cassette, this confirms the new Red AXS as a 12-speed groupset.

Interestingly, all three teams using it had a 10-36t – that latter, largest cog being bigger than anything used by other teams, and almost eating into gravel territory. This was paired up front with 54/41t chainrings. Some Visma riders have used 36-tooth SRAM cogs on occasion but this was widespread across the teams at the Giro.

In any case, it remains to be seen what gearing options will be offered to general consumers.

Read more: Complete guide to road bike groupsets 2024

Linking the cassette and the chainrings is a new chain that not only has strips of metal hollowed-out from the inner links, but also the outer links.

The rear derailleur continues that gram-shaving theme, with a lot more open space carved out on the parallelogram linking the upper and lower arms of the mech. There’s also more daylight coming through the derailleur cage, giving more exposure to what is a larger jockey wheel, itself with material hollowed-out.

Functionally, the rear derailleur appears similar to the previous iteration, with the same battery layout at the rear. The front derailleur, meanwhile, may not have seen any hollowing-out but does feature slight alterations to the shape of the mech and the shape and material of the cage.

The brakes are perhaps the most striking example of hollowing-out. There are skeletal rotors that increase the cut-outs compared to the previous iteration, and there is an even more dramatic change to the callipers, with lots of daylight between the frame and the pistons, which themselves have two separate cut-outs on either side.

At this point, the new features of the updated groupset are purely visual, and we’ll have to wait for SRAM to lift the lid on this new groupset to understand the full attributes and what the technology has been designed to achieve.

Keep up to date with the latest tech news on the GCN website. For everything you need to know about the 2024 Giro d'Italia, from the history of the race to this year's route and start list, be sure to check out our dedicated race hub.

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