Designing My Road Bike: Part Selection (Pt. 3)


Selecting the groupset was straightforward. Having owned Red Etap 11 and a Red/Force Wide AXS mixed 12-speed setup, I was familiar with SRAM components' strengths and challenges. SRAM's reliability, ease of use, and low running cost made the choice even more obvious. Rival AXS costs half as much as the next cheapest option, 12-speed Ultegra Di2. Even when including power meter options, it's still half the price of the next cheapest option, SRAM Force AXS. Although it's a one-sided power meter, it's sufficient for my needs. This build has a budget, and saving $2000 USD on the groupset helps keep it close to the $5000 USD mark.

GEARING: 48 / 32 front chainrings + 10-30t rear cassette

I settled on using SRAM Rival AXS, and if you looked closely at the photo in the previous section, you would have seen a front derailleur and a 1x crank. The reason: I planned to use non-SRAM-approved rings. Based on my experience, I knew I wanted a 48t big chainring. Although I don't typically spin out a 46t during regular riding, a 48t allows me to drop my cadence in preparation for a sprint. The usual SRAM pairing is a 48/35t front ring combination, which, combined with the 10-33t cassette, offers great range and spacing. However, the 48/32t paired with the 10-30t provides the same range with more tightly stepped climbing gears, at the cost of an extra compensation shift when changing the front ring – a trade-off I'm willing to make.

CRANKSET: Rival 1x + Standard Power Crank

A significant advantage of the Rival AXS system is its spindle-based power meter, which is accurate and cost-effective. Its design allows for use with direct mount chainrings and various spiders with different BCDs, enabling more chainring options. The challenge is that SRAM's 2x systems use a drive side crank with a built-in spider, while the 1x system with the standard SRAM 8-bolt interface only comes with the longer "wide" spindle. For a road bike designed with "standard" chain lines and q-factors, this posed an issue. However, by combining the standard length power crank with the 1x drive side, an 8-bolt power road "standard" crank can be created, costing an extra $30 but allowing more chainring choices, including SRAM Force and aftermarket offerings from Rotor, Praxis, Carbon-Ti, and others.

CHAINRINGS + SPIDER: Praxis Buzz + Croder Spirit

I chose Praxis 48/32t chainrings, which I had previously used on my gravel bike. Shifting with the SRAM AXS flat-top chain is instant and smooth, often engaging on the first set of ramps and pins. In my opinion, it brings Shimano-level refinement to the front shifting, or at least is comparable to the stock SRAM rings. To mount them to the Rival AXS cranks, I needed a SRAM 8-bolt compatible 5x110 BCD spider. After some searching, I selected the Croder Spirit Spider, which fits precisely with the cranks, unlike cheaper alternatives. The Croder product even fits better than the Rival XPLR chainring that came with the crank!
To make the Praxis 48/32 rings work, I filed down the mounting tabs of the Croder Spirit Spider. This tab design is something that Cane Creek, Bingham Built, and Specialized have all built into their designs to allow the use of these specific Praxis rings. I removed almost half the thickness of the top edge of the tab, following the same dimensions as a Bingham Built spider I had on hand. This is a bit risky, so I will be monitoring this part closely during use. If you decide to do this, proceed at your own risk. Later, I used the spider as practice for my Cerakote application, which wasn't perfect but looks great when mounted.

FORK: 3T Fundi

Finding the right fork was challenging, but the 3T Fundi met my two criteria: it had the right offset (50mm) to make my geometry work and allowed internal routing through its open steerer tube to fork leg design. It was also the only aero fork readily available on the aftermarket. Although I'm building a round tube bike, I know that the fork and bars make up a significant portion of a bike's frontal area.
This fork has some unique features: it has an odd shape that supposedly minimizes frontal area for aero benefits, and a 355mm axle to crown. This allows for a 100mm vs. 80mm head tube, increasing the weld area and minimizing/eliminating overlapping welds.


I wanted ultra-narrow bars, so I reached out to Wattshop, but they didn't have any available. The Lamba X-Wing Bar was also not available for sale outside the EU. The next narrowest option was the ENVE SES Aero bar, with the 40mm version measuring 35mm at the hoods for a very aero position. This also provides more width in the drops when needed.
Credit: CCache

SADDLE: Fizik Antares Vs. Evo Adaptive R1

This is a personal choice, as I love the Antares Vs. Evo saddle. I found a great deal on the Adaptive version, which I've been using on my gravel bike for nearly a year. There's no reason not to use it again.

WHEELS: Ascent Polaris 69mm

These 69mm deep, 35mm wide wheels are optimized for handling crosswinds over outright speed. They follow the same principle as the Hunt Limitless 60 wheels, going wide to create a shape that stalls at a wide yaw angle. The Ascent Polaris wheels are more stable, in my experience, than Hunt Limitless 60 despite being deeper, and even more stable than the 50mm deep Light Bicycle WR50/Berd spoke wheels on my gravel bike.
Although heavier (1715g out of the box, 1698g after ratchet swap and re-tape, 2775g fully dressed), they feel fast and are optimized for 28mm-30mm tires. They seem as fast as most 60mm wheels, but I will eventually test them using an aerometer. They use easy-to-maintain hubs and Sapim CX-Ray spokes, making them the perfect wheels to pair with this build: a bike with a different trade-off meets a wheel with a different trade-off.
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