This article contains content that is written like an advertisement. (August 2017)
|Headquarters||Chicago, Illinois, U.S.|
|Ken Lousberg (CEO)|
|Products||Bicycle and related components|
|Revenue||$974 million (2020)|
Number of employees
SRAM LLC is a privately owned bicycle component manufacturer based in Chicago, Illinois, United States, founded in 1987. SRAM is an acronym comprising the names of its founders, Scott, Ray, and Sam, (where Ray is the middle name of the company's first CEO, Stan Day). The company is known for producing cycling components, including some internally developed, such as Grip Shift, EAGLE (1x12), DoubleTap, dedicated 1x11 mountain and their range of AXS drivetrains.
The company grew organically and through acquisitions to become a cycling component brand, selling under the brands SRAM, Avid, RockShox, Truvativ, Quarq, Zipp, TIME Sport pedals, Hammerhead cycling computers, and Velocio cycling apparel. 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 markets globally.
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.
The years after the Shimano settlement were marked by 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 & Sachs, Sachs-Huret, and acquired component makers RockShox, Avid, Truvativ, Zipp, and QUARQ.
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 first step for SRAM toward producing a complete shifting system. By 1997, SRAM was ready to make its first acquisition, Sachs. This acquisition provided SRAM with a group of metallurgists and engineers as well as a 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.
In 2002, SRAM acquired suspension manufacturer, RockShox, after RockShox had defaulted on a loan from SRAM. In 2005, SRAM developed a new fork damper technology dubbed “Motion Control” that allowed users to adjust compression and rebound of the suspension, including a switch to greatly firm up the suspension. RockShox continues to use variants of the Motion Control damper on select models.
Avid was SRAM's next acquisition in the 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.
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 developing 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.
SRAM acquired power meter crank manufacturer Quarq in 2011. By 2012, SRAM had incorporated power meters into its high-end RED road group. 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 wide teeth to retain the chain without a chain guide. The rear derailleur for the groupset uses a parallelogram that moves only laterally, known as X-Horizon, which is intended to improve shifting precision and chain retention.
By 2014, this same technology was adapted for use on cyclocross bikes with the introduction of SRAM Force CX1. 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. 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.
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. 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. The new 1x12 drivetrain has a 500% gear range that is comparable to many 2x drivetrains on the market today. In October 2016 SRAM released the WiFLi version of its eTap rear derailleur which is compatible with a wider range of gears than a standard rear derailleur.
In 2017 SRAM launched the 1x12 GX Eagle drivetrain, intended to be more affordable than the similar existing Eagle XX1 and X01 drivetrains.
February 6, 2019 SRAM released three new wireless electronic groupsets. This release included one road groupset, RED eTap AXS, and two mountain bike groupsets, XX1 Eagle AXS and X01 Eagle AXS. All of the AXS groups have BLE connectivity and an optional free mobile app called AXS that offers users the ability to reassign and customize button functions.
The new RED groupset features a 12-speed cassette with wider gear range and smaller steps between gears in addition to many other innovations such as chainrings with power meter integration, a fluid damper for the rear derailleur pulley cage, and both 2x and 1x chainring drivetrain variants.
For the new mountain bike groups, in addition to their wireless electronic operation, they can also connect with sister brand RockShox’ Reverb AXS dropper post. SRAM's AXS app makes this possible by enabling users to reassign button functions between the Reverb seat post and the XX1 or X01 derailleur controller. The same AXS app also opens the option of using RED eTap AXS drop bar levers with an Eagle AXS drivetrain and a Reverb AXS dropper post. Conversely, drop bar bikes can be retrofitted with mountain bike handlebars using the Eagle AXS derailleur controller with RED eTap AXS drivetrain.
In February 2021 SRAM announced the acquisition of the entire range of road and mountain pedals, cleats, and all related patents of TIME Sport from Rossignol Group. The companies completed the transaction on February 18, 2021. Founded in Nevers, France, in 1987, TIME’s clipless pedal system increased ergo-dynamic compliance for riders by engineering lateral and angular float into the pedal. TIME added mountain bike pedals in 1993. Their road and MTB pedals have been ridden to victory by many professionals, including Julien Absalon, (FRA), Greg LeMond (USA), Tom Boonen (BEL), Anna van der Breggen (NED), and Miguel Indurain (ESP).
SRAM supports 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 was the neutral race support sponsor for both the women's and men's races and a title sponsor for the entire women's race. SRAM is also a sponsor of specific stages within the men's ATOC race.
SRAM has been the neutral race support sponsor for numerous professional Ironman events including the US National Championships, European Championships, and World Championships. 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.
SRAM is also a supporter of the Crankworks festival held at the Whistler Bike Park in British Columbia, Canada.
In the late 1980s and early 90s SRAM Grip Shifters were adopted by triathletes. Grip Shift's aim to allow riders to shift without removing their hands from the bars made the product 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.
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, Mirinda Carfrae, Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee, Caroline Steffen, Jordan Rapp, and Non Stanford.
SRAM is among component manufacturers that have 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, Quarq cranksets available in down to 162.5mm lengths, and 36 cm wide Zipp handlebars.
SRAM is also a 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 teams in the women's World Tour including CANYON//SRAM Racing, Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team, Twenty20 p/b SHO-AIR, and Rally Cycling Team.
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.
SRAM has purchased a number of companies, enabling it to offer a full set of componentry. 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, Zipp, Avid, Truvativ, Quarq and TIME.
Sachs Bicycle Components
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. In 2013 production of internal gear hubs moved from Germany to Taiwan. 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.
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. 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 dropper seatpost.
On March 1, 2004, SRAM purchased Avid, a 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.
SRAM purchased Truvativ in 2004 from Micki Kozuschek, 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. Following the acquisition, product development for cranksets and bottom brackets remained in San Luis Obispo, California.
On November 6, 2007, SRAM acquired Zipp Speed Weaponry, a company designing and manufacturing carbon wheelsets for use on road racing bicycles, as well as other high-end components such as cranksets, handlebars, stems and wheels. The company operates out of Indianapolis, Indiana and produces all of its carbon fiber rims at the company's US factory.
In 2011, SRAM acquired power meter crank manufacturer, Quarq. Based out of Spearfish, South Dakota, Quarq was founded by Jim and Mieke Meyer. 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.
In December 2021, SRAM acquired the cycling technology company, Hammerhead.
SRAM currently has nine road bike groupsets (in descending order of price):
- SRAM RED eTap AXS
- SRAM RED
- SRAM Force eTap AXS
- SRAM Force
- SRAM Force CX1
- SRAM Rival
- SRAM Rival 1
- SRAM Apex
- SRAM Apex1 
|2010||Rival: 10 speed||Apex: 10 speed|
|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|
|2017||RED eTap HRD: 11 speed|
|2019||RED eTap AXS: 12 speed||Force eTap AXS: 12 speed|
|2021||Rival eTap AXS: 12 speed|
SRAM currently has 18 mountain bike groupsets, divided by field of application, from more to less expensive:
- X0 2x10 speed
- GX 1x11 speed or 2x11 speed or 2x10 speed
- GX Eagle 1x12 speed
- NX 1x11 speed
- NX Eagle 1x12 speed
- SX Eagle 1x12 speed
- X9 2x10 speed
- X7 2x10 speed
- X5 2x10 speed
- EX1 1x8 speed
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. On May 12, 2011, the company announced in a filing that it intended to raise up to $300 million in an IPO. Shortly later, the company consolidated its debt to pay off the assets owned by the private equity firm. Those plans were put on hold due to volatility in the stock market. 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.
- 1987 $0 million
- 1994 $25 million
- 1995 $40 million
- 1999 $120 million
- 2001 $120 million
- 2003 $150 million
- 2004 $160 million (estimate)
- 2006 $283.8 million
- 2007 $356.0 million
- 2008 $478.4 million
- 2009 $399.6 million
- 2010 $524.2 million
- 2016 $640 million
- 2017 $725 million
- 2020 $974 million (2020)
SRAM Cycling Fund
The SRAM Cycling Fund is the advocacy and philanthropy arm of SRAM LLC. The Fund invested $10M over 6 years from 2009 to 2014. 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.
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