A Unicorn of a Groupset - New SRAM Force AXS
With spy photos coming and going, and murmurs about new drive trains circling about, we’ve undoubtedly been curious about what has been cooking in that AXS powered kitchen called SRAM. Well, today is your lucky day. SRAM announced the new SRAM Force AXS drivetrain. With lots of changes - some big, some small, the drivetrain has been tuned and refined to fit your needs. Let’s see what changed and why you might be interested.
SRAM Force has always been the drivetrain for the working class racer. The rider who wants performance and weight of a high-end drivetrain without the heavy price tag of SRAM Red. They’ve made a lot of changes but stayed true to the original ethos of Force. Starting with the ergonomics, the new drivetrain has been refined for ergonomics in any place SRAM could, taking an immense amount of feedback from those testing and riding the product. Plus they changed the finish to what they call, “Unicorn Gray." Who doesn't like unicorns? For ergonomic reasons, the levers changed to be more similar to current Rival AXS, with a more adjustable lever reach, closer lever reach in the drops and more clearance for the shift paddle. They achieved some of these better ergonomics by removing the auxiliary ports from the levers. This isn't a downside however, as the introduction of wireless AXS Blips removes the need for the auxiliary ports.
Along with some of the cosmetic and ergonomic changes, the drivetrain sees some technical changes. Some of these improvements include updated piston seals in the brake calipers for improved piston retraction, less brake rub, and stays more consistent as the pad wears (the calipers are backwards compatible). Additionally you no longer need different derailleurs for a 33 or a 36 tooth cassette, just one Force derailleur for all Force cassettes.
Bigger technical changes occur with new chainrings and power meters. Those familiar with SRAM Red might recognize the Red look-alike chainrings and power meter, machined out of one piece to be super stiff, provide better power transfer and to keep it lightweight. These are now the standard for the New Force AXS (with the exception for the 40/33 combo). SRAM is moving away from the 4 bolt spider power meters for 2x functions, but they will still be offering them for 1x setups. With this update, they have now added the 50/37 one piece chainrings to the Force line, which was a combination previously reserved for only SRAM Red. All 2x chainring combinations are compatible with every road cassette option. Along with these power meters, SRAM now offers a spindle based power meter in Force - just like Rival AXS power cranks.
These changes are very welcome, adding more refinement to an already pretty stellar drivetrain. Plus a few other small changes are notable. With the launch of New Force AXS, you can also get SRAM Red cassettes and chains in the oil slick/rainbow color, something previously reserved only for SRAM tour winners and world champions. Finally, a very great addition to the people with multiple AXS bikes, a quad AXS battery charger for all your charging needs. This charger can be wall or bench mounted, can fast charge batteries, (so no more excuses for not showing up to the group ride due to dead batteries), and is USB-C compatible. On behalf of Contender mechanics who charge AXS batteries one at a time, all of the time...thank you SRAM.