From The Top - SRAM CEO Stan Day

Apr 7, 2014
by Mike Levy  
SRAM s Stan Day

Look at many of today's high-end bikes and you'll find single chain ring, eleven speed drivetrains in place of the double and triple chain ring cranksets that you would have seen only a few short years ago. And while they can't claim to have invented the concept, it is arguable that SRAM is the one company that developed the single ring approach to the point where it's both very useable for the average mountain biker and accepted as a viable alternative to the earlier status quo. That feat is all the more impressive when you consider what SRAM was up against in those early days twenty plus years ago, which was a very David versus Goliath scenario that saw the brand and its CEO, Stan Day, having to go toe-to-toe with their Japanese competitor in order to challenge how business was done. A number of familiar brands are under the SRAM umbrella nowadays - RockShox, Truvativ, Zipp, Avid, and Quarq - and the company has grown to the point where it holds a substantial market share in both the OE and aftermarket aspects of the cycling world, and there's no better person to tell the story of SRAM than Stan Day himself.

Unlike a lot of industry veterans, Day wasn't immersed in the cycling world from an early age, instead coming from a business school background and with a history of working in the electronics industry. Go back two generations in the Day family tree, though, and it will reveal a grandfather that ran a bicycle and motorbike shop in the early 1900s, so you might be able to say that planted some small subconscious seed into the bloodline that manifested itself into the soon to be SRAM chief executive officer spending a lot of time cycling around Chicago. ''The idea that led to Grip Shift came to me in 1986 when I was riding my bike over Chicago's pothole littered streets while training for a triathlon," Day says of having to take his hands off the bars while on those rough roads to reach for the down tube mounted shifters. Those rides spawned the idea of a twist shifter on the handlebar, and it wasn't long before he was sitting down to sketch out ideas. Fast forward a few years and Day and his team were pounding the streets hard to get shops to carry their product, and while there was obvious resistance to trying something different in the conservative road cycling world, installing the new Grip Shift setup on pro racers' bikes was slowly changing people's minds. Somewhat unexpectedly at the time, Grip Shift found far more acceptance with those who rode their bikes in the dirt. The company has had strong success with their mountain bike drivetrains ever since, and judging by the first impressions of their new X01 DH group, that looks set to continue.
• SRAM founded in 1987

• Cadence Control, Purejoy, and Ollo were early considerations for the company name before SRAM was adopted

• SRAM is an acronym consisting of its founders' names: Scott, Ray (Ray is the middle name of company head Stan Day), and Sam

• Company badges misspelled as ''SCRAM'' at first tradeshow

• Grip Shift conceived in 1986

• First production ESP rear derailleurs in 1995

• Offices and manufacturing in U.S., Europe, and Asia

• Acquired Sachs in 1997

• Acquired RockShox in 2002

• Currently employees 3000 people

SRAM s Stan Day

  SRAM’s 2010 sales totalled over $524 million USD, which is a long way from those early days in the late 1980s, isn't it?

It has been a fun ride. In the early days, I remember my brother FK, Mike Mercuri and I would half joke that if it didn’t work out we were going to head to the islands and open a fruit stand. There are some Chicago winters when that seems like an even better idea, but we’re really excited about what we have accomplished. We love the bike industry, and there is a lot more to do.

  Opening a fruit stand might have been more relaxing than running SRAM, but I doubt that it would have led to the company being a major part of World Bicycle Relief, the non-profit organization that provides bicycles to people in underdeveloped areas around the world. How did the program come to life and how does it work?

The best place to learn the story is at the World Bicycle Relief website. The short of it is that my brother and his wife flew to the disaster area after the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2005. They were trying to figure out how we as an organization could support the relief effort, and their thought was that we might be able to do something beyond just contributing money. What they discovered was that there was a lot of money and a lot of people trying to help, but most of the survivors along the coast had lost their transportation. The roads had been washed out and everyone was walking. The idea was that we could leverage our bicycle industry knowledge and multiply our effort and money by providing bikes. This was the equivalent of an industrial revolution to the students, health care workers, and entrepreneurs who were otherwise living their lives walking.

  Why do you think the program has been so successful? After all, World Bicycle Relief has not only supplied over 170,000 bikes for transportation, thereby making access to food, water, school, and medical help easier, but also trains people of the community on how to repair and look after the bikes.

The program has been successful because of the unique power of the bicycle. It truly is an industrial revolution to those who are walking. It increases their range and their carrying capacity, and for those that are living a life of barely getting by, it gives them the most precious commodity: time. Another factor has been my brother FK’s leadership of the effort and the broader industry’s support. The industry has played a vital part in supplying frames, components and raising money. Credit to all.

World Bicycle Relief
bigquotesThe idea was that we could leverage our bicycle industry knowledge and multiply our effort and money by providing bikes. This was the equivalent of an industrial revolution to the students, health care workers and entrepreneurs who were otherwise living their lives walking.- Stan Day

  It's definitely an example of the industry working together for a good cause. Things aren't always so mutualistic, though... SRAM challenged Shimano over unfair business practices in 1990 due to the Japanese company’s group pricing that rewarded manufacturers who spec’d their bikes with only complete Shimano group sets, thereby making it near impossible for SRAM to compete. That suit was eventually settled out of court in your favour. Looking back, exactly how crucial was this victory for SRAM in the long run?

It was essential because the market wasn’t open for us or others to sell components at the time. We knew that to be successful and to amortize our development costs we had to be in both the aftermarket and the OEM markets, but the OEM market was blocked.

  While that event was a victory for SRAM, it could surely be considered as a favourable result for other players in the industry as well. What effect did it have on the industry as a whole?

I think the rest of the component industry really blossomed, and it enabled all sorts of people to bring their ideas to market. Frankly, I think it was good for Shimano as well. It created a more diverse and colorful world that has attracted more participants. The whole industry has grown and the biggest guy has doubled in size as well.

  Was it a conscious decision on your part to take on Shimano during those early years, or was it more about simply making drivetrain components how you saw them and trying to get them onto bikes?

It wasn’t a conscious decision. We would have preferred to compete against anyone else, but it’s the space we ended up in and we did our best to make lemonade.

SRAM history

  Speaking of difficult tasks, what would you say has been the biggest challenge for SRAM over the years, and how did the company overcome it?

The biggest challenge is what I call entropy. Applied to a business, it's the natural tendency over time and with size for things to move toward chaos. As we grow, it gets to be more difficult to keep things in order, and to keep our 3,000 person strong team across twenty locations around the world choreographed and dancing the same step.

  That growth that you talk about is partly due to the several acquisitions that SRAM has made over the years, picking up Avid, Rockshox, Zipp and others. You mentioned entropy, but how do you prevent that when bringing in brands and new groups of employees?

The biggest challenge is communication. You need to get everyone aligned, headed in the same direction and minimize the uncertainty. The next challenge is systems. Our objective is to run an integrated organization, so we need common work processes and IT platforms. This is a ton of work and there is a lot of room for divergent opinions. The third challenge is creating long term integration. It's hard for different cultures, especially with the passionate people that we have in this industry, to shift their alignment, and it goes both ways. It wasn’t easy for SRAM drivetrain folks to learn how to speak and sell suspension, and it wasn’t easy for RockShox folks to learn about drivetrains.

  New manufacturing and business locations have coincided with those acquisitions, especially in Asia. Do you see potential for manufacturing to shift to the US in the future? And if so, what changes would have to be made to facilitate this?

There are two parts to our business: OEM and aftermarket, with OEM being about two thirds of it. We manufacture product in Asia because that is where the vast majority of bicycles are built, and it's important to stay close to the bike factories. For instance, we deliver to the large Taiwan factories on a just-in-time basis once per day, something that we couldn’t do from the U.S.. Zipp, on the other hand, is primarily an aftermarket product, and we layup, mold, lace, assemble and distribute our wheels and hubs out of Indianapolis. I think it will be difficult for OEM related components to shift back to the U.S. as I think they will need to stay close to the bike factories. Aftermarket product manufacturing, however, can expand here, and there are a number of good examples beyond what we are doing.

SRAM history

  Developing products, from early prototypes to production-ready components, is only part of the challenge, with the world of patents posing many of its own difficulties. Do you think that patents have held back product development in any way?

We have a lot of respect for intellectual property, both our own and our competitors'. We invest significant time and resources in understanding the patent landscape, determining which of our innovations can be protected, and understanding where our competitors have protection. I don’t think the patent landscape has held us back. In fact, there are times when it has driven us to think further and to create significant innovations. Examples include our double tap shifting and our yaw front derailleur, developments that may not have materialized if we weren’t working around competitor patents.

   It could be said that it took some of that same out of the box thinking to bring the original Grip Shift to life, a product that was intended for use on road bikes but found a much more willing audience in the mountain bike world. Given that this was the era of road riders having to reach for their down tube shifters to change gears, why do you think that there was resistance to a twist shifter mounted on the bar?

That is a real head scratcher for me because it worked great. I’ll tell you what I was told, though: It was ugly, kind of like the looks only a parent could love. However, time showed we were directionally in the ballpark in terms of function.

  Is it fair to say that, looking back, it's that original Grip Shift that you're most proud of?

Actually, the one that I like the most was our SRT Grip Shift. This is the product that really put us on the map. S stood for “size”, the R was for “rotation”, and the T was for “transition”. It has been fun to wander the world and see so many of these on bikes, and while I know that trigger shifters are probably the most popular at the top of the market, I still use Grip Shift and love it.

   Given that Grip Shift was your first product, how was it to see the latest version of it come to life and not only function well, but also come out of the gate with a first place at last year’s cross-country World Championships?

I was thrilled. I don’t like to jump into the project selection and prioritization debate with my personal opinions, but I was really excited to see our new twister move into production, and I started using it as soon as it came off the pre-production line.

SRAM history

bigquotesThere are times we have moved too fast, and our recent hydraulic road brake recall is one of them. Balancing one's desire to move at a faster pace versus one's sustainable output is just as important in product development as in bicycle racing.- Stan Day

  It had to be great to see that first evolved Grip Shift come off the line nearly twenty five years after those originals were made. There have to have been some difficult times, though. Looking back, are there any mistakes in SRAM’s history that, if given the chance, you’d like to go back and have a do-over on?

Developing bicycle components is very difficult. The idea of what one wants to accomplish comes very quickly, but the execution of it requires incredible engineering, design, testing and preparation before ultimately leading to a manufactured product. Innovation is often easier than manufacturing. There are times that we have made mistakes, and our recent hydraulic road brake recall is one of them. Simple unseen mistakes can compound into a big problem. We learn and get better, and we’re committed to be the best.

  Speaking of development, electronic shifting has come a long way since the days of Mavic’s Mektronic group, with battery operated road-going drivetrains from both Campagnolo and Shimano, and it surely only being a matter of time until an electronic off-road group is available. Do you feel any pressure to respond with your own electronic group, be it on- or off-road, or is it simply a project that will come good when the time is right?

Frankly, I was an electronic skeptic. I didn’t think cyclists would want to add batteries, wires, electric motors, and controllers to replace the power of their index finger. I was wrong on road bikes, and cyclists have demonstrated that a meaningful portion want electronic shifting. Our job isn’t to change their minds, but to deliver a simple, lightweight high performance system, and those developments will materialize when the time is right.

  We're likely to see some reluctance from mountain bikers who are wary of using electronics instead of pulling on steel cables like they are used to, very much like some of the skepticism about 11-speed drivetrains when XX1 was released. Time has shown that both XX1 and the new X01 group perform well, though, and many riders are asking for the technology to trickle down to less expensive offerings.

We believe in simplicity and performance. We think the XX1 system is a simpler, lighter way to provide the needed gear range for a lot of proficient mountain bikers. We believe its role is to demonstrate value and appeal at the highest performance level. Over time this development at the top of the market could make sense at the mid-range of the market. I think the biggest hurdle is not technical but emotional - can the consumer recognize that fewer gears are better and that a three chain ring bike is redundant and heavier?

bigquotesI was wrong on road bikes, and cyclists have demonstrated that a meaningful portion want electronic shifting. Our job isn't to change their minds, but to deliver a simple, lightweight high performance system, and those developments will materialize when the time is right.- Stan Day

  The SRAM IPO was filed May 12, 2011, and is still listed as pending. What is the latest on the IPO process? And are there reasons you can share as to why it seems to have stalled?

There have been multiple reasons. It first stalled because it took the SEC 6 months to align with our accounting related to buying back Trilantic’s ownership, and then the market went into the European debt crisis exacerbated by the U.S. debt rating being diminished. This chilled IPOs in 2012. Then the bike industry had a very soft year in 2013, and we shot ourselves in the foot with our quality issues. Looking back, I am glad we didn’t IPO in 2011 because it would have been a really rough ride. I continue to think it's the right long term ownership structure, and I expect that we will get there at the appropriate time. In the meantime, we’re improving our organization and processes while introducing some really innovative new products.

  It sounds like the delay might not have been a bad thing. Your day-to-day role within SRAM has no doubt evolved as the company has grown over the past twenty-five years. Are you as hands-on as you were in the beginning, or have you taken a step back, or maybe sideways?

My role has evolved. In a way, it was more fun when we were small. We had to get it done - all of us were in product development, all of us were selling, and all of us were in manufacturing. As a much larger company we are now managers, and often the fun is being on the front lines versus in the conference room.

  I've heard that you refuse to have a personal office, instead sitting at a desk in an open plan space and in a particularly high traffic zone. What is your reason for this, and what sort of impact do you think it has on your staff and the culture of SRAM?

I like to participate. If I was locked away in an office or screened by a secretary, I wouldn’t have the same feel for what is going on. I enjoy it when people interrupt my day with questions or ideas, and it’s important to be available and supportive of people’s ideas and initiatives and being out in the open helps. I think most of our team prefers the open office as long as there are plenty of conference rooms available.

  In regards to cycling, where do you see the worlds of digital and print heading in the next five years?

I like reading print more than I like reading digital. It just feels better to me. That said, I admit that I get most of my news digitally. I think there will be a lot of opportunity to enhance our experience and appreciation of cycling digitally. Racers will be wired for video, their power and other data will be over-laid on the screen, and their context in the race will be clear. All of this technology exists today, and with time it will be packaged correctly and enhancing our racing experience provided by media.

  It's said that the SRAM interview process is one of the most rigorous in the industry. How important is it to find employees that match the value system and culture of SRAM in comparison to hiring someone who has the skills required and simply meets the needs of the job?

I hadn’t heard that we were the most rigorous, but I’ll take it as a compliment. We really work hard to hire the right people for us and the prospective candidates. Getting it right makes us stronger and getting it wrong wastes time for everyone. I think the most important part is finding the right character fit - we want people that fit with our culture and our passion to make cycling a bigger and better activity for all. We aren’t an easy place to work. Lots of locations, projects being coordinated globally, and processes that are still maturing all make it challenging for new folks joining the team. Spirit and stamina are both necessary, and a smile helps a lot as well.

  I think that it’s fair to say that, true or not, most riders picture the CEO of a large company like SRAM getting out on the greens more often than sitting in the saddle. Is this true?

I'm definitely in the saddle more. I am dangerous with a golf club. I recall, at an industry golf outing last Eurobike, I drilled my playing partner in the shin with a golf ball on the 18th hole. I really enjoy riding, and I do several centuries every year. I enjoy mountain biking at elevations with lots of oxygen around, and I commute year round by bike in Chicago. It has been a cold winter... my brother says that there is no bad weather, just bad clothes, but my wife said I was nuts when I rode to work on a -16F day back in January.

Posted In:
Interviews SRAM


  • 97 20
 Dear SRAM, your components are great and your innovation is the best in the MTB market... please could you work more towards Shimano build quality, quality materials and reliability though please? Then you'd be untouchable!
  • 21 9
 this is the only reason i still go to shimano for drivetrain components.
  • 51 27
 I use both, have been buying different generations of their products through last 11 years and don't understand what can be your general problem with Sram drivetrain? I'd say that it is latest two Shimano generations that are going down in quality and aesthetics. Latest XT and XTR are a joke for the money, IMHO, the only thing that Shimano is better than Sram is Zee and SLX as the lower group. Saint is cool as well. But X9 and X0 are just excellent, I choose type2 over shadow+ anytime.
  • 8 13
flag chyu (Apr 7, 2014 at 3:37) (Below Threshold)
 he looks like a lawyer. oh is he.
  • 34 5
 The general problem with SRAM drivetrain is quality and reliability.

I am currently running XX1 but there is certainly room for improvement. Ran XTR 10 speed before that and X0 9 speed before that, XTR 9 speed before that, etc, etc so am not biased in any way to one or the other.

IMO you buy SRAM because the innovation they provide (e.g. XX1) is unmatched- i.e. the only thing on the market to do what it does. Or you value aesthetics and light weight.

You buy Shimano if you can lose a little on looks and weight but want the most reliable and problem free drivetrain. Of course you must also be happy with a narrow range 1x drivetrain, happy with third party mods to go wide range 1x or are happy with 2x. I was not so am on XX1 regardless of the faults.

On SRAM,the chain jumps of the pulley wheels when muddy (snapped an inner cage in this way) and XTR just generally performs better in the mud. XX1 pivots are temperamental going either stiff or sloppy quickly, spring tension is far too weak and cables need a lot of attention in muddy rides. XTR you get thumb and finger shifting which I miss. XTR brakes are the best brakes I've ever tried. SRAM feels wobbly and plasticy, Shimano solid and crisp. Cagelock and Type 2 are awesome though (so long as the damned clutch keeps its tension!). In terms of design I love SRAM but Shimano win out for execution.

As I say, I love XX1 but can see room for improvement. If Shimano would get off their ass and make a decent 1x11 drivetrain they'd clean up... but they'll make silly 2x11 elec shifting instead Frown Also, if SRAM could spend less on marketing and more on materials/ build quality/ reliability then I'd never need to consider anything else. As it is, it is all about compromise between the two and what you value most
  • 7 3
 The way I see it the market is 50/50.
I personally prefer SRAM for product feel, perforamance and innovation

Sheman-oh have the OE market nailed, the SLX and Deore groupsets are fantastic performance/price offerings. More performance than most weekend warriors would ever appreciate
The Zee offering beats the above if you play rough and Saint for DH.
All of that is a massive market share

However when it comes to trail riding. ‘Enduro’ or whatever fap you wanna call it SRAM are currently boss. Completely overshadowing XT and XTR. This market is where the moneys at and its growing exponentially in SRAMs favour.

Also, I no understand why Sheman-oh make an adjustable clutch. Why would you make it less clutch-ie!!! SRAM’s cage lock widget is the best unsung hero of current drivetrain development. Makes maintenance and wheel swaps a joy.
  • 5 3
 "Also, I no understand why Sheman-oh make an adjustable clutch. Why would you make it less clutch-ie!!!"

I see it as the other way, in wanting to add more tension over time. The material in the clutch can creep over time meaning the clutch effect gradually gets lost. Cage lock is awesome but I'm reluctant to leave it on for long periods of time since the clutch could creep even more and lose even more tension (no saying it does, just being OCD). Plus, people have preferences between shifting quality and chain retention, so actually I like the adjustability of Shimano clutches.

Absolutely agree about Shimano nailing the lower end of the market and OE. Deore is so ridiculously good for the money (or for even more money really!). I mean a brake that performs as well as the other Shimano offerings for £35 an end is just insane!!!
  • 35 13
 SHIMANO = set it and forget it

SRAM = it should work ?
  • 10 8
 I have issues with Shimano drivetrains as well. I need to readjust them 3-4 times a year and change cables twice. Sram is no perfect but I am often having this thoughy that if I would like a perfectly working product I'd need a personal mechanic
  • 23 2
 SRAM XO drivetrain (Rear Mech, shifter, cassette, cranks) & Shimano XT Brakes...most reliable set-up in all of mountain biking.
  • 30 1
 I dont truly lose sleep over choosing between SRAM or Shimano. Both of them make excellent drivetrains.
  • 3 4
 I am running a bike with full 10speed XT drivetrain another one with 9speed x0 triggers and x9 derail. The Sram setup is running without problems since 2008, changed cables and cassette/chain twice. The XT setup since early 2012, no problems here either. But in terms of shift feel I would pick Shimano over Sram, the 2-way release is great.
Both bikes have been ridden in extreme muddy conditions ( had to change my shimano spd pedals to Time due to mud issues). Can't complain about the reliability of Sram or Shimano in this price range, BUT the x07 triggers I used prior to the x0 were plain shit compared to a pair of 2009 slx triggers. Shimano lower price range Groups are far superior.
  • 5 0
 I've been riding both drivetrains and I also don't get why so many people complain aber quality issues with Sram? I now only ride Sram, because I preferred the feel of it, and I never had any troubles!
I'm not saying that Shimano is bad, it was just my personal decision to choose Sram!
  • 3 2
 SRAM all the way , had prob. With both shimano/ SRAM , and prefer SRAM overwhelmingly ,
it's like ford / Chevys , they're basicly the same with minor differences , but SRAM seems to be more
About bring on new tech. Or at least trying ,way easier to work on than shimano IMO
Last thought : rapid rise blows
  • 7 1
 Great read but does anyone care that much about grip shifts ,
  • 2 3
 Shimano for disc brakes and cranks, SRAM is nowhere near the quality and durability on these products. Sram on drivetrain, they are faster and crispier, Shimano should use stronger springs and shorter cages to come close. So really its a mix match...
  • 3 0
 This is directed at everyone. I think everyone has had their good/bad experiences with shimano and SRAM. Run what feels right for you, personally I prefer shimano for shifter/der and I like SRAM (avid) for my brakes. I Have nothing to say but great things about both.
  • 2 0
 "Great read but does anyone care that much about grip shifts"

Ironic that the gripshift is the part of XX1 with the greatest reliability issues! Nothing like the quality and feel of old, despite being heavier and more expensive
  • 1 0
 SRAM had lots of quality issues in 2012-2013. If you have older products, you have no problems. But my 2013 SRAM drivetrain is uber crappy. Got something on my chain or cogs? BAM! Chain flies away! I'm switching to Shimano while they fix their QA department.
  • 2 1
 Latest Sram chains are crap particularly hollow pin ones. I use only Dura Ace chains. Saves money and frustration as long as you avoid adding links. Just set the right length once abd install KMC chain lock or throw it away and take next chain. But I like my X0/X9type2 a bit more over my XT/Zee. I love 9sp Saint but 9sp X0 is the best thing on this planet.
  • 1 0
 9 speed mechs were a bit floppy (they had a plastic cage for starters), but the shifting was so, so crisp and the body/ pivots were very solid and smooth. Absolutely loved the 9 speed X0 grip shifters too!

Latest SRAM chains seem to be struggling for reliability and the XX1 chains now seem to have solid rather than cut out links which seems to have sorted most problems along with adding two more links to the chain in addition to big-big plus 2. Not really a fan of SRAM chains but it seems to be doing ok.

Thank goodness SRAM cassettes are light years better than they were in the 9 speed days though!!!
  • 4 2
 Reliability has definitely been an issue with SRAM over the last decade, anybody who denies it hasn't worked in a busy bike shop or talked with people who have.

It is apparent now that they came up with one of the worst brake designs ever, and then stuck with it for way too long as the warranties piled up over the years. Then they recently made a similar mistake with their road bike brakes, putting marketing priorities ahead of adequate engineering and testing, and it also blew up in their face.

I'm curious about their Asian factories they use, if they are in one location or spread out throughout different parts of Asia which would make supervision and qualitycontrol more difficult to supervise. I like that Shimano is all in one location, at least for their high-end parts, and knowing its in Japan means it is less likely slave like conditions that many Asian factories have.

But SRAM is always innovating and improving, and Shimano seems to be sitting on their hands or spinning fishing reels in the drivetrain dept. I admire anyone who is a hardcore commuter, and I like this guys team-management philosophy.
  • 2 0
 Only XTR is made in Japan, lowly XT is made in TW. Anyone can correct me if I'm wrong.
  • 14 1
 Sram has to be one of the most influential and advanced MTB companies at the moment. With 1x11, their new suspension is arguably the best out and it sounds like they have upped their game with brakes. Dominating all the competition, keep moving forward SRAM and start making pedals!
  • 13 2
 Sorry I meant clipless, I'd like them to take on Crank Brothers
  • 1 0
 i would say more like,: dear sram, please work a litle bit more on the chain sistem, those nicolai sistems are sick and way more easy to work!
watch how its donne!
  • 9 0
 Every time I read a comment regarding the issues with Avid brakes or SRAM drivetrain components, I feel like I live in bizzaro-land! I've always ridden a fully SRAM/Avid component set and my SO has a full shimano set... I do 100% of the bike maint. for all the bikes in our household and I cannot say that one brand is necessarily better/more robust that the other... The only reason I picked SRAM over Shimano is because I like the feel of the trigger shifters better that their shimano counterparts... Long live the healthy competition between these two major manufacturers!
  • 2 1
 Couldn't agree more with you @ meldonlobo , I always hear people bitching about avid breaks but I personally have
never had a major problem with them , Imo the pad adjustment alone is enough to keep me with avid , and the triggers are for easier to work on
The rear mechs are so much nicer , just in the way the cable is routed on a SRAM rear mech compared to a shimano , straight through
, not wrapped around the screw ,
  • 5 3
 The reason is not complicated but it lays just beyond the comprehension of the typical, vocal PB user. Individual brakeset quality doesn't have a 'normal distribution'. You can't sit back and count stories on the Internet and say 'on average, the Elixir 9 is worse than the XT', for the very real reason that 'on average' doesn't apply here. There are many good Avid brakesets that make it through QC, and there are a few (but too many!) bad brakesets that make it through QC, and so the curve of all individual performances would not one smooth hump (i.e. 'normal'), it would be two humps. One hump around the good sets and one hump around the bad. People on this site cannot get it through their heads that their brake and their story about it, whether positive or negative, has no bearing on your brake and your story, nor me and mine, when they come from different 'humps' on the curve. No amount of forum griping makes my actually good brake bad, or your actually bad brake good. The factory produces both.
  • 3 0
 Having actually worked in QC (not in the biking industry but in the medical diagnostic industry where quality is probably much more stringent than for bicycle parts because its mandated by the FDA), I can attest to this... there will always be lot to lot variability; There will be bad lots, good lots, terrible lots and even occasionally lots that are even better than the QC-standard... Maybe Shimano's release specifications (what a lot needs to produce before it is "OK" to go out on shelves) is tighter than Avids... It would be interesting to see an article on how these components are actually QC'd! Regardless of "Good" vs "Bad" I would say that Shimano is "more consistant" with their products... from one level to the other (SLX vs XT vs XTR) and from lot to lot...
  • 3 1
 Had three consecutive bikes with avid brakes that worked poorly. Inconsistent lever feel, very little pad to rotor tolerance, and major noise/vibration. First set of xt brakes purchased worked flawless. Second set same outcome. Conclusion won't waste my money on SRAM brakes. Rock shox reba fork with two seasons maintenance performed regularly and anodizing is coming off. You can actually see tooling marks from when they finish machined the fork tubes. Poorly made product that is touted by company as a premium fork. SRAM stylo crank have gone through a bb every season. Have a road bike that has SRAM rival components and the rear cassette has a cog that is out of line. Basically makes that gear unusable unless you want to hear what sounds like a mis adjusted rear D.

Must admit that SRAM product looks great but just like women it's not always the best looking ones that give the best rideSmile
  • 6 0
 Good article. Although I'm a Shimano drivetrain fanboy, I agree that challenging Shimano was good for both them and the market - it gave both a good up the behind.

One request though - can you de-bulls*!t your press releases? Love SRAM innovation, but I swear of every four paragraphs of a SRAM press release, only one actually contains relevant information.
  • 8 0
  • 8 0
 No office? Works in the open? I wish my boss was that awesome.
  • 2 0
 Depends on if u like ur boss.
  • 8 0
 Wish she (my boss) worked topless in the open space. ..ha jk
  • 2 1
 How would I read Pinkbike if my office was in the open?
  • 4 0
 Im not sure whats more surprising, navigating to pinkbike and seeing a naked guy on the thumbnail -or- the fact that I clicked the thumbnail of the naked guy and read it in its entirety. Good job SRAM. Love your parts... err components.
  • 11 6
 I'm sure sram's good gear but I allways seem to buy shimano. Good article though.
  • 3 0
 I am a Shimano fan too, but if they don't come out with a wide-range cassette it'll be SRAM on my drivetrain next bike.
  • 2 2
 Iamamodel - they will also need to change the clutch for 42t sprocketa, because I am dropping chain on long cage slx s+ on narrow wide.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns I don't know how your dropping chains with clutch mech and narrow wide, tighten your chain/clutch. I'm running med cage xtr no drops over the craziest shot, and my nomad with rp23 gets pretty funky when I push it hard down, still no drops.

SRAM is nice don't get me wrong, nothing shifts like an xtr at proper cadences, if SRAM had the same lever abilities, I would have xo1 on my bike. But I like the rapid fire.
  • 2 0
 Maybe in monutain bike nowadays Sram is the reference to follow, but in road cycling they are years back from Shimano and Campagnolo. My opinion is that Shimano is focusing more in being a decent rival to Campy in electronic shifters and simply dropping down prices in MTB. This way people who can't afford a 1x11 drivetrain set instead a 2x10 XT, so Shimano is selling thousands of XT's.

I also think they have to make something about and release a 1x grouppo. They have the money, engineers, WC riders, R&D department, etc. etc. to do it, but for some reason they think it's not the moment.
  • 3 1
 Just make sure the wireless connection for electronic shifting doesn't interfere with folks Strava. I already get annoyed being passed on the ups and catching them on the downs. We don't need those people to shouting at their bike as well as their phones.
  • 2 0
 i'd say i was trigger shifter,but the one time i really buck down and ran the grip shift,i liked them and never went back way easy to go in any gear,one thing though get rid of d hangers on frame,bolt right on axel,i'm just say sorry i got off if anyone wanted try them i highly say ya they work good,they just felt open ness around the grip no lever,simple slide of hand while still holding bars tight and lose.
  • 7 0
 Good article. Thanks
  • 4 0
 I love some of their stuff more than others, but I have always been amazed by their customer service. Keep up the good work.
  • 4 2
 Currently I own both type2 and shadow+ drivetrain systems, and I have to say I prefer the feel of the SRAM over Shimano but both perform as they should. All of this fan boy idiocy is getting old, people who really ride their bikes will ride what is best, doesn't matter what company it is from, if it is an inferior product why stick with it? Competition is good, in fact I'd like to see another big boy in this market and really see the innovation that gets turned out then... Bottom line, if it works the best, RIDE IT!
  • 1 0
 My only complaint with Sram is the length of time to get warranty service. My stealth Reverb has been off for warranty now for over 3 months, which I find unacceptable. Saint brakes went off, 1 week later replacements back on bike. For that reason alone I'll stick with Shimano.
  • 1 0
 The grip shifts where the worst thing I ever experienced. They make good stuff now but I'll still take Shimano over Sram any day. I've had a few Sram components that failed on me, but with Shimano, failures were extremely rare.
  • 1 0
 Running XO1 on my current bike along with the XO Trail brakes, to me it's great and I have no complaints. But to each his own ride what you prefer and smile because you are riding, the debate is pointless. I will stand behind SRAM it's been over 10 years of running their components and I will say that I'm about to get there new XO1 DH 7 speed setup and can't wait oh and got another set of SRAM XO Trail Brakes as well for the build. Great Job SRAM keep up the innovation and in my opinion leading the component game!,
  • 1 0
 Two years in a row at Sea Otter, their mechs were complete dicks and refused to help with the issues I had with their products. After half a season of horrible SRAM issues (four broken DH cassettes, four snapped chains), I asked the "head mech for pro 4X and DH riders" how to solve the ongoing issues I had with a full SRAM drivetrain. Response after not even putting my bike in the stand: "I dunno, buy a new chain for every race dude."

Year two, I could not get my brakes to stop dragging on the rotors. I showed up at their tent on Thursday (before the madness ensued), and no one would even acknowledge my presence. Came back the next day after practice, with 3hrs before qualifying, response to asking for support: "Haha! No way we're gonna get that back to you until tomorrow man."

Dumped their crap for Saint and Ultegra cassette after the race and worked like a charm. Problems simply disappeared. Imagine that...Don't even get me started on the Argyle that can't seem to keep its oil or feel better than a turd.
  • 2 0
 Rule of thumb: if everyone seems like an a*shole, chances are the a*shole is you. Wink
  • 1 0
 Yeah I hear ya. I'm the first to admit my mistakes, but sadly in this case, I was being respectful.
  • 1 0
 Hey, give Sam Patterson a little more credit!!! I see some photos of Sam, but Stan says zip about the fact that, without Sam's original set of inventions, and assistance with the fight against the monopolist Shimano, SRAM ("Scotty, Ray and Sam") would likely not exist at this point in history.
  • 1 0
 if you want sexy, buy a high price call girl (hooker). If you want quality reliability and products that will take you across 39 mountain ranges and 4000 miles in 3 months with a 3 x 9 XTR group on the same chain. Buy Shimano and ride the hell out of a bike that will work and not fail you. Oh yea how about the XX WC brakes failing because the black coating was not up to spec- the Dot fluid ate the coating and caused brake failures. Way to pollute the world SRAM. Shimano uses mineral oil.
Simple people need simple drive-trains. XTR is to advanced -- ENJOY!!! And peace
  • 1 0
 Through the I have had some issues with both SRAM and Shimano, but a the end of the day, SRAM is seems to be much more engaged and supportive of the MTB market than Shimano (IMBA NICA, local evnts),so the choice for me is pretty simple. Support the company that supports your sport.
  • 3 0
 -.- every time I see some SRAM products I will remember the naked CEO dude. great parts, great support!
  • 4 0
 Go ride your bikes Sram/Shimano it all shifts and stops you! GO RIDE!!!
  • 4 1
 SRAM, I love your components, but please don't do electronic MTB drivetrains or brakes. It's a ridiculous gimmick!
  • 3 0
 Agreed and SRAM would probably secretly agree with that too. But gimmick or not. If its a viable money making proposition, works well and does not devalue the SRAM brand, its a worthwhile addition to the product line-up. Its a money making business after all. Besides the development of it could lead to another innovation gem that filters down the product line. In the same vain as XX1 cassette for example. Lets push things forward.
  • 9 5
 All that money and they cant make quiet brakes!
  • 3 0
 not a truer word said mxwhitey!
  • 1 0
 ah yes... !
  • 2 0
 When I saw the main photo, I immediately thought of this:
  • 3 4
 Chain and x-9 last Sram parts on dh-bike. No Sram on road bike. Ridequality, function and durability have improved. 3rd x-9 about to go south in 1 year with bushing wear. Boxxer a pain in the wrists, shifters unergonomical, brakes unreliable. Ceo smokescreen because of recalls. Wonder whats toasting beyond their brake disaster...
  • 2 1
 I love my SRAM X7 drivetrain AND my Shimano XT brakes. Having two giants like SRAM and Shimano competing can only lead to better products.
  • 4 5
 To start Shitty Brakes period, I warranty SRAM products on a weekly basis, Junk clunky shifting made worse by RED Power Dome hollow core with exact pull ratio's. Horrible Zipp molds that decrease the dimple effect over time as the molds get older. Suing Shimano for royalties to stay in business, because Shimano had to much market share. Major bike manufactures realized this and still kept spec-ing Shimano groups. POOR Research and endangerment of failing hydro-Recall brake systems released without proper testing. S-orry R-ecall A-ll M-odel's . SRAM does not produce a good product just a stupid FROG. I live VERY close to the factory. I am a shop service manager and for the last 4 years The rate of replacement SRAM to Shimano has been 400 to 1 . Ride like a Clone ride SRAM.
  • 5 3
 Wow, bad mood today? Let the butt hurt flow.
  • 2 0
 thank god someone here actually knows what they are talking about. I have worked in bike shops for many years. I have literally never had a warranteeable fault with a shimano product ive sold. I have had literally hundreds from sram. Then just to add insult to injury they come up with the most awful excuses trying to avoid replacing obviously faulty products. My (least?) favorite recent tale; An ENTIRE batch of Rebas with the sag gauge printed 15mm too far up the leg (not detrimental to performance I know but still a very obvious fault) Srams respone? "they are within tolerance!" 15 f*cking mm out is within tolerance?!?!?!?!. Just one of many many bullshit excuses they have given me. Sorry Sram, I'd love to love your pretty products, but your attitude to qc highlights everything that is wrong with the industry right now. Shimanos "screw your fashions, heres some product that works" attitude makes me smile every time i have to service some shonky old piece of crap, and the brakes and gears just work. Inch thick layer of grime, covered in scratches and dents and ugly as f*ck, but you click the shifter, it changes gear, ytou pull the brakes, it stops, no messing about. Thankyou shimano!
  • 1 0
 im using sram x9 on my dh bike and ive not had any problem beside usual servicing
  • 2 3
 A half billion dollars in sales and they won't give military discounts on their Rockshox products.... Sram, just so you know, you are THE ONLY suspension company not to offer one.
  • 1 3
 BeardyMarinrider? Hum you ride a Marin? What could you possibly know about good MTB parts? No much if you think SRAM produce the best, come ride with me and you will see how well XTR works or not for very long once you get dropped. I hate to slam anyone but most of these comments are not facts. I submit facts based on 23 years or MTB racing and touring cross country may times and inside industry knowledge. Enjoy
  • 2 0
 I picked up a XO-1 setup and have never looked back. Thanks SRAM!
  • 1 0
 I'm primarily a Shimano fan but Some of Sram's products sure are sexier Smile ie XX1 / XX / XO Carbon Cranks!
  • 1 0
 They employ 3000 people ? if there's place for an IT and/or service management specialist.... well my account is here Big Grin
  • 9 8
 They really are trying to forget about Avid aren't they?
  • 8 2
 "There are times we have moved too fast, because we were on Avids and we couldn't stop,"
  • 1 0
 Sram drive trains with shimano brakes
  • 1 0
 Dear Mr Day, don't you have any Polish friends?
  • 1 0
 Love SRAM. But seriously, put a shirt on!
  • 7 10
 At Sea Otter Shimano will show why they are the best and send Sram back to the drawing board !
  • 3 0
 What's missing from both companies is an affordable (mid-range) 1x11 setup, and Shimano's (expected) stupendously priced XTR 1x11 drivetrain with a smaller gear range probably won't change that.
  • 1 0
 Absolutely, 1x11 for the masses is still not achieved but the more 1x11 takes on in the higher range components and the more the manufacturing practices get optimized there will be a trickle-down effect... If 1x11 starts to really take on I wouldn't be surprised if you see an XT or x9 version as early as next year...
  • 2 0
 Wrong . the new Shimano will work with old freehub body wheelsets.
Also it will have a greater range because it has less revolutions and pedal effort than the sram.
Even in a double configuration it will be lighter than the sram.
And that's the version #1
The other one? lets just say: It will rise the bar very high !
  • 1 0
 I hope you are right Enrico. I hope it comes OEM on my next bike too. In fact, I'll take whichever 2015 Giant that comes with it.
  • 1 3
 soooooo rich

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