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On Show: Sea Otter Classic, April 19, 2008
New road goodies from SRAM
By James Huang in Monterey, California
Red features trickle down to Force and Rival, new BB30 options
Much as we figured would happen, SRAM has taken some of the features introduced on its range-topping Red road component group and trickled it down to Rival and Force.
Nearly all of the upgrades have been applied to DoubleTap levers across the board; Force and Rival now get the same shift paddle and brake lever blade shaping as Red in addition to independently adjustable reach for both. Both lever bodies will also offer dual-position cable routing for the derailleur housing and the front shifter has been enhanced with new Zero Loss internals and a big ring trim position which supercedes the original inner ring trim. Rival also gets a carbon fiber brake lever blade.
Rival receives the most attention from SRAM this year as the rest of the group has been freshened, too. In addition to the aforementioned lever changes, the crankarms are now offered in the lighter and stiffer OCT hollow-forged variety exclusively and all components will be covered in a gloss black finish.
The new versions of Force and Rival will begin shipping around late spring or early summer. Pricing for Rival remains the same as last year at US$919 but Force has now dropped to US$1,399 for the complete group. Even with the price drop, though, Rival's substantial performance upgrades (not to mention the new look) may make it even harder to justify Force's extra cost.
Red isn't untouched either, though, as SRAM introduced a much-welcomed BB30 option for its carbon crankset. In addition to dropping about 100g relative to the standard threaded version, pedal stance width decreases and heel clearance is dramatically improved. Stiffness and bearing life are also said to increase substantially.
For the '09 season, the OG-1090 cassette will gain versatile 11-25T and 11-28T sizes.
On the time trial and triathlon side of things, SRAM has expanded its product range with three new items. The 500 TT shifters and brake levers are essentially the same as the top-end carbon offerings that were introduced early last year with the exception of aluminum levers for both. As a result, both 500 TT components gain around 15g per pair but, naturally, carry lower retail prices: US$120 for the shifters and US$108 for the brake levers.
The new 500-series components are also joined by the new TT chainrings we first spotted at Tour of California back in February. Sizes include 42, 54 and 55T (all in 130mm BCD) with laser-etched graphics and a new 'tungsten grey' finish. Suggested pricing, availability and weight targets are still to be determined.
As if that weren't enough, SRAM also disclosed that it would be introducing a complete road wheel line sometime this fall. Zipp would still remain at the top end, but the new offerings would fill in the near-top and mid-ranges. Unfortunately there weren't any real details to be had here but we'll keep on it.
Zipp renews handlebar lineup
SRAM's recent acquisition of Zipp has already yielded the first co-developed product: a set of chicane aero bar extension with integrated mounts for the 500 TT and 900 TT shifters. As on the Shimano-compatible version introduced last year, the integrated setup moves the shifters back about 25mm for easier access and also drops about 80g.
Zipp has also updated its drop handlebars for the coming season. The ultralight SL model gains two bend options: a short and shallow 'SS' anatomic (84.5mm reach, 128mm drop) and a traditional 'TB' round (87.5mm reach, 130mm reach). The extant 'EB' ergo bend (90mm reach, 150mm drop) will also remain in the lineup. Claimed weight is just 165g.
The stiffer SLC2, also available in SS, TB or EB bends, adds just 20g but is also compatible with clip-on aero extensions. Last year's ergo-shaped Contour bar carries on in TB or SS bends.
All of the bars will be available in 40, 42, 44 or 46cm (c-c) widths. Pricing is yet to be determined.
Finally, the wireless PowerTap-equipped disc wheels we found on the Slipstream bikes at Tour of California made their official debut in flat 900 or toroidal Sub-9 shapes. Suggested retail prices are US$3,500 and US$3,100, respectively. A clincher version will also be offered at US$3,300.
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Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com