The origins of SRAM can be traced back to its first product, the DB-1 shifter. Designed by Sam Patterson in 1987, the DB-1 wrapped around the handlebars and mounted at the end of the drops. Although the concept of a shifter that rotated around the bars was not entirely new, Patterson’s design was indexed, giving the DB-1 a level of precision that was hard to find at the time. The DB-1 shifter was originally marketed as an aftermarket product and retailed for about $120. Slow to be embraced in the road market, the DB-1 found success in triathlon and endurance events like the Race Across America.
The DB-1 evolved into Grip Shift, with Cannondale the first to embrace the new technology within their line. In 1989 Cannondale was the first to equip mountain bikes with Grip Shift. Trek and Specialized soon followed giving SRAM a foot hold in the mountain bike OEM market. It would be almost twenty years before SRAM returned to the road.