Monday, January 5, 2009

GO SRAM!


By James Huang, Technical editor

SRAM Red helped Astana win the 2008 Tour of California, Giro and Vuelta. (SRAM Corp.)

Chicago-based component maker SRAM can now be considered a newcomer to the road bike componentry market in name only, having taken its third consecutive win in the Cyclingnews.com Reader's Poll 'Best Product' category with its Red group even over Campagnolo's all-new Super Record ├╝ber-package and the upcoming tech-heavy electronic Dura-Ace Di2 from Shimano.

Quick-shifting Zero Loss lever internals, innovative DoubleTap shift actuation, standard hybrid ceramic bearings and a heavy dose of carbon fiber and titanium are but a few of Red's attributes but its most defining characteristic is easily its reassuringly positive feel replete with tactile feedback. Add in the sub-2kg total weight and superb ergonomics and it should perhaps come as no surprise that SRAM continues to maintain its lead.

Campagnolo certainly lay down easily with its stunning Super Record group. The return of the heralded nameplate brought with it a jump to an 11-speed cassette, drastically revamped front and rear derailleurs, ceramic bearings and refined lever ergonomics - with possibly the most comfortable hoods in the business. Many will still debate the need for an additional cog out back but the group’s exceptionally high level of performance would be impressive regardless.

Shimano's long-awaited Dura-Ace Di2 electronic shifting group lands in third spot - and could possibly change the way we think about shifting forever. Shift performance both front and rear is significantly smoother than anything else we've experienced in our initial testing - especially under power - though rather lacking in feedback. A late introduction means we’ll still have to wait a few months before beginning to gauge public opinion of its real-world performance but the numbers clearly indicate that Shimano has at least seriously piqued our interest.

Results

1. SRAM Red gruppo - 3,676 votes, 31.97 percent; 2. Campagnolo Super Record 11-speed gruppo - 2,375 votes, 20.66 percent; 3. Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 electronic gruppo - 1,458 votes, 12.68 percent; 4. Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 gruppo - 1,221 votes, 10.62 percent; 5. Road Tubeless wheel system- 817 votes, 7.11 percent; 6. FSA/Cannondale/Zipp BB30 oversized bottom bracket standard - 500 votes, 4.35 percent; 7. Specialized S-Works Epic mountain bike - 387 votes, 3.37 percent; 8. Giant TCR Advanced SL road bike - 357 votes, 3.10 percent; 9. Truvativ HammerSchmidt drivetrain - 271 votes, 2.36 percent; 10. Trek Top Fuel mountain bike - 192 votes, 1.67 percent; 11. Fox/Shimano 15QR 15mm thru-axle system - 128 votes, 1.11 percent; 12. RockShox SID World Cup fork - 116 votes, 1.01 percent. Total votes: 11,498.