SRAM's Red eTap HRD groupset seeks to offer the holy grail of disc brake groupset: the efficiency of hydraulic braking with the luxury of electronic shifting; without the weight penalty.
The perfect marriage of all these elements impressed us no end, which is why this groupset appears in our Editor's Choice 2017 collection...
Fitting hydraulic disc brakes to a road bike has in the past come with a significant weight penalty - but SRAM addressed this with its latest version of Red eTap.
The complete groupset weighs just 2361g, which is approximately only 265g heavier than the non disc brake version of SRAM Red eTap.
SRAM Red eTap HRD shifters have a higher front end than its Shimano Dura-Ace counterpart with the hydraulic master cylinder positioned in the nose. SRAM engineers have also had to fit in the coin cell battery. Fortunately the electronic shifters have far fewer moving parts than the mechanical ones, meaning that SRAM has reduced the sized of the shifter hoods considerably.
Though fairly bulky, through necessity, the SRAM hoods remain comfortable in the hand when in use.
Functionally the SRAM Red eTap HRD levers are great too. It’s easy to adjust the reach of the lever and more importantly, the biting point of the brake. Using a 5mm Allen key you can adjust the ‘contact point’ on the top of the hood. This is really easy to do and allows you to tune the feel of the brakes, whether you want them to engage early or later on in the lever arc.
Out on the road, the brakes feel superb. They are very consistent, while modulation and feel is excellent too. We found ourselves looking forward to steep technical descents. Sections of road that on a rim brake bike would cause concern and stress, became some of the most enjoyable parts of the ride.
The braking power on offer from SRAM's HRD system is massive, which means the lever touch only has to be light, something which helps stop your arms get tired. (Especially important of you have weedy t-rex cyclist guns like many do).
We put the groupset through its paces riding a bike kitted out with Zipp 303s - which turned out to be a good match. When pushing the limits in tight corners, there was no detectable brake rub of the disc on the calliper.
After two months of use, the durability proved good, with SRAM suggesting that you should bleed the breaks at least once annually. The reason for this is that the DOT fluid will sequest water over time. After a few initial rides, we did have to realign the pads, but attributed this to normal bedding in of the system.
When it does come to change the fluid, SRAM has much improved this process over previous products through its ‘Bleeding Edge’ technology.
If mountains are on the cards, this is the groupset we'd want to have fitted - and it's this groupset we'd recommend to our readers, too.
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