If you like cycling and watch any professional racing, you will have come across SRAM and Shimano. They make some of the best cycling components available and are both known for making incredible cycling groupsets.
A question our readers often ask us is, “Which is best? The SRAM Red or the Shimano Dura-Ace?” In this article, we’re going to tell you everything that you need to know so you can make your decision.
- What is SRAM Red?
- What is Shimano Dura-Ace?
- How do they compare against each other?
The Best Of The Best!
Before we get into the gritty details of these two excellent groupsets, we are going to speak about. It is important to understand the groupsets we are discussing, as they come in many forms.
The best way to pitch these groupsets to you is by telling you about the best versions of each. For SRAM, we will speak about the SRAM Red eTap AXS and the Shimano Dura-Ace 9200.
What Is SRAM Red eTap AXS?
SRAM Red eTap AXS is the top road groupset you can get in their range. It features some incredible technology and is well known as a groupset that is made for professionals.
It has some excellent features, such as completely wireless communication between components and gear ratios of as little as 10 teeth.
- 12 Speeds Availability
- Rim and Disc Brake Options
- Electronic Shifting Full Wireless
- Rear Derailleur Dampener
- Single and Double Chainring Options
- Power Meter Options Available
What is Shimano Dura-Ace?
Shimano Dura-Ace is the most popular groupset when it comes to professional road cycling. It’s Shimano’s latest and greatest technology.
It’s incredibly durable, lightweight, and shifts electronically. Shimano has been at the forefront of cycling technology, and if you have Dura-Ace, you are serious about cycling.
- 12 Speeds Availability
- Rim and Disc Brake Options
- Semi Wireless Electronic Shifting
- Power Meter Option Available
How Do They Compare Against Each Other?
The best way to tell you about these two groupsets is by comparing them with each other in a way where they differ predominantly.
The first thing to mention about these two groupsets is the cost. They are actually very similar, with the SRAM Red coming in at $4320 and the Shimano Dura-Ace coming in at $4200.
This was the price when they were first released. As far as maintenance goes, they cost roughly around the same over their lifetime, but Shimano can be a little more expensive at times.
The looks of these groupsets really come down to personal preference. Interestingly, in recent years, Shimano has made the Dura-Ace darker and much more subtle.
SRAM has gone the other way in making their groupset stand out. Honorable mention of SRAM’s beautiful flat chain, which does look incredible.
Both these groupsets are 12-speed. This is the going number at the minute although some manufacturers are using as many as 13. SRAM and Shimano currently only use 12 speeds, which is plenty enough on a 2x system giving 24 ratio options.
Here’s where the groupset now starts to differ slightly. When it comes to gear ratios, SRAM has cassette options that give you as few as 10 teeth and as high as 36 teeth and a wide range of different front chainsets going as high as 50/37 and as low as 43/30.
Shimano is very different on the cassettes. The lowest number of teeth you can get is 11, and the highest is 34. Then on the front, the largest chainset is 54/40 and the smallest 50/34. In our opinion, SRAM offers much more than Shimano in this department.
Electronics and Wireless Shifting
Then we have electronics, and again this is where these groupsets set themselves apart from each other. They both offer electronic shifting but work in completely different ways.
SRAM is completely wireless as each component, from the derailleurs to the shifters, has its own batteries and connects with each other without the use of cables.
Then we have Shimano, and this is only currently semi-wireless. This means although it shifts electronically, many of the components are wired together through a central battery.
The shifters are not. They have coin batteries but can be wired. This does make installation harder but does provide a better wired connection.
Both these groupsets work in their own way, which does give advantages and disadvantages. The installation of the SRAM Red is easier and is fully wireless, but the Shimano is wired, giving a better connection.
What a lot of people don’t know is that the SRAM groupset and Shimano groupsets work in very different ways. On the Shimano groupset, you use the left shift to control the front derailleur and the right shifter to control the rear derailleur.
On the SRAM groupset, you use the right and left shifters to control both the front and rear derailleurs while only using different combinations on two buttons. They are both very easy to use, and after one ride, it will feel completely natural.
Battery Life and Application
As far as applications go, they both give some incredible customization features. Shimano generally will go for around 1000 km of riding on a single charge.
SRAM says I will give roughly around 60 hours of riding before needing a charge. So there’s actually not much in it when it comes to battery life, but the SRAMs are easier to remove and charge.
Weight matters, and although you might not think it, a groupset does add up. When you take the shifters, brakes, cassette, and chainset all into account.
The SRAM Red weighs roughly 2520g, and the Shimano weighs 2440g. However, weight differs depending on the components that are equipped. In general, the Shimano is slightly lighter than SRAM, but it’s literally only 80g which is next to nothing really.
Which is better?
When it comes to picking a groupset that is better than the other, we don’t believe you can.
They both offer amazing performance and are going to give you an amazing experience when being ridden. We think it really comes down to personal preference in our opinion. We highly recommend both.
Robbie Ferri has spent years working in a bike shop, has worked with industry leading brands on product creation, has been a semi pro athlete, and is a fully qualified strength and conditioning coach. He has broken World Records, bikepacked all over the World and raced ultra distance at a top-level.