SRAM Force Review
If you read my Cannondale CAAD9 review found here you know I am all about the “bang for the buck” build. I am always looking for the best performance I can get for a lower dollar amount. In the cycling world a lower cost usually means a higher weight, something I can deal with considering my extra lean physique! So when it came to deciding a group-set for my build, which of the big three would I chose? My question was answered by SRAM.
SRAM launched into the road world with two group-sets, Rival and Force, at Sea Otter in 2006 and found immediate success primarily due to the cheaper Rival offering. Word was that Rival performed just as well as Shimano 105 or Ultegra at a lower cost and weight. For example Ultegra SL is 100g heavier and roughly $300 more expensive than Rival. Similar results are found when compared with Campagnolo. By the time I was ready to buy my group-set in early 2010 it was not difficult to find 2009 SRAM Force group-sets for Rival prices since SRAM had recently launched their improved 2010 SRAM Force line. Internal mechanics were the same between Rival and Force with the only difference being weight so I decided to save a few grams and go with Force.
SRAM Force is the red headed stepchild of the group. If you want the best from SRAM with the lowest weight, roughly 1,930g, and highest performance you would go with SRAM Red. If you still want quality performance at a higher weight, roughly 2,150g, and the lowest cost you would go with Rival so you can see where this leaves Force...in no man’s land. Of course, as I explained before, 2009 Force prices did eventually come down.
As far as performance I have to admit I was a little turned off by SRAM for a few months having had my chain drop more times than I’d like to remember. I took my bike to a few different shops and they all agreed that SRAM was a little tougher to dial in compared to other groups. It was not until I took matters into my own hands and did some fine tuning while riding it around the block that I was able to solve the issue.
After plenty of miles getting aquatinted with the group I would have to say I am simply satisfied, not blown away, just satisfied. Actually I think I more impressed with the finish, that black on black looks stealthy on my Canondale! I still maintain the theory that Rival is the best for the money unless you can get Force for similar costs and I do feel this statement holds true even with the introduction of the new SRAM Apex group.