SRAM: Black is the new Red and white is the new Apex


Let’s assume you really care about the colour of your road bike components. Yes, yes…you’re not one of those people, but we’re talking about a purely hypothetical situation at the moment in which you pretend that you’re not the hardboiled road rider who’d ride a lawnchair balanced on a pair of hula hoops if necessary. You couldn’t give a rat’s ass what you’re bike looks like, nor what Boonen’s bike looks like. You‘re beyond aesthetics, but right now I need to talk about colour ways and coordinating like a nancy. Maybe you should skip this post. Still reading? Yes, your interest is strictly academic, of course.


SRAM & colour: What the hell? A few years ago SRAM created a flagship road component group, and in a move that still has their marketing people hi-five’ing each other, they named it “Red”….brilliant…it sounds like it could be the new fragrance from Dior or whatnot.

Then after a sponsored rider wins the Tour with their bits on his bike, they come out with a yellow-accented limited edition version of their Red…’cause you know, yellow=Tour de France. You can still buy red Red, but for a limited time and a dash more money you can buy a yellow Red….it’s not really yellow though (thank god), it’s mainly all black with yellow logos and no red whatsoever. Next SRAM introduces black Red, which is no more black like the Limited Edition yellow but does have a little red.

Now the model name “Red” seems like not such a good idea. Well, they needed to call it something I guess, and SRAM didn’t want to tap into old Sachs names like New Success.

NEXT UP!: SRAM’s entry level group Apex will be available in a white colour way for 2012….it won’t replace the current black Apex nor is it a special edition “Albino Apex”. Actually, the white Apex looks pretty good to me. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos I can post, or at least I haven’t been able to steal any yet.

BTW, SRAM’s 2x10 philosophy for mtb drivetrains didn’t win over every product manager in the industry, so look forward to some 3x10 SRAM offroad options next year. But as for you roadies out there who are looking for a triple options…none for you.


I read somewhere on another blog that Campy announced new color options right before they debuted electronic shifting, so maybe come July, SRAM will be showing off an electric group and the goofy colorway announcements this spring are just to keep the press flames going.

Also, I have to step up and praise the Apex group. I recently swapped out a full SRAM Force kitted bike’s rear derailleur for an apex one and changed my 11-28 to the apex’s 11-32 and having that one extra super low gear is a game changer for tough dirt climbs. I was surprised the $80 shifter felt almost identical to the $200 one it replaced. It didn’t add too much weight and the added range really comes in handy on long hilly days or relaxed spinning recovery rides when I don’t want to go crazy on climbs.

I also ran some numbers on Sheldon Brown’s gear calculator and if you run a compact upfront and you fully cross-chain a 11-32 rear, the 50-32 combo is almost exactly the same as most road race setups’ lowest gear, a 39-25. I’ve found that on climbs with less than 10% of grade I never have to leave the big ring with the apex rear. It’s kind of a weird handy thing to know.

I’m running Red shifters with 11-36 and X.9 rear derailleur on my CX/commuter.  It shifts sooooo smooth.  The Apex rear derailleur isn’t rated for the 36 cog, and experience has shown me that you can’t cheat SRAM’s rated max cog size like you can with Shimano.  The X.9 is like Rival-level or so; after initial installation, I haven’t touched it in 4 months. 

I’m so impressed by the SRAM shifting across the line.  I still favour Shimano brakes and cranks, but I’m totally down with SRAM shifters.

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