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Sram 12-speed eTap breaks cover at Tour Down Under

Peter Stuart
10 Jan 2019

The much rumoured 12-speed groupset from Sram is being used by men's and women's team in Adelaide

Photography Chris Auld

Sram's brand new 12-speed Red eTap groupset has been spotted on Trek-Segafredo and CCC-Liv women's team bikes at the Tour Down Under in Adelaide today.

The company's expansion to a 12-speed setup has long been rumoured, but this is the first time we've seen any bikes specced with the new system in real road use.

While many expected that the groupset would be a single chainring design, the fleet of racing bikes on duty in Australia are using a two chainrings for a total of 24 gears.

However, a cover over the chainring suggests there may be a new design for the chainring - likely to facilitate a single-ring setup.

One double-chainring was visible, and revealed a new one-piece CNC machined chainring design which also appeared to include a power meter from Quarq.

Why the others were concealed is not clear, but it could suggest there may be other variants of the chainring design, although that is just speculation at this stage.

Either way, it's worth noting the design of the chain itself, which features a new straight edge along the outer edge of the chain.

Our guess is this is the result of having to add in more material to maintain strength in the narrower 12-speed chain, as Sram appear to have shoe-horned in the extra sprocket without increasing the total width of the cassette.

As an aside the chain's new aesthetic is also quite fetching, which while not essential to its function is a plus nonetheless.

The cassette has of course changed to add an extra sprocket. Despite the increased number of individual gears, the cassette range on these Trek-Segafredo women's bikes remains relatively narrow at 10-26.

However, that could simply be a reflection of the mostly flat nature of the Tour Down Under, and it would be very surprising if there weren't several new options to go with this new 12-speed setup by the time the groupset eventually hits the shelves.

At a glance, the rear derailleur looks very similar to the current Red eTap design. Although noticeably, the area around the top jocket wheel looks bulkier, which could be indicative of a clutch mechanism, which would again give credability to the idea that Sram was working on 1x versions for this new flagship groupset.

The front derailleur and batteries appear to be unchanged. 

As the groupset is now in use in pro races, UCI rules stipulate that it must be made available to consumers within 12 months, but we fully suspect we won't have to wait nearly that long.

What we've seen looks like production-ready kit, not prototypes, so we may even see products landing as soon as this spring, or over the summer at the latest, and we look forward to giving the groupset an in-depth review.

With the introduction of a new top-end Red groupset, that also gives the exciting possibilty of a trickle-down of the previous top-tier technology.

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