We have spent a bit of time with the new SRAM Force eTAP AXS groupset and decided to have a closer look at this new 12 speed groupset. This long awaited grouppo is meant to be a more "mainstream" alternative to the RED eTAP AXS. It features modular chainring options, steel front derailleur cage, Orbit fluid clutch rear derailleur and obviously a lower price point.
Let's start from the unboxing.
SRAM still loves to use unusually big boxes for their grouppos. This has not changed. Behold the myriad of boxes that Force eTAP AXS comes in.
Opening the boxes, you definitely get a sense of the premium nature of this groupset, despite it being second-tier to RED, or whether it is aimed at "mainstream" consumers or not.
The groupset has a new aesthetic direction that some may or may not like, depending on taste. The finish is very matte like and certainly more stealth vs the Red AXS. There is more use of black components such as the front derailleur cage and the cassette which gives a distinct visual cue to the fact that one is running a Force eTAP AXS groupset.
The Force AXS front derailleur features a steel cage over the aluminium cage on the RED AXS. Whilst this was mostly likely specced to hit a certain pricepoint, it could potentially have the side effect of better front shifting, especially under load. The rear derailleur features the same Orbit fluid clutch system as exhibited on the RED AXS version. Both batteries seem unchanged from original eTAP.
This is the first time we have had a look at the AXS type shifters in a rim brake configuration and it is refreshing to see the hoods feature a svelte shape akin to most rim brake shifters without the extra hump. They're very similar to the original RED eTAP shifters actually, and presumably use the same hood covers.
Whilst information is skim on where the rim brake caliper originates from, it definitely isn't carried over from the Red Aerolink and is more likely a revised version of the previous gen Force brake. They come with SwissStop by SRAM pads by default, which is a nice surprise.
The chainset is markedly different to the RED eTAP AXS version. Gone are the complex-looking one piece chainrings in favour of a more modular setup which will be easier on the wallet, once replacement time comes. Also gives the rider an option to upgrade to a compatible Quarq power meter once the itch for more data settles in.
Our first thoughts are that the groupset will look better on bikes than perhaps in isolation. The stealthy matte grey finish is a serious clapback at the venerable Ultegra series, and should compliment most bike aesthetics. We would have loved to see an all-black chain instead to round out the whole ninja look. Hopefully there will be an aftermarket option from the likes of KMC/YBN in the near future.
We also took the liberty to provide actual weights on this new Force AXS groupset as per below.
|Front Derailleur||(with battery)||176g|
|Rear Derailleur||(with battery)||326g|
|Crankset||175mm, 48-35 Rings||744g|
|Chain||Full Length + Link||269g|
|Bottom Bracket||PF30 DUB||85g|
Total Weight 2477g