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SRAM Launch Updated Force AXS Groupset

Four years since officially debuting their 12-speed electronic Force groupset, SRAM have released an updated version of the mid-tier drivetrain.

Having ridden and spent time with the new ‘SRAM Force AXS’ (the company having now dropped eTap from the name ‘for simplicity and efficiency’), it looks and feels like an updated (and very blingy!) mix of the company’s top-shelf Red & entry-level Rival.

The second generation electronic Force utilises the the SRAM Red one-piece direct mount chainring setup, albeit in a new colour. This is available in 50/37T, 48/35T and 46/33T with various crank length options. There have also been changes to the front derailleur with a revised cage design for smoother and more reliable shifting.

New Force is reminiscent of Red, but with a one-piece direct mount chainring setup.

Overall, it is smoother to ride and around 100gms lighter than it’s predecessor, while being visibly slicker, cleaner and more refined.

First thoughts during that first ride quickly flowed as follows: ‘This will eat into SRAM Red sales … Why buy Red when you can enjoy a very similar feel and performance level with this mid-level groupo that appears to rival Red.’


First to the external changes, and most visible differences are a SRAM Red style chainring setup, albeit in one-piece. This replaces the earlier Force’s four-arm crank. There are also subtly re-designed front and rear derailleurs and new shifters with noticeably higher hoods. These are reminiscent of Rival hoods, but have re-designed carbon paddles paddles for ergonomics and ease of use.

The colour is also new, SRAM dubbing it ‘Unicorn Grey’, and it has a graphic treatment they call ‘Laser Foil’. In bright sunlight the groupo has a glitter and glossy sheen, and looks quite spectacular under various light angles.

The hoods have been significantly remodeled and now take on more of a Rival aesthetic.

Starting from the front, the shifters and hoods have been ergonomically re-designed – to be slightly narrower at the palm point, but higher on top of the hoods, reminiscent of Rival. While these changes are not drastic, they are notable. The hoods feel good on the road and deliver a wonderful sense of grip and control.

Slightly small and lighter than their predecessors, SRAM told us they have decreased the overall size of the hood by removing the pad contact adjuster from the top of the lever.

“Now the brake pad adjustment is preset – pad contact has been simplified, and this saves weight as well,” Michael Zellman, SRAM’s Global Communications Manager told us during the Australian launch at Church Point near West Head, north of Sydney.

“It’s a new groupset that combines the best of all our products,” he told us before the first ride, with the groupo fitted to a dreamy TREK Emonda SLR 7 finished in iridescent blue Project One paintwork.

“With this groupset we want to challenge the norms form what is expected from a second-tier groupset, and respond to the needs of all cyclists,” Zellman continued.

“New Force combines superior performance with a dynamic new look and feel,” he said.

“We are going after Shimano in terms of tech and performance, and we are going after Campagnolo in look and style,” he cheekily concluded.

The new Force groupset fitted to the test bike, an SLR7 Trek Emonda finished in iridescent blue Project One paintwork. The test bike was also fitted with other products from the SRAM stable, Zipp wheels, stem and bars, and a Hammerhead GPS/ cycling computer..

Our thoughts after that first ride aboard the Force-equipped Trek? They have certainly delivered. I personally wouldn’t buy SRAM Red after riding the new Force. The hoods integrated seamlessly and very comfortably with the Zipp ergo 440mm bars fitted to the test bike.

To the front derailleur and gearing, and SRAM boast smoother and better shifting due to the Red-level chainrings plus incremental updates to the front derailleur. Shifting feels faster, due in part to what sounds like a new, higher-speed motor in the FD.

The front derailleur is smaller than its predecessor – it offers smoother and quieter shifting, and a re-designed cage.

There’s also now a small plastic tool that comes with the front derailleur to assist with setup. As for the chainrings, the only difference between Red and Force is the finished colour of the rings.

Force is now available with 50/37 front rings, along with 48/ 35 and 46/33 with the company expecting the 48/35 to be most common.


Offering a 10/26 to 10/36, Michael Zellman told us SRAM are “not anchored to any legacy gearing.”

“We love seeing the continued evolution of gearing to make bikes more capable and riders to have more fun,” he said. “The new cassettes have an updated nickel-chrome finish to help improve performance. There’s also a new integrated dampener ring, the group really is considerably quieter.”

Over The Rainbow

A colourful cassette that was once only offered to given to MTB and Road World Champions – SRAM are now offering the ‘oil sheen’ look rainbow cassette and a matching chain for the Force & Red groupsets. Both the 10/28 and 10/33 Red level one-piece cassettes and chain are available in rainbow.

Wireless Blips

In other changes and upgrades, SRAM have eliminated the blip port on previous hoods. Now up to six wireless blips can be fitted to the bars. These single-use components are smaller, light in weight, recyclable, have a 2-year warranty and have a battery life of 3+ years.

Power Meters

During the launch Michael Zellman told us that research shows 50% of Force riders want power meters on their bikes. “The modern rider requires it,” he said. “Especially with all the other tech equipment currently available.” Now known simply as Quarq technology, the company’s popular power meters are expected to be on a high percentage of sales.

The Quarq power meter as fitted to the test bike.

Quad Charger

In addition to the updated groupset and above mentioned rainbow cassette and chain, SRAM have released a new quad charger that holds four batteries. With the single and quad charger now featuring a USB-C charge port, the quad is reported to fully charge four batteries in 60 minutes.

SRAM’s new quad charger suites Force, Red and Rival batteries and features a USB-C charge port.

Bottom Line and Summing Up

Weights of SRAM Force, with column D1 showing the previous model’s weight and D2 the new version.

The hoods offer a slicker and more controlled feel, the gear shifting is noticeably smoother and quieter, and the overall look, ride characteristics and finish give the impression of far more bang for the buck.

With this update Force AXS seems to have come of age and, in our opinion and thanks to trickle down technology, is a viable alternative to SRAM’s top-level offering, Red.

The new SRAM Force AXS groupset is around 100grams lighter than its predecessor and will have the same RRP.

So far as availability goes, we are told all components are in stock as of launch date on March 2, 2023.


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