Today, SRAM’s AXS eTap Force electronic groupset has gotten wider both in gearing range and stance. The new changes are likely to please gravel cyclists and cyclocross racers who were looking for either a wider range of gearing, or a lower overall gearing for climbing. We’ve been riding the new Force component options from SRAM, and offer readers a first look and first impressions on the groupset.
SRAM’s eTap Evolution
About a year ago, the worst kept secret in cycling, SRAM Red AXS eTap, the successor to SRAM’s original 11-speed eTap Red component group, was unveiled after several months of in-the-wild sightings. We captured cyclocross stars Wout van Aert and Jeremy Powers testing the new group at races in the public.
Although the release included a wide variety of gear choices for road, cyclocross, gravel and triathlon, and then later dipped to a lower price point with the release of a Force-level group, it was notably missing the do everything, wide range, 1x gearing that made SRAM’s mechanical groups so popular, and the low gear that competitor Shimano offers with its excellent, versatile GRX family of components.
While the group did provide 1x options, cassette choices were limited to either a 10-33t, fine for the pros but of limited usefulness to the weekend warrior, or the almost too wide 10-50t Eagle cassette and accompanying derailleur which is not compatible with smaller cassettes. When Jeremy Powers says a group has all the gearing he would ever need for gravel, the average cyclist should probably worry that it’s not enough. Indeed, after enjoying lower-than-one-to-one low gears on both 1x and 2x drivetrains, we found the low 33t rear cog, whether on a 2x 33/46 drivetrain or when paired with a 36t 1x chain ring, limiting for hilly, extended rides.
Today, SRAM is officially unveiling Force derailleurs, crankset and a cassette that fills its gap in AXS eTap. The supplemental components for the most part work as plug-and-play upgrades with existing AXS road components, allowing for current owners of SRAM AXS-equipped bikes to go lower, albeit at a relatively high price point.
See our breakdown of the new components below. While the whole SRAM AXS eTap Force group also gets a new glossy finish, the new components do not replace the previous iteration of Force derailleur or crankset designs.
SRAM Gets Wider and Lower with 10-36t Cassette
At launch, AXS road cassettes maxed out at the rather race-oriented 10-33t. We found that cassette to be relatively good for dry cyclocross racing, but those wanting a wider range for longer or hillier adventures would have to use the 10-50t Eagle mountain cassette and derailleur.
SRAM has now filled the gap with a 10-36t cassette option, which provides a similar range to a Shimano 11-40t (360% vs. 364% respectively) cassette used on mechanical drivetrains.
It falls a tad short of matching the range of the 11-42 cassettes (and XD 10-42 cassettes) popular with 1x setups, but surpasses the range for all 2x setups, including Shimano’s 11-34 option (309%).
Don’t want to do the math yourself? Here is how some popular 1x and 2x cassettes vary in terms of gearing range:
Comparison of Gearing Range of Popular Cassettes
While most of us crave lower gearing for an easier time scaling hills, weight also has an impact when the gravel road points up. At 309g, the cassette is over 100g lighter than most 11-speed 11-42 options.
The new $185 cassette, like the other AXS road options, is XD-R only, but will not work with the original AXS eTap Red and Force rear derailleurs. Thus…
New SRAM Force Wide-Range Rear Derailleur
SRAM’s new Force AXS eTap derailleur occupies the space between its existing AXS road and mountain derailleurs, but looks nearly identical to the original design, with the same cage length, pulleys and overall design as the road version. It even weighs the same as the original.
Component manufacturers can add capacity to rear derailleurs by increasing cage length, adding bigger pulleys, or increasing the length of the b-knuckle.
SRAM picked one, and the difference is subtle.
Study the images of the two SRAM Force AXS eTap rear derailleur versions above and you’ll notice a longer b-knuckle that positions the derailleur further off the cassette to allow the pulleys to clear the larger 10-36t cassette. This is effectively what Wolf Tooth’s RoadLink tries to accomplish with older derailleurs.
While the new $490 derailleur will work with 1x and 2x drivetrains, all of the chainring options, and most of the road cassettes, it is not a replacement for the existing Force AXS eTap road derailleur, as it will not work with the smallest range (10-26) cassette. This is similar to the limitation of Shimano’s GS longer cage rear derailleurs.
When paired with a 36t front chain ring, the new cassette brings 1:1 gearing to 1x, and even lower with the smallest 34t front chain ring option.
Unlike mechanical SRAM 1x groups, this new derailleur is compatible with all of the AXS 2x chainrings as well, including the just-released 30/43t chainring crankset option…
SRAM Force AXS eTap Crankset Goes Lower with Smaller Rings and BCD, Wider with Longer Spindle
While the new 10-36t adds range to the SRAM AXS eTap Force group, SRAM also went smaller and wider with a new crankset option. The $420 crankset brings lower gearing to SRAM Force via a small 30/43 chain ring combo and a smaller 94mm BCD.
The new chain ring pair keeps SRAM AXS’s 13-tooth jump between ring sizes, but does so with a new BCD that is incompatible with the previous cranksets. The smaller BCD also means the crankset does not come with a Quarq power meter option.
The new Force group gains not only wider range in gearing, but also a wider range of tire width compatibility thanks to a wider crank spindle, chainline and Q-factor and redesigned front derailleur.
The Q-factor increases by 5mm and the chainline moves outboard by 2.5mm (now 47.5mm). The longer spindle also requires a new bottom bracket, called the “BB DUB Road Wide.” While the bearings should be the same, the new Road Wide bottom brackets come with extra spacers to take up the 5mm of extra spindle length.
Frame builders can take advantage of the extra room to build more tire or mud clearance. But to shift through the further-outboard rings, SRAM had to redesign its front derailleur.
SRAM Force AXS eTap Wide Front Derailleur
The smaller rings and wider chainline require a new SRAM Force AXS eTap front derailleur. The redesigned $350 front derailleur is specific to the the wider chainline, but does not limit your ability to swap out the 2x chain rings based on terrain. You could use 46/33 and 48/35 rings since the crankset uses the same 8-bolt spider as existing cranksets.
SRAM says the new front derailleur boasts tire clearance for up to 45mm tires. That’s good news to the ballooning group of fat-tire gravel cyclists.
Impressive 2x Range, More Gravel-Friendly 1x
The new SRAM Force AXS eTap components result in impressive 2x gearing range that surpasses Shimano GRX, and narrows the gap to its own 1x mechanical drivetrain cassette ranges.
In the table below, we look at the low gear ratios and overall capacity of piecemeal new SRAM Force Wide component options, compared to existing SRAM AXS 33/46t 10-33t gearing, and the top-shelf GRX 2x option.
Comparing Gearing Options: New Force, Existing Force/Red and Shimano GRX
|2x||New Force Cassette & Crank||New Cassette||New Force Crank||Existing Force/Red AXS eTap||Shimano GRX|
As you can see, by adopting either the new crankset/front derailleur or the cassette/rear derailleur, you can match the low gearing of Shimano GRX, while opting for both adds an even lower gear and wider range.
New bike shoppers looking for the widest range of gearing without major budget constraints might give the new Force drivetrain a look.
Upgrading an Existing AXS Drivetrain
While we expect most new SRAM AXS eTap Force components to hit consumers as OEM equipment on new bikes, swapping out existing AXS components for the new Force gearing options is a possibility, albeit a pricey one.
If you’re to purchase all the new components, including the front and rear derailleur, crankset, Wide Road bottom bracket and cassette, you’ll get a 17% lower low gear, but it’ll set you back $1510 (figuring $40 for the bottom bracket and $35 for a new chain).
Too pricey for you? You can do it piecemeal, picking either the rear derailleur, cassette and chain, or the front derailleur, crankset and bottom bracket. Either option offers a similar drop in low gearing, but the cassette and rear derailleur combo obviously adds more range and a bit more flexibility because of its increased chainring options.
If you wanna geek out and look at the dollar-per-percent-low-gear-drop, we’ve got a table for you that prices each option out and compares the new front and rear Force options to the previous 33/33 low gear.
SRAM Force AXS eTap Wide Road Component Upgrades
|New component bundles||Low gear ratio||% lower than 1:1||Cost||$ per gearing % drop|
|New rear derailleur/cassette:||0.917||8.3%||$710||$85|
|New front derailleur/crankset||0.909||9.1%||$810||$89|
The derailleur/cassette combo is a tad cheaper if you’re looking for the cheapest way to lower your gearing. Although you technically don’t need a new chain, the cassette and longer b-knuckle require a longer chain.
SRAM Force AXS eTap Wide Early Review:
We’ve been riding the new components for a few weeks, and are thoroughly impressed with the 2x gearing range. Even with just the new cassette and rear derailleur, the AXS drivetrain becomes a lot more useful for gravel and mixed-terrain riding.
The 13-tooth jump up front, paired with the new 10-36 cassette, brings tremendous versatility for gravel and road rides, and even cyclocross racing. It’s not such an enormous jump like that found on a compact crankset (34/50) or Shimano’s GRX 31/48 double that feels out of place in cyclocross, yet offers the range you’d need for both steep, extended climbs and fast pavement sections.
If price is not a limiter, and you don’t see a lot of mud in your future, the 12-speed drivetrain, with its small jumps in cog sizes (and narrow chain and gaps between cogs) could be the ultimate do-it-all gearing option for those who want to ride and race gravel and cyclocross, without changing a thing.
The 1x gearing options, with the new 10-36t cassette, is a move in the right direction. It still feels a bit limiting compared to the 10-42t and 11-42t cassettes we’ve grown accustomed to, but it’s getting closer. Unless you’re dying for electronic shifting, SRAM and Shimano’s 1x mechanical options are quite refined. It’s the 2x options that make the new SRAM Force Wide components an attractive upgrade option.
More info: sram.com
See the official release and FAQs from SRAM below:
SRAM FORCE eTAP AXS Wide
Road riders are going beyond where we’ve ever gone before. We’re going further and faster. And when the road stops, we keep going. One thing hasn’t changed: We want to push those boundaries without any distractions. Exploring new limits has never been easier.
New Wider Gearing for Force eTap AXS
It can be the steep kicker near the summit of a long climb. Or a multi-hour ride on roads that push you way out of your comfort zone. Sometimes you want a lower gear. Because having more range can be the key to thriving as the road points upward, SRAM Force eTap AXS now includes a 10-36t cassette and 43/30t chainring option.
The new SRAM Force eTap AXS 43/30t crank and matching wide front derailleur also offer increased tire clearance, opening the door to consistent and smooth shifting for the next evolution of drop-bar bikes. Exploring new limits has never been easier.
Force XG-1270 Cassette
NEW 10-36t Version, CS-XG-1270-D1
The SRAM Force XG-1270 10-36t cassette is optimized for the precise shifting of eTap AXS and features our X-Range gearing technology. Smooth, quick shifting from 10t on up.
- Compatible with all 2x and 1x eTap AXS crankset, chainring, and front derailleur options
- X-Range gearing gives you more range and a smoother gear progression, so you’re always in the right gear
- Must be used with 36t max Force eTap AXS rear derailleur
- MINI CLUSTER construction reduces weight and increases durability
- Designed for XDR driver bodies
- All Zipp wheels starting from 2015 are XDR ready
Force eTap AXS Rear Derailleur
NEW 36t max version, RD-FRC-E-D1
Whether you ride 2x or 1x, tarmac or gravel, the new SRAM Force eTap AXS 36t max rear derailleur is made to take you further. Its additional low range cassette compatibility is complemented by Orbit damper technology for quiet, secure chain management over rough roads. It also capitalizes on large X-SYNC bearing-equipped pulleys for outstanding durability and efficiency.
- Compatible with all 2x and 1x eTap AXS crankset and chainring options
- Max 36t derailleur is compatible with 10-36, 10-33, and 10-28t cassettes
- Orbit chain management technology keeps the drivetrain quiet and secure
- SRAM AXS enabled, allowing easy control personalization
- Large X-SYNC pulleys for durability and efficiency
- Compatible with existing eTap batteries
Force eTap AXS Wide Front Derailleur
Designed specifically for wide-spaced cranksets with 43/30t chainrings, the SRAM Force eTap AXS wide front derailleur provides consistent, smooth shifting performance for drivetrains with lower gearing. Its wider position on the bike also accommodates fatter tires for venturing far beyond the well beaten path.
- For wide cranksets with 43/30t chainrings
- Clearance for 700x45c and 27.5×2.1″ tires
- Compatible with any frame designed for 2x drivetrains
- Crisp and accurate front shifts
- AXS enabled for easy personalization
- SRAM Yaw trimless cage technology with an optimized cage profile for new chainring combinations
- Compatible with existing eTap batteries
Force 43/30t Wide Crankset
Explore the most challenging routes on the newest crop of versatile and fun drop bar bikes with the SRAM Force 43/30t wide crankset. Shifting is smooth, accurate, and dependable using our proven X-Range gearing based around a tight 13t difference between the small and big chainrings. The wider stance of the chainrings expands 2x drivetrain bike capabilities by providing clearance for fatter tires.
- Requires Force Wide front derailleur
- X-Range gearing technology gives you more range and a smoother gear progression, so you’re always in the right gear
- Crisp and accurate front shifting
- Wide chainline crankset for bikes with up to 700x45c or 27.5×2.1″ tire widths (43/30t chainrings only)
- Longer DUB crank spindle accommodates both Road and MTB width frame bottom bracket standards for unmatched cross-compatibility across brands
- DUB bottom bracket adds durability and simplicity
SRAM Force Wide FAQs:
Is the Q-Factor for the wider gearing option Force eTap AXS 43/30 crankset the same as the existing Force eTap AXS cranksets?
The Force eTap AXS 43/40 crankset has a wider Q-Factor by 5mm than existing Force eTap AXS cranksets (placing each pedal an additional 2.5mm outboard from the bike’s centerline). The change to the width of the crankset comes from the longer crank spindle, which moves the arms outboard by 2.5mm on either side. Because of this change, there is also a change to the chainline of this crankset by 2.5mm.
What is the chainline of the new Force eTap AXS 43/30 crankset?
With a change to the wider arm width due to the increase in length to the crank spindle, the Force 43/30 crankset chainline moves 2.5mm outboard to 47.5mm. The 43/30 crankset requires the use of the 43/30 front derailleur, as it works with this specific chainline.
Do I have to use the Force eTap AXS 43/30 crankset with the 36t-max rear derailleur?
No. You can use the 43/30 crankset with any of the eTap AXS 33t-max rear derailleurs and cassettes. Just be sure that you don’t exceed the maximum cassette size that is compatible with the rear derailleur.
Is there a power meter option available for the wider gearing 43/30 crankset?
No, there is not an available power meter option as the 94mm Bolt Circle Diameter (BCD) of the spider is smaller than the 107mm Force eTap AXS 2x cranksets, to fit the smaller 43/30 chainrings. Quarq offers the Powertap P2 pedal kit for those who require a power option.Are the wider gearing Force eTap AXS 43/30 cranksets compatible with the same bottom brackets as SRAM’s other DUB road cranksets?
No. The wide cranksets require additional spacers outside of the bottom bracket bearings. When buying bottom bracket bearings for a wide crankset, look for a “WIDE” suffix in the product description (e.g. BB DUB BSA 68 ROAD WIDE) to ensure you get the model that comes with the correct spacers.
Is the new wider gearing option Force eTap AXS 43/30 crankset compatible with Trek’s BB90 bottom bracket standard or bikes with an Italian threaded bottom bracket?
No. The Force eTap AXS 43/30 crankset is available in DUB spindle only, and work with DUB bottom bracket bearings only.
Is the Force eTap AXS 43/30 crankset compatible with Trek’s T47 bottom bracket standard?
Yes. Use DUB T47 85.5 ROAD WIDE version bottom bracket for the Force 43/30 crankset.
What frame bottom bracket interface standards work with the Force eTap AXS 43/30 cranksets?
Force 43/30 cranksets work with the following bottom bracket standards, when used with a SRAM DUB bottom bracket bearing:
- BSA 68
- PF 86.5
- BB30 68
- BB30 73-A (Cannondale)
- PF30 68
- PF30 79-A (BBRIGHT)
- PF30 73-A (Cannondale)
- T47 85.5
- BSA 73
- BB30 73
- PF30 73
What is the new cassette size for the wider range Force eTap AXS?
Force now has an additional 10-36 option, made to work with the Force eTap AXS 36t-max rear derailleur.
Will additional cassette size options be added later?
SRAM is always working on new product designs but does not comment on products that may be in development.
What type of freehub body is required for the new Force eTap AXS 10-36 cassette?
What cassettes are compatible with the Force 36t-max rear derailleur?
10-36, 10-33, and 10-28.
Is there a marking or indication on the rear derailleur to know if it is a 36t-max or 33t-max version?
Yes. Going forward, all Force eTap AXS rear derailleurs are marked with MAX 36T or MAX 33T on the back of the derailleur near the b-bolt.
What is the total drivetrain tooth capacity of the Force eTap AXS 36t-max rear derailleur?
Drivetrain tooth capacity for Force eTap AXS 36t-max rear derailleurs is 39t. (Drivetrain tooth capacity is calculated using the following formula: [difference between tooth numbers on
smallest and largest chainring] + [difference between tooth numbers on smallest and largest cog on cassette]).
What 2x chainring options are compatible with the Force eTap AXS 36t-max rear derailleur?
All of them: 43/30, 46/33, 48/35, 50/37.
Do you need to use the wider gearing option front derailleur with the new Force 43/30 crankset?
Yes. The change to the wider axle of the crankset changes the chainline of this crankset by 2.5mm. The 43/30 crankset requires the use of the 43/30 front derailleur, as it works with this specific chainline.
What is the max rear tire width compatibility for the wider gearing Force eTap AXS front derailleurs?
The 43/30 compatible wider gearing Force eTap AXS front derailleurs, made for use with the Force 43/30 crankset, will accommodate tires up to 45mm wide.
Will the Force 36t-max derailleur work without a front derailleur?
Yes. All SRAM RED and Force eTap AXS derailleurs are designed to be used in both 1x and 2x drivetrain configurations