On paper, SRAM’s revised Rival group had already struck us as 2009’s performance value leader with its more Red-like function and feel. An unrelentingly undulating one-hour test ride on the roads surrounding the Outdoor Demo venue confirmed our hunch.
The most significant change is to the DoubleTap lever shape which is now a virtual carbon copy of Red. The curvier lever blades (now made of carbon) offer a more natural fit and they're also about 10mm longer for an easier reach while in the drops. The larger Red-like shift paddle shape is also more accessible from all positions.
Rear shift performance remains the same as before but front shifts have quickened with the addition of Red’s Zero Loss internals which also now yields an outer trim position.
Not to be overlooked is Rival’s new black finish which, at least in our eyes, looks more upscale than the original’s polished silver.
Our late-morning spin also included a set of SRAM’s new S60 60mm-deep aluminium-and-carbon clinchers. Though they're not particularly light at a claimed 1750g per set, the weight really isn't all that noticeable once you get moving.
Instead, the S60s mostly struck us as fast and smooth. SRAM borrows the S60 rim’s toroidal cross-section from Zipp’s analogous Flash Point model and the Sapim stainless steel spokes are deeply bladed. Though it’s hard to say how effective the built-in vibration damping features really are, we'd ridden the Scott Addict frame of our test bike enough times in the past to suggest that something might actually be happening here.
Even so, we'll reserve final judgment for when we get a test set of our own and have more control over tire and pressure variables but so far, so good.