Sram Force eTap AXS Takes on Shimano Ultegra DI2

Sram Force eTap AXS Takes on Shimano Ultegra DI2

SRAM’s newly announced second tier electronic group delivers all the 12Speed functionality of Red eTap AXF for a lot less dough.

When SRAM launched its new Red eTap AXS groupset last month it wasn’t the wider gear ranges, 12speeds, customization or new app that took the show. Nope, it was the promise that Force eTap AXS would launch in April that got the buzz going. SRAM is finally ready to take on Shimano Ultegra Di2, the electronic group for the every-man. Here’s what it looks like:
  • SRAM Force eTap AXS brings all the functionality of RED eTap AXS to a lower price point.
  • The groupset uses the same 10 tooth sprocket and XDR rear hub driver as Red to create the room for its wide 12speed gear range (called X-Range).
  • The biggest difference between Force eTap AXS and RED eTap AXS are the materials used in each groups construction
  • Force and RED eTap AXS components are interchangeable and will work with other AXS components like Eagle eTap AXS and the Rock Show eTap dropper. Weird gravel builds rejoice.
  • Don’t expect a mechanical 12speed group to ever appear.

Similar to the discussion surrounding Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 and Dura-Ace Di2, it’s much easier to talk about the differences between Red and Force eTap AXS than it is the similarities. Functionally, the groupsets are the same. Instead, the differences come in the materials used to construct the components. The Force cassette, instead of being fully machined, is pinned. Oh, and it’s black. The chain uses the same Flat Top design, but the pins are solid, not hollow. The Force levers have just one auxiliary port, not two. So you can’t run sprint and climbing blips at the same time (who does that anyway?). Force has two chainring options (48/35 and 46/33) as opposed to three and there are three cassette choices (10-26, 10-28 and 10-33). Force’s power meter is a little different too. Instead of being integrated into the chainrings to reduce weight, its Quarq D-Zero power meter is tied to the spider. I’d call that last point a huge win, not a drawback.

Force eTap AXS is 12speed, will be available in a 1x and 2x set up, comes in drop bar or TT shifter layouts with hydraulic or mechanical braking. Note on braking, SRAM says this is likely the last rim brake eTap group. Brake calipers, rim and hydro, are unchanged from mechanical Force.

Functionality wise, Force eTap AXS is just as fast as RED and uses the same AXS app for shifting customization. Force levers can be used with Red derailleurs or the Eagle AXS derailleurs for huge gear ranges. The rear derailleur also has a fluid damper to manage chain tension over rough roads and gravel. A single derailleur works across all available cassettes.

So how big of a difference do the materials make? A 2x hydraulic disc brake road group without a power meter in RED will run $3648 with a 2518 gram weight. The same group in Force demands $2678 (nearly a grand less) and weighs 2812 grams. $970 for a half-pound weight loss is a tough pill to swallow when functionality is unchanged.

Force eTap AXS is spec’d on a host of bikes starting today and groupsets should be available for purchase at your LBS immediately as well.

Force eTAP AXS Price and Weight

  • 2x Hydro Road Disc Brake – $2678 / 2812grams
  • 2x Rim Brake – $2478 / 2453grams
  • 1x Hydro Road Disc Brake – $2328 / 2572grams
  • 1x Rim Brake – $2078 / 2213grams