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Red launch

  • By Caley Fretz
  • Published Feb. 1, 2012
  • Updated 24 hours ago
Front shifting has taken a dramatic step forward. The group still comes with Gore's excellent cable system, too. Photo: Caley Fretz @ VeloNews

Drastically altered front derailleur

Let’s start with the big one: SRAM’s front shifting has been historically below average, there is simply no other way to put it. This fault was made truly evident with the rise of Shimano Di2, which has had the finest front shifting of any group by quite a margin since its inception. SRAM fully admits that, up until now, there has been a benefit to “battery assist” (as they put it) front shifting. Understandably, therefore, SRAM put the function of their front shifting at the forefront of the group’s redesign.

The derailleur itself does not function like any other on the market. Rather than use a normal parallelogram, the whole cage actually twists as the shift is performed, helping to ease the chain up or down more effectively. The system is called Yaw.

The technology eliminates the need for a trim function, and so there no longer is one with the front shifter. Cable pulls remains the same, so in theory an old shifter could be used, though SRAM say it won’t work as well. But, more on that later.

Beyond the fundamental re-think that is Yaw, the derailleur sees a number of material and other functional updates. The cage is now an aluminum/steel/carbon hybrid, using an aluminum outer, steel inner, and carbon rear tail to decrease weight and increase stiffness.

Gone are the two mount holes, which used to be need for compact versus standard chainring setups. Now, frame makers have caught up to the use of compact cranks and a single mount point will work without issue.

The entire unit has been slimmed down considerably, from the spring to the mount bolts, which are now 4mm allen with a 5mm thread. The new spring design also eliminates any problems with frame clearance.

The new front derailleurs will come stock with an integrated chain catcher, which can be adjusted or removed without changing the adjustment of the rest of the derailleur.

Now, setup. Due to the Yaw tech, setup is extremely important, or the derailleur simply won’t swing the way it is supposed to. To help pro mechanics and home wrenches alike, the new derailleur comes with a number of laser-etched marks that, when lined up with the big ring, result in perfect installation. The derailleur is actually shipped with the limit screw set to move the derailleur out to the big ring position to make this installation even easier. This is a bit different, as most derailleurs are set up with in the small ring position.

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Caley Fretz

Caley Fretz

Tech Editor Caley Fretz can usually be found chasing races along the backroads of Europe or testing bikes and gear in the mountains outside Boulder, Colorado. If you can't find him there, check the coffee shop across from VN World Headquarters.

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