• Patrick Gabrion

Shimano vs. Sram

Updated: Jul 24

Well, that was embarrassing. Let me explain ...


As you might remember, back in March I bought my Trek 920 adventure bicycle for my planned 2021 "Reunion Tour." As a side note to that acquisition, I'm glad I didn't ponder my purchase because there are no more available.


Anyway, I have to admit — sheepishly I might add — that because I've been so focused on piling up miles I hadn't ridden the bike, other than up and down the street in front of my house on the day I brought it home. It's just been collecting dust in the basement.


Two of the big boys in bicycle components.

We're in the middle of July, so I figured I couldn't ignore it any longer. It is almost laughable to think I've got this brand-new machine that I walk past almost every day and I hadn't yet planted my fanny on the saddle and gone for a proper pedal. Time now for the embarrassing moment ...


Yes, I finally took the 920 out on the surrounding roads of Hallowell. But at first glance, you'd think I'd never actually ridden a bike before. You see, the 920 comes equipped with SRAM components, while all my other bicycles feature Shimano parts. No big deal, but when it comes to shifting gears the two cycling companies take a different approach.


Basically, and without getting too technical, Shimano uses two levers for changing gears up and down, while SRAM has one lever for both functions — what they call a double-tap system. As I said earlier, with all six of my other rides carrying Shimano stuff, I was in virgin territory.


So just envision this. Cruising along the road I'm shifting gears. Going down the rotating cassette was a piece of cake, however, I wanted to go the other way. But, for the life of me, I couldn't figure it out. I was stuck in granny gear hell — which is fine if you're going up Maine's tallest peak, Mount Katahdin. I was spinning the pedals like a madman and going nowhere. Cars were backed up behind me on the road. I couldn't believe what was happening.


While fumbling around with the shifters, I was thinking plenty of other thoughts. Like, what an idiot I was; a so-called extremely avid cyclist defeated by something so simple. Was I going to have to actually pull over to the side of the road and Google on my cell phone for an instructive video? Or call Alan or Jon for helpful tips? See what I mean by embarrassing ...


Alan warned me that my first ride on SRAM might be a little rough, because of the fact that I was so entrenched with the Shimano brand. Boy, was he right. He also said SRAM forces you to become a smoother shifter in the long run. I'm certainly not there yet.


Well, let's just say I finally got the hang of it and made it back without tossing the bike into the ditch and walking home. And, by the way, I absolutely love my 920. It's a little weightier than some of my other bikes, especially with the pannier racks, but it flies down hills. More details in the future ... once I nail down the shifting.

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