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SRAM Force Gruppo (2008)

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Price: $1,300.00

Manufacturer: SRAM

Website: http://willyoumaketheleap.com

"You get what you pay for."

by Brian Butts
I was a little hesitant at first, switching from my race proven mix of Dura Ace and Ultegra components. But, after riding the 2008 SRAM Force group, I removed all doubts I had made a good decision.

SRAM introduced the Force Group in spring 2006 with the launch of their new road components. With obvious similarities to both Shimano (all the compatible components) as well as Campangolo (good loking shifters with under the bar-tape cable routing) SRAM not only introduced some familiar characteristics, but had a few new ones up their sleeve. It's been downhill ever since with the re-introduction of improved groupsets as well as, what many regard as the best road group out, SRAM Red.

SRAM's Double Tap technology allows you to use one lever to control both the upshift and downshift. The Magnesium shift levers only move in one direction and control both up and down shifting. To upshift towards the 11t cog, you click the levers one at a time. To downshift towards the 23t cog, you push the shift lever past the first click and up to a maximum of three clicks after. So, you can only shift up, to a harder gear, one gear at a time but you can shift down, to an easier gear, a maximum of three gears at a time. The shift levers have a 15 degree sweep so when you are shifting up or down the lever is moving back toward your bars with the natural motion of your fingers resulting in what SRAM says is a more comfortable shift. Another unique feature allows you to pull back the shift levers all the way to the bars and still use them to shift. This could be useful when sprinting and need to shift to a faster gear, without having to reach for the lever. Although I have never sprinted with them in my hand (I found it to distracting and uncomfortable) that certainly doesn't mean people wouldn't mind the option. An option that niether Shimano nor Campangolo offer. With under the bar-tape cable routing (something I wasn't used to, having had shimano) and a sleek carbon fiber brake lever, the Force Group not only has brains, but looks too. (Shifters 303g)

The SRAM derailleur utilizes another piece of technology SRAM calls, Exact Actuation. This technology gives you an actuation ratio that yeilds precise 3mm shifts (cable pull)in every gear. The Front Derailleur seems to be pretty stock, much like the Dura-Ace derailleur. One of the major complaints regarding the front shifting on the SRAM componentry, which has apparently been corrected on the new RED Group, is the lack of Trim. This means it's pretty noisy to have your chain on the 11t in the back and the 39t up front, or vice-versa. While it is a minor annoyance, you probably shouldn't be cross-gearing anyway. Shifting in both the front and the back has been the same, consistent shift since it was originally tuned with no maintenence. (Rear Deraileur 178g) (Front Derailleur 102g)

The Force brakes are a definite improvement over the Dura Ace brand. The Force brakes feel much more responsive, with more braking power. SRAM says this is due to a powerful return spring and dual pivot configuration. I agree. (Brakes 280g)

The Force crankset is a one-piece carbon-spider design that combines the cranks and spider as one piece. It is a 6k carbon weave that looks gorgeous under a clear coat. The Crankset uses a GXP Team BB. It feels stiff on the road but I don;t know if that is due mainly to the crank or the bike. The crank-arm lengths come in 170, 172.5, 175, and 177.5. (Crankset 791g)

The chain and cassette are compatible with Shimano but have a few of their own unique designs. The cogset, Open Glide 1070, features not only a lot of holes under the teeth of each cog but some cogs have missing teeth all together. It has a semi-spidered design, combining the three highest geared cogs. SRAM says "they've removed specific amounts of material from the smaller cogs, creating a cogset that shifts efficiently and positively in all situations." The cassette is made from heat treated steel(Cassette 210g)

The 10-speed PowerChain has a hollow pin design and features the new PowerLock connecting pin. Much like the Power Link pins of years past however, these PowerLock pins can only be put on once. If you need to break the chain you will need another PowerLock Pin. (Chain 257g)

Don't think that I wasn't a skeptic. Even after riding on SRAM for a few weeks. My fingers kept getting caught in-between the shift and brake lever when I was shifting on my rear cogset. A problem I now realize was more a question of getting used to just having one shift lever, instead of two. I can't tell you how many times I tried to push both levers when I wanted to shift to an easier gear. Another problem of note which all SRAM users just have to accept is the inadvertant upshift. So just when you are looking for that one extra gear as you climb up the 15% grade you have to make sure you push the lever past the upshift point (the first click) or else your hard time just got one gear harder. However, after the initial acclimitization of a few weeks, I haven't had a problem since.

Strengths: Lightweight, Good Looking, Consistent, Shimano Compatible

Weaknesses: High Cost, No Trim, Makes me want the RED

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