SRAM Road Components: A History of High Performance and Innovation
From humble beginnings as a six-person operation with a single product offering made only for road bikes, SRAM has grown to include seven name brands that make virtually every component required to build a road or mountain bike. Since 1987 SRAM has grown to the point that it now employs over 3500 people and has offices and manufacturing facilities that span the globe.
Beginning in 2006, SRAM launched its first complete road groupsets at the Sea Otter Classic. Since that time SRAM road components have earned World Championship titles, Tour de France wins, Olympic Gold Medals, and numerous accolades and awards from the cycling press.
In this look back at SRAM’s history in the road market we’ll review the major milestones that made SRAM into the company that it is today. The following history reviews significant road product introductions, company acquisitions, race wins, and technologies that made SRAM an industry leader in high performance road, triathlon, and cyclocross cycling components.
SRAM Corp. is born and opens its first office/factory in downtown Chicago, Illinois. Total number of employees, six. First year goal: sell 100,000 units. Actually sold 1,000. Sachs introduces the Pentasport 5-speed hub.
In January, at the Long Beach Bike Show, SRAM debuts its first product, the Grip Shift® DB road bike twist shifter. The DB debuted shifting a SH-TY-20 across a 10-speed freewheel. In April, the CAT-1 was introduced for aerobars and road bars.
Bob Mionske (USA) places fourth, riding the DB/CAT-1 in the road race at the Seoul Olympics. Scott Molina (USA) wins the Ironman Triathlon using DB/CAT-1. Grip Shift® wins the Race Across America. Kenny Souza (USA) wins the world biathlon championships with CAT-1.
SRAM introduces the CX road shifter. Cannondale specs the CX shifter on mountain bikes. Grip Shift equipped racers are overwhelmingly successful at U.S. Criterium events using the CX shifter.
SRAM USA employs nine people and 12 independent sales representatives to cover the U.S. dealer market.
The Grip Shift® CX-DT Aero Bar triathlon craze begins. Sachs’ first twist grip and PowerGrip products arrive on the market.
Headquarters and manufacturing operations in Chicago grow to include 60 people. Taiwan factory is established with 18 employees.
One-millionth shifter set produced (MY93). SRAM establishes a European office in Dortmund, Germany. Sachs creates the Super 7™, 7-speed hub. SRAM Taiwan moves to a new facility.
European HQ moves to Hengelo in the Netherlands. SRAM Europe begins Dealer Tech Support Program. Sachs leads the industry in leisure biking components.
SRAM’s 10-millionth shifter set produced (MY95). Opening of new 43,500-square-foot (4,000-square-meter) North American manufacturing facility in Elk Grove Village, Illinois.
Sachs introduces PowerDisc™, the first mass produced hydraulic disc brake system. Sachs introduces Speedtronic™, the first electronic shifting system.
Christian Taillefer (France) sets the first high-speed world record at 187.66km/h using PowerDisc brakes and PowerGrip™ shifters.
SRAM opens a 40,000-square-foot (3,716-square-meters) manufacturing facility in Carrick-on-Suir, Ireland. SRAM becomes title sponsor of the Sea Otter Classic, widely regarded as one of North America’s most fun cycling events.
Sachs celebrates its 100th anniversary. The Elan™ 12-speed internally geared rear hub is introduced.
SRAM’s 25-millionth shifter set produced (MY97). SRAM engineers Sam Patterson and John Cheever are honored by the Intellectual Property Owners Organization for three innovative patents, a first in the bicycle industry. European headquarters moves to Amersfoort, Netherlands.
Sachs introduces the PowerGlide™ cassette.
Company’s fifth manufacturing facility opens. The Chihuahua, Mexico plant brings worldwide employee count to 650. SRAM acquires Sachs Bicycle Components, making SRAM the world’s second largest bicycle component manufacturer. Total employee count expands to 1,400. SRAM Europe Dealer Hotlines grow from serving six European countries to 11.
SRAM’s 34-millionth shifter set produced. SRAM introduces the Spectro™ internal gear hub product line. Groundbreaking ceremony for SRAM’s state-of-the-art internal gear hub factory in Schweinfurt, Germany. SRAM European tech support grows to a team of 18. SRAM thanks the industry by throwing a tenth anniversary bash at Eurobike in Friedrichshafen, Germany. SRAM Taiwan adds significant square meters to complete its state-of-the-art facility.
Construction and move completed to new factory in Schweinfurt, Germany. Grand opening of SRAM Deutschland Internal Hub Factory. SRAM factory count totals six, headquarters totals three.
SRAM begins sponsoring team CSC-Tiscali with 9-speed cassettes and chains to race at the highest level.
SRAM acquires suspension fork and rear shock manufacturer, RockShox. As pioneers in the suspension market, RockShox provides SRAM with the personel and expertise required to build advanced suspension technology.
After receiving encouragement from several OEM bike manufacturers to develop an alternative to Shimano and Campagnolo’s road groupsets, SRAM begins working on developing a road shifter. Over a round of beers at a local bar, SRAM engineers hatch the idea for the DoubleTap® shifter mechanism and within a few months build a rideable prototype.
SRAM purchases Avid on March 1, 2004. Avid is the world’s market leader in hydraulic and mechanical disc brake design and manufacturing. The company’s Juicy hydraulic disc brakes offer both reach and contact point adjustment, making them the most adjustable hydraulic disc brakes on the market. Avid’s marketing and sales groups are relocated to Chicago and Colorado Springs becomes the home for Avid product development.
SRAM purchases Truvativ. The Truvativ acquisition not only brings handlebars, stems, and seatposts, but also cranksets to the SRAM family. These full line offerings include both road and mountain applications. Truvativ’s San Luis Obispo, California facility shifts to an engineering and development facility, while sales and marketing operate out of the Chicago location. With the addition of Truvativ, SRAM now has the ability to deliver a complete groupset.
Development of SRAM Force prototypes continues. The company recruits trusted professional racers to test the product in domestic criteriums. Testers praise DoubleTap™, confirming that development is on track.
World Bicycle Relief is founded by SRAM’s F.K. Day, empowering people with bicycles in impoverished and tsunami decimated Sri Lanka, and eventually expanding to a greater global effort. More information can be found at www.worldbicyclerelief.org.
SRAM Neutral Race Support (NRS) takes to the road – Butch Balzano and crew travel 50,000 miles annually supporting well over 100 cycling events nationwide (US) in four beautifully appointed SRAM-decaled Volvo V-70’s. The program is a far reaching grass roots effort to demonstrate SRAM’s commitment to the road and support race events, large and small, and the riders that race them.
SRAM unveils its first road groupsets, Force and Rival, at Eurobike in Friedrichshafen, Germany.
SRAM launches into road at the Sea Otter Classic with the global release of two complete road groupsets, Force® and Rival®, at the Quail Lodge in Carmel, CA, April 4-6. Web and print editors from 14 countries attend with a collective representation of nearly 3,000,000 cycling enthusiasts and consumers worldwide. Influential writers such as Lennard Zinn (VeloNews – U.S.) and Uwe Geissler (Tour – Germany) had been asking for time on the new road groups since the visual unveiling at Eurobike 2005. Editors were impressed by the elegance of the system and how it took only minutes to understand. Many called SRAM’s DoubleTap (one lever/two shifts) intuitive and deemed it a “true improvement” and the “next step” to current road drivetrain offerings.
SRAM sponsors Team Kodak Gallery p/b Sierra Nevada and Victory Brewing Women’s team in the U.S. In Europe Team Orbea Pro-Continental is the first to race SRAM Force. SRAM’s first NRC win is in Lancaster, PA. SRAM dives seep into Cyclocross with several teams globally, knowing that this will be the proving point of SRAM’s groupsets and answers any questions about its durability.
SRAM RED®, the world’s lightest, fastest, and most advanced road group is introduced at Eurobike to global praise from editors, athletes, and consumers. Sales go well beyond expectations and RED® finds tremendous spec on top bike brands globally. Several refinements from the original Force and Rival are included in RED and the 1926 gram groupset is the lightest ever, redefining high-end performance. The groupset included new technologies such as Zero-Loss™, Reach-Adjust™, and the incredible OG-1090 Powerdome™ cassette.
SRAM expands its road roster to include more Pro-Continental teams in Europe and the U.S. and adds several triathletes, including World Champions Normann Stadler (Germany) and Michellie Jones (Australia). SRAM’s first ProTour win is at the Paris Nice prologue with David Millar (Scotland, Saunier Duval-Prodir). Other wins come by way of stages at the Tour of Italy with Millar’s Saunier Duval-Prodir teammates Piepoli (Italy), Mayo (Spain), and Ricco (Italy). SRAM cyclocross athletes excel in the U.S. cross series (the USGP) and Tim Johnson (USA, Cannondale) wins the U.S. National Championships.
Quarq is established in Spearfish, South Dakota and the company begins developing its first power meters.
In November, SRAM begins the process of aquiring wheel manufacturer, Zipp.
SRAM Corporation completes its acquisition of Zipp. Stan Day, CEO of SRAM says: “Zipp is a great company and respected brand, with a strong management team, advanced technology and superb manufacturing capability. We look forward to bringing both successful companies together and synergistically delivering a growing strategic range of products to our customers.”
SRAM steps into the highest realm of road racing teams with the sponsorship of Johan Bruyneel’s Team Astana. The newly reformed team hosts incredible talent including Alberto Contador (Spain), Levi Leipheimer (USA), and Andreas Klőden (Germany). Leipheimer gives SRAM its first major stage race victory at the Tour of California. And despite numerous wins by all SRAM-sponsored teams throughout the season, the two biggest are the Tour of Italy and Tour of Spain, where Alberto Contador demonstrated why he is the best stage racer in the world. Contador states that SRAM RED® has improved his climbing with its light weight and perfect ergonomics.
SRAM sponsors the world’s best cyclocross squad, Team Fidea, which features superstars Erwin Vervecken (Belgium), Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic), and Bart Wellens (Belgium).
Quarq ships its first power meter. The Quarq CinQo features the first tool free replaceable battery and is one of the first power meters with ANT+™ wireless connectivity.
SRAM also announces the formation of the SRAM Cycling Advocacy Fund. The Fund, initially capitalized with $10 million, will support advocacy in the U.S., Europe and Asia on policy issues affecting cycling infrastructure and the bicycle industry. These funds will be paid out approximately $2 million per year for 5 years. SRAM works with leading industry associations like Bikes Belong on proposal evaluation and fund distribution.
Lance Armstrong (USA) ‘Makes the Leap’ to SRAM® componentry as he joins the powerful Team Astana for his comeback to professional racing. Additionally, SRAM sponsors Team Saxo Bank, the world’s number one road team, which makes an unprecedented mid-season switch to SRAM RED®. At the Tour de France SRAM sponsored athletes sweep the podium, an amazing feat considering SRAM RED® was just two years old.
Quarq® develops the CinQo™ with the CinQo Saturn™ – named for the ring of Saturn that encircled the power meter spider’s arms. Under an agreement with SRAM, the CinQo Saturn was also fitted to SRAM’s S900 crankset and marketed worldwide as the SRAM S975.
SRAM RED® is redesigned with a number of new features. These include ZeroLoss™ shifter technology, a new titanium front derailleur cage, and a new rear derailleur featuring a carbon fiber inner pulley cage link and ceramic bearing pulleys.
Andy Schleck (Luxembourg, Saxo Bank) wins the Tour de France. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy, Liquigas) wins the Vuelta a España. Thor Hushvod (Norway, Garmin) wins the road World Championship. Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland, Saxo Bank) wins the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Chris McCormack (Australia) and Mirinda Carfrae (Australia) win the men’s and women’s Ironman World Championships respectively. All six rode SRAM RED® to victory.
SRAM acquires Quarq, its most important foray into electronics, and begins developing a SRAM RED Quarq power meter. Following the acquisition, Quarq continues to design, engineer, and manufacture its power meters out of its Spearfish, South Dakota location.
Once again SRAM RED® excels at the spring classics with Johan Vansummeren (Belgium, Garmin) winning Paris-Roubaix on a solo breakaway and Nick Nuyens (Belgium, Saxo Bank) taking the Tour of Flanders.
SRAM RED is redesigned to include the new Yaw front derailleur and an all-new carbon crankset designed using Exogram™ technology. The new front derailleur allows cross-chaining without the need to trim the front derailleur. As such, trim shifting is eliminated from the front shifter. SRAM also introduces its WiFLi™ rear derailleur option. With the capacity to pair with an 11-32 cassette, WiFLi™ offers the gear range of a triple crankset but without the weight penalty or shifting drawbacks of a triple, another first in the industry. The SRAM RED Quarq Power Meter is released as an available crank option and is the first power meter ever integrated into a groupset. The new power meter features lighter weight, a lower profile, +/- 1.5% accuracy introduced the CR2032 battery, LED, visible ANT+™ ID, Power Balance™ and Omnical™.
Alberto Contador (Spain, Astana) scores another grand tour victory at the Vuelta a España on SRAM RED. Tony Martin (Germany) takes the TT World Championship title, and his team; Omega Pharma Quickstep takes the TTT World Championship title on SRAM RED®. At the Summer Olympics, SRAM athletes, Alexander Vinokourov (Russia) and Kristin Armstrong (USA), bring home gold medals in the men’s road race and women’s TT respectively.
SRAM RED and Force get an 11-speed upgrade. The new groupsets can be completely cross-chained thereby allowing access to all 22 available speeds. Also included in the new groupsets are optional hydraulic rim or disc brakes, a first for road bikes. Improvements to the SRAM RED® groupset include the new XG-1190 cassette, that drops even more weight from the already industry leading OG-1090 cassette, while also providing quieter operation.
SRAM RED chalks up wins in both the men’s and women’s TT World Championships with Tony Martin (Germany) and Ellen Van Dijk (Netherlands). In triathlon racing, Mirinda Carfrae (Australia) and Melissa Hauschildt (Australia) win the women’s Ironman and 70.3 World Championships respectively, and Javier Gomez (Spain) wins the ITU World Championship series on SRAM RED®.
Force CX1™ is launched. The groundbreaking new 1×11 groupset is optimized for the rigors of cyclocross with a specially designed X-SYNC™ chainring that sheds mud while also preventing chain drops, even without a chain guide. The groupset also features SRAM’s HRD hydraulic disc brakes.
Late in the year company president Stan Day announces a recall affecting all of SRAM’s hydraulic road disc and rim brakes. Over the next six months brake levers are redesigned to be more ergonomic and provide better braking performance.
Athletes riding Quarq power meters deliver four elite world championships in road cycling, cyclocross, and Ironman® triathlon with SRAM sponsored triathletes Sebastian Kienle (Germany) and Mirinda Carfrae (Australia) winning Ironman World Championships. Niki Terpstra (Netherlands, Etixx-Quick Step) racks up another Paris-Roubaix win for SRAM RED.
In the spring, SRAM Force 1 and Rival 1 are launched in San Luis Obispo, California. The new groupsets expand upon CX1 with a wider gear range with up to a 54-tooth chainring and compatibility with SRAM’s 10-42 XD cassettes. The new groups open possibilities for 1x drivetrain use in Triathlon, TT, and road applications.
Photo © BrakeThrough Media
While still in testing, Alexis Vuillermoz (France, AG2R LA MONDIALE) rides the soon to be released SRAM RED® eTap® wireless electronic groupset to a stage win at the Tour de France. A month later, SRAM RED® eTap® is launched In Schweinfurt, Germany. The group’s shifters utilize an unprecedented new shift logic where the left lever moves the rear derailleur inboard and the right lever moves the rear derailleur outboard. Pressing both levers simultaneously moves the front derailleur. Editors in the cycling press praise the group’s performance, intuitive operation, and elegant simplicity. SRAM RED® eTap® also claims the title of the lightest available electronic groupset.
BlipGrips® are launched to offer triathletes and TT racers a simple plug and play option to mount eTap® Blip remote shifter buttons on base bars or aero extensions.
Jan Frodeno (Germany) wins Ironman World Championships and 70.3 World Championships riding SRAM RED® eTap®. Javier Gomez (Spain) earns his third ITU World Championship series title in a row on SRAM RED.
In the spring, SRAM launches its new more affordable 1x groupset, Apex 1. Features include standard hydraulic disc brakes and a new German-designed 11-42 11-speed cassette that is compatible with standard splined (non-XD) 10-speed and 11-speed freehub bodies.
eTap Clics® remote shifter buttons are launched for use with BlipBox® equipped aero bikes. Clics mount to the end of aero extensions to provide triathletes and TT riders with a light weight, easy to install aero shift button option.
Photo © BrakeThrough Media
Ilnur Zakarin (Russia, Katusha) wins stage 15 of the Tour de France riding SRAM RED® eTap®.
Kristin Armstrong (USA) wins her third Olympic TT gold medal on SRAM RED® eTap®.
SRAM acquires suspension tuning hardware and analytics company, ShockWiz. At the time of the acquisition, ShockWiz was developing a smartphone enabled suspension tuning sensor that provided suspension setup recommendations and suspension performance tracking. Later in 2016, the ShockWiz suspension tuning sensor was brought to market as a Quarq branded product.
In Oberstaufen, Germany the company launches SRAM RED eTap HRD, the hydraulic disc brake version of SRAM RED eTap. The brakeset makes use of the new HydroHC™ brake platform that offers both independent Reach Adjust™ and Contact Point Adjustment™, to deliver a level of adjustability for hydraulic disc brakes that was previously unavailable. The groupset wins a Eurobike Gold Award and an Interbike Best Road Component Award for it’s innovative design and functionality.
At Roc d’Azur in France, SRAM launches the eTap WiFLi™ rear derailleur. The new derailleur expands SRAM RED® eTap’s gear range by providing 11-32 cassette compatibility.
Jan Frodeno (Germany) brings home his second win in a row at the Kona World Championships on SRAM RED® eTap® utilizing eTap Clics® aero extension shifter buttons.