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We live in an 11speed world. The extra cog has trickled down the Shimano line and trickled down the Campagnolo line. When SRAM launched 11speed they didn’t wait for trickle down. While RED 22 was getting all the press, Force 22 quietly landed the same day but relied on its performance in the field to gain notice. It has gained our notice. SRAM Force 22 is simply the best value in cycling.
Force has always been the leader in the second-tier pack. Lighter and less expensive than others in the category, Force featured essentially the same performance as its big brother, RED. It was the leader in the personality category to, with a look and feel that was anything but anonymous. Riders on Force always seem to have a knowing smirk, ‘I got all the performance of RED, with a thousand bucks left in my pocket.”
With the launch of Force 22, the group has only strengthened its appeal. While True 22 is the centerpiece – the ability to shift across an entire 11speed cassette without chain rub and without trim – YAW makes it possible and debuts on Force for the first time. YAW describes the slight arc the front derailleur transcribes as it shifts, which keeps the tail of the cage clear of the chain when riding cross-chained. The ergonomics of the lever have been tweaked with a reduced hood diameter, taller peak, more room for finger wrap and longer levers. Reach-adjust, Exact Actuation, ZeroLoss, WiFLi and the rest of SRAM’s well-known features are still in attendance.
For True 22 to really work proper set-up is critical, but as with SRAM past, once you dial it in, it stays put. Force 22 simply doesn’t creep out of adjustment. Pull the wheels on and off, throw it in the trunk, hit it with pressure washer, it shifts crisply and easily ride after ride. The lever input is still the crispest of the mechanical options, with essentially zero slop in the shift paddle, but slightly less pressure is now required. The shift paddle is larger to, which is nice from the drops, but while single finger braking from the hoods it bumps against your fingers as they wrap the hood. Any critical braking needs to be done with at least two fingers to make room for the oversize paddle. The trend to the larger paddle is industry wide and something any rider with big hands must face, regardless of brand.
SRAM Force 22 is still the most inspiring second-tier group on the market. At $1398 and only 2149grams with the BB30 option, it is over 100grams lighter than Ultegra 6800, but will cost you an extra $150. As good as Ultegra 6800 is now, and it is very good, we’ll still make the leap to Force 22.
SRAM Force 22 $1398 w/ BB30 ($1358 with GXP) 2149grams (BB30)