First Impressions: SRAM Rival 22 Components

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.

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First Impressions: SRAM Force 22 Components

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.

GRAVELBIKE.com gravel grinder SRAM Force 22 WiFLi rear derailleur 11 speed cassette
SRAM’s Force 22 drivetrain on the Black Mountain Cycles test bike.

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First Impressions: SRAM Apex 1 Components

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.

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First Impressions: SRAM Force 1 & Rival 1 Components (Part-I)

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.

GRAVELBIKE.com gravel grinder SRAM Road Rival 1x Zipp 30 Course
© Nils Nilsen N2Photo. Used with permission.

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Things I Like: da Vinci Custom SRAM Derailleur

There are a number of ways to mix-and-match Campagnolo Ergpower levers with an otherwise-Shimano drivetrain.  Options include from alternate cable routing, conversion cassettes, and cable-pull adapters.  I’ve experimented with several of those methods, but my favorite way to pair Ergopower levers with Shimano running gear is da Vinci’s custom SRAM derailleur.

Starting with a medium- or long-cage SRAM X9 derailleur, da Vinci replaces the stock cable guide with a special CNC-machined guide that allows the different brands’ components to play nicely in the same sandbox.  The derailleur is available in versions for 10-speed Campagnolo or 10-speed Shimano levers (both are compatible with Shimano or SRAM 9-speed cassettes).

GRAVELBIKE.com gravel bike sram davinci rear derailleur shimano shimergo campagnolo
da Vinci’s custom SRAM derailleur waiting to be paired with 3rd-generation Centaur 10-speed levers.

Installing the custom SRAM derailleur is similar to installing any other modern derailleur (and takes less trial-and-error than cable-pull modifers or alternate routing)  The only real difference is that you’ll need to account for your particular shifter’s “extra” click.  On my bikes, I usually set them up so that the phantom click occurs after the shift to the largest cog.

The da Vinci derailleur controlled by 2nd-generation Centaur levers (with an 11-32 cassette).

Shifting with the da Vinci derailleur is spot on.  I’ve used the derailleurs successfully with 2nd- and 3rd-generation Ergopower levers, and both Shimano and SRAM 9-speed cassettes (with KMC, Shimano, and SRAM chains).  And because the standard SRAM X9 derailleur is targeted to mountain bikers, it can easily handle 32- and 34-tooth large cogs (and wraps plenty of chain for double- and triple-chainring cranks).

If you’re a Campy fan and you want wider-range gearing, compatibility with 135mm rear hubs, or the increased longevity from 9-speed cassettes and chains, the da Vinci custom is definitely worth considering.

For more information, contact da Vinci Designs.