After launching the single chainring versions of Force and Rival last year, SRAM has unveiled its most affordable single ring groupset yet. SRAM Apex 1 will be available form just £634, but is sure to ruffle a few feathers as it will only come with hydraulic disc brakes, with no rim brake options available.
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Despite the single chainring, SRAM Apex 1 is promised to offer a gear range that will be able to cope with all terrains. This means an 11-42t cassette which can be combined with a 38t, 40t, 42t, or 44t chainring, giving a biggest possible gear that is the equivalent of a 52x13, and a smallest possible gear that is the same as a 34x38 - certainly small enough for even the steepest climbs.
At the front, the persistent worry with single ring setups is that you'll drop your chain, but SRAM Apex 1 shares the same X-Sync technology that has meant that we've never experienced that problem with either Force 1 or Rival 1. In a sentence, this means that every other tooth is wider and looks like a cross when viewed from above, which gives more positive engagement with the chain to prevent it from coming off.
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The rear derailleur of SRAM Apex 1 has much more of the look of a mountain bike rear derailleur, than the standard SRAM Apex derailleur, and features additional features to make it work as part of a single ring setup. Of course it's got a long cage to cope with that 42t sprocket, but it also has X-Horizon technology to maintain a consistent chain gap wherever you are on the cassette, and Roller Bearing Clutch that has made its way over from SRAM's mountain bike groupsets to keep the chain taught and to prevent chain slap even over rough terrain.
However, possibly the biggest story with SRAM Apex 1 is SRAM's decision not to give you the option of going with rim brakes. Both Force 1 and Rival 1 are available with either hydraulic disc brakes or rim brakes, but there will be no such option on Apex 1, even though a rim brake version would bring costs down even further.
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The hydraulic brakes are largely similar to those on the higher level groupsets, with the calipers being compatible in either post mount or flat mount versions, with the possibility to simply switch the calipers 180º to move between 140mm and 160mm rotors.
As you'd expect, the shifting on SRAM Apex 1 uses DoubleTap, so you push the right shift lever in one tap to shift up, and two taps to shift down, while of course you don't have to worry about the left lever with a single ring setup. There is also an option to use a flat bar shifter, with SRAM obviously seeing an opening for Apex 1 in the hybrid market.
Availbility is set for June 2016, so we can expect to see SRAM Apex 1 making its way into a few new bike ranges over the next couple of months.
SRAM Apex 1 Prices
Pricing is dependent on which bottom bracket you have, with the total price for the groupset being £634 with a GXP bottom bracket or £662 with a BB30 bottom bracket (both excluding the flat bar shifter).
Rear derailleur - £58
Crankset - £95 (GXP), £110 (BB30)
Flat bar shifter - £24
Shifter and brake caliper (left) - £197
Shifter and brake caliper (right) - £248
Chain - £12
Cassette - £73
SRAM Apex 1 Weights
The total claimed weight of the groupset, with a 42t chainring, is 2,719g, which means that its no featherweight coming in more than 300g heavier than Shimano 105 with rim brake calipers.
Rear derailleur - 314g
Crankset - 807g (42t)
Flat bar shifter - 142g
Shifter and brake caliper (left) - 344g
Shifter and brake caliper (right) - 360g
Chain - 259g
Cassette - 538g
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