SRAM Apex vs. Rival – Which One Should I Get?

As a mountain bike rider, one of the things that you must ensure is in check is the bike’s groupset.

The groupset here entails the gearing and braking components that are parts of the mechanical moving parts of the bike.

They include the crankset, chain, bottom brackets, shifters, derailleur, brakes, levers, and cassettes.

Rival and Apex are some of the two top series from SRAM, and we shall be exploring their derailleur, shifters, and cranksets.

Here is an SRAM Rival vs. Apex review to help you find the ideal groupset for your bike.

Both models/series come with different products, which makes it challenging to find the right unit.

That is why we came up with this article to give you an easy time when shopping.

SRAM Rival

When it comes to mid-range groupsets, SRAM rival tends to take the lead on the market. They offer you affordable groupsets that perform decently as well.

Shifters

SRAM shifters are designed with the ZeroLoss cable spool design. Along with that, they have a left-hand cable spool design that offers a 10-degree enhancement for offering fast and easy shifts.

Derailleur

Both the front and rear SRAM Rival derailleurs offer you precise and positive shifting.

There is a stiff steel derailleur cage that ensures the front shifting is better with the Rival groupset.

Crankset

Rival cranksets come with a major update that offers you hollow-forged Open Core Technology to save you some weight.

Still, it offers you a more rigid unit that is relative to the previous solid-forged unit.

Recommended SRAM Rival to Buy

SRAM Rival vs. Apex

Rival Crankset

There are several Rival crankset models out there. However, here are three units we think would be a good pick for you.

SRAM Rival 42T Crankset

SRAM Rival 42T Crankset

Coming with forged aluminum arms and a removable spider, this crankset will offer you an amazing shifting experience.

It is designed to guide the chain via the pedal stroke as it delivers dependable pedal stroke and chain retention.

The forged aluminum arms are not only durable, but they also come with a lightweight design. In turn, this will help to boost your shifting experience.

Plus, the setup of the crankset makes it ideal for those riding in less-aggressive topographies.

If you also prefer working with a rear derailleur only and save some weight, this crankset would serve you perfectly.

There is a tall and square X-SYNC tooth design that is meant to give you amazing chain control.

The tooth profile is sharp and narrow with rounded chamfer edges that deliver a deflected chain.

You also get recesses that will clear mud off the inner chain rollers and links.

We loved the Exogram technology that is meant to deliver a large and hollow cross-section that goes all the way to the spider.

PROS

  • Comes with a lightweight and sturdy design
  • Mud and debris clearing recesses for inner chain rollers and links
  • Tall and square teeth for excellent chain control
  • Rounded chamfer edges teeth reduce deflection and enhance chain retention
  • Cage lock tech for quick wheel removal and installation

CONS

  • Only 42-tooth max

SRAM Rival 1 Crankset

SRAM Rival 1 Crankset

For those that are used to working with hidden chainring bolts behind the crank arm, you’d love working with this model.

The crankset also comes with a lightweight yet sturdy design to serve you for a long time.

This one is made with forged aluminum arms, as well as a machined alloy spider that is detachable.

With the hidden bolt design of this crankset, you won’t have to worry about the unit becoming loose as you ride your bike.

Along with that, the crankset comes with CNC machined X-Glide chainrings that offer the needed protection.

This assures you of the needed support to both the inner and outer chain links. In turn, you can be sure of enjoying enhanced shifting.

In terms of weight, this fella comes in at 875grams. The BB30 technology of this one offers you a narrow Q-factor and more ankle clearance.

You will also enjoy a sturdier crank construction and longer bearing life.

PROS

  • Crankset offers a cutter seal design to reduce friction
  • X-Glide R chainrings are CNC machined for improved shifting performance
  • Narrow Q-factor for improved ankle clearance
  • Easy to install the bearing cups into the frame
  • Comes with a strong crank construction to enhance the bearing lifetime

CONS

  • Hidden clearing bolts might be an issue for some users

Rival Shifters

SRAM Rival Doubletap Shifters

SRAM Rival Doubletap Shifters

This Rival shifter comes with advanced engineering and technology to enhance the overall shifting experience.

The shifters come in at only 245 grams, and it features a carbon brake lever that makes it an amazing model to choose for your bike.

Along with that, this model is meant to deliver ergonomic comfort and excellent shifting quality.

Another addition to the shifters is SRAM’s ZeroLoss shifting, which betters the performance as well.

It has also been designed with the ability to trim the derailleur with minimal effort.

Keep in mind that the brake lever of this shifter is longer than the previous version. The shift paddle is also extended and widened for better delivery.

There is an added cable routing option that allows you to run both the shifter and brake cables along the front of the handlebar.

Furthermore, the reach adjustment feature is meant to let you customize the lever to meet the size of your hands.

In other words, it is suitable for people with large or small hands without any problem. You will be getting a full shift and brake cable kit with this model.

PROS

  • Lightweight design
  • ZeroLoss shifting enhances performance
  • Lets you run both the brake and shifter cables along the handlebar front
  • Offers reach adjustment
  • Can trim the derailleur with ease

CONS

  • Reach might not be the best for people with small hands

SRAM Rival 22 11-Speed Shifter

SRAM Rival 22 11-Speed Shifter

Thanks to the iconic ZeroLoss technology from SRAM, this model offers instant reactions from the cables and shifters.

In other words, you will not experience any lag time between changing gears or pulling the lever.

Even better, this model will automatically adjust the trim to give you smooth and quiet drivetrains.

In the long run, you will be sure of the perfect shifting experience. The DoubleTap shifting feature gives you short and fast shifts.

Like the previous product, this one also offers you a reach-adjust design that lets you move the lever closer or further from the bar as possible.

By the way, this one comes in at 350 grams, and it is still classified under the lightweight category.

There are aluminum levers that are lightweight but still sturdy enough. The shifters are designed with two cable routing options.

Here, you can run the cables inside or outside the bars for efficiency and a nice appeal.

PROS

  • Comes with an ergo fit design
  • Allows you to run cables inside or outside the bars
  • Lightweight and sturdy design
  • Features a reach-adjust design
  • DoubleTap shifting offers quick shifts

CONS

  • Hood is somewhat narrow to some users

SRAM Derailleurs

SRAM Rival 3.0 Rear Derailleur

SRAM Rival 3.0 Rear Derailleur

If you are on a tight budget and you need a decent derailleur for your bike, this model would work for you.

The derailleur features durable aluminum construction that makes it lightweight too.

You can use this model with a medium or long cable. This one comes with advanced technology to make it durable and functional enough. It would suit you if you need a cyclocross, gravel, or road bike.

Another plus feature is the trickle-down technology that makes it a unit worth going for, especially with its reduced price.

We loved the refined 3.0 Roller Bearing Clutch, which helps to better the stabilization of the chain and shifting over the bumpiest terrain.

Besides that, the derailleur comes with a reduced chain slap. In turn, this will offer you a quiet and smooth ride. The chainstay is not chipped up, and it doesn’t look haggard.

There is an X-Horizon geometry that limits the movement on the horizontal axis, which then betters the stability.

Thanks to the upper pulley that maintains a constant gap and tension across each cog on the cassette, this derailleur will get rid of ghost shifting and reduce shift initiation.

PROS

  • Designed to reduce shift initiation and eliminate ghost shifting
  • Cage Lock functionality to let you remove the rear wheel with ease
  • X-Horizon geometry enhances the stability
  • Clutch enhances chain stabilization and shifting over bumpy terrain
  • Offers minimized chain slap

CONS

  • Somewhat heavy and tricky to get cable routed

SRAM Rival 22 11-Speed Rear Derailleur

SRAM Rival 22 11-Speed Rear Derailleur

This front derailleur is designed to offer you an amazing shifting experience. The derailleur comes with a friendly and decently lightweight design.

It comes with a design that delivers a complete approach to the critical balance of light action upshifts and positive downshifts.

Also, the model comes with a proprietary SRAM action ratio, innate adjusters, as well a professionally engineered cage design. The combination of these features assures you of swift shifting.

You get an X-Glide shifting technology that delivers flawless shifting. In other words, you will not compromise the speed and power in almost any off-road terrain — no more missed shifts with this derailleur.

This derailleur comes with steel construction that will withstand any highly demanding use. In other words, the performance of this model is optimized for efficiency.

It offers you both a high-direct and low-direct mount, as well as a high clamp and low clamp.

PROS

  • Steel construction for sturdiness in any demanding condition
  • X-Glide technology offers flawless shifting
  • Offers a complete approach to the critical balance of the upshifts and downshifts
  • Decent price point
  • Designed to limit missed shifts

CONS

  • Pulley bearings are not upgradable

SRAM Apex

Apex is another top series that offer groupsets suitable for your bike. Here is a look at the groupsets offered by SRAM Apex.

Apex Cranksets

The Apex crankset comes with a compact design and cold-forged aluminum arms that are solid and soft enough. They come with a Q-Factor and are available in different lengths.

Shifters

The Apex Shifters feature DoubleTap technology, and they are loaded with reach adjustments for shift levers and brakes.

There are also ZeroLoss front shifting, along with dual cable routing options. As it is well known, Red is the only brand known for making ZeroLoss rear shifters.

Derailleurs

Apex front and rear Deraulliers come with tight pivots that are meant to deliver snappy shifts.

They also feature the X-Horizon geometry that assures you of clean and crisp shifts while remaining strong enough.

Recommended SRAM Apex to Buy

Apex Crankset

SRAM Apex GXP BCD Double Road Crankset

SRAM Apex GXP BCD Double Road Crankset

This crankset is designed for maximum stiffness and reduced weight. It is meant to utilize the cold forging process as it comes in at 890 grams.

Compared to other models, it is slightly heavier, but it is generally a lightweight model.

Thanks to the aluminum construction, this unit offers you a high strength-to-weight ratio to serve you for a long time.

There are PowerGlide chainrings that deliver crisp and consistent shifting.
You will have an easy time when it comes to installing and maintaining the sealed bearing BB and GXP spindle.

Thanks to the teeth design of this model, the alloy is strain-hardened for amazing durability.

In turn, the stainless steel pickup pins are meant to enhance the longevity and performance of the crankset.

We loved the chainring-specific finishing tech and laser graphics that don’t only contribute to the durability of the crankset but also enhance the appeal.

PROS

  • Lightweight design
  • Designed for durability
  • Chainring design offers a crisp and consistent shifting
  • Comes with an amazing appeal
  • Compact cranks deliver more gear ranges

CONS

  • Not hollow-forged

SRAM Apex 1 Gx Crankset

SRAM Apex 1 Gx Crankset

This crankset comes with revolutionary innovation and top-notch performance. You can be sure of enjoying the ultimate riding experience with this model.

The X-SYNC technology allows the crankset to run securely and with low noise.

Keep in mind that this technology also offers unparalleled chain retention to the crankset.

If you need a wide range of gears and shifting simplicity while saving you some money, this crankset would work for you.

It is compatible with both 10-speed and 11-speed gears, and you can also use it with 24mm and 30mm spindles.

You get a crankset with aluminum chainrings and crankarms for excellent delivery. Also, this helps to make the whole unit lightweight and durable enough.

There is an integrated 4-arm asymmetric spider that will maximize the stiffness to weight.

Above all, this crankset offers a greater frame and tire clearance compared to most models out there.

PROS

  • 10-speed and 11-speed compatible
  • You will enjoy a greater tire and frame clearance
  • Features a 4-arm asymmetric spider for maximum stiffness
  • X-sync technology offers excellent chain retention
  • Excellent value for money

CONS

  • Pedals might strip out of the crank arm in tough conditions

Apex Shifters

SRAM Apex DoubleTap Shifters

SRAM Apex DoubleTap Shifters

With this model, you can be confident of having shifters that come with advanced technology. It has been designed to perfect the interface between the bike and the rider.

There is a forged aluminum brake lever, along with a cast aluminum shift lever that will not only be durable but also lightweight to the maximum.

Just like the Rival, these shifters also come with dual reach adjustment to let you set the lever to the level of your choice.

Whether you have large or small hands, the shifters come with a design to suit you perfectly.

There is a dual cable routing that lets you install/run the cable inside or outside the bars for convenience.

The high pivot brake lever is another plus feature you would enjoy working with.

Keep in mind that these shifters offer you a right-hand lever only. You will enjoy the iconic ZeroLoss technology for front shifting, along with a single-motion lever for the entire shifting.

PROS

  • Offers independent reach adjustment for brake and shift levers
  • Allows for dual cable routing
  • DoubleTap technology for fast shifting
  • Designed with a lightweight and durable design
  • Uses a single-motion lever for each shifting

CONS

  • Front shifter might not shift smoothly

SRAM Apex Hydro Shifters

SRAM Apex Hydro Shifters

Your braking and gearing are assured with these shifters, and it is because of its excellent construction. This shifter is designed to give you confidence on each ride on your bike.

It is an 11-speed shift lever that is developed to offer accurate shifting that is dependable enough regardless of the riding condition.

Thanks to the lever body design of this unit, you can be sure of enjoying incredible finger wrap, along with comfort and control.

In terms of the brake fluid, this unit uses the DOT 5.1 brake fluid. The unit weighs in at only 350 grams, which is lightweight but very sturdy as well.

This one comes with a two-piston hydraulic caliper along with a forged aluminum disc caliper with steel hardware and steel-backed organic pads. In general, this offers you an excellent shifting experience.

PROS

  • Offers accurate shifting regardless of where you are riding
  • Lever body design offers excellent comfort and control
  • Lightweight and sturdy design
  • Steel-backed organic pads and steel hardware are corrosion resistant
  • Easy to adjust the reach

CONS

  • Price will be high for some riders

Apex Derailleur

SRAM Apex Rear Derailleur

SRAM Apex Rear Derailleur

With this derailleur, you get a wide-ratio cassette option and a 2 x 10-speed road shifting system. The unit has been designed to be wider, faster, and generally lighter.

This one is made of aluminum which makes it lightweight and also durable enough.

Luckily, you can use this derailleur with SRAM Apex, Force, Rival Double Tap, and Red controls.

You won’t have to ride with complexity and weight when you have this derailleur.

Being a 10-rear gear speed derailleur, this one also comes with a short cage length.

Mountain bike riding requires enough gears for exploring the terrain and making the whole adventure interesting enough.

SRAM understands that, which is why they offer you enough gear range to let you conquer both city-limit sprints and mountain passes with ease.

If you want to get the most of this derailleur, you will want to use it with the SRAM Exact Actuation DoubleTap Shifters.

PROS

  • Offers multiple compatible components
  • Supported jockey wheels on bearings for a smooth functionality
  • Aluminum alloy body with durable steel inner cage plates and aluminum outer
  • Exact actuation offers accurate shifts for every click
  • Designed with reduced weight and enhances stiffness

CONS

  • Might need frequent tune-ups

SRAM Apex Long Cage Rear Derailleur

SRAM Apex Long Cage Rear Derailleur

Coming with a long cage design that fits up to a 42-tooth cog, this unit stands among the best out there.

The derailleur features a lightweight yet sturdy design for reliability and efficiency.

This one offers you an X-horizontal design that helps cut down the shift force while getting rid of ghost shifting and chain slap.

It can be used with both 10-speed and 11-speed SRAM 1x road systems without any problem.

We loved the cage lock technology that helps to ease the wheel removal and installation.

Furthermore, there is a large upper pulley offset that will adjust the gap of the chain automatically.

You can go wherever you want when you have this derailleur on your bike. It is meant to offer you a clean and crisp shifting for an excellent biking experience.

There are a roller bearing clutch and a parallelogram design that combine easily to reduce chain bounce.

As a result, this makes the drive train safer and less noisy over rough terrains.

PROS

  • Designed to offer easy wheel installation and removal
  • Upper pulley offset adjusts the chain gap automatically
  • Sealed cartridge bearings on the pulley for longevity
  • Lightweight and sturdy design
  • Decent price tag

CONS

  • Might not be compatible with some 10V shifters

Sram Rival vs. Apex Comparison

So, how do these models compare? Which is the best and would serve you to the maximum?

That depends on what you want in a groupset. Nevertheless, here is a look at how the two models compare.

Braking

In terms of braking delivery, Apex offers you a one-brake system that tends to be effective enough.

On the other hand, Rival offers two-brake systems. Both systems can be adapted for hydraulic brakes.

However, Rival units tend to be more compatible than Apex.

Shifters

Typically, both models come with similar shifters, but Rival is lightly uncomfortable than Apex. Even so, Rival happens to be more precise in its delivery.

On the other hand, Apex happens to be fairly basic and they allow you to choose between two different chain sizes.

Rival groupset also offers more superior shifting that is faster and sharper than Apex.

Cost

Being that Rival offers more control and a better shifting experience, it makes them more expensive compared to Apex.

Still, both models come at a decent and affordable price point.

Application

Apex groupset is the perfect option for anyone in need of reliable performance with amazing value.

With the Rival groupset, it would suit you if you need a mid-range set that offers satisfying performance as well. Rival would be a good pick for long rides.

Conclusion

Which groupset would you go for based on this SRAM Rival vs. Apex review?

Would you rather go for Apex to save some money and enjoy a value pack or you don’t mind spending some extra dollars to get an impressive groupset?

Whichever model you choose, ensure that it meets your riding conditions accordingly.

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