SRAM – Early Report

I’ve now done a few rides on my new SRAM groupset so I’d thought I’d share some early thoughts.


First the positive.  It looks good. Very good actually.  Also the brakes are really outstanding – outperforming both all of the Shimano and Campag kit I’ve used in the past.

Also the hoods are comfortable and the ‘brake de-detensioner’ works in the same way as Shimano kit which is so much better than the Campag solution.

Finally, and helpfully, the chain/cassette is compatible with Shimano which is a big bonus as it enables wheels to be swapped between bikes easily.

Now the negative.  There’s always a negative :-) .  The double-tap system.  I suspect you either hate it or don’t really like it but, having spent your hard-earned cash can’t admit to others and probably not event yourself, convince yourself it’s sort of OK. 

For the uninitiated the double-tap system utilises a single lever for both up and down shifts.  For the rear mech this involves a single short click to change up and a longer throw (through the ‘up click’) to change down one or more gears.  The upshift is great.  Nice short throw (going back to Shimano feels like steering a barge afterwards) and a very crisp, sweet action.  But the downshift is a disaster.  Changing down a single gear requires the control and judgement of a ninja.  Sometimes I plain forget and end up changing up rather than down.  Other times I don’t forget but don’t push past the up-shift sufficiently so end up changing up at the most inconvenient times.  But mostly I overcompensate and change down 2 or 3 gears by mistake, then have to tap back up to the required gear.  When not under any pressure it’s a bit easier to use.   But when racing, or needing fast accurate shifts when climbing, it’s not good at all.

I’ve said this is an early report.  I’m probably not helped by switching back to my Dura Ace kit on my other bike frequently.  But first impressions are not that great.

If I could click my fingers as swap back to Shimano, would I?  Simply put – yes I would.

No Comments on “SRAM – Early Report”

  1. 1 Reuben said at 9:35 pm on May 26th, 2010:

    Since it works with shimano gear, why not sell your levers and buy some dura ace ones to be retro-fitted? Not a cheap solution for sure, but if it solves the problems…?

    ‘requires the control and judgement of a ninja’ surely, given your status as a ninja cyclist, this provides no problems? :-)

    What absurdly expensive cassette ratio did you go for out of interest?


  2. 2 paulnixon said at 9:43 pm on May 26th, 2010:

    Hello Reuben – you should be revising!

    It’s not *that* compatible with Shimano I think. Only the chain/cassette combo. The mechs and levers I doubt are interoperable.

    Alas wearing a lot of black kit makes you only a joke ninja rather than a real one.

    My absurdly expensive cassette (£155 ladies and gents!!) is a 12-25.

  3. 3 Steve said at 7:51 am on May 27th, 2010:

    The levels should be compatible because the Chainring and sprocket spacing is exactly the same.

    The other thing to consider is that Shimano shifting is never going to be as good now that the cables are routed internally.

    I must admit, having been forced to use Shimano in Oz, that I found it surprisingly good to use v’s Sram. It was the old externally routed cable version thought. That said, I rarely have bad shifting experiences with Sram.

    My one complaint is that if you drop the bike the level breaks rather than yields like Shimano ones do because of their natural lateral movement, which btw, I don’t like on fast twisty descents because of the alarming ability for the level to move inwards as you lean and grab, resulting in an unwanted shift and worrysome breaking.

  4. 4 pauls said at 7:48 pm on May 28th, 2010:

    I’m not sure DA shifters would work with SRAM mechs because of the cable pull ratios? SRAM make a song and dance of their 1to1 cable pull ratio or whatever it’s called so surely DA levers wouldn’t necessarily actuate the right amount of movement in the mech? I also remember in a review about DA they said the changes to the brakes means new DA levels pulling on old callipers doesn’t give great performance so I’ve no idea what it would be like with SRAM.

    It’s interesting to hear your thoughts anyway as I may well be in the market for a groupset next year and was very tempted by SRAM for looks and weight.

  5. 5 Steve said at 9:39 am on May 29th, 2010:

    I can’t argue with you on that, but to me it seems logical that if the sprocket spacing is the same, which it is, then the rear mech movement should be the same too.


  6. 6 Steve said at 12:55 pm on May 30th, 2010:

    Nixy, having thought about this further, it seems to me that there is one solution to this issue, which is to switch completely to Shimano Di2. No more SRAM, compatibility issues or poor shifting because of Shimano’s internal cable routing. Go on, you know you want to…

  7. 7 paulnixon said at 2:50 pm on May 30th, 2010:


    Humourously you aren’t the first to suggest this possibility! I might be interested but not while there are ugly wires and batteries all over the shop.

    What’s your view on the double-tap system – honestly? I’ve only done a handful of rides so I’m sure I’ll get used to it in the end. And I’ll have the advantage of having acquired the motor skills of a helicopter pilot combined with that of a Swiss watchmaker :-) .

  8. 8 Steve said at 8:54 pm on May 30th, 2010:

    Based on that i’ve obviously missed my vocation because the use of the levers seems pretty intuative to me. I’ve had one or two fluffed changes in a year, so no complaints there. My rival levers broke over the winter, which was annoying, but theoretically you can buy single lever replacements, so not a problem. Anyway Cycles Dauphin replaced the lever without question.

    I find the difference in feel between the single and double taps pretty obvious. Maybe I overemphasize the double tap to be sure; not sure. I definitely find shifting up a gear a breeze.

    Honestly I did like shimano when I used them again in oz but still worry about the breaking under pressure; it only took one instance to remind me that I like my brake levels to do one job alone.

    Overall, yes I’m happy with SRAM.

    The best of the shimano bunch seems to be ultegra, whereas SRAM seem to have hit good quality across all three levels.

    Have you discussed it with bespoke?

  9. 9 paulnixon said at 9:14 pm on May 30th, 2010:


    I can only deduce that either you should have been a bomb disposal expert or me a dustman :-) .

    This was only an early report and I think I’ll get used to them in time. The upshift is quality. But the downshift is +/- 1/2 gears. I try to over-emphasize the shift too but here lies my problem – I very often have to change up again when I’ve overdone it; however sweet that change might be it’s an inconvenience.

    I did send the link to this page to Barry as Bespoke for his interest only – he clearly can’t be responsible for the groupset that I chose!


  10. 10 steve said at 9:38 pm on May 30th, 2010:

    i’m more interested in Barry’s thoughts than anything else. Clearly you make your one decisions, most of which, bearing in mind your ebay frame buying history, are pretty poor ;-0 not so with this frame, so it seems. although I am still yet to see it in real life…

    maybe I’m just so relieved to have shifted to an easier gear for the sake of legs and lungs that I don’t notice whether it’s one or two sprockets. I suspect that I just readjust without thought.

    onwards, n’shit.