ROAD HYDRAULIC DISC BRAKES ON A BUDGET
Jim Weaver, Service Manager
Fit Werx, Waitsfield, VT
We have built several “gravel grinder” bikes using the recently released SRAM Rival 22 Hydro system components. Now that I have had a chance to test several bikes with this group, I wanted to briefly note my impressions.
Simply stated, SRAM Rival 22 Hydro components work great. As soon as I left the shop driveway to ride it for the first time I was impressed by the way all of the components worked in harmony. The Rival 22 shifters, derailleurs and brake calipers function and feel like big brother SRAM Red with quick and precise shifting and very good feel. The front derailleur of SRAM’s Rival 22 group shares the same Yaw design as SRAM’s top of the line Red and Force groups. While the Yaw design can be a bit more challenging to set-up than a standard front derailleur, once set, the SRAM Rival 22 Yaw front derailleur shifts quickly and precisely, without chain rub on the derailleur cage. The Rival 22 brake hoods share the same shape as the Red and Force level components as well. While they may look unique due to the extra space needed to house the hydraulic brake reservoir, the feel is comfortable and ergonomic. When it comes to slowing down, the Rival 22 brakes have all of the beneficial attributes of top of the line hydraulic disc brakes; the feel and braking power is hard to distinguish from that on SRAM’s higher end Red or Force versions.
So what is the difference between the RED, Force and Rival hydraulic groups? Well, other than price (obvious), the big difference is in weight, and a fairly substantial amount of it. SRAM Rival 22 uses alloy and steel parts almost exclusively while Force 22 and Red 22 firmly embrace carbon fiber and result is that Rival 22 comes in about one pound heavier than SRAM Red 22. So, the SRAM Rival 22 groupset is not designed for the weight weenie. Outside of weight, tolerances and bearings in some Rival components are not the same as the ceramic bearings in the pro race level Red components. However, while Rival components may not look as svelte as the Red or Force versions, or have the same quality of finish, they do give the impression that they will take a fair amount of abuse and keep working. Price? The SRAM Red Hydro group retails for about $2,750, while Force retails for about $1,700. SRAM Rival Hydro retails for about $1,350.
For the budget conscious buyer looking to put together a cross bike, gravel road bike, or simply a road bike with hydraulic disk brakes, the SRAM Rival 22 Road Hydro system is an excellent alternative that provides similar feel and durability to top of the line options, but at the price of weight. All in all, at half the price of SRAM Red 22 Hydro, Rival 22 Hydro provides very good value for the money and is a great entry point to the benefits of hydraulic disc brakes while offering enough performance and durability that it could be capably raced by just about anyone.
Fit Werx is an authorized SRAM dealer. All Fit Werx locations – outside of NYC in Ridgefield Park, NJ; in Peabody and Lexington, MA near Boston; and in Waitsfield, VT (near Stowe, Burlington and Montpelier) – are dealers of SRAM Rival 22 Hydro bikes and components.