Sram Red 1st impressions



Dec 30, 2007
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Got a 1/2 assembled LOOK 585 today to install the Sram Red group onto..few observations. I'll preface it with it's a nice group, works well....cuz this is gonna sound kinda negative.

-carbon shifter lever clamps. That's right, the clamps that hold the lever onto the hbar are carbon. They scream 'break me' and will do that first time bike falls over.

-'alternative' cable housing routing. Sram figured out how to alolow for front of bar or behind bar der houysing routing. GOOD, but for the inside, the angle for the hole in the lever cants inward from the lever making the bend to follow the hbar really severe and mostly not possible with tight bend bars like Ritchey or Easton

-came with really crappy and draggy 4mm housing which we swapped right away for 5mm and brass(rather than plastic) ferrules.

-probably the most finnicky FD I have seen for awhile. Lots of up/down, in/out, pitch in/out till it didn't either throw it one side or another, rub or just not shift. I wonder if the titanium cage might be too flexy.

-Brakes look cheap, like Tektros.

-It works, but unlike the IMMENSE hype by mags and such, it pretty much feels and works like Force and Rival. Reach adjust for the levers is nice but like shimano R600, reduces lever travel for braking.

-Overall with all the stripes and 'RED" all over it, don't really like the looks, think it's kinda 'hoodie'. I think for function and price, Record or DA still rank 1-2. It's light but Record is 35 grams heavier, both less than 2000 grams. Is it worth the $$, donno.

Nice to see a competitor for Campagnolo and shimano..keeps 'em honest.

Just my opinion, of course, take it or leave it.
 

Felt_Rider

Well-Known Member
Oct 24, 2004
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Thanks for the review

My favorite LBS and the shop that gives me support recently built up an Orbea Orca (red & black frame) with SRAM red and it looked good for that particular bike. It was the shop's first build using that group so they could not provide feedback like you provided. I don't think my LBS will build very many with SRAM Red unless someone requests it. The next bike they built was a Specialized S-works Tarmac SL and they dropped back down a level using SRAM.

Do you think you will be able to do further testing for review?
 
Dec 30, 2007
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Felt_Rider said:
Thanks for the review

My favorite LBS and the shop that gives me support recently built up an Orbea Orca (red & black frame) with SRAM red and it looked good for that particular bike. It was the shop's first build using that group so they could not provide feedback like you provided. I don't think my LBS will build very many with SRAM Red unless someone requests it. The next bike they built was a Specialized S-works Tarmac SL and they dropped back down a level using SRAM.

Do you think you will be able to do further testing for review?

Well, we see and work on this stuff...and we have a Waterford demo bike with Force. OEM is where Sram is big(we start with frames and build here). We tell people that are looking for a bike to try all THREE groups and get the one they like the best. Most get Campagnolo(90%+), then shimano. Nobpody as opted for Sram in the last months.
 
Dec 30, 2007
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Well, we see and work on this stuff...and we have a Waterford demo bike with Force. OEM is where Sram is big(we start with frames and build here). We tell people that are looking for a bike to try all THREE groups and get the one they like the best. Most get Campagnolo(90%+), then shimano. Nobpody as opted for Sram in the last months.

Some 'second' impressions.

Carbon clamps were after market, Sram spec'ed are steel.

Red standard with Gore cables and housing..not sure why this one didn't have it.

Cable was slipping thru the fixing bolt for the FD..may have been part of the FD issues.

So, better impression of the group. Does work well, with good feel and reliability and superior customer service from Sram...
 

rudycyclist

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Mar 14, 2006
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Well, we see and work on this stuff...and we have a Waterford demo bike with Force. OEM is where Sram is big(we start with frames and build here). We tell people that are looking for a bike to try all THREE groups and get the one they like the best. Most get Campagnolo(90%+), then shimano. Nobpody as opted for Sram in the last months.
If people don't know what they want, they must be somewhat new to road biking. It obviously seems simpler to go with Campy because one button goes up, one goes down...simple. With Sram there is only one button therefore possibly confusing new users but for experienced riders like most of us here, it's not confusing at all. I knew how to use Sram before I even got it because of reading reviews and what not online. I'm sure newbie riders are not reading about the latest and greatest.

My point, newbies aren't going to choose Sram. You make it sound like nobody likes Sram because it has a bad design but that is probably not the case. Almost everyone I know who tried it, loved it, including me.
 
Dec 30, 2007
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rudycyclist said:
If people don't know what they want, they must be somewhat new to road biking. It obviously seems simpler to go with Campy because one button goes up, one goes down...simple. With Sram there is only one button therefore possibly confusing new users but for experienced riders like most of us here, it's not confusing at all. I knew how to use Sram before I even got it because of reading reviews and what not online. I'm sure newbie riders are not reading about the latest and greatest.

My point, newbies aren't going to choose Sram. You make it sound like nobody likes Sram because it has a bad design but that is probably not the case. Almost everyone I know who tried it, loved it, including me.

Our customers are mostly experienced riders..we give the option of choosing the one they like. NOT a bad design but vast majority of Sram is OEM, where there is a large percentage of new riders. BUT it's so easy to use, like the other 2.
 

BrianMiller82

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Dec 26, 2006
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Got a 1/2 assembled LOOK 585 today to install the Sram Red group onto..few observations. I'll preface it with it's a nice group, works well....cuz this is gonna sound kinda negative.

-carbon shifter lever clamps. That's right, the clamps that hold the lever onto the hbar are carbon. They scream 'break me' and will do that first time bike falls over.QUOTE]

I've got a RED brake/shifting in my hand right now and the rest of the group too and I don't see any carbon clamp here its a typical steel clamp just like the other brands
 
Dec 30, 2007
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BrianMiller82 said:
Got a 1/2 assembled LOOK 585 today to install the Sram Red group onto..few observations. I'll preface it with it's a nice group, works well....cuz this is gonna sound kinda negative.

-carbon shifter lever clamps. That's right, the clamps that hold the lever onto the hbar are carbon. They scream 'break me' and will do that first time bike falls over.QUOTE]

I've got a RED brake/shifting in my hand right now and the rest of the group too and I don't see any carbon clamp here its a typical steel clamp just like the other brands

Second post on the 25th..the carbon clamps turned out to be after market.
 

alfeng

Well-Known Member
Jul 23, 2005
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...

So, better impression of the group. Does work well, with good feel and reliability and superior customer service from Sram...
Well, I beg to differ ...

BUT, I suppose your experience of "superior customer service from Sram" may be a consequence of Vecchio's bicicletteria being a fairly well known bike shop in Boulder (Colorado).

SRAM in North America is barely responsive to the individual.

Shimano in North America (Irvine, CA) is VERY responsive to the individual ... at least, this individual.

I can easily service MY Campagnolo components with readily available components (or, often from cannibalizing another component), so I do not know how good/bad their customer service is-or-isn't when an individual contacts them.

So, no offense intended to those who like the way the emperor's new clothes looks, but I continue to believe that a person generally needs to be either a sponsored rider or a fool to buy SRAM distributed products beyond the disposables like chains & casssettes BECAUSE once SRAM stops actively marketing a product they apparently stop supporting it (despite what I recall was once a requirement by the Federal government to support a product for 7 years after it is last imported) once their North American "warehouse" no longer has any of the spare components to supply.

Maybe it's diffferent in Asia, Oz/NZ, Europe & South America OR for a bike shop ... but, I think that SRAM's customer support in North America is woefully wanting.
 

strader

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Jun 28, 2007
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alfeng said:
So, no offense intended to those who like the way the emperor's new clothes looks, but I continue to believe that a person generally needs to be either a sponsored rider or a fool to buy SRAM distributed products beyond the disposables like chains & casssettes BECAUSE once SRAM stops actively marketing a product they apparently stop supporting it
Just curious, but what SRAM components are you referring to? My understanding of Shimano and SRAM drivetrain components is that they are all disposables (not rebuildable).
 
Dec 30, 2007
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strader said:
Just curious, but what SRAM components are you referring to? My understanding of Shimano and SRAM drivetrain components is that they are all disposables (not rebuildable).

Sram levers, both the MTB and road, are takeapartable, but no small parts AFAIK. WE did warranty a Force lever, asked for a part and they sent us a lever.
 

alfeng

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Jul 23, 2005
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strader said:
Just curious, but what SRAM components are you referring to? My understanding of Shimano and SRAM drivetrain components is that they are all disposables (not rebuildable).
This will undoubtedly sound like a rant, so take it for what it's worth -- accept or discount all-or-part of it as seems appropriate to you ...

SRAM wants to be a full service supplier for cyclist ... that's a good thing. But, while SRAM has the potential to be a great friend to the cycling community by providing alternatives to what some may consider to be the industrial behemoth that we all know as Shimano, SRAM has (IMO) clearly squandered whatever goodwill many have for a potential white knight by being indifferent to the individual end user ...

Apparently, bike shops love SRAM -- when I "visit" some shops, I hear nothing good about Shimano and the people in the shops are waxing eloquently about how great they think SRAM is.

Not to be cynical, but clearly there is less reason for 'Jason' (i.e., my recollection of the name of the individual who eventually contacted me who was apparently in charge of SRAM's North American customer service AFTER I waited for more than a half year & had finally contacted SRAM in Europe) to reply to my query than to a bike shop (e.g., Vecchio's). 'Jason' gave me some lame excuse about having contacted me (I think I had sent TWO queries, initially) accompanied with a wild-goose-chase contact from which I never got a subsequent response ... followed by a lack of subsequent response from 'Jason' (who clearly did not follow up with the retailer [a shop in Pennsylvania] which he told me to contact to ensure that I was able to get the component I was looking for) after I informed him of my inability to get a response from the bike shop to which he had directed me. Really POOR form, IMO.

The specific component I was looking for supports a SACHS product (SACHS was absorbed by SRAM) ... the component is small and almost insignificant; but, it was listed on the SRAM website, and one would/should therefore expect it to be available.

Oh, rest assured, none of my local shops wanted to order the component from SRAM for me EVEN THOUGH I had the part number -- they must have known it would be a futile effort to order a small component for something that isn't high on SRAM's priority list.

Nonetheless, it must be great for Peter (and, some/many other bike shops), therefore, to be able to get whatever he/(they) wants/(want) of a "hot" new item that SRAM is pushing ... but, based on my experience, I have to believe that the individual is up a creek without a paddle when trying to get something from SRAM.

Why should one suspect that support for the FORCE/RIVAL shifters with its already obsolete mechanism be different in the future than for the SACHS component I was trying to get? No doubt, as soon as the current inventory of FORCE/RIVAL shifters is exhausted (how cheaply is SRAM providing/"dumping" them as OEM items?), SRAM will "introduce" a version that is intermediate to the RED & FORCE shifters -- gee, they can call it the SRAM FORCE+ ... SRAM FORCE-version A ... or, just refer to it as the SRAM FARCE (nah, they are probably using THAT as the in-house moniker for the current FORCE shifters).

Let's see, this is 2008 -- looking forward in time, I think one can project that after the current inventory of FORCE/RIVAL shifters has been successfully dumped onto TREK & other brands who have foolishly made some of their bikes available with SRAM drivetrains, in about another half-dozen years (or, sooner!) those shifters will be nothing but paperweights if something happens to them.

OR, as you suggest, the SRAM shifters might be disposable the way Shimano shifters currently are -- not necessarily because they can't be rebuilt BUT probably because SRAM won't make the parts available even if they are listed in their "catalog" of parts!

It's almost sad that some people really wanted to pay a premium to-be-the-first-on-my-block to have something different than others on the road are using just so they could have an apparently lugubrious shifter whose throw to engage the shifter's mechanism's appears (based on the illustrations in THEIR advertisements AND the introduction of the RED shifters with the shorter throw) to be about 2x the throw need to engage a Campaganolo shifter & probably longer than the throw on a Shimano shifter. Why else would SRAM "fix" the problem with the RED shifters within "one" season and charge a larger premium?

Even now (as of about a month ago), someone I know was saying he wanted to buy some SRAM shifters for his "next" bike based on what he read in VeloNews, etc.

Well, the great thing is that obviously someone at SRAM figures that if SRAM was able to snooker those individuals who bought the-emperor's-new-cloths the first time, why not charge (my friend, and others) even MORE for "fixing" the initial design problem?!? A farce, indeed!

In that vein, while its possbily a good thing that SRAM owns RockShox, now (because there was undoubtedly an infusion of money for R&D), to buy a RockShox front fork as a replacement/upgrade would probably be fool hardy because who knows if components would be available for a rebuild at some point in the future ...

FWIW. I should point on that on the three (?) occassions that I have contacted Shimano, directly, they were exceedingly attentive -- I had two Ultegra 6500 front derailleurs which were fine when used with downtube shifters, but almost impossible to "move" when using a pair of 6500 STI shifters. I sent the derailleurs back, and received two new ones in about a week's time. I had a "problem" with an XTR component ... and again, within about a week's time I had had a replacement component. The third time, I indicated that I had a problem with a buckle on one of my shoes, and their follow-up was to simply send me a pair of replacement buckles. I received EXCELLENT customer service from Shimano in all cases ... and, unlike many of those who inhabit bike shops, I "love" Shimano for BOTH their products (which I have been using since the mid-70s) AND their customer service ...

FWIW2. DT/Hugi, like Shimano, also has excellent customer service in North America.
 

michaeltop

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Jan 19, 2006
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A couple of weeks ago I installed Red on my bike.

I agree with Peter's comments. It would require a dremel tool to make the cable exit properly at the front of the bar. The front deraileur should also be capable of trim on both rings not just the top. Sort of 1/2 of a improvement over force shifters.

To me it seems like the cassette is a poor design. With only 2 cogs holding onto the freehub there is going to be some issues. Sure the pro's can replace parts after every race, but Joe crit needs to think about how those 2 points are going to get hammered down with hard sprints.

Shifting with the Red requires very positive touch going up the cassette, otherwise you drop back , feels like campy shifting coming down the gears.

thats my 2cents
 

rudycyclist

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Mar 14, 2006
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Unless the Red and Force shifters are different, I don't understand what you guys are saying. "Shifting with Red requires very positive touch going back up the cassette", I've never experienced anything like this. My Force is very straightforward and easy.
 
Dec 30, 2007
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rudycyclist said:
Unless the Red and Force shifters are different, I don't understand what you guys are saying. "Shifting with Red requires very positive touch going back up the cassette", I've never experienced anything like this. My Force is very straightforward and easy.

Well, the innards are different and Red requires a shorter throw but I think the idea that ya gotta either hear it or feel it to make sure the cog goes where ya want it, a result of using 1 lever for both directions. it is very simple and Sram did a good job designing something that the other 2 lever makers didn't see fit to sue over(Sram has some experience in that area).

If ya like it, great.
 

Ainsie

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Nov 13, 2007
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michaeltop said:
A couple of weeks ago I installed Red on my bike.

The front deraileur should also be capable of trim on both rings not just the top.

Sort of 1/2 of a improvement over force shifters.
Hi All,

Hoping someone can clarify

1. How does the Red trim feature (big ring trim) compare with Ultegra shifters? Do Ultegras have a big AND small ring trim or just a big ring (Red) or small ring (Force) trim?

2. Are Shimano BB cups compatible with SRAM road cranks?

Thanks,
Chris
 

alfeng

Well-Known Member
Jul 23, 2005
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Ainsie said:
2. Are Shimano BB cups compatible with SRAM road cranks?
No. There are currently THREE known (to me) standards (not counting an external BMX BB that I seem to recall) that are commonly available:
  • Shimano/FSA == 24mm
  • GXP == 25mm/24mm (driveside/non-driveside)
  • Campagnolo UT == 25mm
The Force/Rival cranks use the GXP BB.

I was under the impression that the Red was going to use the UT (including a Hirth coupling), but haven't seen/heard anything regarding that, lately.