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SRAM Rival 22 groupset review

16 Jul 2015

With a huge array of options and a low overall weight, SRAM Rival 22 is a serious contender.

Cyclist Rating: 
Super lightweight, loads of options
Shifting clunkier than other, better brakes available


SRAM Rival 22 crankset

The sheer number of drivetrain options is where Rival really shines. The chainset is available with either a normal 24mm GXP or a modern BB30 axle, with bottom brackets to suit. Chainrings are available in 50/34, 52/36 or 46/36 formats (the last of these being the cyclocross standard), and by the time you read this, a 1x11 version – Rival 1 – will be available, which does away with the front mech in favour of a single chainring and a wide-range cassette. The PG-1130 cassette most closely tied to the Rival family is available from 11-26 up to 11-32, and as an 11-36 version to use with the special 1x11 Rival rear mech. Upgrade to the Force-level 1170 cassette and that’s available in 11-25, 11-26, 11-28 or 11-32. SRAM’s cassettes use the same spline pattern as Shimano, so as long as your wheels are 11-speed compatible, you can use SRAM and Shimano cassettes interchangeably.

SRAM Rival 22 cassette

The Rival 22 rear mech is available in two options – either short cage or a medium cage ‘WiFLi’ version for the 11-32 cassette (short cages don’t have enough movement for wider ranges such as 11-32, so make sure you pick the right one). It’s easy to set up – far more so than the front mech. However, once set up, the front mech performs faultlessly – the Yaw cage ensuring the plates rotate with the chain between small and big rings. Just don’t try to set it up as you would a normal front mech – get on YouTube and follow SRAM’s instructions. It’ll save a lot of swearing! (Essentially, you set it up on the big ring, then adjust back from there.)


SRAM Rival 22 shifters

SRAM arrived late to the road bike party, and by the time it launched Red, its first groupset, the obvious ways of integrating gear-shifting into a road bike brake lever had been patented by Shimano and Campagnolo. To get around the legal issues, SRAM came up with the ingenious DoubleTap system: push once to drop down the cassette, push on through to shift up the cassette and into an easier gear. It’s a system that raised eyebrows at first, and is still met with an element of scepticism among riders who are yet to try it.

The reality is that within two or three rides, all memories of lost love have been banished and you fall into sync with DoubleTap. That said, it’s definitely clunkier than the other systems, and the force required to shift is noticeably higher. On the plus side, the ability to adjust brake and shift lever reach is a welcome addition – and a genuine advantage for riders with smaller hands.


SRAM Rival 22 brakes

Rival is the only entry level 11-speed that is currently available in a hydraulic version. Here, though, we’re testing the standard rim brake version, which comes complete with dual-pivot callipers. They work well, though the Shimano alternative feels slightly better to us in terms of cable pull and modulation. Where they really excel, though, is weight – nearly 75g less per pair than Shimano 105, and the pads – made by SwissStop – are great.


Rival appeals to us largely for the sheer number of options available. If you buy a frame with a BB30 or pressfit bottom bracket – increasingly common standards – by going with SRAM, you can use the chainset that was intended by the frame builder. Then there’s the huge array of gearing options, from a single ring and tightly spaced cassette to two rings and an 11-32 cassette that would be perfect for fully laden touring. The shifters are comfortable and the brakes work perfectly, but they don’t quite have the lightness of touch of 105, although what they lack in lightness of touch, they make up for with lightness on the scales – a 75g saving over 105 is not to be sniffed at.

SRAM Rival 22 Weight Price
Brakes 312g £92
Brake levers 336g £198
Crankset 876g £153
Cassette 296g £80
Front derailleur 89g £29
Rear derailleur 191g £46
Chain 248g £37
Total 2,348g £635

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