The morning was rainy. Let me re-phrase, it was dumping buckets. Our destination was a mixed bag of dirt (ahem, mud) and paved roads to get the feel of SRAM’s new Force 1 groupset. Luckily, the two hours between the buckets of rain and the start of our ride were met with lighter rain and occasional cloud breaks. I was equipped with a 2016 Salsa Warbird gravel bike and a full Force 1 kit with a 40t chainring and 11-36t cassette.

I have to give kudos to the technical crew at SRAM, who took my Retul measurements and dialed my bike in to absolute perfection. Nothing beats hopping aboard a new bike that fits like a glove — more on the Warbird in coming weeks.

With the questionable weather, I took the opportunity to don as much Castelli Gabba as I could and off we went into the Central California mountains . The route started and ended in Pozo, CA and took us on a loop through some of the roads used on the SLO Ride to Hell. Here’s the Strava log.

Admittedly, riding a single 40-mile ride is not thorough enough for a full review of a groupset intended to ride thousands of miles without a fuss, but I’d like to share some observations from my mixed miles and epic smiles:

  • 1x on a road bike is wicked fun. The simplicity can’t be overlooked.
  • Not once did I feel like I needed more gears and rarely, if ever did I use the 36t cog.
  • The combination of X-Sync chainring and a clutched rear derailleur made for the quietest gravel ride ever.
  • Shifting was razor sharp — even dumping gears was responsive.
  • Not having a paddle on the front brake felt odd at first.
  • For a terrain-specific bike, 1x could replace 2x offerings.
  • In the 11t cog, I was maxing out at about 32 mph — not bad.
  • Setting a bike up with a 50t chainring and 10-42t cassette would be a fantastic “ride almost everything” drivetrain.

2016 Salsa Warbird with SRAM Force 1

2016 SRAM Force 1 First Ride

2016 SRAM Force 1 First Ride

The Bottom Line: SRAM Force 1

At the end of the day, Force 1 is an awesome tool and something I’d love to have for a cross or a gravel bike — maybe even my climbing-specific bike. The drivetrain is so quiet and responsive — just like SRAM XX1 for MTB. That quietness is especially welcome when bombing down washboard descents.

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About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly 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.

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