Believe it or not we are almost half way through the 2012 product year and it’s now that SRAM has chosen to release its completely revised top of the range Red groupset.

First introduced five years ago, the 2012 version looks broadly similar but just about every part has been modified with weight loss and performance improvements the target. The list weight is 1739g for the BB30 version, 100g lighter than old Red.

The key changes are to the front mech, brakes and rear cassette.

Arguably at the core of the new Red is the front mech. We think SRAM has shown its rivals how to do it with the front derailleur. The aim was to do away with the trim function that allowed the rider to eliminate chain rub and the engineers have achieved this by adding yaw to the movement – in essence, as you shift from the inner to outer ring, the tail of the cage (nearest the rear wheel) travels less than the
front half.

Stopping is a big part of riding a bike and here SRAM has targeted aerodynamics as well as stopping power. So the new calipers present less to the wind and have a number of aero tweaks including a hidden quick release, plus they offer more power so it’s easier to stop.

SRAM’s old cassette was a marmite item, it really divided opinion. The tool-grade steel made it incredible durable and light thanks to the fact it was hollow but that also made it noisy, very noisy. Lesson learned, the new Powerdome X is made from the same super tough steel but isn’t the amplifying cone design of old and gains an aluminium top sprocket.

It also has elastic bands added. Seriously! SRAM call them Stealthrings and the idea is sound enough. Sitting between each sprocket is an elastomer ring: positioning is key, when the chain
comes off the jockey wheels it touches down on the elastomer that damps it, reducing noise, this plus a new tooth profile aim to cut noise as its created.

In an interesting move, the first groupsets will be landing with all distributors in March: for the UK this means Fisher Outdoor. The later production cycle will then deliver to the Far East for manufacturers to put on bikes – it’s normally the other way round. Expect to pay £1899.99, if you want to one of the first to buy the Red groupset.

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Details of new SRAM groupset slowly emerge

  • Mike Hawkins – Tech Editor

    Ian, speaking to the engineers you get the feeling that they know that the front mech could’ve been better. The 2012 Red front mech is truly revolutionary in how it actuates and they’ve clearly looked at the design from top to bottom. Personally I think they’ve learned the necessary lessons. The cage is steel on the side nearest the frame, the outer is alloy with a composite tail. The pre production ones we got to use at the launch worked well but we’ll have to wait for the real deal to be sure if they’ve really nailed it.

  • Ian Stewart

    Lets hope the new front mech has a one piece cage and not the previous flimsy thing SRAM previously produced which had a split in the leading edge where the two plates came over the top of the chain. A very poor design. Difficult to tell from the “broody” art shots whether this latest incarnation has rectified this design flaw.