Saturday, 16 April 2011
SRAM or Shimano Groupset?
Depending on your budget, you'll be faced between the choice of Campagnolo (Italian), Shimano (Japanese) or SRAM (Amercian) as the key three brands that occupy most of the space in the market.
I've never used Campagnolo personally, however those that I know who run it, love it because it's Italian. Bit like a Ferrari, takes a bit of fettling, occassionally tempremental, but all forgivable due to it's authenticity. I've no personal experience, so I'm going to leave any further commentary there (perhaps if you run it, you could leave a comment with your experiences).
I've used two Shimano groupsets. Sora on my first bike - get's you by - and Ultegra on my latest Onix Azzuro bike. I run SRAM Red on my Dolan Ares.
In theory, Shimano Dura-Ace is the equivalent to SRAM Red, however I'm not planning to do a spec comparison, more just to talk about my experiences with both brands.
SRAM Red, I've found to be a brilliant groupset, it's used extensively by Pro-Tour teams and has stood up to all the Grand Tours- Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and the Classics. The main thing I've noticed when I first started riding it is the super powerful brakes, they are just brilliant, stop you on a sixpence.
Riding the Ultegra groupset on my new bike today, I think it shows just how good the SRAM groupset is. The main thing that stood out for me is how effortless the double-tap system is. On Shimano groupsets you use two levers, one for up, one for down. This is one of the fundamental differences between the two brands.
On SRAM, you use one lever to go up and down. One small click to change down, one bigger push to go up. Some people don't get on with it (perhaps if they've shifted from another brand) , I've had absolutely no issues. Having ridden the SRAM Red for about ten months now, I found myself fiddling a bit whilst out today getting used to the Shimano Ultegra system. I guess it's just a question of familiarity.
Like anything, much of this is down to taste. There are definitely separate camps. Often Shimano lovers stick with Shimano for all their bikes and vice versa with Campagnolo. SRAM have been creeping up on these two brands and carving our a market for themselves over the last few years.
I chose Ultegra for my new bike as I wanted to really get a good feel for how the different manufacturers/groupsets performed. This is very much a "first look" at the Ultegra groupset and it has had some brilliant reviews. As I said earlier, Dura-Ace is the real apple and apple comparison to SRAM Red, so look at that one if you're doing a value/spec exercise.
In conclusion, I think it's down to taste. If you've ridden Shimano on your first bike, you might stick with it, which is fair enough - it's great quality and very reliable. However, don't discount SRAM, it's certainly as good and rated by a lot of riders and spanners (bike mechanics).
I'd welcome any further comments on any of the groupsets from readers.