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First Look: The New SRAM Force AXS Groupset

The latest version of SRAM’s Force AXS 12-speed groupset is a refinement rather than a full redesign. It's sleeker, lighter, and has new features that make it the perfect compromise between Red AXS and Rival AXS.

Written by: Bruce Lin

Published on:

Posted in:Tech

SRAM’s latest Force AXS 12-speed groupset has a new look. First launched in 2019, Force AXS sits below the range-topping Red AXS group in SRAM’s hierarchy. While Red AXS is the de facto choice for high-end superbikes and dream builds, Force was designed to be the more budget-friendly but still high-performance option. It weighed a few hundred extra grams and used fewer exotic materials, so it cost $500 less than Red AXS.  

Then, in April of 2021, SRAM released its Rival AXS group, and it was good — really good. Again, it gained a few hundred grams, but it cost $580 less than Force AXS and $1,080 less than Red AXS. Despite that, it provided essentially the same crisp and reliable shift performance. This meant that Rival AXS quickly became the preferred choice for manufacturers and riders outfitting mid-tier bikes. 

The Force AXS group didn’t need a major redesign. But it has been refined to better fill the void between SRAM's top-of-the-line and mid-range AXS offerings. Now it's set up to compete with high-end offerings like Shimano’s latest 12-speed Ultegra group. By combining features and tech from its sister groups, Force AXS is now sleeker, lighter, and more precise. Let’s take a look at what’s changed. 

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SRAM Force AXS Highlights

SRAM Force AXS 2x road

  • New hood shape with a narrower grip
  • Refined shift paddle shape for more finger clearance
  • Carbon brake levers and crank arms
  • Crank arms lengths available from 165mm-177.5mm
  • New stiffer and lighter one-piece direct-mount 2x chainrings
  • New 50/37t 2x chainring option
  • New direct-mount 1x chainrings
  • New Quarq DZero integrated and DUB-PWR spindle power meter options
  • 36t max / 44t max (XPLR) rear derailleurs with Orbit Fluid Dampers
  • Revised front derailleur geometry for improved shifting
  • New graphics + cassette/chain colors
  • Groupset price: $1,832 - 2,640 (varies depending on chainring and power meter options)

    What’s New for SRAM Force AXS

    First off, there is a slight change to the naming. SRAM appears to have dropped “eTap” from the groupset’s name, so we can just call it “SRAM Force AXS.” “eTap” is still listed as one of the many technologies the groupset uses, but it’s just easier to just say “Force AXS” instead of “Force eTap AXS.” 

    Redesigned Shifters

    New SRAM Force AXS Shifter One feature many riders loved about the Rival AXS group was the revised shifter/hood shape. The hoods were slimmed down and used a grippy ribbed pattern in the rubber. This has carried over to the Force AXS shifters which use a similar narrow grip. This increases finger wrap for more control and will fit a wider range of hand sizes. The shifter paddles have also been reshaped to provide more clearance so they’re less likely to pinch your fingers or bar tape when braking. 

    One major change is that the Force AXS shifters are no longer compatible with wired Blip and Clic satellite shifters. Those are now reserved for the top-end Red AXS group. That’s not a major problem in my mind since it’s still compatible with the new wireless Blip shifters, which I prefer anyway (wireless is good!). You can pair up to 3 sets (6 shifters total) of wireless Blip shifters. As with all AXS shifters, Force AXS can connect with all other AXS derailleurs, including Eagle AXS mountain bike derailleurs. 

    Direct-mount One-piece 2x and 1x Chainrings

    SRAM Force AXS one-piece chainringsTo differentiate itself from Rival AXS, Force AXS now uses machined one-piece 2x chainrings, similar to the chainrings used on the top-spec Red AXS group. Not only do these look sleeker than the older and chunkier Force AXS chainrings, but they’re nearly 100 grams lighter and stiffer as well. The additional stiffness paired with a revised front derailleur improves shifting. 2x chainrings all use the “magic” 13-tooth jump between the big and small chainring AXS chainring combos to ensure lightning-fast and consistent shifts. They're also now available in a bigger 50/37t combo previously only available on the Red AXS group. For 1x cranksets, there are also new direct-mount chainring options that reduce weight by a few grams over the old spider and 4-bolt 1x chainring combo. 

    Revised Front and Rear Derailleurs

    SRAM Force AXS front derailleurStandard (left) and Wide (right) front derailleurs.

    The Force AXS front derailleur received some subtle geometry tweaks that has improved front chainring shifts, especially when paired with the new one-piece chainrings. The Force AXS Wide front derailleur remains an option. It’s designed to work with smaller 43/30t X-Range chainrings and Wide cranksets, and it provides extra tire clearance for gravel and adventure bikes. 

    SRAM Force AXS and SRAM Force AXS XPLR rear derailleurStandard (left) and XPLR (right) rear derailleurs.

    Rear derailleurs come in two versions. The standard cage length Force AXS rear derailleur now has a max tooth capacity of 36t in 1x and 2x configurations. The Force AXS XPLR rear derailleur is intended for dedicated 1x all-road and gravel bikes and works with 10-36t or 10-44t cassettes. Both versions still use the same Orbit Fluid Damper found on the Red AXS rear derailleur (Rival AXS uses a mechanical clutch). This keeps the drivetrain quiet and the chain secure in rough terrain. 

    New Power Meter Options

    SRAM Force AXS integrated power meterThe biggest change to the Force AXS group is two new power meter options. Original Force AXS was compatible with the 8-bolt Quarq power meter and 4-bolt chainrings. For 2x cranksets, there is now an option to run an integrated Quarq DZero power meter and chainring combo that is very similar to the power meter used on Red AXS cranks.

    Integrating the power meter with the chainrings provides the lowest possible weight and highest accuracy (+/- 1.5%), while also maintaining the crisp shifting of one-piece chainrings. This does mean that the power meter will need to be replaced with the chainrings when they wear out, but SRAM claims that the integrated chainrings are made for “extreme longevity” and regular chain maintenance will give them a super long service life.  

    SRAM Force AXS spindle power meter43/30t Wide 2x (these use a spider and 4-bolt chainrings instead of one-piece chainrings) and 1x cranksets get their own power meter in the form of a Quarq DUB-PWR power meter neatly hidden inside the DUB spindle. Unlike a chainring-based power meter, spindle-based power meters are single-sided and only measure left-side power (which is more than good enough for the vast majority of riders). It still provides the expected Quarq accuracy, and for those who care, only adds 40g to the total crankset weight. When purchased as an upgrade kit, the DUB power meter spindle comes attached to a new left crank arm, which replaces your existing DUB spindle and left crank arm. 

    Rainbow Cassette and Chain Colorways

    SRAM Red AXS Rainbow cassette and flattop chainFor bling lovers, this might be the most exciting addition. Along with the new Force AXS group, SRAM is also introducing limited edition Red XG-1290 cassettes and Red Flattop chains in the rainbow colorway used on its XX1 Eagle AXS mountain bike group. Also known as “oil slick,” this new cassette and chain color will give any bike some serious pop. They are compatible with all 12-speed AXS road groups. 


    New SRAM Force AXS Pricing

    SRAM Force AXS 1x gravel


    Force AXS Shifters

    $700 ($350 each)

    Force AXS Rear Derailleur (36t max)


    Force AXS XPLR Rear Derailleur (44t max)


    Force AXS Front Derailleur


    Force AXS Wide Front Derailleur


    Force AXS 2x Crankset


    Force AXS 1x Crankset


    Force AXS 2x Crankset + Power Meter Spider


    Force AXS 2x Wide Crankset + Power Meter Spindle


    Force AXS 1x Crankset + Power Meter Spindle


    Force AXS Power Meter DM Spider Kit


    Force AXS Left Arm + Power Meter Spindle Kit


    Force AXS One-Piece Chainrings


    Red AXS XG-1290 Rainbow Cassette


    Red AXS Flattop Rainbow Chain


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    Photos courtesy of SRAM.