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SRAM Red AXS Road Groupset: Leaked, Spied, but Finally Here

Astute cycling fans have seen leaked spy photos of what appears to be a new SRAM Red road groupset. And now during the Giro d'Italia, confirmation photos from the pits of SRAM-sponsored teams have hardcore cycling pundits chattering.

2024 SRAM Red drivetrain(Photo/SRAM)
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Today, SRAM officially released information about the new SRAM Red AXS groupset. Road cycling enthusiasts have long awaited this announcement after weeks of media teases. The Chicago-based brand released the outgoing Red components in 2019, so it was time.

Upon studying the official press kit, two significant things stand out. The shift-brake lever and hood assembly drastically differ, and SRAM put holes everywhere to shave weight. I remember haphazardly drilling holes in my bike components in the ’80s, and I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic for the low-tech method of cutting mass.

Shift-Brake Hood and Levers

2024 SRAM Red shift-brake assembly
Longer and curvier brake levers grace the new SRAM AXS Red; (photo/SRAM)

The new SRAM Red AXS shift-brake assembly looks very different, and the function follows the changes in form. The carbon brake levers are longer and boast more curvature than before. This is coupled with a higher pivot point and a divot at the top of the brake lever for fingers braking from the hoods. The new brake piston is oriented horizontally instead of vertically, no doubt contributing to a more extended top hood section and shorter “horn” at the end of the hood.

SRAM jumps on the verbal bandwagon of “one-finger braking” from either the hoods or the drops, but it may be true. The brand claims an 80% reduction in braking effort from the hoods and a 33% reduction from the drops. Even if this is partially true, I think one-finger braking will be possible, given how it feels for me on the multiple bikes I have with the outgoing Red.

2024 SRAM Red shift-brake assemblies
Whoop! There it is, the auxiliary button we’ve been waiting for. The hoods also have a longer, flatter top aspect; (photo/SRAM)

The shift paddles are also longer but less deep, and the diagonal texturing grooves are more profound. Notably, SRAM has added a “bonus button” on the thumb side of the hoods. These auxiliary buttons can be programmed to provide another shifting option or control an ANT+ cycling computer, including the all-new Hammerhead Karoo unit. I have enjoyed this feature of Shimano road systems, and I’m glad that SRAM is including it this time.

2024 Hammerhead Karoo cycling computer
SRAM includes the new Hammerhead Karoo computer as part of a complete Red groupset; (photo/Hammerhead)

As on the older Red, both the brake lever reach and brake pad contact point are adjustable. I’m happy to hear that pad clearance has been increased, as I have had several times with new pads where I could not get rid of the initial brake rub.

More Holes! Less Weight!

2024 SRAM Red front brake caliper and rotor
Hollow it out! The new SRAM Red brake rotor carrier and caliper are full of holes; (photo/SRAM)

It is astonishing to see the images SRAM provided for the new Red AXS groupset. The overarching impression is that there are holes and cutouts everywhere. The most obvious ‘hollowed out” parts are the rear derailleur body and pulley wheels, and brake calipers and rotor carriers. Even the chain now has cutouts! The only component SRAM didn’t “hollow out” is the front derailleur.

2024 SRAM Red rear derailleur
The new SRAM Red AXS rear derailleur gets the same hollowing-out treatment; (photo/SRAM)

The crankset is one of the groupset’s largest and most visually apparent parts. The already visually striking and amply cutout one-piece 2x chainrings look slightly different on the new group, but not much. The crankset did lose 29 grams, though, SRAM crediting a new optimized carbon layup.

Another typically major contributor to groupset weight is the rear cassette. The SRAM Red AXS cassette was already amazingly machined from a single piece of steel, rendering it light. So it’s unsurprising that the new Red cassette didn’t lose much weight; SRAM only shaved a single gram off. This, along with the chain, was a testament to me that the brand will make any effort to progress its products, no matter how small.

2024 SRAM Red rear derailleur
SRAM even cut out the side plates of the new Red AXS chain; (photo/SRAM)

SRAM reduced the weight of every component except the electronic shifting-only group’s bottom bracket, battery, and cables, resulting in a 153g loss on the groupset. This is no small feat on what was already a featherlight setup.

Final Details on the New SRAM Red AXS Road Groupset

Admittedly, a top-of-the-line road groupset isn’t for everyone; like any flagship component group, it’s expensive at an MSRP of $3,000, which includes the new Hammerhead Karoo but no power meter.

But if you appreciate the engineering, luxury, and all else that comes with riding the best from SRAM, I think the improved ergonomics of the shift-brake hoods and lever might tip you into spending mode. This assembly arguably contributes the most to the function and comfort of a component groupset, and the changes here are substantial.

This new SRAM Red AXS groupset is WorldTour-level, and the outgoing SRAM Red racked up 475 race wins in 2023, including the Tour de France. If you desire the best of the best, it’s hard to argue those statistics.

SRAM Transmission drivetrain on a bike at sunset

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