It hasn’t gone unnoticed that SRAM’s catalogue of subsidiaries has been rocketing in recent years.
Zipp (opens in new tab), Rockshox (opens in new tab)and Quarq (opens in new tab) are now fully part of the furniture – with their wheels, suspension and power meters all neatly integrated under the SRAM umbrella.
But what of the more recent additions? What are the new releases that can we expect (or simply wish) to see?
These are our top predictions for what could be coming up, plus a couple of suggestions for future brand acquisitions. (Spoiler: Classified (opens in new tab) is one of them).
We did approach SRAM for a comment on our speculations but, understandably, our invitation was kindly declined.
Now, just to be abundantly clear, we don't have any secret source of information on this. We'll be speculating purely based upon market trends and what we'd like to see. If we do end up being close to the mark on any of this, then we’ll be congratulating ourselves on our killer instincts.
If we’re way off, well, as we said: we don’t have a secret source…
SRAM’s purchase of Hammerhead (opens in new tab) back in January 2022 did come as a bit of a surprise – but maybe it shouldn’t have. The bike computer brand had been building a loyal fan-base with its critically acclaimed Karoo 2 – which so impressed Chris Froome he invested in the company himself (opens in new tab).
Not much time has passed since the acquisition – although it has been long enough for Shimano to set about forcing Hammerhead to remove its Di2 functionality (opens in new tab) – so we’ve yet to see any product launches from the brand under its new SRAM banner.
On the other hand, this leaves the door wide open for unfettered speculation.
The current Karoo 2 (opens in new tab) has been occupying a spot in the higher-end section of the head unit market, being more expensive than a Garmin Edge 830 (opens in new tab) but still cheaper than a Garmin Edge 1030 Plus (opens in new tab) (and also both the new Edge 1040 (opens in new tab) models).
It would be really nice to see a second, more affordable, model released. Perhaps undercutting the Garmin Edge 530 (opens in new tab), which has long been one of our top picks as one the best value head units out there.
Maybe it could lose the touchscreen functionality – as the Edge 530 does – and perhaps combine this with a shrinking of the screen size onto a more compact body. The crucial thing would be to keep the same highly intuitive software, excellent mapping capabilities and smooth integration with so many third-party applications (although now excluding Di2).
With the Karoo 2 having been launched a few years ago now, it’s not premature to be starting to imagine what an update could look like. But since the launch of Garmin’s Edge 1040 Solar, it doesn’t take much imagination to add photovoltaic charging to the top of the wish list.
This one is perhaps one-step removed, but as Hammerhead announced its partnership with Suunto in April 2022 (opens in new tab) – that is, after Hammerhead’s acquisition by SRAM three months earlier – we think it’s still fair game.
First, a bit of background. Suunto is a Finnish company which, amongst other things, offers a range of smartwatches and a training platform for syncing and keeping track of your workouts. It also has a route planning tool with a global heat map generated organically by users of the platform.
Now, it's true Suunto doesn’t have the same market capitalisation as Garmin when it comes to wearable tech. It also doesn’t have the same clout as a training and route building platform as Strava – or Garmin again.
But Suunto still has a lot more than just a foot in the-door in both those areas – with some investment from SRAM, perhaps we could see that change.
Power meter pedals
SRAM has owned pedal brand Time for quite a while now (opens in new tab), but we’re yet to see much new fruit borne from the partnership.
The obvious expectation has been for the release of a set of power meter pedals, but perhaps SRAM's success with crank-based power meters could have put a damper on things.
After all, the SRAM Rival power meter upgrade kit (opens in new tab) only costs €274 / £230.00 – you’d need to have quite a few bikes before it becomes more worthwhile to swap one set of pedals between them, rather than just giving each bike its own power meter.
Arguably, if you did have that many bikes, monetary concerns about power meters are going to be significantly lower anyway.
But even with that in mind, there should still be plenty of incentive to develop a pedal-based power meter – it would make economic sense to have a product that's compatible with a wider range of bikes than just those sporting an AXS crankset. It's not as if Zipp wheels are only available with XDR freehubs for SRAM cassettes.
So we'll keep on waiting in expectation for the release of some power meter pedals down the line.
Another recent acquisition that has been a particularly head turning is that of Velocio. Up till now, SRAM has tended to stick with hardware and components, but this particular buyout has seen a clothing brand with a heavy focus on gravel and sustainability brought into the fold – and marking quite a step change.
But on reflection, this addition is perhaps a little less surprising than it might first appear. Taking a look over to Specialized, we can see a brand which started out with finishing kit and frames, yet has morphed into ever more of a one-stop-shop for most things cycling.
Tyres, wheels, shoes, saddles, helmets. Specialized has developed such well-respected lines in all these areas that they’re often bought as high-performance items in their own right – not as merely as up-sale items added on to a bike purchase.
It’s a pretty smart business model and one that it seems SRAM wants to get in on. The match looks made in heaven at any rate, with both having such a strong bent towards everything gravel and Velocio having a particular eye to sustainability, the pairing does feel like it fits right in.
But if SRAM’s vision for its one-stop-shop has now grown beyond groupsets and components to accessories and apparel, the next question has to be just how far will it extend...?
What could be next for SRAM's growing empire?
Which all leads us neatly onto just a little speculation on which brands out there could be the next additions to the SRAM family...
SRAM’s AXS groupsets have been around for a little while in their current format, suggesting that an update can’t be too far down the pipeline. Now, the obvious assumption to make would be the simple addition of an extra sprocket, squeezing in a 13th a la Ekar .
But remember how SRAM wasn’t content with quite such an incremental update when it came taking the step up from 11 on its road groupsets. Instead, the brand took the opportunity to completely rethink the gear ratios we use.
48/35t chainrings and a 10–33t cassette were a pretty radical development compared to the ubiquitous 52/36t upfront and 11–28t at the rear. This "X-Range" gearing provided both a harder top gear and an easier bottom one – as well as (for the most part) allowing smaller jumps between the gears.
So what would be a sufficiently radical development for the next iteration? To our minds, it can only be taking on Classified’s Powershift hub.
The match works on so many levels. SRAM has been pushing for single chainring setups for years – the Powershift hub offers a great way to continue that vein whilst still providing the range of a 2x set up.
The hub shift is also so much faster and more reliable than a derailleur system, and so would be a significant performance upgrade in that respect.
Throw in the fact that the Powershift hub shifts wirelessly, it should be so easy to slot into SRAM’s broader AXS system. Pressing both shifters simultaneously could control the shift – exactly as is currently the case for SRAM’s front derailleurs.
Having a wheel brand on board in the form of Zipp likewise works well in that the rim and wheel building expertise is already there in-house.
Finally, the parallels with Hammerhead are quite stark – both are small, innovative brands and both have proven to be able to draw investment from pro riders. To be honest, the pairing almost seems so obvious it’s actually surprising that it hasn’t been announced yet.
Taken in isolation, a move into indoor trainers (opens in new tab) might strike as a bit of a leap.
But given that the main competitors of Hammerhead (SRAM’s recent head unit acquisition) include Wahoo (opens in new tab) and Garmin (opens in new tab) – which both have extensive lines in turbo trainers – then perhaps it shouldn’t be considered quite so far out of left field.
But what brand could SRAM possibly acquire? As mentioned, Wahoo and Garmin are two huge hitters in the field – which doesn’t leave many options. Perhaps Elite, although the Italian company is perhaps too big to be swallowed up by SRAM, so maybe not.
A more likely candidate could instead be Saris. As well as turbo trainers, the brand's portfolio includes bike racks and cycle infrastructure – it even owned PowerTap before SRAM bought that part of the business back in 2019.
Perhaps, then, SRAM could go back and take on the indoor training arm as well, leaving Saris with just the racks and infrastructure.
The Saris H3 (opens in new tab) indoor trainer is a really solid performer itself. Admittedly lacking some of the bells and whistles of other top end trainers, but nonetheless still a great machine and potent training tool – also quite reasonably priced. It feels like it could be a good foundation for sprinkling over a little extra investment.
E-bikes (opens in new tab) are becoming ever more popular and groupset competitor Shimano is firmly in on the action. It’s true that Shimano’s system is mainly specced on utility bikes, which isn’t a market segment where you tend to see much in the way of SRAM componentry anyway.
But that almost gives all the more reason for SRAM to focus in on e-assisted dropbar bikes – a category that’s only growing. Now, the market here is pretty dominated by really big-name players, such as the likes of Bosch, Yamaha and Mahle.
There was one particular stand-out out exception, though: Fazua. The small brand had grown out of a university project, yet the lightweight and compact system proved so effective that it gained a notably strong presence in the drop-bar e-bike market – despite those humble beginnings.
You’ll notice the past tense, though. Unfortunately for the writing of this article, Fazua was actually bought by Porsche just a few weeks ago. So our speculation of a buyout did at least prove quite prescient, just by the wrong brand.
Perhaps SRAM will instead attempt to develop a motor themselves, rather than hunting out a minnow to swallow. Or, perhaps something could be done with one of the plethora of e-bike conversion kits that have swarmed onto the market,
We're not sure about the precise form, but we'd be surprised if nothing happens in this sector at all.
That's it for our predications, maybe in a two years' time we'll check back in and see how they've fared!
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