SRAM Red electronic road group: more images and info

SRAM continued in-house
testing of its upcoming
electronic group
this past weekend with at least two employees – Mike Hemme
and Scott McLaughlin – running the prototype bits at the Midwest regional
championship event in Chicago, Illinois. SRAM kept the bikes under wraps until
it was time to race but we still managed to get a few fresh images to share.

So
far, it looks like everything we hypothesized in our earlier article is holding
true: SRAM is sticking to a one-button format for the levers and there are
separate wires joining each derailleur to a combination ‘brain’/battery up
front. Currently, there is definitely no clutch on the carbon fiber rear
derailleur pulley cage, which at least for now is wholly shared with the
standard Red 22 unit.

The
front derailleur shares the current Red 22′s hybrid aluminum-and-steel
construction but doesn’t appear to use SRAM’s trick ‘Yaw’ angle-adjusting
geometry, which suggests to us that the system automatically trims based on the
rear derailleur position, similar to Shimano and Campagnolo.

We
now believe that the box mounted atop the stem is a combination rechargeable
Li-ion battery and ‘brain’ as there still appears to be no additional
connection to an internally mounted power source. The current electrical tape
mounting system is obviously a stopgap measure but perhaps we while see tabs for
an o-ring style attachment method. What’s still in question, however, is where
SRAM intends for this box to go. Road racers will likely be able to tuck this
underneath the stem but as these images show, ‘cross riders running cantilever
brakes might not have sufficient room.

What’s
also interesting to note is how small the unit is. Shimano and Campagnolo have
both had to battle with consumer fears that an electronic drivetrain would
prematurely run out of power but now that both systems have proven to last far
longer than they really need to, we can’t help but wonder if SRAM has taken the
aggressive position of downsizing the battery to save weight.

What
we didn’t expect to see at all, however, is how production-ready everything
looks. Several of the aluminum pieces still bear a pretty rough finish but others
appear to have come out of more mass-manufacturing-friendly tooling. This seems to point to an electronic group that is getting close to production.

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