Is SRAM Rival about to go wireless?

Certifications for two new shifters using SRAM’s wireless protocol seem to indicate that the tech is set to trickle down to third-rung Rival

SRAM Rival

Two documents relating to new shifters using SRAM’s wireless protocol AIREA suggest an imminent launch of SRAM Rival eTap AXS, particularly as the word ‘Rival’ is included in the name of one of the drawings submitted to and approved by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

As reported by cyclingnews.com, the US component manufacturer would be bringing its third-tier groupset Rival into line with Red and Force, which already use AXS, SRAM’s integration system that connects electronic components and software.

Like Shimano’s recent applications to the FCC, which are widely believed to pave the way for a new wireless Dura-Ace groupset, SRAM’s applications for two new AIREA-enabled shifters are made in order to secure the private wireless network frequency that would allow its components to operate without interference from Bluetooth or ANT+ – third-party wireless protocols that would be separately operating peripheral devices such as power meters and heart rate monitors. Whenever SRAM's wireless components are paired, a new encryption code is generated and assigned to the components in the group to ensure complete shifting security, according to SRAM.

Also as with Shimano, SRAM includes a 180-day confidentiality application, which has come into effect now that the applications have been granted, with an expiry date of July 30.

So it seems as though we’ll be looking at a late summer release of the new groupset – which is also when we’re expecting details of new Shimano Dura-Ace to break cover.

The drawings of the hoods submitted to the FCC don’t give away much about the look and feel of the new Rival groupset itself – or even whether it will be 11 or 12-speed – just that it’s coming and that it will use AIREA, like the electronic eTap AXS versions of Red and Force.

At the moment three versions of Force exist: 12-speed Force eTap AXS, mechanical Force 22 and the 1x mechanical Force1. With applications for two shifters (left and right) approved, it seems as though Rival eTap AXS could exist as a lower-budget wireless 2x road groupset alongside mechanical Rival 22 and Rival 1 in the same way. It’s difficult to predict whether SRAM will go 12 speed with Rival, as it did when it launched Force eTap AXS, or whether the electronic shifting components will be added to the line-up as upgrades.

We are already big fans of mechanical SRAM Rival1. When we reviewed it in November we gave it a perfect score of 10/10, priced at £979.

However, we added: "If you have the money for something more expensive, Force AXS is the best upgrade." Now it could be that Rival eTap AXS is a more economical but equally effective upgrade.