Generally, the ones in charge tell you to limit fatty red meat, and increase fiber. Here at Analog, we try to limit our consumption of carbon fiber, and are generally ambivalent about dietary fiber. Most spots of a bike are too structural to trust to a material as fragile and failure prone as carbon, and you’ll never catch us with a carbon rim / handlebar / stem / seatpost / crankset / fork. But on some parts, it’s fine. I’m not saying I wouldn’t rather those parts be aluminum, but this carbon isn’t gunna kill you.
Enter the SRAM Force rear derailleur. Here’s why we like it: same geometry and shifting as a Rival or Apex derailleur. As a side note, SRAM does something Shimano should do, but will never do. They develop the top of the line whatever, in this case a derailleur, then figure out how to make it less expensive for the more basic offerings, without… get this… changing how the part works. You can take a derailleur cage off a SRAM Apex mech and stick it on a Force mech. Can’t do that with Shimano anything. What this means is that a Force rear derailleur shifts the same as an Apex, but is made with lighter materials. Namely, more aluminum and one plate of carbon, on the derailleur cage.
It should be noted that the Force 1 rear mech as developed not for road riding, but for cross racing. It’s fine with mud, slush, snow, high pressure hoses (don’t do that!) and getting banged around on a cross course. If it can handle cross racing, it’s gunna be fine on your bike packing rig.
Some narrow minded folks will look at the spec sheet for a Force / Rival / Apex rear mech and say, hey that’s only rated to a 11-42 block. Tell those cats to go sit on a seatpin and spin. If you possess calipers, you can measure the crucial bits on a SRAM GX long cage (mountain) derailleur and do the same on a long cage 1x rear mech. Guess what? They’re the same. The difference isn’t in the cage or parralellogram geo, but in the cable pull. I’ve taken the barrel adjuster / cable guide off a Force mech and put it on a XO mech, and guess what, it shifts great with SRAM brifters. Doesn’t look amazing, but works good. Point is, if you get a long cage 1x Apex/Rival/Force rear mech, you CAN ABSOLUTELY shift a 11-51 range. Or a 10-50. It’s friggin’ fine.
95% of our builds go out the door with a 10-50 or 11-50 cassette, and a 1x SRAM mech. The only issues come when someone takes their bike in for a tune up somewhere random and the mechanic just thinks: this can only work with a 11-42, this is heresy, I must burn this bike, it’s owner, and it’s builder at a stake made of 100 owners manuals glued together with my toe cheese. If you’re mechanic is one of these people, they lack what it takes to be a good mechanic. Move on to the next shop.
Get the Force if: you want a slightly lighter rear mech, and or the Rival isn’t available, or you like the looks. I’ll tell ya, they look bangin’ with a silver cage and black pulleys or visa versa from Garbaruk.