SRAM was founded on a single product in 1987 and introduced the Grip Shift (or twist shift) shifter to the road bike market in 1988. In 1991 that technology was adapted for mountain bikes, and SRAM quickly grew.
SRAM's story begins In early 1987 with founder Stan Day training for and racing in triathlons. Stan was convinced there was a better way to shift and found that reaching for the downtube to shift gears was awkward and inefficient. "Why couldn't you put the shifter on the handlebar?" he asked. "You rotate a grip, and the gear changes."
While on a ski trip in Colorado, Stan made his handlebar twist shifting presentation to a friend, and brilliant engineer, Sam Patterson. Sam went back to his garage in San Diego, tinkered around for a few months, and came up with a prototype for a twist shifter by late spring. Grip Shift was born.
Stan enlisted a group of like-minded entrepreneurs and cyclists to bring the product to market, and they went to work. They rented a slice of a 100-year-old brick warehouse on Chicago's west side. The masonry was so porous that snow piled up inside, and tea leaves periodically rained down from the rafters, courtesy of a previous tenant. But it was home-sweet-home as they raced to debut at the Long Beach bike show in January 1988.
Pressed to develop a company name as the Long Beach show approached, they combined several of the founders' initials and came up with SRAM. Upon arriving at the show, they opened the catalog to find that the organizers had mistakenly inserted an extra letter; they were welcomed to the industry as SCRAM.
As mentioned, Grip Shift put SRAM on the cycling industry map. But it was only when SRAM developed its first derailleur and adapted Grip Shift for MTB use that SRAM's presence was solidified.
Initially manufactured just down the street from SRAM's current Fulton Market global headquarters, Grip Shift was originally designed for road applications and eventually modified for triathlon and MTB, which began the company's transition into one of the largest bike component suppliers in the world.
In 1995, eager to expand, SRAM introduced their first mountain bike rear derailleur, dubbed ESP, that featured a new and unique 1:1 cable actuation ratio that was designed to be more tolerant of cable contamination and easier to set up. In addition, the new derailleur was designed to pair with SRAM's ESP Grip Shifters. This was a critical first step for SRAM toward producing a complete shifting system.
SRAM was eager to expand, both by acquisition and organic product development. By 1997, SRAM purchased Sachs, a renowned German manufacturer specializing in chains and gearing. Sachs provided SRAM with a group of experienced metallurgists, engineers, and a successful chain and internally geared hub production facility.
SRAM released its first XO rear derailleur in 2001. It was a bold redesign of SRAM's existing ESP derailleurs with the goal of being best in class.
In 2002, SRAM acquired suspension manufacturer RockShox. RockShox was one of the most recognizable brands in cycling and an industry innovator who originally introduced front suspension, reshaping mountain biking for the entire world.
Avid was acquired in the spring of 2004. Avid's popular and proven brake systems, specifically their hydraulic disc brakes, gave SRAM even more means to compete in the component market.
Later that same year, SRAM purchased Truvativ, a crank, bottom bracket, and chainring manufacturer. With Truvativ as part of the SRAM family, the company could finally sell a complete drivetrain.
SRAM's next venture into road cycling since the introduction of Grip Shift came in 2006 when they launched their Force and Rival mechanical 10-speed groupsets. SRAM Force was introduced as the lightest group on the market, designed with ergonomics as a primary focus, and maintained SRAM's precise, crisp, and audible shifting feel. SRAM Force was raced in the Tour de France the following year.
SRAM was able to launch into the road market due to its new proprietary shifting technology, DoubleTap. Sketched onto a napkin at a local bar by SRAM's advanced development engineers, the technology allowed riders to shift a derailleur in both directions using a single shifter paddle.
SRAM launched its RED group in 2007. SRAM's new top-end road groupset was the lightest, fastest shifting, and most adjustable on the market. It was quickly adopted by many professionals and subsequently won nearly every major road, cross, and triathlon race on the calendar.
Also, in 2007, SRAM acquired the bicycle component company Zipp. Zipp was founded in America's speed capital, Indianapolis, with the singular goal of making you faster. Zipp has expanded its product offerings from wheels to handlebars, stems, and seatposts.
SRAM acquired power meter crank manufacturer Quarq in 2011. By 2012, SRAM had incorporated power meters into its high-end RED road group, and power measurement would eventually be available for every groupset.
In 2012, SRAM introduced wide-range 1x11 mountain bike shifting with its XX1 groupset. The new groupset used a 10-42 cassette and a patented single front chainring that used both narrow and specially shaped wide teeth to retain the chain without a chain guide. By 2014, this technology premiered on cyclocross bikes as SRAM Force 1 (originally CX1). In addition, the group expanded into other applications, including time-trial, triathlon, road, and fitness bikes.
In August 2015, SRAM announced the release of its 11-speed wireless electronic road groupset, SRAM RED eTap. The group utilized derailleurs with self-contained batteries to shift using wireless signals sent from the shift levers. Benefits of the system included more precise shifting, faster setup, and lower maintenance.
Soon after, SRAM announced a hydraulic disc brake version of its wireless road group called SRAM RED eTap HRD. SRAM's HRD technology used a hydraulic lever design with both reach adjustment and lever contact point adjustment.
In May 2016, SRAM released the 1x12 Eagle drivetrain technology in the XX1 and X01 variants. At the same time, SRAM officially declared the death of the MTB front derailleur since the Eagle 1x systems deliver a 500% gear range, which is comparable to many 2x systems. Early in 2017, SRAM launched the 1x12 GX Eagle drivetrain, featuring much the same technology at a lower price point.
Also, in 2016, SRAM acquired ShockWiz. ShockWiz is an innovative fork and shock-mounted suspension tuning assistant that collects and transmits data from your suspension to an app to help you understand your suspension settings to adjust and improve your ride. Compatible with air-sprung forks and shocks, ShockWiz will give you a snapshot of your suspension's performance, indicate if there are concerns with setup, and help you tune for specific disciplines.
In October 2016, SRAM released the WiFLi (Wider, Faster, Lighter) version of its eTap rear derailleur is compatible with a wider range of gears than a standard rear derailleur.
TyreWiz was launched in 2018 as a lightweight and durable tire pressure measurement device that fits directly onto the valve. TyreWiz uses LED lights to indicate you're at or outside your perfect pressure zone. It also works by utilizing Bluetooth™ to relay critical pressure data directly to your cycling computer and the SRAM AXS app.
Velotron, acquired in 2018, delivers science-grade training experiences while setting the standard for training ergometers. Velotron trainers are used and cited worldwide by the finest universities, sports science labs, and coaching centers.
Fast forward to 2019, when SRAM released two new wireless electronic mountain bike groupsets, including XX1 Eagle AXS and X01 Eagle AXS. Eagle AXS brings the real benefits of wireless electronic shifting to the mountain bike, providing riders personalization and control of their drivetrain.
In 2017, SRAM launched the 1x12 GX Eagle drivetrain, the same technology as Eagle XX1 and X01 drivetrains at a more affordable price point.
On 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 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 eTap AXS groupset features a 12-speed cassette with a wider gear range and smaller steps between gears and many other innovations such as chainrings with power meter integration and 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 RockShox's 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 easily retrofitted with mountain bike handlebars using the Eagle AXS derailleur controller with RED eTap AXS drivetrain.
That same year, SRAM purchased the PowerTap line of bicycle power meters from Saris. PowerTap's initial hub-based power meter helped deliver accurate power measurement to cycling's mainstream. The product line included the PowerTap P2 Pedal power meters and the PowerTap G3 Hub power meters.
SRAM launched a Force version of its AXS groupset, introduced as SRAM Force eTap AXS. The Force version provided most of the same features and benefits as RED, but at a lower price point. As a result, SRAM Force eTap AXS has found specification on nearly all leading bike manufacturers' bikes.
In February 2021, SRAM announced the acquisition of the entire range of road and mountain pedals, cleats, and related patents of TIME Sport. 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.
In April of 2021, SRAM launched its SRAM Rival eTap AXS groupset. The new Rival eTap AXS groupset delivered the same ride experience as Force and RED, including the same wireless shift logic, innovative gearing options, and with an all new spindle-based power meter.
SRAM acquired Hammerhead, a leading cycling technology company and maker of the Karoo 2 cycling computer, in January of 2022. Hammerhead continues to develop an innovative cycling technology platform, ensuring riders can seamlessly integrate with various existing hardware and software products and services, including electronic shifting.
SRAM acquired Velocio, a performance cycling apparel company, in 2022. Velocio was founded in 2013 and remained singularly focused on premium cycling apparel. The Velocio brand is driven by its fundamental principles, including better design to improve every ride, a solid commitment to environmental responsibility, and growing an inclusive culture around cycling.