Yes, the only difference between SRAM's RED and Black RED groupsets is color and an oversized ‘team’ logo on the DoubleTap levers. The new option, simply, speaks to a core philosophy within the brand: if function is on target, then form can't be ignored.
The new color option is a product of the success of SRAM’s Limited Tour Edition (LTE) RED group, which debuted at the Tour de France in July 2010 and was produced from September through December 2010. The group sold out in January; in total, SRAM sold 5,000 LTE groups.
Black RED isn't a limited edition group and falls into the line as an option to the original polished version of RED. Black RED’s shifters are adorned with larger ‘team’ style SRAM logos, still in red and silver, and the derailleurs, chainrings, brakes and alloy PowerDome cassette back plate are anodized black and polished.
The group is available with GXP or BB30 cranks, with multiple road chainring options available. A cyclo-cross outer ring is not yet offered. Cassette options mirror the standard RED group, including the latest 11-28t model.
“Consumers and [OE] customers get excited by more custom options,” said Michael Zellmann, SRAM’s road PR manager. “[The Black finish] was a balance demand from different sources [both OE and retail] and we’ve found that color options have proven successful for us. LTE was successful and Black RED is expected to rival or exceed that.”
The new color will slowly trickle out onto the professional circuit. It's currently in the hands of individual riders, including Tim Johnson, Thor Hushovd, Chris Horner and Robbie McEwen, as well as triathletes Chris McCormack, Michellie Jones and Terenozo Bozzone.
RadioShack, Liquigas-Cannondale, Garmin-Cervélo and Saxo Bank-Sungard will race Black RED at select Classics this spring, according to Zellmann. SRAM Black RED will be available for sale in March; its price has yet to be announced.