When it comes to designing and developing bicycle components, balancing affordability and functionality can be a real challenge. The good stuff is often reserved for the top-tier group, and only a smattering of the high-end features trickle down to the less costly components. That’s definitely not the case, however, with SRAM’s Rival 22 component group.
Like the company’s higher-priced Red 22 and Force 22 components, the Rival 22 group boasts 11-speed compatibility, upgraded DoubleTap™ shifters with Zero-Loss™ and Yaw™ technology, and the choice of regular or WiFLi™ gearing. And to ensure future-proof compatibility, SRAM offers Rival 22 with no less than three brake options: hydraulic discs, mechanical calipers, and hydraulic calipers.
Having spent the better part of last year riding SRAM’s Force 22 components, we were anxious to see how the Rival 22 group stacked up. To guarantee a fair comparison, our Black Mountain Cycles test bike was set up with the same gearing (50/34, 11-32), wheels, and cockpit that were used for the Force 22 review.
When SRAM redesigned their Force 22 group, the company leveraged its top-end Red 22 line for many of the new group’s features. Among Force 22’s improvements are twenty-two usable gears and Yaw™ front shifting. The redesigned Force line also features trickled-down enhancements such as improved ergonomics, reduced weight, and updated aesthetics. GRAVELBIKE spent the last six months putting the Force 22 group to the test on Colorado’s roads and trails.
Two years ago, SRAM caused quite a stir when the Chicago-based company announced their dedicated 1x Force and Rival drivetrains. While some traditionalists scoffed at the idea of a single chainring for road use, SRAM’s 1x setups quickly gained acceptance in the gravel and adventure bike spaces. But between the two groups’ top-of-the-food-chain positioning and XD hub/driver requirements, some riders were priced out of the 1x experience. Thanks to trickle-down and crossover tech, SRAM brings road 1x to the masses with their affordable Apex 1 group.
Every few years, drivetrain manufacturers add yet another cog to our bikes’ rear wheels in hopes of attracting dollars and market share. Chicago-based SRAM has kept pace with its competition, cog-wise, but the company has also worked on simplifying drivetrains by reducing the number of chainrings. SRAM’s 1x™ (pronounced one-by) movement began in their MTB category, where it was praised for its simplicity and security. In 2014 the company brought 1x technology to cyclocross with the introduction of the Force CX1™ group. And now, with the company’s announcement of their Force 1 and Rival 1 lines, SRAM brings the 1x option to road, gravel and adventure riding.