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by James Huang
May 14, 2020
Photography by James Huang
SRAM is filling a conspicuous gearing hole in its Force eTap AXS 12-speed wireless groupset with the introduction of a new wider-range 10-36T cassette and smaller 43/30T chainrings, both of which should markedly expand the capabilities of the company’s second-tier wireless groupset.
Not surprisingly, SRAM intends for the new cassette and chainrings to find the most appeal among gravel and adventure-minded riders that have been looking for easier climbing gears and more total spread between the hardest and easiest gear ratios. Whereas the previous widest-range combination offered a 460% range when using a 10-33T cassette and 46/33T chainrings, the new combo offers a whopping 516% range, which is even wider than the so-called “mullet” setups already on tap that pair a road single-chainring crankset with one of SRAM’s 10-50T Eagle mountain bike cassettes and rear derailleurs.
While the dual chainring configuration of the new offerings obviously adds some complication relative to a mullet setup, it also retains the tighter steps between gears that many drop-bar riders prize.
Of course, there remains the option of using the 10-36T with a single chainring for riders who want the simplicity of a 1x setup, but with just a little more range than what the current 10-33T cassette offers.
The new wide-range Force setup will undoubtedly be very well received seeing as how it fills a big hole in the existing lineup. Photo: John Watson.
Even better, all of this stuff is cross-compatible not only with existing Force eTap AXS components, but Red eTap AXS ones, too — with some important caveats.
According to SRAM, that new cassette must be used with the new longer-cage version of the Force eTap AXS wireless rear derailleur since the existing short-cage derailleur can’t handle a cassette sprocket of that size. The new mid-cage rear derailleur variant has a stated maximum cassette sprocket size of 36 teeth, and a total capacity (the total difference between the smallest and largest cassette sprockets, and the smaller and larger chainrings) of 39 teeth. Technically speaking, then, the new 10-36T cassette and 43/30T chainrings maxes out the mid-cage rear derailleur’s capabilities.
The new 10-36T SRAM XG-1270 cassette fills a hole in the current range of offerings. This ratio only exists at the Force level for now, though, and many riders will still pine for a 10-40-something option. Actual weight is 306 grams.
Since those smaller chainrings are more likely to be used on bikes with bigger tires, SRAM has boosted official tire capacity up to 700 x 45 mm or 27.5 x 2.1″. However, that was achieved by increasing the bottom bracket spindle length by 5 mm, which pushes out the chainline (how far out the chainrings sit from the bike’s centerline) by 2.5 millimeters.
That longer spindle brings with it a similar increase in Q-factor as well as a matching “WIDE” front derailleur to match. SRAM officially says there’s a dedicated bottom bracket as well, but the cups themselves are identical; there are just specific spacers required to accommodate the longer spindle.
The new SRAM Force Wide crankset is exclusively paired with the new 43/30T chainrings. SRAM is assuming that riders who are most interested in that sort of gearing will also be running the wider tires that need the chainring offset and additional clearance. Actual weight for the complete crankset (without bottom bracket) is 700 grams.
On the plus side, all of this stuff should be available now, and prices for all of the new bits are inline with SRAM’s existing range. Official figures are as follows:
– SRAM XG-1270 10-36T cassette: US$185 / AU$350 / £170 / €190
– SRAM Force eTap AXS medium-cage rear derailleur (without battery): US$490 / AU$1000 / £415 / €465
– SRAM Force Wide eTap AXS front derailleur (without battery): US$350 / AU$700 / £290 / €325
– SRAM Force Wide D1 DUB crankset (without bottom bracket): US$420 / AU$750 / £390 / €435
Moving forward, all Force eTap AXS components also get a gloss black finish in place of the original matte one for a more upscale appearance.
Still missing from all of this, though, are the cassettes with 40-something large sprockets that many have been clamoring for since SRAM first introduced 12-speed, and any additional wider-range gearing options for the top-end Red groupset.
Good things come to those that wait, apparently.
On the mechanical side, riders on single-chainring SRAM drivetrains and cable-actuated dropper seatposts no longer have to resort to DIY hacks or dodgy bolt-on remotes. SRAM is finally offering brake levers purpose-built for the task, from the factory, with the shifting ratchets removed, but the lever and spring bits still in place so you can activate the seatpost without moving your hands.
Smaller brands and individual riders have already been gutting their left-hand SRAM mechanical levers for years in order to use them as integrated remotes for dropper seatposts, but SRAM is now finally offering them pre-gutted from the factory. Photo: SRAM.
SRAM will offer the new levers at the Force 1, Rival 1, and Apex 1 groupset levels, exclusively for use with hydraulic disc brakes and single-chainring drivetrains.
Prices for the left-hand levers with flat-mount disc brakes are as follows:
– SRAM Force 1 HRD left lever with remote: US$290 / AU$580 / £273 / €305
– SRAM Rival 1 HRD left lever with remote: US$246 / AU$500 / £231 / €259
– SRAM Apex 1 HRD left lever with remote: US$215 / AU$430 / £202 / €226
Finally, SRAM has also unveiled a new disc-brake rotor for road use called Paceline, which the company says runs quieter than previous brake track designs, particularly when hot. Paceline rotors will be offered only in 140 mm and 160 mm diameters, for use with six-bolt or Center Lock splined interfaces.
It seems that barely a year or two goes by before companies announce a new rotor design that’s supposedly quieter than its predecessor. Photo: SRAM.
Retail prices are as follows:
– SRAM Paceline six-bolt rotor: US$40 / AU$70 / £40 / €45
– SRAM Paceline Center Lock rotor: US$50 / AU$80 / £50 / €55
Whereas Red-level cassettes are mostly machined from a single giant chunk of steel, Force-level cassettes use individual steel sprockets that are connected around their circumferences via a series of press-fit pins. It’s heavier, but also way less expensive to manufacture.
One nice bonus of the pinned construction relative to the fancier machined method is that there’s more room for mud and debris to pass through to prevent clogging.
Unfortunately, the 43/30T chainrings require a smaller 94 mm spider that won’t work with existing SRAM Force chainrings, which mount to a 107 mm bolt circle diameter.
The DUB aluminum bottom bracket spindle on the SRAM Force Wide crankset is 5 mm longer than usual. This provides more tire clearance since the drivetrain is now offset an extra 2.5 mm out from the centerline of the frame, but it also means the Q-factor is 5 mm wider than the standard Force crankset.
The SRAM Force Wide eTap AXS front derailleur looks identical to the standard version…
… except that it’s offset 2.5 mm further outboard from the centerline of the frame in order to match with the modified chainline of the Force Wide crankset. All of this is done in the name of tire clearance. Photo: John Watson.
To eliminate any confusion, the Force Wide eTap AXS front derailleurs are clearly marked.
The SRAM Force eTap AXS mid-cage rear derailleur is essentially identical to the standard one, but with a longer pulley cage to accommodate wider gearing.
Larger-diameter 12-tooth pulleys are used top and bottom.
Just in case you were wondering.
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