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The two most impressive and popular groupset brands on the market today are Shimano and SRAM. Both these brands have spent years developing high-quality drivetrains that would work for affordable and expensive bikes. However, many wonders with SRAM vs. Shimano; which drivetrain should I get?
SRAM vs. Shimano, which should you choose? SRAM and Shimano are two of the most popular drivetrain brands today, and both compete for different bikes. However, Shimano is by far one of the better options in terms of the versatility they offer. You would find more Shimano drivetrains on bikes than SRAM.
Considering both these brands are popular, we should consider what differentiates them. Having played with various bikes over the years and understanding some of the fundamentals, we can look at these drivetrains and find out which one is better.
Now you can choose which drivetrain is better for your bike. Read on to find out more.
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History Of Shimano And SRAM
Before we break down some of the features, we should look at the history of these two groupsets. It is important to know where they come from and why each of them was made.
Here, we will discuss how Shimano and SRAM came to be two of the biggest and most popular drivetrains on the market today:
When comparing the two, Shimano is one of the oldest drivetrain brands on the market today. They have been making bike components for the better of a century and are mainly based in Japan.
The company is about to double the size of SRAM, and most road bikes you buy will have a Shimano groupset on them.
Shimano groupsets and parts are generally high quality, well-made, and known to be high-end products.
SRAM started in 1987 and has grown to be one of the biggest competitors compared to Shimano. SRAM is a smaller company, and the company is more focused on specialized products rather than catering to every bike.
SRAM often dominates the entry-level and mid-level mountain bike scene.
The video below compares SRAM Vs. Shimano.
Shimano Vs. SRAM: The Drivetrain Competition Explained
To help you better understand these two drivetrains, we should break them up into various snippets. This would give you an idea of the various features of these drivetrains and allow you to better understand which is better.
If you want to choose which one is best, you should consider reading this section:
One of the drivetrain’s most important parts is looking at the shifters on these bikes; this is where things get interesting.
The traditional Shimano STI shifter has become popular because you have two levers. Each of these two levers would operate differently, and one would work best for upshifts, while the other would be great for downshifts. This creates a distinction between the two to ensure you know what you are doing.
The SRAM DoubleTap shifters are a bit more complex and make use of the brake lever as a way of helping you to control the shifts. The shifter would handle both the upshifts and downshifts when you are riding your bike. However, you might find this a bit complicated due to how and where you should press the shifters.
One thing both these brands have in common is the rapid shifters. These rapid shifters work as triggers that would have two levers. The rapid shifters can shift numerous gears in one go, which is why they are great for racing.
Winner: Shimano is the clear winner due to the lower complexity of their drivetrains.
The crankarms are very different from these two brands, with Shimano relying on the Hollowtech crankarms, which have become popular over recent years and stuck. These aluminum crankarms would be hollow on the inside, making it possible to easily shift whilst still being lightweight on the bike for competitiveness.
SRAM offers carbon fiber crankarms with their aluminum crankarms, which would offer the durability and lightweight design that you could need when it comes to reducing weight and performance.
However, these crankarms tend to be more expensive, and people would often stay away from them when just starting their cycling journey.
Winner: SRAM is lighter and much more durable.
The spindle is one of the most important parts of the groupset, and when you look at Shimano, you will find that they use a 24mm spindle, which is one of the easier spindle setups to understand. This is part of their Hollowtech II setup, which aims to give you an advantage in the field of cycling.
SRAM has decided to choose the 1 x drivetrain in many of their models, which would often work well for beginners. However, the reduced gear range is one of the problems that you would face, and it will be much harder to find all the gears you need.
Shimano has also considered this but resisted for many years before eventually adding the 1 x drivetrain to their bikes.
Winner: The setups are so different that this must be a tie.
The cassette is a variety of gears that you can choose from while riding your bike. Technology for this has significantly evolved over the last few decades.
However, Shimano keeps the costs down with the use of the traditional cassette, which features the individual cog design and uses separate spacers.
SRAM is one of the first brands to choose the more high-end options, and they have gone for the PowerdomeX cassette, which features a connected dome of cogs. These are all designed and integrated into a single block of steel, which helps with the transition from one gear to the next. One of the benefits of this approach is the price, which helps to keep the price down.
Winner: SRAM is the clear winner, but with this new design, the cassettes are far more expensive.
One of the similarities between these two brands is often freehub; both brands would use a similar freehub design. The freehub designs have not changed much because wheels are often made to be compatible with these freehubs.
The one big difference is the XD driver freehub, which is the first proprietary freehub used by the SRAM brand and takes a unique approach to make things different.
This freehub is what you will find the most popular SRAM drivetrain in the SRAM Eagle 12-speed drivetrain. However, you will need to make plenty of changes to your bike and the drivetrain design when you want to use one of these.
Winner: I would suggest this to be a tie, and SRAM would only win for more competitive mountain bikes.
5- Clutch On Rear Derailleurs
The clutch design from Shimano is one of the most popular options on the market today, and Shimano features a solid design, which would work best for off-road riding and rough terrains. This is even though they are more popular on road bikes. The Shadow technology would give you a slim derailleur and keep it in place efficiently.
The great thing about this version from Shimano is that you can choose to toggle the clutch on and off, which would help remove the wheel if needed.
SRAM will also have a clutch system on their bikes, and instead of allowing you to toggle the clutch on or off, you have the added benefit of the cage lock. The cage lock might seem complicated, but you can easily remove the cage lock system to ensure the wheel is removed if needed.
Winner: Tied due to different designs, which both work.
SRAM Vs. Shimano: Which One Is Best?
While we did not dive into the different gear sets and options for Shimano or SRAM, you should know which would work better for your needs. SRAM is one of the newer brands, and they have focused their attention primarily on the world of mountain bikes, which would allow the rider to have a fast and efficient gear transition.
Shimano is one of the oldest brands, and they have a solid reputation for quality products. This has given them the edge in terms of giving people options to choose from. You will find that the Shimano drivetrain is often on many bikes, which would be the ideal one to adjust and modify for your needs.
Shimano would make the most sense for beginners due to the price and usability. However, those with competitive aspirations might want to look at the SRAM version.
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Shimano and SRAM are two of the best brands on the market today, and many people fight to determine which one is the best.
These options are great for competitive cycling, and we suggest you choose the one best suited to your needs. Let us know in the comment section which of these options you would prefer most.