Quad Cycles is an authorized dealer for SRAM components, including drivetrains, wheels, suspension systems, and many other parts, for the greater Boston area.
SRAM is a relative newcomer to the drivetrain world. While Campagnolo and Shimano have nearly two centuries of experience in the cycling industry combined, SRAM has only been making parts since 1988. However, the cycling industry has been very good to SRAM, due to some significant contributions to mountain and road biking. If you've ever used a grip shifter, or been a child who used one on their first geared bike, you can thank SRAM for making a simple, reliable shifting system. And if you're an adult looking for the latest and greatest in mountain, cyclocross, or road drivetrains, SRAM leads the way with a diverse range of 1x11 systems for the rougher rides and several revolutionary road drivetrains.
Stop by and you'll see SRAM parts on all disciplines of bikes here.
Coming Soon: SRAM Red ETap
While the other two currently available electronic drivetrains, Shimano's Di2 and Campagnolo's EPS, are wired, wireless technology has come a long way since the '90s, the era of the first experiments with wireless shifting. SRAM takes advantage of modern advances with Red eTap, the first successful wireless drivetrain.
The first wireless drivetrain was Mavic's Mektronic, and as innovative as it was, it ran into the technological limitations of late '90s electronics. First, Mavic powered its rear derailleur, shifter, and head unit with non-rechargeable watch batteries, but couldn't find a way to make a watch battery move a front derailleur efficiently, so its front shifter and derailleur were mechanical and extremely heavy. Second, when you pushed a button to shift gears, it could take anywhere between half a second and forever to complete the shift, due to a fundamental design flaw with the rear derailleur.* Worst of all, the system's transmitters were very vulnerable to interference, and riders who went through police speed traps or passed too close to radio towers found that the radio signals deactivated the shifting. Some professional riders using the parts even reported attempted sabotage by other teams.
Red eTap, by contrast, uses modern rechargeable batteries for its front and rear derailleurs and watch batteries for its shifters. The result is reliable power with every shift, since all the shifters have to do is send a signal, which requires much less power than moving a derailleur. There's no weight penalty, because the lack of wires results in a net drop in overall system weight. Shifting reliability is not only high, in one way it's improved over Shimano and Campagnolo, since every possible shift on eTap requires a very distinct movement; the right-hand lever moves you into a harder rear cog, the left-hand lever, an easier one, and pushing both at the same time shifts the front derailleur. This means no more accidental upshifts or downshifts.
Modern digital wireless technology, meanwhile, has made the eTap system not only extremely resilient against radio tampering, it's also made it the best shifting system available for disabled riders. Though Shimano and SRAM both make remote shifters, only SRAM's Blips can be positioned practically wherever one may wish on the bicycle when connected to a wireless BlipBox transmitter, as opposed to being limited by cable length as the Shimano remote buttons are. Besides infinitely opening up shifting location options for able-bodied road, triathlon, and time trial riders, the ability to position the Blips literally anywhere within reach of a rider's body opens up some incredible possibilities for disabled people looking for the best possible performance from their bicycles.
SRAM Red eTap is expected for Spring 2016, and it is hotly anticipated. We're sure to see it on a bike in the shop not long after it comes out, so watch this site. SRAM is about to revolutionize cycling again.
* You can find a technical explanation of the problem here. Basically, the Mektronic rear derailleur used a mechanism called a ratchet pushrod to change gears, which required very precise movements from itself while it was already under heavy, disruptive load from the chain. The design also limited the range of compatible cassette sizes, which is not necessarily a problem for pros on flat courses, but here in Massachusetts (or New England, or most of the rest of the world), riders have to climb hills and can't always push the hardest gears.