SRAM’s Road Group Presence at Races Versus The Real World

sram-red-sponsored-teams-tour-of-california

SRAM sent out a press release out this week about the majority of teams in the Amgen Tour of California runnign their RED drivetrain group. As luck would have it, I had just spoken to SRAM’s road PR manager Michael Zellman last week about their road group sales for both OEM and aftermarket.

Launched in 2006 with Force and Rival, SRAM’s road side now has four complete groups, RED, Force, Rival and Apex, along with a smattering of non-group, triathlon and time-trial parts. There’s no doubt that SRAM’s groups have become a common sight in the pro peloton, especially following Lance Armstrong’s buy in to the company and subsequent sponsorship.  The fact that the RED group is currently the lightest full group on the market by a good margin doesn’t hurt, but at the elite pro level, all of the bikes are bordering on the UCI-mandated minimum weight limit (as we’ve proven by weighing them at the U.S. Pro Championships*), so the uptake among pro teams is likely due to both preference among riders and the business side of sponsorship dollars and agreements.

Among the 16 teams racing this year’s Amgen Tour of California, seven of them (44%) are running SRAM RED groups. Bissell, Quick Step, LiquiGas, BMC are running Campagnolo (25%) and HTC-Columbia, Team Type 1, Spidertech, Garmin-Transitions, Rabobank shift with Shimano (31%).  How does this reflect reality?

Well, on our local group rides, it’s rare to see a SRAM equipped bicycle, so I asked Michael how their sales were doing.  He said that it’s only been in the last 18- to 24 months that they’ve managed to get most bike brands to spec options with their groups, which puts them in showrooms and on the manufacturer’s websites that we all love to waste time on. As for aftermarket, there wasn’t a clear answer, but he said they now have about 20% of the market.  How that breaks down between OEM and aftermarket, or where that data comes from I can’t tell you, but it helps illustrate the length of time it takes even for a major brand like SRAM to make inroads in a new market.

That said, Michael was quick to point out that their new Apex group, which replaces the triple ring crankset found on lower-end and touring bikes, has been a hot commodity among manufacturers and should start showing up everywhere as OEM this fall.  What will be really interesting is to see what Shimano’s rebuttal will be..perhaps a reconfigured 105 double?

Press release after the break, and leave a comment: What groups are you and most of your riding buddies running?

PRESS RELEASE:

SRAM RED-equipped teams – 2010 Amgen Tour of California:
Team Saxo Bank – (ProTour points leaders) – SRAM RED & Zipp wheels
Cervelo Test Team – SRAM RED & Zipp wheels
United Healthcare p/b Maxxis – SRAM RED Team RadioShack – SRAM RED
Fly V Australia (NRC points leaders) – SRAM RED
Kelly Benefit Strategies – SRAM RED
Jelly Belly p/b Kenda – SRAM RED & Zipp wheels

The 2010 Amgen Tour of California (ATOC), taking place May 16-23, will feature one of the most talented start lists in its five year history, with 16 top national and international squads taking part. Seven of those teams will be equipped with SRAM RED, the World’s lightest, fastest, and most ergonomic componentry groupset.

Top contenders on SRAM RED include Team RadioShack’s three-time defending champion, Levi Leipheimer, who is completely focused on winning his fourth consecutive title. Team Radio Shack’s Lance Armstrong will unquestionably lend his support to Leipheimer. Saxo Bank’s lead challenger is likely to be Paris-Roubaix champion Fabian Cancellara, racing his third ATOC. He finished 4th in 2008. Tour de France runner-up Andy Schleck, also of Saxo Bank, will hunt the overall if the opportunity presents itself.

SRAM’s initial participation in the Tour of California began with the inaugural race in 2006, when Kodak Gallery/Sierra Nevada rider and SRAM test pilot Ben Jacques-Maynes rode with pre-production SRAM componentry. With the official product launch only months away it would become SRAM’s original entry into a major stage race with a full gruppo, and serve as the proving ground SRAM’s innovative technologies including DoubleTap and Exact Actuation.

SRAM soon followed with two complete road gruppos, SRAM Force and Rival. Since that time SRAM has introduced enhanced versions of both as well as best-in-class SRAM RED, and most recently, SRAM Apex.

Comments

CyclesNoir - 05/13/10 - 2:56pm

I ride SRAM and Campy. Most people I know ride Shimano. But most of their bikes predate the availability of SRAM.

EricG - 05/13/10 - 3:13pm

With Zipp and SRAM both headquartered here in the Midwest, you certainly find some heavy allegiences. 18 of the 19 riders in my program are running SRAM (90% of them are on Force). The technological advances have been well documented, as has the value. What means just as much to me is the fact that we see SRAM faces at dozens of our local events – the SRAM NRS team staffs a huge portion of our calendar and many of their employees here race. And race WELL. I wasn’t sure if the SRAM saturation effect was a Midwest phenomenon, but when I traveled to the Fitchburg-Longsjo stage race and had a mechanical at the base of a climb, it was the East Coast SRAM NRS that got me back into the game.

Before anyone writes that off as appreciation by a sponsored athlete, our current bikes could have been shipped from Colnago with Shimano or Campy already on board. We chose the much longer and laborious path of taking in framesets and parting in the SRAM groups. I’m of the mindset that advances like Di2 or hollow PowerDome cassettes will always be appearing on bikerumor.com… the ‘next big thing’ is a constant. It’s the company and the people behind it that you want to give your buisness to. Between NRS, World Bike Relief and their dedication to grassroots competition, that’s an easy call.

spokejunky - 05/13/10 - 3:24pm

I started using SRAM on my MTB bikes and then on my road bikes once it was available. It lacks the finesse that Shimano (read light touch to execute a shift) has, but shifting is instant even after months of cable wear. As compared to Shimano where you start to hear that CHACK CHACK CHACK, shift after a few months. Sure it’s a maintenance issue, but it seems to come up at the most inopportune times.

bill - 05/13/10 - 3:32pm

I’d say 50/50 here for the most part (but we’re in chicago with SRAM) I must say, after a year of riding on Force/Red, I’m switching back to Shimano. I love the lever feel, and the crispness of the shifting but in flat chicago, the only way to win a race is usually to attack at the perfect time, something the loud CLUNK CLUNK CLUNK with the red cassette doesn’t help with – all surprise is gone before you start to push it. Also, while yes, noone should shift under load, sometimes you have to, and in those cases, I definately don’t like the levers, if you don’t get that downshift just to the right spot you wind up upshifting on accident and then scrambling to do a double downshift.

Topmounter - 05/13/10 - 5:04pm

I’m running SRAM Force compact cranks and a SRAM cassette on my road bike, works fine… but to the casual observer my road bike looks more Shimano-ie due to the shifters and brakes.

hairysemi - 05/13/10 - 5:11pm

All of us in the bike shop run Red, Red/Force, or Force on our personal bikes. We don’t sell much SRAM road stuff, but have done a couple of retrofits/upgrades (a Tarmac from 105 to Red/Force and an older triple Litespeed from 9 speed Ultegra triple to Rival compact). Both customers have been EXCEEDINGLY pleased! We just love the stuff!

Brandon - 05/13/10 - 6:14pm

75% of our group rides are SRAM and our core team all rides Red with the exception of me on Campy and a few Shimano. Most of the people in the group riding Shimano just have older bikes before SRAM came on. The price and weight are a huge factor and it works well so what’s not to love. I’m considering it on my next bike just for those two reasons alone. My Campy sure is pretty and I’m normally the only one.

Uri - 05/13/10 - 7:02pm

Shimano on the road, Sram on CX (not much front shifting necessary), and Sram MTB (OEM, but it has a nice chunkiness to it.

Phil - 05/13/10 - 9:33pm

I estimate in the NC/SC race scene Sram has at least a 30-35% market share. Shimano seems to have a larer share among the charity ride/touring crowd, also due to their slower pace of conversion and updating their equipment. I’ve been riding Red/Force since late 2007, and after using Campy and Shimano for the previous 20 years, would never go back to either.

wvcycling - 05/13/10 - 10:13pm

Bought SRAM Rival ’09 in Sept ’08. Enjoy it. Purchased my first Shimano Road gruppo a few months ago (Ultegra 6700), and the capability to EASILY shift up or down while braking was taken for granted until I tried shimano. That and the lack of stutter noise from when the shimano levers flap open whenever you hit a bump.

Ghost Rider - 05/13/10 - 10:47pm

Campagnolo on both road bikes (and a third in the middle of being built up), SRAM on the Xtracycle and Shimano on the MTB. Oh, and a Suntour/Shimano/Ofmega amalgam on the beater.

I’d love to score one of the Apex groupsets to build up a light tourer…but I think I’ll wait ’til the price comes down.

67falcon - 05/14/10 - 12:23am

“The fact that the RED group is currently the lightest full group on the market by a good margin doesn’t hurt,”
Thats a load of BS, it may be lighter on paper but if you want it to work then you have to convert the group to the heavy duty spec.
And since when did a PR guy actually know something about bikes or bike gear other than what they are told/paid to say?? You’ve been feed a line which you took hook line & sinker. You can do better Tyler.

Rocky - 05/14/10 - 12:43am

The majority of the riders I ride with use either Campy Super Record 11 or Record 10. Everyone rides an Italian made bike. One of the riders is the shop bike mechanic who finds it really easy to adjust and get replacement parts vs. an assembly compared to Shimano. Campy seems a lot more quiet and smooth than SRAM Red which is an excellent product as well. Comes down to personal preference. SRAM is a lot less expensive so you can add the difference into the Frame or Wheels.

Smythe - 05/14/10 - 3:34am

More Dura Ace than anything else… however, the spread is evening out here in Sydney.

Why will I never use SRAM?….. cannot down shift while breaking.

Breaking into a corner in a crit is when you need to down-shift the most.

jdog - 05/14/10 - 6:31am

Personally I have a Full Red road bike, A Red/ DA 7800 road bike, and a Rival / Force Cross bike.

The most common drivetrain upgrade we are seeing in our shop is a SRAM conversion. Most often we just do the shifters, and rear der on shimano 10 speed bikes but lately we have been seeing campy guys dumping there record stuff for RED too. On new bike sales we usually give customers a chance to try both. Quite literally 8 out of ten people go for Rival over 105. Customers seem to like the ergonomics of the levers and the positive shifting. It also seems to be very popular with women who can benefit from the reach adjustment. Yesterday I built a Custom Seven Ti touring bike that used a XX rear der, a 36t XX cass and Force shifters. This gave very low gearing (48/34 x 11/36) and we got rid of the triple. It is my bet that SRAM will kill the triple completely in the next few seasons with the Apex groups mixed with the new x7 10 speed cass and r der. Once SRAM makes headway at the low end with Apex things will really change for them on the road side.

Another kick in sales at the high end came this season when 7900 basically does not work as well as 6700. (this comes right from shimano btw .. not my words) We have sold very few 7900 bikes this season but many Red equipped bikes. And forget campy as they seem to be dying a slow death. Their jump to 11 seems to be a desperation move that has impressed few.

cam - 05/14/10 - 11:36am

I have switched for shimano to campy and couldn’t be happier. In the group I ride with around in NC I would say its 85% shimano and 10% campy with a tiny amount of sram

Tyler (Editor) - 05/14/10 - 11:50am

67falcon…I’m careful to usually frame statements as being made by whomever made them, in this case clearly noting that the comments were made by SRAM’s guy, so everyone can form their own opinion. The second half of this post is copy/pasted press release, which I’ve just updated to make that more clear.

kcr - 05/15/10 - 10:41pm

Sram is dominating the group rides around here. Then shimano, mostly because of OE spec or older bikes. Our best selling high end road bike is the Felt F3, BECAUSE it has Sram.

HUMP - 05/16/10 - 2:37pm

Around here, I see a ton of Shimano, mostly I think because it was OEM spec, a good number of SRAM, it is catching on more in the crit happy south, and minimal Campy, mostly on older riders bikes, who have come to realize that they can have some good stuff. I personally run Shimano, but that was because I got a killer deal on a full used team bike. If I had a choice, and the money, I would switch everything to Campy and go with that. I raced on Campy three years ago, and I loved it. After that it was Shimano then SRAM for two seasons. They all work, I would say SRAM is a good race group, it is easy to build. The new Shimano is finicky about tension, have not worked with the new Campy, but the hoods feel unbelievable to me. One of these days!

HUMP

BluebikeRc8 - 05/16/10 - 9:36pm

Everybody at our bike shop in Greenville SC rides Sram. We love it. I always recommend updating to Sram parts over anything else.

MAKE THE LEAP! You won’t be sorry.

Sram is the best components company in the world right now. best price, lightest weight (across their full product line), and they have the best customer service.

MarvinK - 07/19/10 - 8:58pm

It depends on the groups I ride with. If I ride with a bunch of people with newer high-end bikes, SRAM is very common (40+%). If I’m riding CX, it’s kind of common (20+%), if it’s people with middle of the road and older bikes, SRAM isn’t common. I definitely see more SRAM than new Shimano 7900/6700.

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