I have the 2009 rival kit on my bike after spending years w/ shimano bar end shifter. I have a bit of trouble w/ the lack of trim option on the front derailleur. But I don't think Shimano or Campy STI brifters would do this either. Correct me if I'm wrong. I think SRAM switched the trim option to the outer chainring on the 09 (compared to the 08). But honestly I spend most of the race in the inner 36 so maybe I'll search for an 08 fd. The rear shifting was also quite fincky for the first couple weeks of riding. Assuming it to be cable stretch but I've never had it to this extent before. But now that I've got it dialed in and shifting right I have no complaints. Really like the crispness of the shifts compared to previous setups and the ability to shift a handful of gears at a time. Also find it easier to shift while pedaling hard. Hope that helps. -Rob
"But I don't think Shimano or Campy STI brifters would do this either. Correct me if I'm wrong."
Not going to join the ShimaNo v Campy V SRAM discussion, but i do want to comment on this. SRAM worked very hard on making their system not having to need trim in the FD, but the pros complained and I think they were on their way to caving. Now, Shimano has small little trim indexes in their shifters, but you have to have it dialed (used to work on a shop and my ex's cannondale). Campy, however is all trim. They don't have big index's for the front chainrings. It's just a simple ratchet. Once set up it's nice because the same amount of sweep on the lever behind the brake lever on both shifters puts you in the big ring and the right gear in the back (usually depending on cassette). But it's all little indents so there is awesome amounts of trim if you cable stretches or something happens, ect. They all work great, but they all have their thing. You just will never see Shimano on my stuff. :D I just don't like it. But I did ride a SRAM red once and was almost converted.
As far easy to work on, I find tricks on setting up Campy and SRAM seem to work on the other, but I had to be trained on Shimano. I have Campy on my road bike and SRAM on my Mt. Bike and I noticed that once tuned (never very hard but a little fussy) they both keep working well no matter what happens with cable stretch or dirt or whatever. With my expiernces with my ex's low end ShimaNo set up, I cannot say the same. But I'm sure Dura-Ace works fine.
Oh, and You can get Campy on Treks, but only the top custom pick you parts thing. But has anyone ever noticed you can't buy an American brand bike with Campy? Specialized and Cannondale have team replica bike with Shimano parts on them, when the team runs Campy. Go figure. I think it's all marketing myself.
P.S. I hear not so good things about the Espace Campy shifters and FD. Haven't used them myself so I don't know. But when my Axis is done I'll post a report.
stay away from it. just about anything from campy (chorus, record) and shimano (dura ace, ultegra) works better. i know people that will swear buy it (these people being persons in the bike industry who want to make a sale). i work in a shop where we tell it like it is. firstly; when a bike comes in equiped w/ a scam rear cassette you have to replace it cause it works like crap. also the front chain rings/front derail. dont work/shift as good as campy/shimano. the rear derailleur cages(carbon ones) can break.also the brakes have been known to break.the shifter's are cool in the beginning. but there "gimmickey" and soon grow old. there system is not as good as the shimano/campy. they were looking for a new way to reinvent the wheel other than being round. the stuff does look good and if you never used dura ace or record it might seem great. but if you have, its not as good and certanly not worth the money
I'll vouch for Rival. I beat the hell out of the gruppo this last year with 20+ races and god knows how many crashes. If you're on a budget Rival is a no-brainer. It's lighter and less expensive than Ultegra.
I have 08 SRAM RIVAL on all my road and cross bikes and LOVE it. Admittedly I don't have the new carbon stuff (RIVAL or any Force/Red) but have raced 17 years on Shimano (STI and barcons) and feel the SRAM stuff nails the PERFECT cross gruppo.
Great shifting...perfect ergonomics...intuitive single trigger...great durability (only 2 years on it but NO problems yet).
The only thing I would avoid is the RED cassette...it is a solid piece machined down and has no holes for mud to escape.
LOVE the rival. Anyone who doesn't like it can sell it to me.
I am not saying this because they are my sponsors, but in all honesty SRAM is a prize. Previously I have ridden dura-ace 7800 but when I transitioned to SRAM it found it's way onto my cross bike and I am in love with it. Not only can the shifters be ripped apart, repaired, ect. but they really are extremely comfortable to ride on. They have a very positive feel (for those who swear by campy....which I have also ridden) the shifting is responsive predictable, and just as good as anything else out there. Regardless of what anyone says. There is a reason fidea, cyclocross world, sachs, Parbo, and tons of other are riding there stuff. When it comes down to it, if it didn't work they wouldn't ride it. Not to mention it's good enough for tour de france winners, so yeah, for those who say it's crap, I ask how many national championships and/or tours have been won on campy? yeah, in case you didn't notice I am in no way an eliteist.
World Champ rides Shimano (as does World No. 1 if I'm not mistaken), but that's because that's what's handed to them at the beginning of the season. Pros have limited ability to pick their gear (as you could see when Sven had to switch between Mavic Wheels to Shimano Wheels on Landbouwkrediet because Shimano became a main sponsor at the beginning of January).
Sram is still emerging and obviously has kinks that take time to iron out, but they have been extremely proactive in working on taking care of those issues, with a fleet of riders providing them R&D feed back. Sram has poured tons of green into Cross development specifically and much of their development is spearheaded by the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com outfit, who often is fitted with prototype gear.
That said, if you're comfortable with Shimano, stick with Shimano. You can only know about something if you try it.
I've been running Rival on my 'cross bike (and Force on my road bike) for two years and have been pretty impressed with how robust the system is. It takes about 10 minutes to get used to the single trigger shifting business, but it's very effective. I've been especially impressed by how well SRAM stuff shifts under load compared to the Shimano stuff I used to run (where you really had to back off on the power to make clean shifts, especially in the front.) The shifting system has also performed better than other stuff I've used in bad conditions. Even in the nastiest, thickest mud they have over here in Europe, I've never had the system jam -- which my old Shimano stuff would occasionally do in bad conditions.
As others have said, it's very easy to work on -- especially the shifters compared to Shimano (I've never run Campy, so I can't offer advice on that for you). My only complaints is that it's comparatively unknown here in Belgium, so it's harder to find a dealer for it in case of a problem. This is basically a non-issue since I haven't had any problems with it, and since it's widely available in the US, you won't have to worry about it at all.
Not sure what axe tom p has to grind with SRAM, but I definitely think they've done a good job developing a solid new product. As others have pointed out, the fact that pros are using one system or the other means pretty much nothing.
Rival seems like a better value that comparable groupsets from other manufacturers, so you can save some money to invest elsewhere on your bike.
i have not raced 'cross with SRAM, yet, but in response to the above comments; setting up the RIVAL rear derailleur on my road bike was 10x easier the first time than the handful of times i've replaced Shimano ones in the past. All the other components were also easily assembled. it's even arguable that i stepped down in quality coming from an Ultegra group, but the SRAM is just nicer.
the only thing that is a pain is replacing shift cables. they come pre-installed but when it comes time to replace them you have to contort the cable around a tough bend. i think it's worth it, though. the shift levers can be pulled inboard so you can shift from deep in the drops while sprinting too. cant do that w/ Dura Ace.