SRAM gives its updated Apex groupset the AXS treatment and brings electronic shifting to the masses

SRAM Apex AXS being ridden
(Image credit: SRAM)

SRAM has announced a huge update to their budget gravel groupset, Apex. The groupset was the only performance gravel groupset left in their range that was purely mechanical and also only had 11 speeds.

The updated Apex will now come in 12-speed and will be available with either AXS wireless electronic shifting, or with good old fashioned cable actuation. The new Apex AXS groupset will now take its place as the most affordable electronic groupset in SRAM's range and the gateway to most riders' first experience of electronic shifting.

SRAM Apex AXS groupset fitted to a bike

Apex gets a massive upgrade by going electronic and 12-speed (Image credit: SRAM)

Electronic shifting for the masses

For riders looking for a more accessible entry point into electronic drivetrains, Apex AXS upgrade is a significant leap forward. The new Apex AXS derailleur uses the same wireless protocol as SRAM's other AXS groupsets to provide wireless shifting, simpler set up, and compatibility with other AXS components.

The derailleur is 1x specific, features a springed clutch for added chain security, and is designed to be used with 11-44t XPLR, 10-44t XPLR, and 10-36t cassettes. There will also be an X1 Eagle AXS derailleur which borrows tech from SRAM's MTB AXS range, although it will only be available as OE (original equipment) on complete bikes. Featuring a more robust Overload Clutch and compatiblity with wider range 50t or 52t cassettes, the new Apex system will appeal to more adventurous dropbar riders and bikepackers.

SRAM Apex is still mechanical

Unlike SRAM's other XPLR groupsets, Apex will still be available as a mechanical groupset too. The mechanical version still gets the 12sp upgrade and will be compatible with 12-speed mechanical Apex and Eagle shifters. Customers will also be able to purchase an Eagle version for compatibility with 50t and 52t cassettes.

Three gravel riders riding on a dusty gravel road

Apex offer loads of configurations to suit all types of riders (Image credit: SRAM)

Other big upgrades

Beyond the headline electronic gizmos, SRAM has actually trickeled a lot of tech that until now has only been available on the more premium XPLR groupsets.

The new 12-speed cassette features a similar gear progression as the existing XPLR cassette with one exception. Unlike the Rival and higher grade cassettes, Apex's move to 12sp doesn't use SRAM's XDR freehub, instead it sacrifices the smallest 10t sprocket to be compatible with the HG road freehub body that's more commonly specced on budget gravel bikes. That means the cassettes will give a 400 percent range of gears compared to the 440 percent of Rival and above, although as previously mentioned, the Apex 12sp derailleurs are compatible with the SRAM's XDR XPLR cassettes too.

Apex has also adopted SRAM's flat top chain design which is not only distinctive but is said to offer a quieter operation and increased strength and durability.

SRAM Apex AXS derailleur and cassette

Apex is only compatible with SRAM's flat top chain (Image credit: SRAM)

Apex's 1X crankset uses SRAM's longer DUB crank spindle to fit both Road and MTB width frame bottom bracket standards for simplified cross-compatibility, including a Cannondale Ai compatible version. Cranks will be available in 160mm, 165mm, 170mm, 172.5mm, and 175mm with the options of 38t, 40t, or 42t (there will alsobe 44t and 46T available as OE specs).

The gear shifting isn't the only powered upgrade, Apex is now power meter compatible with an Apex AXS crankarm power meter upgrade which houses a power meter in the left hand crank axle. SRAM doesn't provide accuracy numbers but quotes a battery life of 400+ hours and a weight penalty of only 40g.

Lastly the brake levers and shifters feature tweaked ergonomics, lever reach adjustment and Stealth-a-majig connector for easy setup. Apex is a popular groupset choice on a lot of brands' commuter bikes too, so SRAM has catered for flat bar bikes with a lever that uses technology from the brand's Guide MTB brake. The Apex's calipers are flat mount spec.

SRAM Apex AXS being ridden

SRAM has packed a lot of tech in the new Apex line (Image credit: SRAM)

Weight, pricing, and availability 

While this is without doubt the most affordable electronic groupset that SRAM will sell, its not the cheapest electronic groupset that the US component giant has released. Turbulent times in the bike industry and the subsequent price increases means that although the new Apex XPLR derailleur retails for $275.00 / €290.00 / £260.00, which is $35 / €25 / £64 less than Rival AXS is currently priced. When Rival AXS was released almost two years ago it cost just $255 / €265 / £236. To add insult to injury for the customer, the Apex AXS derailleur wont include a battery which adds an extra $59 / €63 / £56. 

The rest of the kit is priced as expected, with the AXS equipment undercutting the existing Rival AXS groupset, with a highlight being the power meter upgrade which retails for just $220 / €230 / £205. The mechanical Apex 12-speed levers and derailleur will still offer a significant saving over the electronic alternative.

SRAM hasn't provided any weights for the new Apex components at the time of writing.

See below for full pricing:

SRAM Apex shifters and levers

  • Shift/Hydraulic Disc Brake Apex AXS (Rotor & Bracket sold separately) - $220 / €265 / £235
  • Shift/Hydraulic Disc Brake Apex D1 (Rotor & Bracket sold separately) - $245 / €295 / £265
  • Disc Brake Apex D1 - $205 / €245 / £220
  • Disc Brake S300 (Rotor sold separately) - $75 / €90 / £80

SRAM Apex derailleurs

  • Rear derailleur Apex XPLR AXS D1 MAX 44T 12 speed (Battery not included) - $275 / €290 / £260
  • Rear derailleur Apex XPLR D1 MAX 44T 12 speed (Mechanical) - $125 / €150 / £135
  • Rear derailleur Apex Eagle D1 MAX 52T 12 speed (Mechanical) - $125 / €150 / £135

SRAM Apex cranksets, cassette, and chain

  • Crankset Apex 1x DUB 42T Aluminum (BB not included) - $110 / €130 / £120
  • Left Arm and Power Meter Spindle Assembly Apex D1 DUB WIDE (Right Arm/BB/Spider/Chainrings non included) - $220 / €230 / £205
  • Cassette PG-1231 XPLR 12 Speed 11-44 - $124 / €150 / £135
  • Chain Apex D1 Flattop w/PowerLock 12 Speed - $30 / €36 / £32

SRAM Apex AXS range

(Image credit: SRAM)
Graham Cottingham
Senior reviews writer, Bike Perfect

Graham is all about riding bikes off-road. With almost 20 years of riding experience, he has dabbled in downhill, enduro, and gravel racing. Not afraid of a challenge, Graham has embraced bikepacking over the last few years and likes nothing more than strapping some bags to his bike and covering big miles to explore Scotland's wildernesses. When he isn’t shredding the gnar in the Tweed Valley, sleeping in bushes, or tinkering with bikes, he is writing tech reviews for Bike Perfect.

Rides: Cotic SolarisMax, Stooge MK4, 24 Bicycles Le Toy 3, Surly Steamroller

Height: 177cm

Weight: 71kg