SRAM Introduces New Apex Road Group

SRAM Apex Road GroupSRAM has been doing very well in the road category for the past few years. With three strong road groups and a total of seven Pro-Tour sponsorships in 2010, SRAM has been hot on the heels Shimano. A new road group called Apex is set to target entry level riders and attempts to put another nail in the coffin of the triple crankset.

For a few years now, riders have been swapping out their triple cranksets in favor of the compact double. The compact double results in a fairly wide gear range with simpler shifting and lighter weight than a triple. The only issue with this is that most triples have historically been paired with standard road cassettes with a range of 11-23, 12-25 or 12-27. A 50/34 compact crankset paired with a 12-27 cassette is going to give you almost the same gear range as a triple, but not quite. The low end of a triple is still lower than can be accomplished with a standard road cassette.

SRAM attempts to address this problem with the new APEX road group. The real key to the APEX group is the 11-32 wide range cassette. When you combine the 11-32 with the 50/34 compact crankset, you get a 3.3% lower gear and a 9% higher gear compared with a 50/42/30 triple crank and a 12-27 cassette. Riders who prize simplicity will also appreciate the elimination of many redundant gear combos that occur with a triple.

The only potential downside to this approach is the bigger gear jumps between cogs in the cassette. Matt Phillips from Bicycling Magazine tests the new APEX group and says this about those big gear jumps.

“The only place I noticed the bigger jumps was on straight, slightly uphill section of road, riding into the wind, and holding about 20mph. In one cog, my cadence felt a bit low, and when I downshifted, my cadence came up a bit more than I wanted. I said “notice” and “a bit,” and I’m the whiny sensitive type who’s paid to notice small details. It didn’t alter my performance or enjoyment, and I doubt it’s enough to care about even in the heat of a race. All derailleur systems have jumps: at some point you’re going to encounter a situation where the jumps aren’t perfect no matter what you’re using.”

Check out the full Bicycling Magazine article.

Newbie riders probably won’t notice the big jumps and won’t be as sensitive as more experienced riders who, like Phillips, would feel that they’re missing the perfect gear combo in certain situations. That said, the APEX group is sure to please riders who find themselves missing the low gearing of a triple on long hilly rides. It will also appeal to touring riders who are tired of dealing with finicky triples.

The APEX road group is cross-compatible with other SRAM groups. The only exception is the APEX mid-cage rear derailleur. It’s needed to handle the big, 32 tooth cog on the APEX wide range cassette. Perhaps the best thing about APEX is the fact that it’s SRAM’s lowest price road group. The price is $799 for shift/brake levers, derailleurs, brakes, cranks, BB, chain and cassette. This a great value compared to the already reasonably priced Rival ($976) and Force($1,337).

With this new addition to their road group lineup, SRAM offers something for every segment of the market at better prices than their competitors. For more details check out SRAM’s website.

One Review for “SRAM Introduces New Apex Road Group”

  1. Editor says:

    Joe Lindsey of Bicycling’s Boulder Report has a nice review of the SRAM’s Apex group. He praises SRAM for, “blending performance-oriented design with gear that’s built for how amateurs enjoy the sport.” Lindsey tested the group on hilly climbs and felt good at both the high and low end of the group’s gearing. He did mention it being somewhat difficult to find the right gear to maintain a consistent cadence in the middle of the cassette. Some have been concerned about the big jumps in the 11-32 cassette, but Lindsey gives the group high marks overall.

    He also mentions the interesting fact the Apex group first saw it’s start in the 2008 Giro when Alberto Contador was looking for low gearing to tackle a very steep gravel road time trial. I think the big cog on that cassette was 30 rather than 32 on the production model. Lindsey points out the irony of a budget road group getting it’s start at the pro level on the bike of the best cyclist in the world.

    Here is the video review from bicycling: