What are SRAM up to?

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

SRAM Red Black

As a user of Twitter I follow plenty of pros. In the last couple of days several of them have been posting near-identical excitable messages about the SRAM Red groupset. There’s a new version coming out in black. As far as I can tell it’s merely a change of powder-coating or anodisation. There is no functional difference.

Now pro cycling is relentlessly commercial but there’s something quite “on-message” about the coordinated messages via twitter, a false buzz. It’s just a change of colour. It reeks of corporate marketing, as if the SRAM guys have emailed riders and told them to tweet particular images at set times.

Plus ça change
It reminds me of Campagnolo and their red Ergopower levers. Announced at the end of 2007, riders were using these in the early part of the 2008 season and red signified a stronger spring with firmer gear shifting.

Campagnolo Red

Red or dead?

Only come July and the Italian manufacturer announced the 10 speed Record groupset was dead, long live the new 11 speed Record. Oddly Campagnolo was trumpeting that the red spring arrived because “professionals prefer stiffer, crisper shifting. They prefer a shifter that calls for greater strength and decision“. Yet seven months later they proclaimed 11 speed was better as “the weight and the required operating force are lower“.

Some said the red ink was a deliberate way to shift remaining stocks of the 10 speed ergo levers. Others say it saved pro teams from having to rebuild the levers. Either way, when a company is reduced to changing the colours of a groupset you know the refinements are probably coming to an end.

As a reader pointed out “6 months before 10sp XX came out, SRAM released XO in 6 colors“, a point worth noting. I’m also inclined to agree with another reader: SRAM going to unveil an electronic groupset in July.

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{ 21 comments }

Champs February 22, 2011 at 6:20 pm

One can only hope it’s a UCI-peeving group with hydraulic disc levers and/or integral race radio…

Jon M February 22, 2011 at 6:22 pm

It certainly seems a little bit of a damp squib, but as you mention, a very well-coordinated comms plan.

I’ve never ridden or even tried it, so cannot make any real judgements. Another electronic groupset would be interesting, not least to apply pressure on Campagnolo – they may feel left out!

Jon

J February 22, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Regarding SRAM electronic…

Prior to SRAM’s entry into the road market there were numerous sightings of prototype grouppos seen on domestic teams in the States. In addition, years before that we here in Chicago often spotted SRAM employees or other testers riding unmarked or re-branded grouppos.

Given that thus far nobody in Chicago nor the media has spotted anything that resembles an electronic grouppo (or any NEW grouppo for that matter) I highly doubt there will be an electronic group released in July. At best I could see a prototype appear on a pro bike but even still, methinks that would be a stretch.

For sure SRAM doesn’t want to risk the market share they’ve grabbed on a dubious, untested product.

The Inner Ring February 22, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Champs: that would drain the battery, no? ;-)

Jon M: Movistar are riding an electronic Campagnolo group, it should be for sale in 2012.

J: I’m only speculating above; half the point was to point out the unauthentic attempt at viral marketing (although we all know it’s available in black now). Red is selling very well but getting old now. A change of colour, is that all?

A February 22, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Even if it is just marketing (and it looks like it is) it’s still certainly effective. You’ve written a post about it and it now the major cycling news outlets have picked it up. Unauthentic, sure. But still effective.

Twisted Spoke February 22, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Yup. It’s like the ipods — at the end of a particular model cycle, the colors come out and then it’s on to the next coolest, more expensive thing. Long live marketing.

Mo February 22, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Interesting. If there’s no electronic shifters I like your take on the social media and marketing.

Great blog. It’s a daily must-read.

Dan February 22, 2011 at 9:21 pm

Just curious, but where would people like to see group sets go? More gears like Campy? Lighter weight? More reliable shifting? Better reliability? The whole electric thing seems pretty gimmicky to me. The only advantage that I can see is possibly adding some buttons in the drops so that you can shift from there. I guess they’ll add wireless before too long. What do the really picky people want to be better?

Jratt February 22, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Nice shill…albiet a little obvious.

Can someone explain what makes SRAM attractive when you have Shimano of Campy to choose from? Sure, many pro’s use the groupset but it is technically superior to the other guys?

In my limited experience with SRAM ( a few mins on a friends Kuota w/SRAM ), it shifted well but I don’t understand the double tap. Two taps for one action doesn’t seem very efficient to me and while it shifted precisely, I dunno… my well tuned Ultegra seemed to do a better job although perhaps I’m just too comfortable with Shimano.

Vandalay February 22, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Having only ridden Shimano and Campy for the last 20 years I made the switch to Red as it was a good deal over Dura Ace. It did feel very awkward at first but after 3 or 4 rides the shifting became second nature. Downshifts with the quick tap are great, upshifts are a little muffled as you push the lever past the point of downshift, but it works just as well. Aesthetically in my opinion it looks a lot better then Ultegra or Dura Ace and it’s lighter, better ergonomics on the lever as well. My other gripe with shifting is that if you are climbing in your largest cog and you try and shift to see if there is 1 more gear available and there isn’t then you’ll wind up downshifting, wish the lever would just lock out once you are maxed on the rear cog.

grolby February 22, 2011 at 10:08 pm

What makes strawberry attractive when you have chocolate and vanilla to choose from? That question is about on par with asking what the appeal is with SRAM.

Anyway, it could be any number of things. I’d be amazed if it were electric simply because nothing has leaked, but there’s a way to go until July.

Hydraulics isn’t actually a bad guess, but SRAM wouldn’t make that the centerpiece of a group intended just as much for roadies as ‘cross racers. That might be an option (or, more accurately, a spin-off), but they must be bringing something else to the table.

Touriste-Routier February 22, 2011 at 10:21 pm

The amazing thing is that this is being picked up as news, everywhere. For the major players, this isn’t journalism, this is printing an advertisers press release.

TdF Lanterne Rouge February 22, 2011 at 11:04 pm

will tweet for the right schwag! Who wouldn’t? Not many. Just depends on what their price is.

Champs February 23, 2011 at 12:03 am

The world has yet to be lit afire by 11-21 straight blocks, but electronics and hydraulics are definitely happening, if not in the next SRAM group.

Seen with a critical eye or not, here we are talking about SRAM. Guess who wins?

WC February 23, 2011 at 12:20 am

Didn’t the black SRAM Red group come out 8 months ago? The photo you posted looks like my black SRAM Red derailleur… I think most people are expecting a totally new group to be revealed during the Tour this year.

The Inner Ring February 23, 2011 at 8:31 am

In response to some of the comments, perhaps we can agree that with Super Record and Di2, it’ll take more than a colour change to fix things?

TdF Lanterne Rouge + Champs: yes, we can see who wins and riders are doing their job but it just felt stilted to me. It’s only a colour change and if anything, people might say “no thanks, I’ll wait for the electronic version”.

WC: apparently not for the black group, it will be available for consumers in the next few months. …You see, I’m doing SRAM’s ad work for them now.

Mark Rushton February 23, 2011 at 9:19 am

Don’t forget that Campy Red was a ‘limited edition’ and as such was more expensive (it sold fantastically well) so Campag got rid of old stock for more money. Remember the adage ‘no-one gets rich understimating the public’

Jon M February 23, 2011 at 10:08 am

I’d read a little about the Campy electronic group but did not realise Movistar were actually using it.

Thanks for the info – are there nay decent pictures of it?

The Inner Ring February 23, 2011 at 10:33 am

Mark Rushton: ouch, paying more for a premium spring, only to see it made outclassed by 11 speed had to hurt a bit.

Jon M: there are loads of images, try a search for “Movistar Campagnolo” and you should find plenty.

PT February 24, 2011 at 4:56 am

Mark – I think that quote was Henry Ford and he said: no one ever went broke underestimating the American public.

Future December 18, 2011 at 6:34 am

Uhm… this is the future… its Dec 2011… and there is no Red electronic group. Just thought I’d let you know.

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