There is no reason to get Force brifters from a practical standpoint. Get them because you want the look of the carbon blades, or because you want a marginally lighter shifter, but function wise, they’re the same as a Rival. I’m not against the idea of marginally lighter, and I think they do look cool, so don’t let me talk you out of Force brifters, but don’t get them thinking that the shifting quality or braking is going to be 23% better. It won’t, it’ll be the same. The guts / patent drawing of a Force / Rival and Apex brifter is the same across the line. That’s a good thing, it means the most affordable brifter shifts the same as the nicest one. I’m leaving out SRAM Red here, not because I don’t like expensive shows of conspicous consumption, but because SRAM has never made a nicer 1x Red drivetrain.
Let me tell you a story about how I stopped worrying and learned to love the SRAM. I was working in strip mall, sandwiched between a Subway sandwich shop and a hair dresser supply place. A little ways down the strip was this Mexican restaraunt, and they made this taco that was the size of a football, stuffed with chorizo. The meat was so greasy (good) that you needed a set of foulies on to eat the taco. If you needed to accomplish nothing at work that day, it was a go to. After eating it you, couldn’t grab a tool, or it would slip out of your hands. Typing an email looked like this: hi benchamain, your. bikaiojnas is rweady.
One day a guy came in with an interesting looking bike, a Coppi, made in Italy by craftsfolk on their 3rd liter of wine. The brazing was not sharp. The paint was suspect. But it had clover shaped tubes, and that struck ya boy’s fancy. I procured the bike, and slowly built it up using whatever crap I could find. I was fully on the bar end shifter program, 7 speeds in the back, and my boss, who had the amazing (and amazingly dubious) ability to drink a handle of Buffalo Trace and still carry on a perfectly coherient conversation about Bill Evans, modal scale, and Stan Getz’s penchant for B&E’ing pharmacies, gave me a SRAM Red grouppo along with some Mavic Ksyrium SL wheels. He told me: ride it for a year, and if you don’t like it, fine, go back to your 7 speed.
I set it up on that iffy Coppi, and prestretched the cables. Over the next year I rode the crap out of the bike, on dirt roads, countless flat tires, singletrack, all the places it should not have gone. Never once did I have to adust the drivetrain. Mind you, all of this time I was wrenching on bikes, and most of the bikes out there used Shimano. We sold a bucket load of Ultegra and 105 bikes, and those bikes were always in for work. The slightest dirt on the cables made the shifting go to hell, and we were constantly replacing the cable guides under frames, which would screw up shifting if they were contaminated. Meanwhile the Coppi with it’s SRAM stuff rolled on. For years I thought: brifters are dumb, they need constant work, why sign up for this? Now I just think: Shimano is dumb, screw them, SRAM has it figured out. I still ride bikes with bar con shifters, but if I had to pick one style, it would be a SRAM brifter.