Ratio Technology’s 12-speed conversion kit for SRAM DoubleTap 11-speed mechanical levers has not only proven quite popular, but it also works impressively well. As expected, the company has now followed up on that act with a new conversion kit that turns existing SRAM 2×11 mechanical road drivetrains into 2×12 ones.
The new kit is once again pretty minimal in terms of the number of parts required, in this case including just a new stainless steel 3D-printed ratchet for the right-hand lever and a pair of 3D-printed plastic pulley wheels spinning on Enduro cartridge bearings. The kit is also fairly inexpensive at US$112 / AU$158 / £100 / €99, and should be similarly simple to install.
Of course, just adding these bits to your current SRAM Red 22, Force 22, or Rival 22 drivetrain isn’t going to get you that extra gear; there are still some key hardware changes required. Ratio Technology has built the system around SRAM’s latest 12-speed AXS groupsets, meaning you’ll still need a cassette (and matching freehub body, most likely), Flattop chain, and chainring (or a crankset) to complete the conversion.
All of that unfortunately increases the total effective cost of the conversion by about five-fold compared to the kit alone, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a case to be made here.
There are still legions of fans of SRAM’s current-generation mechanical road groupsets — CT staff included — and this conversion kit should retain all of the positive attributes while providing a broader selection of gearing than was ever offered originally.
Weight weenies will be delighted that converted mechanical groupset should be an awful lot lighter than a complete SRAM Force AXS 2×12 electronic groupset, too. According to Ratio Technology’s calculations (which, I’ll admit, I haven’t verified), a converted Force 22 mechanical groupset will be 222 g lighter than the equivalent Force AXS setup in rim-brake guise, or 382 g lighter for a disc-brake setup.
And as for the finances, even if you were to purchase the requisite SRAM AXS components at full retail price, you’re still looking at a fraction of the cost of a complete new SRAM electronic groupset (assuming you already have the donor 11-speed stuff on hand). Ratio Technology estimates a converted rim-brake Force groupset will cost US$1,170 less than a new Force AXS one, while a converted disc-brake setup will save a whopping US$1,786 — and while, yes, several of the parts will be used, you still end up with a brand-new cassette, chain, and chainrings.
When you also factor in the the ease of serviceability (both at home and in the field) of SRAM’s mechanical drivetrains and the emotional appeal of sticking to cables and housing, my suspicion is that Ratio Technology will have few issues finding a willing crowd of customers for this thing.
I’ve just received a production sample of Ratio Technology’s new conversion kit — and, conveniently, I have an old SRAM 2×11 mechanical drivetrain on hand. Fingers crossed this kit will work as well as the other Ratio Technology one I tested a few months back. And maybe — just maybe — this could work with the original pulleys on a Shimano or Campagnolo 12-speed road setup? Maybe not quite so fast: Ratio doesn’t recommend it.
“10- and 11-speed approximate cross-compatibility really doesn’t exist in the same way for 12 speed,” explained Ratio Technology director Tom Simpson. “The differences between all these cassettes are small, but they’re enough to give you non-OEM shifting.”
That may be, but I’m still going to try it, anyway. Stay tuned for a full review.
More information can be found at www.ratiotechnology.com.