We’ve become big fans of SRAM’s Apex groupset, especially the optional longer cage rear mech and 11-32T cassette. The main benefits are having the same 11-tooth sprocket for fast riding but, with a 50/34 compact, having a 34x32 bailout gear. Since we’ve been using this combination it’s meant we’ve had much more success in conquering big climbs and steep slopes.
Apex is one of SRAM’s lower level groupsets, though, so to make the climbing gearing appeal to users of Red, Rival and Force, SRAM have created the Mountain kit – essentially Apex without the name, so Red or Force users needn’t feel they’ve downgraded to go faster uphill. The Mountain kit consists of an S Series rear derailleur (£82.99), PG1070 11-32 cassette (£74.99) and PC1091 chain (£59.99).
We’ve had it on test for a while so have had the opportunity to try the setup in conjunction with a standard SRAM Red 53/39 chainring arrangement. It works just as faultlessly, with even the 39x32 offering a great climbing gear. It’s an ideal configuration for the UK, where our climbs tend to be shorter but frequently steeper than those of mainland Europe, but it’s also great for the Continent’s high cols.
At 192g, 295g and 252g for the rear mech, cassette and chain respectively, the Mountain kit isn’t only a cost-effective way to get a triple-like gear setup, it’s also a much lighter option. Shifting across the bigger block is just as swift as with a standard cassette, and we’ve also found the 32 sprocket far more forgiving than its smaller cousins when used with the big ring up front. Yes, we know it’s something you should never resort to, but for testing purposes we’ve been giving it a try.
At under £220 for the cassette, rear mech and chain, this ‘WiFLi’ – wider, faster, lighter – package is the most economic way for SRAM users to get the gearing perfect for climbing, whether at home or tackling big European ascents. With the minimum of fuss and tools, you can turn your bike into a perfect uphill machine.