SRAM Corporation

SRAM, Corp.
Industrycycling components
HeadquartersChicago, Illinois, United States
Key people
Ken Lousberg (CEO)
ProductsBicycle and related components
Revenue$725 million (2017)[1]
Number of employees

SRAM LLC is a privately owned bicycle component manufacturer based in Chicago, Illinois, United States, founded in 1987.[2] SRAM is an acronym comprising the names of its founders, Scott, Ray, and Sam, (where Ray is the middle name of the company's first CEO, Stan Day).[2] The company is known for producing cycling components, including some internally developed, such as Grip Shift, EAGLE (1x12), DoubleTap, dedicated 1x11 mountain and road drivetrains and SRAM Red eTap.[3][4][5]

The company grew organically and through acquisitions to become a high-end cycling component brand, selling under the brands SRAM, Avid, RockShox, Truvativ, Quarq, and Zipp. Their components are manufactured primarily in-house, in factories located in Portugal, Taiwan, China, and the U.S., and distributed and sold as Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) equipment and aftermarket components in markets globally.


As a start-up company, SRAM introduced the Grip Shift (or twist shift) gear-change method and technology to the road bike market in 1988. That technology was then adapted for mountain bikes in 1991.

In 1990, the company sued Shimano for unfair business practices, noting that Shimano offered, in effect, a 10-percent discount to bicycle manufacturers specifying an all-Shimano drivetrain and that few companies in the highly competitive industry would be willing to forgo such a discount to specify Grip Shift components. SRAM received an unspecified out-of-court settlement from Shimano in 1991. More importantly, all Shimano competitors won the right to compete in the lucrative OEM bicycle components arena.[6]

The years after the Shimano settlement were marked by dramatic growth for the company, as it increased sales greatly and added other companies to its portfolio. SRAM is an example of a recent trend within the high-end cycle-component segment of the bicycle industry, where companies seek a position as a "one-stop shopping center" for bicycle frame manufacturers/bicycle brand owners, supplying all or most of the parts needed to build a complete bike. SRAM now incorporates the former bicycle divisions of Fichtel & Sachs, Sachs-Huret, and acquired component makers RockShox, Avid, Truvativ, Zipp, and QUARQ.[7]

In 1995, SRAM introduced their first mountain bike rear derailleur, dubbed “ESP”, that featured a 1:1 cable actuation ratio that was more tolerant of cable contamination. The new derailleur was compatible with SRAM's ESP Grip Shifters. This was a critical first step for SRAM toward producing a complete shifting system.[8] By 1997, SRAM was ready to make its first acquisition, Sachs.[7] This acquisition provided SRAM with a group of experienced metallurgists and engineers as well as a successful chain and internally geared hub production line.

SRAM's released its first “X.O” rear derailleur in 2001. It was a complete redesign of SRAM's existing ESP derailleurs, however it still made use of SRAM's proprietary 1:1 shift actuation ratio for improved shifting performance with worn or contaminated cables. Made from forged aluminum, the introduction of SRAM's first high-end derailleur marked a turning point for the company's mountain bike shifting groups. The introduction of X.O also marked the first time trigger shifters were available as a shifting option for SRAM rear derailleurs.[9]

In 2002, SRAM acquired suspension manufacturer, RockShox, after RockShox had defaulted on a loan from SRAM.[10] In 2005, SRAM developed a new fork damper technology dubbed “Motion Control” that allowed users to adjust compression and rebound of the suspension, including a switch to greatly firm up the suspension. Motion Control was a market success and RockShox continues to use variants of the Motion Control damper on select models.

SRAM Force 1, SRAM CX1
SRAM Force 1 drivetrain with 10-42 cassette.

Avid was SRAM's next acquisition in spring of 2004. Avid produced popular hydraulic disc brakes and gave SRAM one more means to compete with Shimano. Later that same year SRAM purchased Truvativ, a crank, bottom bracket, and chainring manufacturer based out of San Luis Obispo, California. With Truvativ as part of the SRAM family, the company could finally sell a complete drivetrain package to OEM customers.[11]

Although SRAM began as a manufacturer of road bike shifters, the company had largely left the road market in 1993 in favor of the rapidly growing mountain bike market. By 2004, SRAM planned a return to the road and began development of two new road groupsets, Force and Rival, which it brought to market in 2006. Force was raced in the Tour de France for the first time the following year. The group made use of a new proprietary shifting technology known as DoubleTap. The technology allows the rider to shift a derailleur in both directions using a single shifter paddle.[2]

In 2007, SRAM acquired the bicycle component company Zipp.[12] In 2008, SRAM introduced a new premium road groupset, SRAM RED.

SRAM acquired power meter crank manufacturer Quarq in 2011. By 2012, SRAM had incorporated power meters into its high-end RED road group.[13] Also in 2012 SRAM introduced wide range 1x11 mountain bike shifting with its XX1 groupset. The new groupset made use of a 10-42 cassette and a patented single front chainring that made use of both narrow and specially shaped wide teeth to retain the chain without a chain guide. The rear derailleur for the groupset uses a parallelogram that moves only laterally, known as X-Horizon, which is intended to improve shifting precision and chain retention.[14]

SRAM Eagle XX1 Drivetrain

By 2014, this same technology was adapted for use on cyclocross bikes with the introduction of SRAM Force CX1.[15] The group was expanded in 2015 to use chainrings (up to 54-teeth) for other applications such as TT/Tri, road, and fitness bikes. With the expanded applications SRAM simplified the naming of the group to Force 1. The same year the company also developed a lower price point 1x11 road groupset option with similar features, Rival 1.[16] In August 2015, SRAM announced that it would release its 11-speed wireless electronic road groupset, SRAM RED eTap. The group utilizes derailleurs with self-contained batteries to shift using wireless signals sent from the shift levers. Benefits of the system include more precise shifting, faster setup, and lower maintenance compared to a traditional mechanically activated shifting arrangement.[17]

The company announced a hydraulic disc brake version of its wireless road group called SRAM RED eTap HRD in May 2016. The new brakes make use of a hydraulic lever design with both lever reach adjustment and lever contact point adjustment.[18] In May 2016 SRAM also released their new 1x12 drivetrain technology dubbed Eagle in both XX1 and X01 variants. It has received many awards globally in its first year of public availability from cycling publications due to its simplicity, versatility, and usable rider benefits.[19] The new 1x12 drivetrain has a 500% gear range that is comparable to many 2x drivetrains on the market today.[20] In October 2016 SRAM released the WiFLi version of its eTap rear derailleur which is compatible with a wider range of gears than a standard rear derailleur.[21]

In 2017 SRAM launched the 1x12 GX Eagle drivetrain, intended to be more affordable than the similar existing Eagle XX1 and X01 drivetrains.[22]

2019 Specialized S-Works Venge Disc eTap with SRAM RED eTap AXS HRD component group.

February 6, 2019 SRAM released three new wireless electronic groupsets. This release included one road groupset, RED eTap AXS, and two mountain bike groupsets, XX1 Eagle AXS and X01 Eagle AXS. All of the AXS groups have BLE connectivity and an optional free mobile app called AXS that offers users the ability to reassign and customize button functions.[23]

The new RED groupset features a 12-speed cassette with wider gear range and smaller steps between gears in addition to many other innovations such as chainrings with power meter integration, a fluid damper for the rear derailleur pulley cage, and both 2x and 1x chainring drivetrain variants.

For the new mountain bike groups, in addition to their wireless electronic operation, they can also connect with sister brand RockShox’ Reverb AXS dropper post. SRAM’s AXS app makes this possible by enabling users to reassign button functions between the Reverb seat post and the XX1 or X01 derailleur controller. The same AXS app also opens the option of using RED eTap AXS drop bar levers with an Eagle AXS drivetrain and a Reverb AXS dropper post. Conversely, drop bar bikes can be simply retrofitted with mountain bike handlebars using the Eagle AXS derailleur controller with RED eTap AXS drivetrain.

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