SRAM Corporation

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SRAM, Corp.
Private
Industry cycling components
Founded 1987
Headquarters Chicago, Illinois, United States
Key people
Stanley R. Day Jr. (CEO)
Products Bicycle and related components
Revenue $615 million (2015)[1]
Number of employees
3000
Website www.sram.com

SRAM Corporation 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 company head Stan Day).[2] The company is known for producing cycling components, including some internally developed, such as Grip Shift, DoubleTap, dedicated 1x11 mountain and road drivetrains, and the only available wireless electronic groupset, SRAM Red eTap.[3][4][5]

The company grew organically and through acquisitions to become one of the largest high-end cycling component brands in the world, 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 high-end markets globally.

History[edit]

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 and 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. Teetering on the brink of bankruptcy in the year prior to the acquisition, RockShox made a dramatic turn around. Quality and OEM assembly lead times were improved as RockShox made a return to prominence in the high-end mountain bike market.[10] A few years later in 2005, SRAM developed a new fork damper technology dubbed “Motion Control” that allowed riders to control low-speed compression and rebound damping, while also providing the ability to firm up the suspension with the flip of a switch. 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]

2017 SRAM RED eTap HRD Levers

Late in 2007, SRAM made another acquisition, Zipp, to complete its component portfolio. The Zipp acquisition brought with it expertise in carbon fiber engineering and manufacturing, particularly in wheel making applications. This also rounded out SRAM’s component offerings thereby allowing SRAM to sell every component needed to build a complete bicycle.[12] In 2008, SRAM introduced a new premium road groupset, SRAM RED, the lightest complete road groupset available.

SRAM’s most recent acquisition was of the power meter crank manufacturer, Quarq. This acquisition took place in 2011. By 2012, SRAM had incorporated power meters into its top of the line 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 was equally revolutionary and used a parallelogram that moved only laterally, a technology called X-Horizon, which offered more precise shifting and improved chain retention over conventional rear derailleurs.[14]

2017 SRAM RED eTap WiFLi Rear Derailleur
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. SRAM RED eTap is currently the only available wireless shifting system and is the lightest electronically actuated groupset on the market.[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, a first for road disc brakes.[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 to give eTap users wider cassette range options, including compatibility with cassettes with up to a 32-tooth large cog.[21]

Event sponsorships[edit]

SRAM has made significant efforts to support racing through sponsorships made in partnership with race promoters. Examples of this include the Amgen Tour of California, Ironman®, the Sea Otter Classic, and Crankworks.

At the Amgen Tour of California (ATOC) SRAM is the neutral race support sponsor for both the women’s and men’s races and a title sponsor for the entire women’s race.[22] SRAM is also a sponsor of specific stages within the men’s ATOC race.

SRAM is the neutral race support sponsor for numerous professional Ironman events including the US National Championships, European Championships, and World Championships.[23] As a title sponsor for the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California for roughly a decade, SRAM provides neutral race support for entrants and hosts large product display and technical service tents in the event's expo area.[24]

SRAM is also a supporter of the Crankworks festival held at the Whistler Bike Park in British Columbia, Canada.[25]

Triathlon[edit]

In the late 1980s and early 90s SRAM Grip Shifters were quickly adopted by triathletes. Grip Shift’s aim to allow riders to shift without removing their hands from the bars made the product uniquely suited to the needs of triathletes. These racers needed to maintain an aero tuck with their hands extended on aero extensions, a place where Grip Shifters were designed to perch. It offered both SRAM and the athletes a competitive advantage at a time when there were few aerodynamic shifting options available.[26]

Today SRAM sponsors a number of top triathletes including Ironman World Champ, Jan Frodeno. Other notable athletes sponsored by SRAM include Sebastien Kienle, Javier Gomez, Marinda Carfrae, Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee, Caroline Steffen, Jordan Rapp, and Non Stanford.[27]

Women's cycling[edit]

2014 time trial bike of world champion Ellen van Dijk with SRAM.

SRAM is a standout among component manufacturers that has consistently assigned equal value to women’s cycling. Products and technologies that reflect that commitment to the broad range of female riders’ needs include shifter Reach Adjust, WiFLi (wide range road gearing options), Quarq cranksets available in down to 162.5mm lengths, and 36 cm wide Zipp handlebars.

SRAM is also an ardent supporter of women’s professional cycling. SRAM is a title sponsor for the Women’s Amgen Tour of California empowered with SRAM. The company also sponsors many top teams in the women’s World Tour including CANYON//SRAM Racing, Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team, Twenty20 p/b SHO-AIR, and Rally Cycling Team.[28]

Top female athletes sponsored by SRAM include 2015 UCI Road World Champion Lizzie Armitstead, 2015 UCI Junior Road and Time Trial World Champion Chloe Dygert, 2014 UCI Elite Time Trial Champion Lisa Brennauer, and 2015 Amgen Tour of California empowered with SRAM winner Trixie Worrack.[28]

Brands[edit]

SRAM has purchased a number of companies, enabling it to offer a full set of components rather than develop them from scratch. At the forefront of the company is the SRAM marque which is used for most of its groupsets. Companies SRAM has purchased and converted into marque brands include Rockshox, Truvativ, Sachs, Avid and Zipp.[29]

Sachs Bicycle Components[edit]

In November 1997, SRAM acquired Sachs Bicycle Components, including a significant hub gear production line, from Mannesmann Sachs AG, a unit of German telecommunications group Mannesmann AG. Sachs had 1,250 employees and annual revenues of more than $125 million.[7] In 2013 production of internal gear hubs moved from Germany to Taiwan.[30] In 2015 the former Sachs Schweinfurt factory was converted for use as a SRAM research and development center as well as a warehouse for European distribution. The remainder of the Sachs company (ZF Sachs) is now owned by ZF Friedrichshafen AG. ZF Sachs mainly deals in parts for motorized vehicles.

In 2017 SRAM announced it would end production of its internal gear hubs due to declining sales, a lack of interest on the part of its suppliers, and competition from e-bikes.[31][32]

RockShox[edit]

Main article: RockShox

SRAM purchased RockShox on February 19, 2002. They were one of the first companies to introduce a bicycle suspension fork for consumer use. Marketing and sales departments were relocated to Chicago, while product development remained in Colorado Springs. A SRAM factory in Taichung, Taiwan was converted to RockShox production after the acquisition.[10] RockShox is responsible for producing bicycle suspension products including front suspension forks for both mountain biking (MTB) and pavement usage, rear suspension, suspension lockout remotes, maintenance products and a height adjustable seatpost called the Reverb.

Avid[edit]

On March 1, 2004, SRAM purchased Avid, a well-known designer and manufacturer of bicycle brake components. Its current line-up includes mechanical disc brakes, rim brakes, levers, cables and maintenance products for a range of uses including MTB and cyclocross. They also produce two road bike disc brakes. As with RockShox, Avid's product development continued in Colorado Springs while marketing and sales divisions were moved to Chicago.[33]

Truvativ[edit]

SRAM purchased Truvativ in 2004, providing SRAM with a line of cranks, bottom brackets, handlebars, stems, pedals, seatposts and chain retention systems. This allowed SRAM to offer a complete drivetrain with the first SRAM branded road groupsets being released the following year.[11]

Zipp[edit]

On November 6, 2007, SRAM acquired Zipp Speed Weaponry, a company designing and manufacturing high-end carbon wheelsets for use on road racing bicycles, as well as other high-end components such as cranksets, handlebars, stems and wheels.[2] The company operates out of Indianapolis, Indiana and produces all of its carbon fiber rims at the company's American factory.

Quarq[edit]

In 2011, SRAM acquired power meter crank manufacturer, Quarq. Based out of Spearfish, South Dakota, Quarq was founded by Jim and Mieke Meyer.[13] The company is best known for its crank based power meters, but it is venturing out into new areas with its Quarq Race Intelligence product, a live telemetry system aimed at race promoters, race officials, and media. Following the pattern set by other SRAM acquisitions, Quarq continues to operate out of its Spearfish location.

SRAM groupsets[edit]

SRAM currently has eight road bike groupsets (in descending order of price/quality) that all use the SRAM Exact Actuation ratio:

groupset RED Force Rival Apex
2010 Rival: 10 speed Apex: 10 speed
2011
2012 RED 2012: 10 speed Force 2012: 10 speed
2013 RED 22: 11 speed Force 22: 11 speed
2014 Rival 22: 11 speed
2015 RED eTap: 11 speed Force 1: 1x11 speed Rival 1: 1x11 speed
2016 Apex 1: 1x11 speed

and 16 mountain bike groupset, divided by field of application, from more to less expensive:

Cross Country:

  • XX1 eagle[42] 1x12 speed
  • XX1[43] 1x11 speed

Downhill:

  • X01 DH[44] 1x7 speed or 1x10 speed
  • GX DH[45] 1x7 speed

Enduro:

  • X01 Eagle[46] 1x12 speed
  • X01[47] 1x11 speed
  • X1[48] 1x11 speed

Trail riding:

  • X0[49] 2x10 speed
  • GX[50] 1x11 speed or 2x11 speed or 2x10 speed
  • NX[51] 1x11 speed
  • X9[52] 2x10 speed

Budget groupsets:

  • X7[53] 2x10 speed
  • X5[54] 2x10 speed
  • X4
  • X3

E-MTB specific:

Corporate[edit]

In 2008, the company received a strategic investment from Trilantic Capital Partners, formerly known as Lehman Brothers Merchant Banking, the buyout arm of Lehman Brothers. The firm invested $234.8 million in SRAM in a deal that closed Sept. 30, 2008.[56][57] On May 12, 2011, the company announced in a filing that it intended to raise up to $300 million in an IPO.[58] Shortly later, the company consolidated its debt to pay off the assets owned by the private equity firm.[59] Those plans were put on hold due to volatility in the stock market.[60] SRAM reported net sales of $524.1 million in 2010, and has grown at a rate of about 16 percent annually in the four years prior to 2010. The company has estimated that it holds about 15 percent of the $3.5 billion bicycle components market.[56]

  • Sales 1987 $0 million
  • Sales 1994 $25 million
  • Sales 1995 $40 million
  • Sales 1999 $120 million
  • Sales 2001 $120 million[61]
  • Sales 2003 $150 million[62]
  • Sales 2004 $160 million (estimate)[63]
  • Sales 2006 $283.8 million[64]
  • Sales 2007 $356.0 million[64]
  • Sales 2008 $478.4 million[64]
  • Sales 2009 $399.6 million[64]
  • Sales 2010 $524.2 million[64][65]

SRAM Cycling Fund[edit]

The SRAM Cycling Fund is the advocacy and philanthropy arm of SRAM LLC. The Fund invested $10M over 6 years from 2009 to 2014.[66] Grants for infrastructure at the national levels in both Europe and the U.S. helped leverage co-investment by other cycling industry companies to spur billions in public funding for cycling infrastructure. From 2015 through the present, the Fund continues to support People for Bikes, IMBA, IMBA Europe, and the European Cycling Federation. The Fund also continues to support local efforts near SRAM’s US offices as well as Portugal, Taiwan, Australia and Germany.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]