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Video Review: SRAM eTap HRD Groupset

Get the inside scoop on SRAM’s eTap HRD WiFli groupset. The genuinely progressive bundle of hydraulic brakes and wireless drivetrain offers control and ease of use that is industry leading, with divine ergonomics that must be felt to be fully appreciated.

Andy Clark reviewed the SRAM eTap HRD WiFli Gruppo, and here are his findings:

I’ve been riding an eTap-equipped bike for about a year now, and it’s been a trouble-free experience. In my initial review I said eTap is like a new iPhone, and that I’d probably camp out overnight to wait in line for the next version. And, after thousands of miles I still think eTap is on equal footing with top shelf EPS and Di2 in every way. And it’s still light years ahead from a daily drive, build, maintenance, and convenience standpoint.

But, two big trends have emerged in the interim: really good and easy to use road disc brakes have become prevalent, and we’ve also started to re-think the way gearing should work. So, like the geniuses that keep us wanting the next iteration of a smart phone, SRAM has brought a new version of eTap to market that incorporates not only road disc, but also their wide-range WiFli gearing. And, it’s a home run.

Now, the technology that drives eTap hasn’t changed: and since I’ve already outlined all of that in another review. I’m going to focus more on the braking and gearing in this review. So, let’s start with the brakes.

SRAM has 3 hydraulic disc brake platforms: HydroR, which you’ll find on Red, Force, Rival, and Apex 1 mechanical gruppos, Hydro T – which is aimed at TT and Tri bikes, and Hydro HC which is EXCLUSIVE to the eTap HRD group. And, here’s what makes Hydro HC special:

  • Contact point adjustment lets you dial in exactly when the pads will engage the rotor.
  • Bleeding Edge technology means faster and easier brake bleeds.
    Insulated aluminum pistons and a wider pad pocket create class-leading heat-management.
  • A light lever feel with a snappy return.
  • Improved ergonomics – the diameter of the hood is smaller, which allows for better reach and reach adjustment regardless of the size of your hands.

That all adds up to a lever that has the spring and responsiveness of a cabled caliper while delivering unmatched braking power and modulation. It’s funny, but I didn’t realize how good the brakes were until I hopped on my mountain bike, which has -5 or 6-year-old top-of-the-line Avid disc brakes, and I’ve always thought they were great, but compared to the Hydro HC’s they feel like the brakes on Fred Flintstone’s car. Hydro HC takes braking to a new level altogether; you can brake much later, much harder, and the amount of modulation in between light and heavy braking is almost infinite. And, you’ll never again have to worry about overheating and melting your prized carbon rims.

OK, so I said I’d talk about gearing. And, here’s the deal: the way we think about gears is about to be revolutionized and SRAM is on the front lines of that change. About a week before we filmed this review, the news of the first pro team to choose a 1×11 drivetrain went public, proving that you really might not need all those gears after all, or that you might want to rethink your current setup. The longer-cage WiFli rear derailleur is ready when you decide to make that change, and in the meantime the 52/36 up front with an 11/32 in the back on this bike may very well be the perfect combo for just about any road surface you encounter. I took this bike on fast group rides, I rode it in our weekly world championships, and I chased some really fast guys on the local fire roads. Not once did I think I was over, or under, geared. And on the day I forgot to charge one of my batteries and got stuck in the 52, I had plenty of gears to get me through the ride because the Yaw technology let me silently cross-chain in the 52/32.

If you’re thinking about building something like the Bianchi Infinito or Ridley X-Trail, put eTap Wifli at the top of your list. The easy install, wide gear range, phenomenal brakes and absence of cables make it near-perfect choice for a quiver-killer.

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