SRAM's new 2013 Red group offers a host of improvements and upgrades. Two particularly interesting developments include the company's first Red-branded power meter, and announcement of a fall launch for hydraulic disc and rim brakes.
SRAM showed launch attendees images of the new Red hydraulic rim and disc road brakes, but we weren't allowed to shoot photographs. That being said, we got enough of a look at all of the components to provide a good description of what you'll see when it's all officially announced this autumn. (So unfortunately, this is only a figurative first look for our readers; sorry guys — ed.)
SRAM engineers were able to squeeze a master cylinder into the DoubleTap lever bodies but not without a little extra room. The main grip area looks unchanged as do the basic brake and shift lever shapes but the bump up top is substantially elongated. Though not quite as elegant looking as the standard Red controls, we do expect the more generously sized appendage to provide a bonus hand position.
Underneath the hoods, we also expect to find a removable reservoir cap along with SRAM's familiar bleed port screws.
SRAM wouldn't comment on build materials but the two-piston disc brake caliper looked to be a two-piece aluminum forging, covered in the same fetching two-tone anodized finish as the rest of the new Red bits. It's a sleek and compact looking piece, too, and could very well allay some skeptics' fears of how a disc-equipped road (or 'cross) bike might look.
The hydraulic road rim brake looked impressively svelte as well, boasting a profile that appeared barely bigger than the new cable actuated brake. Since there's no need to design mechanical leverage tricks into a hydraulic brake, the new Red hydraulic rim brake will be a simple single-pivot layout with a slave cylinder sandwiched in between.
Not surprisingly, the pictured prototype had an integrated quick-release mechanism built in, too.
Weights, prices, and exact availability won't be announced until the fall — we're guessing at Eurobike. Zipp says it's already testing its own disc-compatible wheel designs complete with new hub shells designed in house. Company PR man Andy Paskins tells us development of those wheels might extend into the winter, however.
In either case, we're still hopeful for retail delivery in time for the '12 cyclo-cross season.
Red Quarq, the new flagship
The new Red Quarq power meter doesn’t just wear matched labeling, rather, it takes over as the flagship model in the range. It's claimed to be more accurate, more robust, and even easier to use.
The ANT+ identifier is now printed right on the outside of the power meter instead of inside the battery case for faster pairing during setup. The new battery case is still user serviceable and is all aluminum
SRAM fit the Red Quarq power meter with an all-new aluminum spider that houses a more compact electronics package plus a new shape that's a marked departure from previous Quarq models. According to Quarq founder Jim Meyer, the tidier internal layout should yield fewer failures due to broken connections, the CR2032 offers better chainring clearance than the old CR2450 size, and the carefully designed swept spider shape doesn’t require recalibration when swapping chainrings – upsizing to time trial sizes or downsizing to 'cross variants supposedly changes the measured values by less than one percent.
There's also an LED integrated right into the spider to indicate power on and zeroing mode and an externally located ANT+ identification number for easier pairing. Despite the CR2032 cell having less than half the capacity of the old size, claimed run time is still a generous 300 hours instead of around 400 – and when the battery is depleted, users can easily replace it at home just like before.
Basic functionality has been enhanced, too. Compatible Garmin Edge 500 and 800 heads will now display independent left and right-leg power outputs and overall claimed accuracy has improved to +/- 1.5 percent. As in the past, the Quarq meter will connect with other power-compatible ANT+ head units but the Power Balance function may not be available.
Quarq will soon offer to consumers its own mount for the Garmin Edge 500, which puts it out in front of the bars and closer to the rider's natural field of vision
While the power meter itself is new, the accompanying carbon fiber crankarms unfortunately aren't. SRAM says there wasn't enough time to carry the hollow carbon fiber architecture from the standard 2013 Red arms into the power meter so it still uses the same foam core construction.
Standard SRAM Red Quarq power meters for use with GXP bottom brackets with retail for US$1,995/£TBD starting this April and claimed weight is 778g (172.5mm, 53/39T, without bottom bracket). Claimed weight for the specific BB/PF-30 version wasn't available at launch time but it's supposed to arrive in stores beginning in May for US$2,045/£TBD.
Finally, Quarq has even developed its own mount for the Edge 500 at the request of sponsored riders. The new setup uses the same quarter-turn interface but moves the computer from atop the stem to ahead of the stem faceplate, level with the bar – similar to SRM. It's no lighter than the standard setup – and if anything, it's heavier – but the Quarq-developed mount puts the display closer to the natural field of view and in our opinion, also just looks better.
Target weight and cost on the new mount are still to be determined but Quarq estimates they'll be available to consumers in about three months.