For 2015, SRAM’s Rival 22 update rounded out the overhaul of their top-end road groups. From Rival to Red, each group shares more than you’d think and the performance will have you wondering where else you can spend your money.

2015 SRAM Rival 22 Features:

  • 11-speed design
  • Available with a wide range of gearing options, including WiFli
  • Built for durability and longevity
  • Same hood design and ergonomics as Force and Red
  • All-alloy construction
  • Available for GXP or BB30
  • Three flavors of braking: mechanical, hydraulic rim and hydraulic disc
  • Weight: ~2275 grams
  • Price: $799 and up (depends on braking and cassette)
SRAM Rival 22 Group Review

The 2014 Devinci Leo SL served as the test sled.

Functions like Red 22 at a fraction of the cost

While rocking SRAM Red 22 is always fantastic, both Force 22 and now Rival 22 truly do offer nearly-identical shifting performance but at a fraction of the cost of Red. As mentioned, the 2015 Rival 22 release gets all three of SRAM’s top-end road groups on the same page. The primary difference between Red and Rival is that Rival doesn’t utilize carbon fiber and titanium construction. Everything else — including the awesome function — remains the same.

Since much is the same, I was able to keep the same cables on the Devinci Leo SL from the Force 22 kit and just swap out the components. Getting everything in place was a breeze and routing the cables from the hoods is easy. I love how the shifter cable can be routed inside or outside of the bars by simply moving it from one position to the other.

SRAM Rival 22 Shifters Perform Like Red

Rival shares it’s fantastic ergonomics with Force and Red kits.

The Rival 22 DoubleTap shifters share their shape and guts with Red, so naturally they feature Individual Reach Adjust to cater both the shift and brake levers independently. I’ve also found DoubleTap to be the best winter-friendly shifting because they work great with thick winter gloves — not something I could do consistently with Shimano’s shifters.

Another nicety with this new group is the integrated Chain Spotter as added protection against overshooting the small chainring. Stuff like that happens and it would be a shame to damage a frame without one.

SRAM Rival 22 Drivetrain Review

Snappy Rival WiFli rear derailleur, cassette and crankset.

Shifting that doesn’t skip a beat

With a variety of both Shimano and SRAM kits in the stable, I’ve gone back-and-forth between SRAM Red (aboard the Scott Addict SL), Force, Rival and Shimano Ultegra for the past few months. Comparing Rival 22’s shifting performance to all the others, it simply works. The instant response of each shift leaves no question in my mind just how much Red’s DNA is present with Rival 22.

Shifting both under load and not is always crisp and smooth. Upshifts and downshifts with the front or rear derailleurs happen in a jiffy. The cassette and chain are fantastic performers, but that’s the only place where Red gives just an ever-so-slight bump in performance. Most riders will not be able to differentiate between the two — other than the fact that their wallets will be over $1000 heavier.

Stiffness in the crank arms is indistinguishable from Red, but you do go from high-zoot carbon arms to forged aluminum. Again, vanity aside, Rival 22 just plain stacks up with the best of them.

Descending from Granite Flats - SRAM Rival 22 and Devinci Leo SL

Up, down, all around — Rival is a great bit of kit.

Yaw, WiFli, braking and gear ratios

After several months and nearly 400 miles, the Rival 22 kit shifts just as crisply as it did on day one. I have noticed some very slight cage rub in some extreme gear combinations, but considering I’m running a 52/36 with an 11-32 cassette, the minor rubbing is acceptable. While the Yaw front derailleur is fantastic, it is a bit of a chore to set up properly and I’m not the best at it (I’ll keep practicing), so that’s also a part of why I left good enough alone. Your local shop should be experts and may very well be able to get it set up entirely rub-free in every gear, all the time.

SRAM Rival 22 Cranks and Front Derailleur

Rival’s Yaw front derailleur makes for rub-free performance.

Speaking of the gear ratios, I’m really impressed with the mid-cage rear derailleur in combination with the wide-range 11-32 cassette. I’d daresay that the mid-compact chainring configuration with that cassette is the perfect choice for Utah’s mountainous terrain. I’ve still got gears on long descents and man do I have a wide gear ratio for ascents.

And, compared to the standard gearing (53/39 w/11-26) on the ultralight Scott Addict SL I’ve got, the gear ratios more than make up for the more than three pounds of extra weight with the Devinci Leo SL I’m running. If you’re spending money on a new grouppo or enhancing your existing drivetrain, go with a nice gear ratio to suit your terrain. As I said, I’m completely sold on this particular gear ratio, but you’ll likely have to upgrade your rear derailleur to get it.

Braking with the included pads on alloy wheels has been predictable and solid. I’ve got no problems with the braking performance of these stoppers and the levers offer a nice, smooth modulation with excellent feel.

The Good

  • Best bang-for-the-buck in 11-speed
  • Performance and ergonomics of Red
  • Wide range of gear ratios for any terrain
  • Braking options galore
  • Integrated Chain Keeper is a great touch
  • Nice, “go with anything” color scheme
  • Weighs considerably less than the competition
  • Shifters are easy to use with thick, winter-weight gloves

The Bad

The Bottom Line: Rival 22

Stepping “down” to Rival 22 never felt so good. The impressive performance of SRAM’s new entry-level performance drivetrain has me wondering where I should spend all that extra coin. Don’t get me wrong, shaving an extra 500 or so grams with Red is nice, but I’d daresay most of us would rather have an extra $1500+ in-hand. If you’re upgrading, don’t hesitate to hop aboard this drivetrain or if you’re looking at a new Rival-equipped bike, you’ll be completely satisfied for years to come.

Buy Now: Available at CompetitiveCyclist.com

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 --sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

10 Comments

    • Hey Ron. Thanks for the question. Between Rival and Force 22, I personally prefer Force. Why? Reduced weight and the feel of carbon lever blades. That said, the Rival 22 group offers the best value and identical performance to Force 22 and even Red 22, for that matter.

      You’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference in shift quality and crispness between the three groups, to be completely honest. It all comes down to budget and nice-to-have features like reduced weight and the feel of carbon lever blades.

      If the best value is what you’re looking for, Rival 22 is the one. Then you can spend the extra money on nicer wheels and a new carbon cockpit.

  1. Pingback: Cannondale SuperX SRAM Rival Disc Could be Your Next Cross Bike - KOMBIKES

  2. Hey Jason,

    how would you compare Rival to Ultrega? I am looking at 2015 Focus Cayo Disc and having a hard time deciding between 3.0 (full Ultrega) and 4.0 (full Rival). Thanks!

    • It really comes down to personal preference. For me, I really like the feel and function of SRAM DoubleTap, but I have several Ultegra-equipped bikes that just perform day-after-day. I find that SRAM’s Yaw front derailleur is trickier to set up, but delivers rasp-free pedaling in a wider range of gears than Shimano does.

      Have you used SRAM much? One of the things that (for me) puts it over the top is the feel of the lever. Since it doesn’t have to shift and brake, it is much better-suited to braking only — it just feels nicer in hand.

      Either way would be fantastic, but you really can’t go wrong with Rival (and you’ll save some money too).

      And, I just realized that you’re talking disc here. I’ve had the Force 22 HydroR’s in for review now for a couple of months. I’ve only got about 200 miles on them, but have quickly taken to them. The braking is so smooth and powerful without locking up all over the place. They really have things dialed. Again, the lever feel has a lot to do with it as well since SRAM’s lever just does the braking.

      • Thanks for the quick and helpful answer Jason!

        I think I will give Rival a try. Frankly, while I am used to Shimano shifters, I am sort of tired of Shimano’s ubiquity. Thanks!

  3. Thank you for this excellent write-up. I am about to replace a worn-out 105 group on my Madone and have been agonizing between Force 22 and Rival 22. You have helped reinforce that Rival performs just as well as the higher groups, just at a weight penalty. I will be taking your advice and putting the savings into a new set of wheels (H+Son Archetypes, 32h, ultegra hubs). As a bigger rider, 1.94m and 100kg, the wheels are important.

  4. is the rival 22 actually 2275 grams. mech or hyrdro because groupos like dura ace which a triple price are heavier than this?

    • Depending on configuration, that is the starting weight without BB. I just went through a configurator and added up the weights and it was 2292 grams (172.5 BB30, 11-26, short cage), so certainly within ballpark. SRAM is consistently lighter than the competition across-the-board.

      What weights are you seeing for Dura-ace kits sans BB?

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