New cross bike - rival 1x vs apex 1x

I’m looking to buy a new cross bike in the next few weeks, and I wondered what people’s experiences with rival 1x and apex 1x were.

Essentially I’m between two specs on the same model, and wondered if people thought £300 was worth it for an upgrade to rival?

The cassette is the same on each bike (sunrace), which takes some of the difference out of the equation as I understand the apex cassette is heavy.

Other than that, the finishing kit, wheels and tyres are all the same. The geometry is a little strange for a cross bike, so most of this will be swapped out anyway.

Rival bike

Apex bike


No direct experience, but a few in the club aren’t that impressed with Apex on their cross bikes. Main complaint seemed to the derailleur, and the spring not being strong enough.

As I understand it, the shimano comparison is Apex = Tiagra; Rival = 105; Force = Ultegra.

Having said that, looking at a bike/ waiting for Black Friday that is Rival 1x!

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I have Apex 1 on my gravel bike and have no complaints about it. I am in the process of replacing my left brake lever because it broke after a small crash, but the performance of the derailleur has been fine the whole time I’ve had it. Braking is fine, I don’t like the lever feel nearly as much as my Shimano hydro brakes, but they do the job.

The cassette is indeed an absolute unit, but it sounds like you don’t have to worry about that.


I have a mixed Apex1 and a Force1 setup. Basically everything is the same. Obviously, the Apex shifters/cassette have one less gear, which isn’t a big deal. There is no performance or functional difference between Apex and Force.

Otherwise, the biggest difference is the RD. It is steel instead of AL, this means nothing functionally. The other difference are the jockey wheel bearings. The Apex basically doesn’t have bearings, while the other versions do. You’ll want to change these after a season anyway, and nicer jockey wheels are super easy to swap. I’d say the SRAM jockey wheels are tough to clean, so pick up some flat AL wheels on Amazon which you can clean the mud off of easier anyway. Otherwise, the Apex RD is 1/3 the cost for no good reason - perfect for breaking during CX.

The only reason NOT to go full Apex is the 10 (EDIT - APEX is 11sp now) vs 11sp if you’re swapping wheels around. In this case, you can just get a Rival/Force/S-series rear shifter and cassette. I’d also argue that the Apex paint job is nicer than the Rival, which is purposely ugly.

If you’re in the UK, why would you go for that offbrand bike when you can get a equivalent Trek or Cannondale for the same price?
The benefit would be that you’d get a hydroformed AL frame instead of a butted frame, which will give you a much better ride.

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SRAM Apex 1 is definitely 11 speed!


I have had Apex 1x on my gravel bike now for a couple of years. No complaints - shifting is smooth and reliable. I did upgrade the cassette to the Sunrace model to save some weight. I’ve been on a couple of muddy rides where I had to stop and dig mud out of parts to keep the bike moving. After a good wash and lube all was as good as new.


Thanks for the info (I’m assuming you had a 2x apex 10 Sps converted to 1x?).

The vitus bikes are much better value than the Cannondales if you ask me. They’re raced by a team in the UK, and get great reviews. 2x is a bit of a deal breaker, and I wouldn’t want to drop extra cash for new wheels and drive train components just because of the name on the frame. WTB rims and novatec hubs might not be the flashiest, but will be lighter than most factory wheels (those on the Cannondale look to be 2kgs).

Out of interest, any reason you’d discount them?

Digging mud out of stuff sounds like what I’m signing up for :grimacing:

Just the frame manufacturing technique. Hydroforming gives the designers some freedom makes the bikes tubes shaped better. For example, you can make tubes flatter for better carrying, of varying thickness for better directional ride/stiffness, and the whole frame lighter.

If you’re just using it for CX, it probably doesn’t matter. If you want to use it with road tires, the bigger name bike brands will give you a better riding AL frameset. You can also put a cushy seatpost and bars on it.

I have a cube 'cross bike with Rival on it. It works well and is responsive even when the chainring and/or rear derailleur is caked in mud. The feel of the shifters is also a bit more satisfying in your hand and the braking is marginally better than the Apex. The wheelset on the Rival bike is an upgrade isn’t it? or maybe I read it wrongly.

There’s no brake difference at all.

My bad, it’s Force I’ve got not Rival.

I’ve had Apex 1 and Force 1 on two different bikes, and I can’t tell a single difference in the actual shifting between the two. Not only that, but the brake lever failed after a couple thousand miles on the Force bike, but the Apex 1 stuff has been going for 3+ years and 10,000 miles with nothing more than one a bleed and a new derailleur cable. I have no reservations about recommending Apex 1 over Rival to save some money. It’s a bit heavier, but in my experience it’s almost irrelevant.


Still no difference other than paint.

Only Red is different with a light different piston size. Same pads.

Disc brakes can have different leverage bike to bike based on rotor diameter 140 or 160mm (10-15% leverage difference?). Disc brakes are very sensitive to rotor and bleed condition. I can change wheels/rotors sets and have a completely different experience.

Thanks for the thoughts so far folks. Having a look at the claimed weights for both group sets, there looks to be less than 300g between the two (most of which comes from the cassette).

Given the brakes seem to be the same, and the cassette isn’t an issue for the two bikes I’m looking at, it seems a bit daft to pay £300 more for a rear derailleur with bearings instead of bushings?

I had a Vitus Energie bike from last year and loved it although I wasn’t sold on the Apex 1. I did a muddy CX race with it and managed to drop the chain. I wasn’t the only one with Apex 1 who dropped a chain that day either. If I was buying one again I’d go for the Rival purely for the weight. Also another thing to consider is it’s pretty difficult to get different chainrings for the Apex 1 four arm cranks. Much easier to get the 5 bolt ones of Rival.

You could maybe sell the new apex derraileur and buy a rival one instead. It won’t come to £300.

Think a rival crankset is about £110, if you want to swap that too (I found 2x to be cheaper, you can swap the chainrings to 1x, Hope or Raceface make nice cheaper ones (you’ll also need new bolts)).

…was going to start with, I don’t think apex/rival makes a big difference in a typical UK cross race. Depends what level you’re racing at I suppose! The apex rear mech is cheaper to replace, should you rip it apart.

With Rival cranks you can also remove the spider and direct mount a chainring if desired. One downside to the rival cranks is that they are very heavy-- maybe heavier than Apex? They are certainly way heavier than fsa gossamer I used to have on my bike. Force might be the ideal crank to have of the SRAM.

Sorry to resurrect an old thread, but most of the weight difference between Apex and Force is the crankset. I determined that if you start with an Apex 1 bike, you can knock almost half a pound off by putting on a Force carbon crankset, and these can be had for around $200 if you shop around.

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