Lighter? Sure. Faster? Of course. SRAM’s new flagship groupset ticks all the usual boxes, though it prioritises something completely different: ease of use. We found out what this means for the performance of SRAM’s latest top-end road groupset.

Effortlessness: That’s the common thread running through the new SRAM RED AXS groupset. That doesn’t mean that cycling with the new RED AXS no longer requires any effort – it’s just a groupset, not a motor. Rather, SRAM have aimed to make the new RED AXS as user-friendly as possible thanks to numerous improvements to its functionality, adjustability, ergonomics, performance, and connectivity. And with SRAM’s acquisition of Hammerhead, the new RED AXS introduces another big novelty. The 2024 Hammerhead Karoo bike computer was developed in close collaboration with the new SRAM RED AXS groupset to offer seamless integration. We put SRAM’s latest and lightest electronic groupset to date to the test in various scenarios to find out where it does and doesn’t perform.

SRAM RED AXS | 2,496 g (manufacturer’s specs) | € 5,130 (including Hammerhead Karoo head unit, casette and powermeter crankset) | Manufacturer’s website

The big innovations of the 2024 SRAM RED AXS groupset

RED, SRAM’s flagship road bike groupset, has stood for the ultimate in shifting performance, speed, and minimal weight since its introduction in 2007. You’ll typically find the groupset on bikes in the pro peloton, as well as glamorous high-end models beyond the € 10,000 mark. The latest iteration of the groupset is even lighter and better.

For 2024, SRAM have shaved a whopping 154 g off their top-tier groupset, now bringing the total weight to just 2,496 g with a 10–28 t cassette and 48/35 crankset – impressive! Most of that is due to the completely redesigned shifters, which have shed 83 g since the last edition. However, the rear derailleur, crankset, chain, and power meter have also been slimmed down for a sleek, fresh look.

Opinions on SRAM’s hoods are divided: some find the design too chunky, or find that the brakes feel too different from the other brands. But that’s set to change as SRAM have taken this criticism to heart, making ergonomics one of the top priorities when designing the new hoods and carbon brake levers. For more control and braking power in the drops, the levers are curved outwards, making them easy to reach, even with the hoods tilted inwards.

The new SRAM RED carbon brake levers are curved outwards…
… making them easier to reach.

The hoods have also undergone some significant changes. They almost look delicate compared to their predecessors. The widened contact surface and reduced height improve the ergonomics immensely, making them far more comfortable.

The new hoods also offer significantly more space between the brake levers and the handlebar.
No more pinching your fingers, even if you’ve got large hands.
If you compare the silhouette of the new RED AXS controls with that of the previous RED eTap AXS models, you can clearly see the difference.

The fresh new look isn’t just due to ergonomic improvements, but also to significant mechanical updates. For example, the positions of the brake lever pivot point and the piston inside the hoods have changed significantly. According to SRAM, this reduces the amount of force required for one-finger braking from the hoods by as much as 80%!

The new controls feature another change worth mentioning! Finally, SRAM have introduced additional buttons on the inside of the hoods. You can configure these to suit your preferences, assigning functions like operating the head unit, or shifting gears when you’re climbing.

The multifunction buttons allow you to shift gears or control any ANT+ capable device, like the new Hammerhead Karoo.
They’re positioned in such a way that they’re easy to reach with your thumbs.

Easy adjustability seems to be the American company’s new motto, because in addition to the tried-and-trusted adjustment aids for the front and rear derailleurs, the hoods now also feature a few clever adjustment features. Thanks to the line formed by the grip pattern on the top of the hoods, they’re easy to align with the handlebar. Brake lever reach is now easier to adjust, with a hidden screw on the lever blade.

The pattern in the rubber grip forms a straight line along the spine of the hoods, making them easy to align with the handlebar.
There’s a small screw hidden behind a flap on the brake lever, allowing you to adjust the lever reach.

But that’s not all, because you only get the full SRAM RED AXS experience when it’s paired with the new 2024 Hammerhead Karoo. The head unit connects itself to the groupset via the new Auto-Connect feature, and is initially only available as a set with the Hammerhead Karoo. This set, which includes shifters, brake discs, chain, front and read derailleur and Karoo, is priced at €3,350. The cassette and crankset are not included in the set to provide flexibility in choice. The crankset with power meter costs € 1,345, and the cassette an additional €435. This brings the total price to a proud € 5,130 for the complete RED setup, inclusive of the Hammerhead Karoo head unit and a powermeter.

The 2024 SRAM RED AXS groupset in detail

The new SRAM RED AXS groupset also features machined aluminium chainrings like its predecessor. The 50/37, 48/35 and 46/33 t crankset configurations haven’t changed either, and neither has the option of using an aero 1x setup, something which won’t just appeal to time trial riders and triathletes, but also to gravel racers. Additionally SRAM offers 56/43, 54/41 and 52/39 options for anyone, who has the legs for it 😉. The optional, integrated power meter is tried and tested too, though it’s still a bit of a shock to your bank balance when it wears out, despite SRAM offering a discount on replacements.

The hidden gem of the new SRAM RED AXS groupset can be found at the rear of the bike – this is where the weight reduction measures are most obvious. The new rear derailleur is strongly reminiscent of drilled and filed DIY weight-weenie conversions, with its svelte and airy design. It’s great that you can now get it like that from the factory! As usual and expected, the new rear derailleur is compatible with cassettes from 10–28 to 10–36 t. The new derailleur cage is right on trend, with a carbon construction and oversized design. They even take things one step further with two-piece jockey wheels.

The new rear derailleur looks more delicate.
Is this oversized yet? The pulley wheel has definitely grown in diameter.

The new cassettes remain largely unchanged in terms of both looks and function. Besides weighing a few grams less, the new SRAM RED AXS groupset also comes with two additional cassette options: 10–30 and 10–36 t. As such, you can now choose from the following cassettes:

10–28, 10–30, 10–33, 10–36 t.

While visually and functionally unchanged, the new 12-speed cassettes are a few grams lighter than the previous generation.

Yes, even the chain has been slimmed down considerably. The Flattop chain now features small recesses in the links to save weight wherever possible. You might already be familiar with this from SRAMs Transmission groupsets for mountain bikes. For added efficiency and durability, the SRAM RED AXS groupset relies on hard chrome-plated inner links and rollers. You can also get the chain and cassette with a rather divisive oil slick finish.

Testing the 2024 SRAM RED groupset

The elephant in the room with every SRAM RED AXS equipped bike has long been ergonomics. It’s safe to say that it wasn’t exactly the highlight of the previous RED groupset. Thankfully, the designers at SRAM have taken your feedback to heart!

The slimmer, longer hoods are very comfortable to hold and use in virtually every position. Braking is easy, and you no longer have to be so careful of pinching your fingers between the lever and the bar, as was often the case with the predecessors. The rubber hoods are grippy and pleasant to the touch. Thanks to the integrated pattern, they promise a secure grip, even if you get sweaty hands.

Compared with the previous model, the most noticeable difference is the performance and usability of the brakes. They’re easy to modulate, offering a consistent bite point and plenty of power, delivering arguably one of the best braking performances available on drop bars.

We were most impressed with the 1-finger braking performance from the hoods. Even though braking with just one finger takes a bit of getting used to, the SRAM RED AXS brakes scrub off speed reliably and bring the bike to a stop without much effort. This is particularly welcome on fast descents and rough terrain. In situations like these, you need a firm grip on the hoods, with just one finger on the brakes. The new hoods also offer a noticeable upgrade for gravel bikes, and you’ll be pleased to hear that the new SRAM RED components are completely downwards compatible.

Everything under control: the new RED AXS brake levers seem to be optimised for 1-finger braking.

We expect the shifting of SRAM’s latest top-end groupset to be as fast and reliable as usual. And that’s exactly what the SRAM RED AXS groupset delivers – fast, precise and crisp shifts as it moves the lightweight chain between the sprockets of the new cassette.

SRAM have also addressed the issue of front shifting. It now shifts quicker, and the shifting process is more precise and reliable. Thanks to a new template, setting up the front derailleur should be easier than ever. In direct comparison to SRAM’s biggest competitor from Japan, the front derailleur still lags somewhat behind. We weren’t spared the obligatory dropped chain during our tests.

Classic yet modern – SRAM’s latest RED AXS groupset features familiar lines.

The new SRAM RED AXS gets a straight A for adjustability, not just making it easy to set your lever position with visual aids and easily accessible adjuster screws, but also making the front derailleur easier to set up with a new template.

As usual, the shifter assignment of the SRAM controls works perfectly and intuitively, setting the bar in this respect. The new buttons also work excellently for quick operation of the Hammerhead Karoo head unit. Due to their placement on the inside of the hoods, similar to the Shimano GRX Di2, they’re easy to reach with your thumbs without robbing you of control.

Our conclusion on the new SRAM RED AXS

SRAM have taken our feedback to heart. The new SRAM RED AXS sets new standards in terms of usability and ergonomics, bringing their flagship groupset bang up to date. They paid particularly close attention to the hoods, introducing sophisticated braking ergonomics and revised hardware, setting the standard in terms of 1-finger braking power. Combined with a significant weight reduction, this results in an impressive groupset for performance-chasers and tech geeks who have deep pockets.


  • excellent lever ergonomics
  • easy and wide-ranging adjustability
  • reliable and promising braking performance
  • featherweight groupset


  • power meter and chainring still one piece – not the most sustainable or economical approach

Did you enjoy this article? If so, we would be stoked if you decide to support us with a monthly contribution. By becoming a supporter of GRAN FONDO, you will help secure a sustainable future for high-quality cycling journalism. Click here to learn more.

Words: Calvin Zajac, Jan Richter Photos: Jan Richter