A 12-speed wireless SRAM Red eTap groupset was spotted at the Saitama Tour de France Criterium in Japan at the weekend, sparking suggestions that the new top-of-the-range technology will soon be available.
The 12-speed groupset included an integrated 50-36t chainset and a 10-28 cassette. A gear of 50x10 has a similar development to that of 53x11 – the top gear ratio commonly used by professional riders.
The 12-speed disc-brake groupset was on a red Canyon bike belonging to Katusha-Alpecin's Nils Politt. It was first spotted by well-known Japanese photographer Kei Tsuji, who published a story on the cyclowired.jp website.
Cyclingnews managed to take several photographs of the groupset on Sunday before Politt moved the bike away form prying eyes. He refused to give any further details, but he appears to have been testing the groupset for some time.
After the Cyclowired story, black tape covered some SRAM logos on the groupset, but others were still visible on the derailleur, cassette, chain and chainset. It looked to be a polished, finished version, with only a few bar codes and labels indicating it was undergoing testing.
Campagnolo revealed a 12-speed groupset early this year, and Shimano are expected to do so sooner or later. SRAM clearly don't want to be left behind and have already created the 1x 12-speed XX1 Eagle mountain bike groupset.
SRAM and Zipp created the XD cassette body design some time ago to allow for a 10-tooth cog and so a larger gear range for mountain bikes. The more recent XDR (Road) body was created for road gravel bikes, perhaps fitted with 1x drivetrain. However, the extra 1.85mm space on the body could clearly be used to add a 12th cog. That appears to be the case with the 12-speed cassette spotted in Saitama.
The chainset included a new-looking power meter crank arm from Quarq and the new integrated chainring design. The bike was fitted with Zipp wheels and SRAM's Red eTap HRD disc brake system. However the brake levers looked to have a smaller HydroR lever head and a chunkier brake lever shape.
All the components could all be part of a new SRAM Red eTap electronic 12-speed disc-brake road groupset.