DSC08464-denizmerdano-canyonlux-amajor-blackbirdworks.jpg
REVIEW | EDITORIAL

AXS Eagle Economics

Words Andrew Major
Photos As Noted
Date Sep 24, 2021

AXS is EVERYWHERE

There is no denying that AXS wireless shifting functions incredibly well. It's also neat to play with and completely unnecessary to enjoy mountain biking. In fact, AXS wireless shifting is currently making my mountain bicycling experience less enjoyable. Significantly less enjoyable. Please don't get me wrong, I love that super-light electronic shifting action whenever I need to grab a gear. And operating the AXS dropper makes even my favourite dropper remotes seem clunky and under-leveraged. Heck, in my experience your friend who claims it blows XX1 or XTR cable actuated shifting out of the water deserves a lot less derision than they've been getting. It's smooth, it's fast, it's sweet.

It's not a matter of performance that has me down on battery-powered gear changing. It's cold-cocking the derailleur while coasting downhill that has my underpants girded up. It's the fact that no matter how smart that SRAM Overload Clutch System may be when I drop the back end of the bike off the side of the plank and proceed to ride my rear derailleur down it, there's a very good chance it's going to be dead. And that's a resurrection I don't want to fund.

Breaking stuff while riding is a fact of mountain biking and I'd say that's as true on the North Shore as anywhere. I'm wide-eyed and aware of the simple fact that my replacing-a-busted-rear-derailleur comfort zone is in the 60 USD Deore M6100 to 125 USD GX Eagle range MAX. The thought of having to reach into my pocket to replace an AXS unit, even a GX AXS unit, makes my wallet uncomfortably hot.

DSC08480-denizmerdano-canyonlux-amajor-blackbirdworks.jpg

The GX AXS money shot. 370 USD for the rear derailleur, 56 USD for the battery, and 46 USD for the charger (470 USD). Or buy it all in a kit with the 150 USD controller (shifter) for 600 USD. Photo: Deniz Merdano

It comes down to simple economics. Yes, AXS is excellent. Yes, AXS is everywhere. No, there isn't a shop in town that isn't regularly working on bikes with this wireless group. And yes, quite frankly, it's lovely to use. I'm not surprised to see people taking the weight hit and choosing the wireless GX AXS over a cabled X01 drivetrain or to hear folks whine like they're facing a descent into poverty when they see the bill to replace their AXS derailleur replacement. There's nothing the folks working for bike shop wages want to hear more than how you're going to have to delay ordering that Arctic Tern Window for your Sprinter van because the mean folks at SRAM are over-charging on replacement parts for their luxury mountain bike group. But, here we are.

Now, I'm quite aware that this Canyon Lux is not mine and there's a very good chance that the derailleur will survive the test period unscathed. Heck, I could always try and spin the ultimate Just Riding Along (JRA) story. I've certainly heard more than enough examples of them in my years working in shops. I just can't begin to chew the idea of being another Bugatti owner complaining about the price of an oil change.

DSC08464-denizmerdano-canyonlux-amajor-blackbirdworks.jpg

The controllers are 150 USD for the GX AXS shifter and 204 USD for the RockShox Reverb AXS. From what I've seen they're very resistant to breaking and the CR2032 batteries are cheap and last a long time. My chief fear is either can be removed in milliseconds using a common T-25 Torx tool. Photo: Deniz Merdano

Transportation

Smashing a hole in my paycheck isn't the only thing that has me asking Santa for a cable-actuated drivetrain either. This summer I've met way too many riders who've gone full DHR II on their AXS Reverb battery. Imagine crushing it down your favourite descent at full speed, saddle dropped all the way to the seal head. Oh, you didn't check your tire-to-battery clearance at bottom-out? Kaboom-pow, you just left 56 USD lying on the trail.

The worst part is that in most instances that magical 24-grams of uppy-downy juice doesn't get noticed anywhere close to right away. The simple fact of pedal-and-plunge riding is that the plunges don't tend to require a whole lot of putting the seat back up. Good luck finding that slug-sized chunk of black plastic as you hike back up the trail pushing your rig. Don't worry about littering though, I wouldn't be surprised if some eagle-eyed North Shore trail builder is assembling an AXS power wall in their tool shed.

SRAM-AXS-eagle-reverb-290118-ajbarlas-01035.jpg

24-grams of ride-ruining potential. The battery latches securely but not so securely that I don't think about it. SRAM does sell a protective cover for 20 USD. Photo: AJ Barlas

SRAM-AXS-eagle-reverb-290118-ajbarlas-01040.jpg

As secure as the latch is when my bike bounces down a hill, I'm not surprised that contact with a rear tire will blow the battery off. It's a great idea to check tire/battery clearance at bottom out. Photo: AJ Barlas

I know the rear tire on the Canyon Lux has a huge amount of clearance with the 120mm dropper post fully bottomed. And, I want to state for the record that it's not that I'm worried that one of my fellow mountain bikers is going to walk up to it, locked to my roof rack, and walk off with the easily accessible, toollessly removed, battery from my rear derailleur. It's just that I know the same mountain biker will probably be happy to buy it online from the asshole that does without a second thought to its provenance.

It all started with removing the batteries for transportation. It takes seconds and that's a solid bit of insurance for the time in my books. But, what about when I'm grabbing a coffee? It's not that I ever lock my bike out of sight for long but sometimes I have to have my bike on the rack when I run into the beer store or pick up my kid somewhere. So I'm now pulling the batteries any time I park the bike, but what about the seat post itself?

I love the idea of running an AXS Reverb dropper post in the winter on the Shore. In addition to working really well, being able to easily pull the post out and let my frame breathe after rainy rides would be awesome. It would take five seconds with a 4mm hex key. And, well, crap, now I'm taking the post off when I stop too. It's an 820 USD dropper post plus I currently have my SQLab 60X Active mounted up there which makes it a solid G-note package.

SRAM AXS NSMB AndrewM.JPG

Imagine going on a trip and forgetting your battery on the charger at home? Best to charge in the car. Photo: Andrew Major

Unnecessary v. Awesome

When I think about SRAM AXS and other unnecessary but awesome Gucci bike shit, I always remember all the way back to being a teenager when my friend Ryan was preparing to put his hard-won dish pit wages towards his first car. His pops made every effort to explain that owning a car doesn't just come down to paying for the car, insurance, and gas in the tank but rather also having the necessary capital to cover routine maintenance and unexpected, but necessary, repairs. Apparently, it falls under something he called "common sense." It turns out that solid bit of life advice covers everything from in-suite laundry machines to my twice-a-day espresso habit.

I bristle when I hear folks talk about how expensive mountain biking has become because in reality there is an amazing amount of fun to be had, even on aggressive trails, for an investment that's significantly lower than a lot of sports. A hardtail with great geometry and a good build, like Rocky Mountain's 2200 USD Growler 50, Kona's 2800 USD Honzo ESD, Marin's 2700 USD El Roy, or Chromag's 3100 USD Rootdown G3, will get you down almost any trail in the world with no bearing overhauls or rear shock rebuilds ever needed. Just add a donation to your local trail association and go ride.

And that's bikes that you can bust down most anything without any excuses. A Growler 20 or similar is a heck of a lot of fun on blue trails around the same investment as that Reverb post and 60X saddle I'm so worried about losing. For the whole bike and a pair of good composite pedals.

gx-axs-launch-8.jpg

Note the battery cover on the rear derailleur. Photo: Harookz

I stand by my claim that Shimano's Deore M6100 is the drivetrain that the vast majority of mountain bikers need, but I completely understand why SRAM's AXS Eagle is the option that folks are truly lusting after. The shifting is an amazing combination of the precision of classic SRAM, the light-action promise of Shimano Rapid rise, and the reduced noise and increased chain-retention of a clutched derailleur system. And that's just the GX level stuff. I'd love to add in an XO1 cassette and watch the performance go up as the weight drops.

But here's the deal; if you're like me and have XX1 tastes on an NX budget, then buy the Deore M6100 drivetrain and learn to love it. The system is robust, the shifter is good enough, and replacement parts hopefully won't have you eating KD for a month if you happen to slip off a skinny. And, if you can afford AXS, then good on you. It's really awesome. But no moaning about the replacement costs if you use your rear derailleur as an anchor, or if a battery goes missing while you're busy with your post-ride beverage ritual.

Related Stories

Trending on NSMB

Comments

Bikeryder85
+5 TristanC Andrew Major YDiv cornedbeef Mammal Pete Roggeman Zachary Stover
Bikeryder85  - Sept. 24, 2021, 3:23 a.m.

The mental picture of dodging AXS batteries on a long rough descent had me chuckling over my coffee...I agree about the complaints about the sport...it CAN be expensive (like anything)...but doesn't have to be. I am working on helping a few people get into the sport, and helping them keep a tight budget has been eye opening. It is a really rad time to ride (stock issues aside). As long as expectations are kept in check, and min-maxing is observed...biking can be a whole lot more accessible than it was, say, 15-20yrs ago.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+3 Jake Smith Vincent Edwards Mammal
Andrew Major  - Sept. 24, 2021, 7:27 a.m.

Exactly. 

The top end components have come a long way but the best of the more budget stuff is from another planet compared to even five years ago.

I love competition, so I really hope that SRAM comes back with an answer to Deore 5100/6100. SX sucks, NX is meh, but I want to believe they recognize that and will hit back.

Reply

stoves
+2 Andrew Major Simon Apostol
Zachary Stover  - Sept. 27, 2021, 4:19 a.m.

NX is just fine if that's what your bike came with. Replace it with GX once it takes a dump or when you crash and break it, but it's a fine first step if you want/need 12 speed and can't afford the huge jumps in price that come with making 1 step up in components.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 Mammal Todd Hellinga
Andrew Major  - Sept. 27, 2021, 7:12 a.m.

If you’re Shimanophobique then NX is fine. I mean, it’s clearly an actual collection of components meant to be ridden on a bicycle. I cringe to see it combined with a motor but a thoughtful shifter on a meat-powered bicycle not slamming into stuff can certainly make it work for off-road situations.

The thing is, and this is coming from someone who generally prefers feel of SRAM over Shimano for 12-speed stuff - even with the Shimano clutch detuned, Deore M5100/M6100 is a significantly better product by every metric for less money. So if it’s new bike or new drivetrain on a budget why not buy the better product for the same money?

Reply

mammal
+1 Andrew Major
Mammal  - Sept. 27, 2021, 8:47 a.m.

My first sram experience in a decade included the "just fine" NX group. Within 2 months of riding, the derailleur had 0% clutch engagement. After just short of one season, the plastic bits within the shifter gave out. I view both of these situations as unacceptable.

There are NX positives for me though. A CR/Cog set combo that's forecasting for 3 full seasons of wear before replacement (one new chain per season). The cranks continue to be cranks. But those two failures show that they're doing less than their due diligence with certain crucial components, especially when you compare them to a Deore "downgrade". Don't get me started on the usability of their entry level 4 piston brakes (Guide T) vs. even a simple 2-piston set of Shimano brakes.

Reply

rockford
0
rockford  - Sept. 27, 2021, 11:11 a.m.

I was just telling a prospective MTB buyer about how $3-$4k today will get you the bike of my dreams from 5+ years ago.  You can drop $10k+ if you want to...but to get a rad bike to go riding - the value today is better than ever...  that is as long as 20%+ price increases abate sometime soon...

Reply

rockford
0
rockford  - Sept. 27, 2021, 11:11 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

stoves
+4 taprider Endur-Bro kcy4130 Justin White
Zachary Stover  - Sept. 24, 2021, 4:04 a.m.

The dumbest part of AXS eagle is that the derailleur literally weighs 1lb (439g + 25g battery = 464g = 1.02 lbs). The normal GX eagle shifter AND derailleur together weigh less than this.

Reply

NotEndurbro
+2 Andrew Major AndrewR Zachary Stover khai
Dustin Meyer  - Sept. 24, 2021, 6:11 a.m.

My hands ache just looking at those SRAM grips in the first picture. Truly the worst grips I've ever used.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 khai
Andrew Major  - Sept. 24, 2021, 7:24 a.m.

Yeah, they’re awful. I butchered a pair of Sensus Swayze grips in the name of making the bike nice to ride.

Reply

just6979
+5 Andrew Major Cr4w Timer Dan Zachary Stover
Justin White  - Sept. 24, 2021, 6:36 a.m.

No complaining, that's the key. If I ever hear someone bitching about AXS replacement costs or missing batteries or forgetting to charge, I'm just going to have to walk away, or burst out laughing.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+9 Justin White Dan Jake Smith chompy Endur-Bro trumpstinyhands Mammal Simon Apostol Tremeer023
Andrew Major  - Sept. 24, 2021, 7:32 a.m.

It’s hard not to laugh some days, and sometimes it’s hard not to go full on Falling Down, listening to monied mountain bikers moan about the cost of service/parts/bikes.

Reply

dan
+1 Andrew Major
Dan  - Sept. 25, 2021, 8:31 p.m.

LOL for the Falling Down reference. I saw that in the theater when I was in high school. My three punk friends and I howled through the whole thing. The rest of the audience was largely silent. When the lights went up, they all looked like the golfer on the course that had a heart attack. “Now you’re going to die with that silly little hat on!”

Reply

khai
+2 Andrew Major Cr4w
khai  - Sept. 26, 2021, 8:52 a.m.

You're just bitter that you couldn't get breakfast at 11:33...

Reply

craw
0
Cr4w  - Sept. 27, 2021, 1:53 p.m.

This comment has been removed.

craw
0
Cr4w  - Sept. 27, 2021, 1:53 p.m.

"I had to pedal my 60lb ebike because I burned the whole charge on turbo by accident. I didn't even have eco mode to get home. I had to, you know, pedal."

Reply

vincentaedwards
+6 Andrew Major Justin White Todd Hellinga Dogl0rd Dan cornedbeef Velocipedestrian Jake Smith
Vincent Edwards  - Sept. 24, 2021, 6:36 a.m.

I’ve had very similar thoughts regarding AXS replacement parts and the ease of removing them from a bike… 

I also go so far as to suspect that 12 speed is in part a scheme to get riders to switch to electronic drivetrains. 

It just takes so little to knock a 12 speed drivetrain out of alignment. I ran 11 speed XT for years, and it was much more forgiving than 12 speed XT. (Which I admit is excellent when it’s setup correctly) 

So I’d present 2 options for best value drivetrain - 12 speed) XT shifter and chain, SLX Cranks, Deore RD, SLX Cassette. 

11 Speed) XT everything with 11-46 cassette. Yeah the jump into 46 is a little funny but it’s easy to live with.

(And for both, spring for the XT or XTR gear cable with SP41 housing)  

__

I also gain a certain satisfaction out of keeping my mechanical drivetrain tuned. 

I’m not sure I could learn to get that same joy from keeping my batteries charged / remembering them.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+6 Justin White YDiv Jake Smith Vincent Edwards Mammal Metacomet
Andrew Major  - Sept. 24, 2021, 7:38 a.m.

I love the best value setup debates!

Skip the coated cable and go Shimano stainless. The coatings just come off in the housing and create a hot mess long before the stainless cable gives you trouble.

Around here I’ve been recommending the Deore cassette over XT or SLX. Shifting is the same/same and the all steel construction is a win for everyone winching up in those gears. I see plenty of Shimano and SRAM cassettes with worn out aluminum cogs and steel cogs with plenty of life left.

For you 11-speed setup I take the weight hit of the SunRace cassette. No aluminum cog and better jumps in the low gears.

——

And that’s a hilarious point about tuning I hadn’t considered. Certainly it’s much more rewarding personally to tune a nice cable setup then set micro adjustment on AXS.

Reply

vincentaedwards
0
Vincent Edwards  - Sept. 26, 2021, 7:56 p.m.

Very good points.

FWIW, XT gear cable coating seems to last longer than XTR- I should try the ‘regular’ stainless cables again though. I switched when I had a bike with a tight bend in the housing, and it made a noticeable difference for me on that bike.

I’ve had good luck with lifespan on my aluminum cogs, so I like the weight savings. But yeah- hyperglide plus with SLX and deore give you great value / durability options. Sunrace too.

How do you like the shifting on sunrace vs shimano? I haven’t tried sunrace products yet.

I’m still a bit hesitant to add lots of weight on the rear axle with a FS bike. This is another place where (GX) AXS falls short- it trades unsprung weight in the form of cables for ‘sprung’ weight in the form of batteries and a motor. Maybe I need to get over these things and just try it? I’ve only had the parking lot test and the beeps were a bit off-putting.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Metacomet
Andrew Major  - Sept. 27, 2021, 7:14 a.m.

SunRace cassettes shift well. They’re comparable to Shimano 11-speed but, I think, the jumps are better.

Nothing compares to Shimano 12-speed when shifting under heavy loads, but, I mean, just because you can doesn’t mean you should anyways.

Reply

just6979
+1 Dogl0rd Alex D Jake Smith
Justin White  - Sept. 24, 2021, 7:44 a.m.

But electronic bits doesn't have anything to do with keeping the mech actually in alignment. And I'm not sure that switching it into fine tuning mode and tweaking the alignment is any easier than just spinning the barrel adjuster.

AXS is still affected by hanger alignment, b-tension, and everything else exactly the same as mechanical. It only removes one out of 4 or 5 factors of a properly operating mech: the cable & housing. I've re-aligned or re-placed mech hangers probably 8ish times in the last 3ish years, and each one of those would have effected an AXS system exactly the same. I've also replaced cables twice in the same time, and would have had to charge AXS batteries maybe a half dozen or more times. 

Otherwise, when the hanger is straight, my GX mechanical is "just push and it shifts", just like everyone likes to say makes AXS special. And I hammer on that stuff! Just the other day, I dumped 3 gears* in the middle of a steep slab climb to get the send for the first time in a while, mech didn't complain a bit, just shifted.

The only real trade-off is cable maintenance once or twice a year and never worrying about charge remaining, versus charging batteries every few months and hoping they don't get knocked off or stolen... I'm choosing cables: I have enough things in my life that need charging, my bike does not need to be one of them.

*(Reminds of something about AXS I can't recall reading about. SRAM mechanical can downshift 4 or 5 gears at a time with a long throw of the big paddle, and I use this all the time. How does this work on AXS? Do you click 5 times in a row? Hold it down? If hold, how to you know how long to hold to get X gears lower or higher? And how are either of those better than pushing through X number of clicks on a long throw?)

Reply

denomerdano
+2 Andrew Major Konrad
Deniz Merdano  - Sept. 24, 2021, 7:58 a.m.

AXS app allows you to shift 1, 2, 3 or 11 gears per hold down.

It is lighting quick and seems like unlike a mechanical hero shift, it actually semi completes the shift before going on to the next.. thus feeling alot less aggressive and actually quicker. 

Also if you are a double clicker on the computer, you can quad click an axs button at lighting speeds

Reply

just6979
0 Alex D Konrad
Justin White  - Sept. 24, 2021, 8:23 a.m.

But how do you tell it you want 1,2,3, or 11 gears per press and hold? Timing? You have to hold until you get to the gear and then let go right on time? No thanks. That kind of UI sucks for rapid volume control: give me a volume knob over volume buttons any day; and I think it also sucks for rapidly shifting gears. In fact, the pausing probably isn't really to make the shifts smoother or faster, it's just a side-effect of _needing_ the pause to ensure you don't overshoot the gear you actually want. 

Also not sure how pausing at each shift can possibly be faster... Sure, going straight from like 32 teeth to the 50 or 52 is going to be rough, but if I'm just going from like 17 to 28, no way is pausing at 19, 21, and 24 going to be faster. And I definitely don't want to have to hold the button down the whole time.

That might be the best part of mechanical hero shifts: one big press and the gears happen while I go back to holding on to the bars securely.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Konrad
Andrew Major  - Sept. 24, 2021, 9:17 a.m.

I think Deniz is speaking to the programmability of the system, but I’m just riding it stock.

It reads like you haven’t tried an AXS system? The shifting is crazy light and super fast while remaining totally precise. It’s quite bizarre to experience at first even compared to my Di2 XTR experiences.

That’s coming from someone (me) who certainly wouldn’t buck up for AXS out of my own pocket, but if you do get a chance to try it I think it’s hard not to be impressed with the speed, quality, and action of the shifting.

——

I’ve seen plenty of bent cogs and derailleur hangers and even some fully broken cassettes from hero shifting so I don’t know that I’d list it as an advantage of a cable system necessarily, but if that’s what you’re into then you can’t beat the latest generation of GripShift!

Reply

zigak
+1 Andrew Major
ZigaK  - Sept. 24, 2021, 2:58 p.m.

Love the gripshift! There's no downside to it, for me at least.

Well, except you can't buy it.

alexdi
+2 Andrew Major Justin White
Alex D  - Sept. 27, 2021, 8:06 a.m.

I'm with Justin on this one. I was impressed by AXS, but I still end up second-guessing the shift logic. Any press-and-hold with a delay while the system determines if you're holding the button is a nonstarter. With mechanical, I can upshift three times (or two times, or four times, as determined by my brain on the fly) in less than a second and end up in exactly the gear I want. With AXS, I press, hold, and guess.

andrewbikeguide
+1 Andrew Major Alex Durant Pete Roggeman Dogl0rd DancingWithMyself
AndrewR  - Sept. 24, 2021, 11:36 a.m.

If you haven't tried it you just don't know what you are talking about - not being rude or unkind just factual. It is amazing.

Mechanical systems are like a well made child resistant action figure, but AXS is the f(*&ing Terminator.

Reply

cooperquinn
0
Cooper Quinn  - Sept. 24, 2021, 1:40 p.m.

You configure it in the app, you can set it to shift one at a time, or (if you're not on an ebike) set so that holding it will shift twice, three times, or for as long as you depress the button.

Reply

cooperquinn
+3 Andrew Major Deniz Merdano Chad K
Cooper Quinn  - Sept. 24, 2021, 1:40 p.m.

You configure it in the app, you can set it to shift one at a time, or (if you're not on an ebike) set so that holding it will shift twice, three times, or for as long as you depress the button.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Jake Smith
Andrew Major  - Sept. 24, 2021, 9:13 a.m.

I think most folks who ride hard and run AXS would tell you they’ve had significantly more consistent alignment since they switched. The Overload Clutch really does work.

Could a disengaging overload clutch be designed for standard cable rear derailleurs? Sure! 

But as it sits it’s just for AXS and it will absolutely result in less bent hangers.

Reply

cooperquinn
+3 Andrew Major Alex D Justin White
Cooper Quinn  - Sept. 24, 2021, 1:33 p.m.

You don't really need it for a cable actuated RD - there's nothing holding it from moving inwards, unless you're on the limit screw.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 24, 2021, 1:50 p.m.

Technologically, I recognize this, but in practice I love the idea of a derailleur that goes limp in the face of brutality to maybe increase survive ability. Thinking of the number of bent and broken super long cages I’ve seen.

Reply

cooperquinn
+1 Andrew Major
Cooper Quinn  - Sept. 24, 2021, 1:56 p.m.

Fair. As a hack, I've DEFINITELY been glad the overload clutch exists in my AXS stuff.

just6979
+1 DancingWithMyself
Justin White  - Sept. 27, 2021, 10:39 a.m.

All mechanical ones (except Rapid Rise, but we'll just sweep that under the rug like Shimano did) "go limp", because as Cooper said, there is nothing but a spring holding it: the cable doesn't push, only pulls.

I have always been super surprised at how much that clutch system is touted as something special. It's not a special value-add, it's 100% necessary. Without it, an electronic MTB mech would be literally non-viable: if just bumping the cage or knuckle would break something internally, most would be broken almost instantly in any kind of progressive off-road riding.

andrewbikeguide
+1 Andrew Major
AndrewR  - Sept. 24, 2021, 11:34 a.m.

AXS can be programmed for multi-shift. 2 or 3 or the whole spread, up or down or up and down. It really is an amazing system but AM is correct you don't need it. 

But we also don't NEED 12 speaker stereos & cup holders in our cars either.

Reply

danimaniac
0
danimaniac  - Sept. 27, 2021, 12:33 a.m.

old VW transporter equipped with no entertainment system whatsover: Smartphone Holder and big Bluetooth box: Does everything normal car-radio does, and better :D

Reply

JakeE.Pooh
0
Jake Smith  - Sept. 24, 2021, 1:56 p.m.

I'm no mechanic, but I think the difference between adjusting a barrel adjuster on a standard mech and the adjustment possible with AXS is the ability to change the movement for each gear independently. The standard mech moves the same distance between each gear, right? There's no way to make moving from 4th to 5th different than moving from 2nd to 3rd. When things are bent on a mech some gears might index properly, while others don't work right or at all. With electronic shifting, you can fine-tune each gear change independently.

Reply

just6979
0
Justin White  - Sept. 27, 2021, 10:55 a.m.

Now, that could be an argument for AXS: use software to make up for misalignment. Because the offset upper wheel  moves so far relative to the mounting point, hanger misalignment definitely has differing impact as the mech moves up and down the cassette. But this alone doesn't make it better. The adjustments still need to be made, either by tweaking the robot shift spacing, or by actually aligning the hanger.

However, even with the ability to make little trail-side shift point tweaks, at some point you're going to have to align and/or replace the hanger anyway, because at some point the software tweaks aren't going to be enough or the hanger will be fatigued enough to break. At that point, all the software tweaks then need to be reversed or perhaps redone. Lotta work for questionable benefits:

(Lighter action on AXS? Sure, but I actually like the feedback from the already light Eagle shifters and PNW posts/levers. Quickness? Probably for single shifts, but I'm not racing, and I do lots of multi-shifts and prefer the lever-sweep method over multi-clicking. Precision? Yes, but we just covered why that precision is fleeting/ephemeral/ in the off-road application.)

Reply

blackhat
+1 Jake Smith
blackhat  - Sept. 24, 2021, 4:28 p.m.

The difference in precision between a servo driving to a specific point and a cable/spring balancing tension is massive.  It’s far more than one factor, it’s every possible location for mechanical binding and shifting in the entire system.

Reply

rcybak
+1 Pete Roggeman
rcybak  - Sept. 30, 2021, 8:55 a.m.

I find that strange that you say 12 speed is more difficult to keep tuned than 11, as I've been running the Shimano 12 speed for about a year and a half, and have never had a system work so flawlessly without being Di2. My gears shift always and perfectly. Mind you, I have XTR shifter and derailleur, but with an SLX cassette. I literally never have to adjust it, and it is the best mechanical shifting I've ever seen. I do ride very hard, blacks and double blacks, and I won't hesitate to recommend any of the Shimano 12 speed groups. Definitely quality stuff in my eyes.

Reply

rcybak
0
rcybak  - Sept. 30, 2021, 8:55 a.m.

I find that strange that you say 12 speed is more difficult to keep tuned than 11, as I've been running the Shimano 12 speed for about a year and a half, and have never had a system work so flawlessly without being Di2. My gears shift always and perfectly. Mind you, I have XTR shifter and derailleur, but with an SLX cassette. I literally never have to adjust it, and it is the best mechanical shifting I've ever seen. I do ride very hard, blacks and double blacks, and I won't hesitate to recommend any of the Shimano 12 speed groups. Definitely quality stuff in my eyes.

Reply

Vikb
+7 The Chez Andrew Major Jerry Willows taprider Dogl0rd Nologo Velocipedestrian danimaniac Jake Smith
Vik Banerjee  - Sept. 24, 2021, 6:39 a.m.

SRAM you want me to buy and install parts on my bike that need charging or the bike doesn't work? Nope! What do you think I'm stupid and don't understand that AXS is a gateway drug to the horrors of e-bikes? ;-)

Reply

AndrewMajor
+3 Vik Banerjee Konrad Jake Smith
Andrew Major  - Sept. 24, 2021, 7:40 a.m.

To be fair, once you’ve taken apart a few e~bikes to try and change a rear derailleur or dropper post cable (there is some HEINOUS routing out there) suddenly recommending AXS to every e~bike customer makes perfect sense!

Reply

just6979
0 Andrew Major Dogl0rd Jake Smith Konrad
Justin White  - Sept. 24, 2021, 7:50 a.m.

ASX on e-bikes is horrendously stupid, to me. How many individual batteries does a bike need? The shifting and dropping should be run off the main battery. Even a 1% reserve on those beast would keep you shifting for weeks, so easy enough for software to cut the assistance and leave you with gears to get home. Absolutely idiotic to have multiple tiny batteries alongside the one monster battery. Sure it wouldn't be completely wireless, but that's well worth the trade-off for Just One Battery to charge.

Of course, e-bikes really should be gearbox bikes with electronic shifting, but that's another can of worms.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+3 Matt Lee Metacomet Konrad
Andrew Major  - Sept. 24, 2021, 8:10 a.m.

Three things…

Shimano clearly agrees with you hence their new semi-wireless shifting where the shifters have their own batteries but the derailleur(s) are hard wired to a central battery.

Once e~bikes have a plug in for said derailleurs it will be nothing for SRAM to sell a wired setup that plugs in in place of the battery on an AXS derailleur.

Having extra batteries to charge on an e~bike only seems dumb until you see some of the cable routing out there. I’ve worked on a few bikes this year where wireless derailleurs would be exponential improvements.

Reply

metacomet
+2 Konrad Andrew Major
Metacomet  - Sept. 24, 2021, 9:35 a.m.

Tri bikes (the horror) should be MANDATORY wireless only.   Road in general is a great place for wireless drivetrains.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+5 Metacomet abuxton Endur-Bro Andy Eunson Alex D Pete Roggeman Justin White
Andrew Major  - Sept. 24, 2021, 11:38 a.m.

I wouldn’t know, I flat out refuse to work on Tri bikes. I just refer all those abstract piss and energy drink soaked bicycles to Speed Theory in Vancouver.

just6979
+1 Velocipedestrian
Justin White  - Sept. 27, 2021, 10:57 a.m.

I think a better response to shitty internal cable routing would be simple external routing, not the huge added costs (both up-front cost and TCO) of independently powered electronic shifting.

Reply

cooperquinn
+1 Jake Smith
Cooper Quinn  - Sept. 24, 2021, 1:35 p.m.

I'm considering an Archer system for my E-Cargo bike for this reason. The cable routing his an atrocity.

Reply

JakeE.Pooh
+1 Andrew Major
Jake Smith  - Sept. 24, 2021, 2:19 p.m.

I freaking love my Archer system. To me, it has all the benefits of electronic shifting without the crazy expense, plus the electronic bits are safely tucked away.

Reply

the-chez
+7 Andrew Major Vik Banerjee Dogl0rd mrbrett Velocipedestrian Justin White DancingWithMyself
The Chez  - Sept. 24, 2021, 6:40 a.m.

As much as I think it's great SRAM came up with a way to do multi-shift, I just don't see the value of AXS. Let us also not forget the fact that our lust for rechargeable anything has a strong downside. These tiny 24g along with all the batteries for Tesla type car have their consequences:

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20150402-the-worst-place-on-earth

Just get a mechanical Shimano drivetrain (with a multi-shift shifter) and pedal up the hills.

Reply

nothingfuture
+11 Andrew Major Justin White Cam McRae utopic mrbrett Nologo Velocipedestrian Alex D Mammal Vincent Edwards Pete Roggeman
nothingfuture  - Sept. 24, 2021, 6:56 a.m.

Any random quartz watch keeps better time than the priciest mechanical Swiss marvel. But like that my mechanical watches are powered by me moving around- that there are tiny physical gears and springs that regulate and keep time. I don't want to change batteries in my watch. I don't want my watch to "notify" me of anything but the time.

And so it goes with my bikes: I like that Campy Ergo levers are full of what look like watch parts. I like that a clean, fresh cable costs a couple of dollars and can provide exceptional shifting (with some modicum of skill and patience setting it up). I'm unmoved by the "cables are ugly" arguments. I have enough things in my life that require charging- I ride bikes to escape a good many of those.

Good mechanical shifting is a marvel of accessibility and performance. It's a testament to ingenuity and it's welcoming to those that tinker to make their drivetrain work for them- fewer gears, more range- whatever. There are enough black boxes that we can't get inside in our lives, and I'm disinterested in my bicycle becoming another.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+3 Justin White danimaniac olaa
Andrew Major  - Sept. 24, 2021, 7:48 a.m.

The only thing I’d say contrary to that is that a most of those unserviceable black boxes were put together by someone at some point. Maybe it’s because I have the time, or make the time, but I’ve found ways to take a lot of things apart and put them back together that aren’t meant to be accessible - from modifying my fridge so it would stop freezing/flooding, to replacing parts on my dishwasher, to rebuilding my BOSE.

Sure parts are largely unavailable to fix stuff and sure at some point a replacement unit is cheaper (gave up on my dishwasher this year actually as the parts that might fix it were 3/4 the price of new) but if it’s broken anyways why not fire up the curiosity and crack it open!

That’s not directed at anyone in particular, and I know we’re all starved for time, but I’ve learned a lot about how stuff works from doing just that.

Reply

just6979
+1 Andrew Major
Justin White  - Sept. 27, 2021, 11:08 a.m.

Awesome that you fix your stuff, it's becoming a lost art.

But once it gets into electronics, some of those kinds of taking apart and modifying are technically illegal. Tiny odds that a big corp is going to come after a single individual, but there is always the chance you make a blog/insta/whatever post about it and some over-zealous lawyer decides to make your life difficult and expensive. I dislike this, but it's the way things are currently.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Justin White
Andrew Major  - Sept. 29, 2021, 7:44 a.m.

I actually had no idea. Obviously we need stronger right to repair laws - if only for their potential environmental benefits.

I think I’m safe though. No one is going to watch a how-to video of me fixing my dishwasher!

Reply

just6979
+3 Andrew Major nothingfuture Mammal
Justin White  - Sept. 24, 2021, 7:52 a.m.

"I have enough things in my life that require shifting- I ride bikes to escape a good many of those."

Perhaps you meant "that require charging"... And I second and third that sentiment.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 Mammal Justin White
Andrew Major  - Sept. 24, 2021, 8:06 a.m.

Hahaha, my only personal mountain bike is a single speed, so that comment would be accurate for me!

Reply

nothingfuture
+2 Andrew Major Mammal
nothingfuture  - Sept. 27, 2021, 4:35 a.m.

There's never not a typo. 

Corrected; thank you.

Reply

JakeE.Pooh
+3 Andrew Major ZigaK Nologo
Jake Smith  - Sept. 24, 2021, 4:11 p.m.

Not that you asked, but the Archer wireless shifting product does a lot to facilitate experimenting with your drivetrain. You like the BOX 9 stuff? No need to spring for the whole package, just get the cassette, chain, and chainring. (you know, the entire package except for the derailer and shifter...it sounded better in my head) You can program the Archer unit to run a 9-speed cassette in like two seconds. Want to go back to 10 or 11 speeds? Again, no need to buy a new derailer and shifter, just make sure your chain and chainring will work with whatever cluster you've got back there and you're good to go.

Reply

JVP
+11 Andrew Major Konrad Mark Forbes Chad K sansarret Dan Cam McRae Jake Smith blackhat khai Pete Roggeman
JVP  - Sept. 24, 2021, 8:15 a.m.

If someone wants to pay for and run AXS, more power to them. Sure it's unnecessary and expensive to repair, but so is 50% of the crap hanging off our bikes and bodies, and particularly our vehicles and homes. No, it's not for you, or for me. But sorry, I think the grumpiness on this is misdirected. ¯\(ツ)

Next time I see someone with AXS hanging off the back of a shit-kicked Nissan Sentra, I'm going to go high-five them and buy them a beer.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+4 Dan JVP Jake Smith blackhat
Andrew Major  - Sept. 24, 2021, 9:21 a.m.

Can’t disagree with this!

Reply

SprSonik
+6 sansarret Andrew Major JVP Jake Smith YDiv jaydubmah
Mark Forbes  - Sept. 24, 2021, 10:33 a.m.

AMEN! Who cares what other people are doing, as long as it doesn't interfere with our enjoyment or access.

Reply

SteezeMcQueen
+1 Andrew Major
SteezeMcQueen  - Sept. 24, 2021, 8:22 a.m.

Hi Andrew,  How are you finding the Twistloc (terrible grips aside)?  It came stock on my bike and has been giving me grief of late, which I believe is more to do with the factory cable routing (too long and not secure through the downtube) than the Twistloc mech itself.  Either way, it seems a like finnicky little bugger.  Cheers!

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 24, 2021, 9:26 a.m.

I was very torn between just removing the lockouts for my review or cutting up a Sensus grip like I did and I’d say for the amount I use the TwistLock I chose poorly. 

Would I use the lockouts a lot more if they were AXS as well, as is coming soon? Absolutely. The twister looks clean but functionally I only use it for long road sections because it’s not as intuitive to lock/unlock as it looks to be.

So yeah, I don’t despise it and it looks much cleaner than most (all) competing options and it hasn’t been finicky persay, but I’d be happier without.

Reply

LoamtoHome
+4 Andrew Major Endur-Bro Dan Pete Roggeman
Jerry Willows  - Sept. 24, 2021, 8:52 a.m.

I've come across a few AXS batteries on the trails....  loam tax.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+3 Jerry Willows Dan Karl Fitzpatrick
Andrew Major  - Sept. 24, 2021, 9:26 a.m.

Hahahaha. Was thinking of you when I wrote that. How’s the AXS battery wall coming?

Reply

dan
+1 Andrew Major
Dan  - Sept. 25, 2021, 8:33 p.m.

It is truly bizarre to me that SRAM didn’t come up with some t-25 securement method for any of these batteries. What with all of the onboard/every day carry tool solutions out there, why not complement that trend (and also cut down on waste and wasted rides!)?

Reply

JakeRedrum
+2 Andrew Major Jake Smith
JakeRedrum  - Sept. 24, 2021, 9:30 a.m.

Running GX AXS because my LBS had nothing else in stock to replace a broken GX. Nosebleed price but performs as advertised. This is on a Levo SL, so checking batteries is a habit. Mechanic was pleased he didn't need to route cabling. Other than requiring a 2nd mortgage, only other complaint is there is a lack of 'feel' for which gear I am in...very digital vs analog.

Reply

xy9ine
+3 Konrad Andrew Major Pete Roggeman
Perry Schebel  - Sept. 24, 2021, 9:50 a.m.

looks like axs for RS shocks & forks is incoming. just wait till you've got SIX wee batteries to tend. 

that said, i really do like the idea of a remote dropper. don't enjoy chasing those cables (not that it's a regular chore). not at current pricing, of course (nor limited drop). waiting for that sweet sweet trickle down to appease we frugal masses.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 25, 2021, 8:44 a.m.

I’d like the battery to be inline with the post (post would need to be removed to charge). Certainly I hope to see more companies with wireless droppers. Crazy that FOX/RF doesn’t already have one.

Reply

SprSonik
+2 Andrew Major Dan
Mark Forbes  - Sept. 24, 2021, 10:31 a.m.

Tue night ride, last 2 guys were way behind the group...@ 5 minutes after the slow guys. One of the guys runs AXS shifting, and his shifter battery died while he was in low gear. They rode back the last 2.5 miles in his 3rd lowest gear. If you run that stuff, keep a button cell with your other essential riding gear.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Cooper Quinn
Andrew Major  - Sept. 24, 2021, 11:44 a.m.

That’s why you have to have the AXS dropper too! Then you can swap the battery in a pinch.

Also, when you forget to charge the derailleur you can flip the dropper battery over to select a gear (or vice versa)

Reply

cooperquinn
+1 Andrew Major
Cooper Quinn  - Sept. 24, 2021, 1:39 p.m.

The redundancy is handy - the same applies to the RD battery and Reverb. 

RD outta juice? Just swap it with your post, and both will function again, as the voltage requirements for the post are much smaller than the RD.

Reply

just6979
+1 Velocipedestrian
Justin White  - Sept. 27, 2021, 11:20 a.m.

The fact that people know these tricks already proves that batteries often do go uncharged and go dead out on rides. Many people argue that the battery life is good enough that losing charge mid-ride is pretty rare, and even if that were true, there is still a (mental) maintenance cost associated with that battery vigilance.

Sure, cables have a maintenance cost, but since they also provide feedback, there is less/zero need to consciously keep in mind when they were last changed, and almost zero wondering if it will last to the end of a ride.

I just think the brain-power cost of remembering to charge batteries and potential "range anxiety" needs to be factored into the economics.

Reply

khai
+1 Andrew Major
khai  - Sept. 27, 2021, 12:53 p.m.

For the cost/size/weight I'd be inclined to have a spare battery in my pack with my other trailside emergency tools...

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 29, 2021, 7:46 a.m.

Not to mention the financial potential of a couple coin batteries in your kit.

What do you figure one is worth half way up Lord Of The Squirrels or Seven Summits?

Reply

rockford
+1 Andrew Major
rockford  - Sept. 27, 2021, 11:49 a.m.

He said 'shifter battery' which is the coin cell in the shifter button.  That is the battery that should last '2 years'...  but when it dies, then you are DOA on that ride. - Update to this note: you can shift the derailleur and actuate the dropper without the remote.  There is a button on each that allows you to actuate them locally.  So you if your shifter/trigger dies, you can put your seat and/or gear in a spot that works and get home relatively comfortably.

I treat my shifter batteries like other preventative maintenance - check it once a year, replace if it's getting low.  But if you just ride and put away, you can have an annoying failure for sure!

Reply

dan
+4 Andrew Major 4Runner1 Endur-Bro Mammal
Dan  - Sept. 24, 2021, 12:01 p.m.

As good as SLX is at this point, that's all I need (esp now that 4 pot brakes are available at this level). I focus on my hard-earned bucks on suspension maintenance and tires.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+3 Dan Endur-Bro jaydubmah
Andrew Major  - Sept. 24, 2021, 1:46 p.m.

Deore with an XT shifter is the min-max win I think, but SLX is solid too.

Reply

Briain
+2 Andrew Major Dan
Briain  - Sept. 25, 2021, 6:28 a.m.

Privateer bikes do that, slx derailleur with an xt shifter. Seems to make sense as I've now had a deore slx and xt 12 speed rd and I can't tell a difference in the quality of shifting between any of them

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 Endur-Bro jaydubmah
Andrew Major  - Sept. 25, 2021, 8:45 a.m.

The shifter is absolutely the place to upgrade. XT (or XTR) shifter with Deore or SLX derailleur FTW.

Reply

Endur-Bro
+3 Andrew Major Dan Mammal
Endur-Bro  - Sept. 25, 2021, 2:47 p.m.

G16 is running XTR shifter, XT mech, SunRace 11-46, KML gold chain, Canfield Bros crankset w/BS ring.

Reply

dan
+1 Andrew Major
Dan  - Sept. 25, 2021, 8:35 p.m.

Agreed. I cheaped out and got the SLX shifter with the SLX mech for my 11sp system and the slop in the triggers is obnoxious (while *entirely* a first world problem). Won’t do that again.

Reply

just6979
-1 Velocipedestrian
Justin White  - Sept. 27, 2021, 11:41 a.m.

Why wouldn't you want the better mech? The higher-end ones are made with more precise manufacturing techniques and more durable materials, they should be able move the chain more precisely for a longer time compared to a mech built with cost savings a driving factor.

While I'm not sure about Shimano shifters, the top 3 or 4 SRAM shifters literally use identical internals (with just casings, lever shapes, and lever adjustments being the only differences) so the quality of the the actual shifting, the chain moving across cogs, cannot be any different.

I mean, isn't this part of the AXS argument? The mech does the hard work, and it's precision of movement is directly related to the speed and precision of the shift. Most arguments against mechanical use the cable and housing as the weakest point. So why would the device on the far end of the cable, the shifter, have a larger impact than the mech? If cables are so imprecise, then how does having a "better" shifter help shift quality, since it's inputs have to go through a crappy cable?

Reply

khai
+2 Andrew Major Velocipedestrian
khai  - Sept. 27, 2021, 11:48 a.m.

I can't comment on SRAM but for Shimano I really like the ergonomics and "feel" of an XT shifter compared to SLX or Deore.  The lower priced two work well enough but the XT is just "nicer".  I can't say I've noticed a difference when going between an SLX and XTR derailleur.  I'm also a lot less likely to destroy a shifter than I am a rear derailleur...

AndrewMajor
+1 Velocipedestrian
Andrew Major  - Sept. 27, 2021, 12:25 p.m.

That's very true of Shimano. XTR shifter with an SLX derailleur is a significantly better platform - feel and performance - than an SLX shifter with an XTR derailleur. 

SRAM, once you're at GX level the performance difference between one cable drivetrain and another - when fresh - is less notable. But for a rider that wears product out v. wrecks, it upgrading the rear derailleur from GX to X01 makes a big difference for long-term reliability.

phil-szczepaniak
+1 Dogl0rd
Phil Szczepaniak  - Sept. 24, 2021, 12:36 p.m.

Can you please post up a poll to find out when the last time was you blew up a rear derailleur on a trail? I personally can't remember. All the brands are so dialed now.  All this talk about so expensive to replace - but does it even happen?

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 Jake Smith Nologo
Andrew Major  - Sept. 24, 2021, 1:44 p.m.

I wrench part time in a shop. I regularly replace derailleurs - when they’re available - and this year my salvage bin of broken derailleurs saved a lot of riders’ summers. 

I’d be shocked if any mountain-primary shop on the shore has a different experience to relate.

Reply

phil-szczepaniak
0
Phil Szczepaniak  - Sept. 24, 2021, 1:55 p.m.

Maybe I've been on a good streak, along with my riding buddies? I just feel that to explode a rear derailleur you either take a really bad line, or make a horrible shift. Not to say that doesn't happen but...

Reply

jd
0
JD  - Oct. 6, 2021, 5:55 a.m.

I'm with you Phil! Maybe my memory is clouded, but I want to say I'm at 1 derailleur in 29 years, and my young and stupid days overlapped significantly with the shitty component days (and non-replaceable hangers). It has to be at least 10 years since I've been on a ride where someone killed a derailleur.

Reply

blackhat
0
blackhat  - Sept. 24, 2021, 5:19 p.m.

They’re one of the most vulnerable pieces on the bike so I’m sure they’re more common than other failures, but you’re still seeing a biased sample.  The fact that a hundred riders in a thousand break their derailleurs in a year is a big deal in a shop, but are we really worried about a 1/10 year event?  Which is what, $50 bucks a year?  That’s peanuts.  Especially when you consider the self protection features which reduce the likelihood of damage.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 4Runner1
Andrew Major  - Sept. 24, 2021, 5:31 p.m.

My point in the post is simply that riders still regularly break rear derailleurs. They broke them regularly when I worked in a shop twenty years ago and they break them regularly now. 

Are the materials and manufacturing better? Much. 

Riders are also on average moving much faster and the derailleurs sit much closer to the ground. The derailleur hangers themselves aren't designed to fail like they were in the heady days of freeride - the stiffer hangers now of course also improve shifting. 

---

My point in the article is that regardless of the odds, rear derailleurs break. Choose to run a drivetrain based on the fact that you may break your derailleur on any given ride.

AXS is awesome, but it's not necessary.

Reply

JakeE.Pooh
-1 mrbrett
Jake Smith  - Sept. 25, 2021, 8:54 a.m.

I'm dumb, so forgive me a dumb question, but with larger diameter wheels, how are derailleurs closer to the ground?

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Jake Smith
Andrew Major  - Sept. 25, 2021, 8:59 a.m.

Look at the size of derailleur (body/cage) needed to run the stack on an 11-36t cassette versus a 10-52t cassette. 

My 10/11-spd Zee is super compact compared to any 12-spd derailleur for a modern example.

danimaniac
+1 Andrew Major
danimaniac  - Sept. 27, 2021, 12:57 a.m.

But... with a steady hand you can go ahead and hollow-drill the screw that's used to mount the hanger to the frame and therefore create a berakaway point that could possibly save the RD.

I think this is typical for the screws to mount bashguards, too. At least 77designz (that do the Combo for the handlebar/Stem with WeAreOne, too) do this and provide hollow steel screws with theirs.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 danimaniac
Andrew Major  - Sept. 29, 2021, 7:49 a.m.

It’s a interesting idea but I wonder how many people would break the bolt hero-shifting?

I’ve seen plenty of soft old hangers bent by folks shifting gears ne’er big loads.

Flatted-again
+2 Jake Smith jaydubmah
Flatted-again  - Sept. 24, 2021, 1:55 p.m.

3 months ago, and a year before that.  Yep, they were adjusted right, etc, and they broke right through the parallelogram.  That said, not everyone rides with baby heads bouncing up with the force to break shins, so I might be an outlier.

Reply

Vikb
+4 Andrew Major Dan ZigaK mrbrett
Vik Banerjee  - Sept. 24, 2021, 3:55 p.m.

I've killed 2 in 10 years. Murphy's Law ensures that if I put a $500 derailleur on my bike I'd KIA it sooner rather than later!

Reply

dan
+5 Vik Banerjee Andrew Major JVP jaydubmah Pete Roggeman
Dan  - Sept. 24, 2021, 8:42 p.m.

And I have nuked 1 in 10 years, but my last name literally IS Murphy, so I know AXS isn’t for me. ha!

Reply

Briain
+2 Andrew Major jaydubmah
Briain  - Sept. 25, 2021, 6:29 a.m.

2 weeks ago my xt snapped in half on a flat link trail😅

Reply

JVP
+1 Metacomet
JVP  - Sept. 25, 2021, 3:09 p.m.

I don’t seem to nuke them very often, but do find they wear out and get sloppy in 2 years of hard riding and abuse. YMMV

X01 or GX with upgraded b-bolt might add significant time to that. 

On that note, does anyone know the b-bolt situation on GX AXS? Crap metal-on-metal like GX or nylon bushing like X01?

Reply

neologisticzand
+1 Andrew Major
Chad K  - Sept. 27, 2021, 10:44 a.m.

On AXS GX, they used the upgraded B-bolt like is found on the other AXS rear mechs. Not the crappy GX mechanical design that gets sloppy.

Reply

neologisticzand
0
Chad K  - Sept. 27, 2021, 10:44 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

kperras
+1 Andrew Major
Kenneth Perras  - Sept. 27, 2021, 8:29 a.m.

I have a large ziploc freezer bag completely full of broken 12spd XTR and XT derailleurs from the last 24 months of riding. I also have a smaller bag of broken or worn XO1 and GX derailleurs. I'm on my 3rd AXS derailleur as well.

Some of the failures are bad luck: a  grapefruit sized rock jumping up, or a errant stick flicked by the front tire. Many of the failures are design or materials issues. The XTR carbon cages come to mind, and there are many more issues well documented online with both brands. 

None of these failures were poor line choices. 

The 24 month period preceeding the one above? Not a single derailleur failure.

Shout out to my first AXS derailleur. It went to hell and back, and at the end of its life it was unrecognizable yet still shifted with absolute precision. I'm guessing it outlasted what would have otherwise been 4 mechanical derailleurs.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 29, 2021, 8 a.m.

Am I reading right that something about the manufacturing or materials behind your first AXS derailleur made it better than the current ones? Or it’s just luck?

The good news for all the folks shattering XTR carbon cages is that so many folks are having XT clutches seize together beyond repair (lack of grease/lube) that there are plenty of aluminum cages around to swap on.

Reply

JakeE.Pooh
+1 Andrew Major
Jake Smith  - Sept. 24, 2021, 3 p.m.

I think fans of AXS should take a look at the Archer system. It's clunky compared to AXS, but it has some advantages. 

1. The delicate bits are mounted where they are safely out of the way.

2. It allows you to use whatever derailer you want/happen to have laying around. You don't have to worry about matching derailers to shifters to chains to cassettes. As long as it can handle the cogs it will work. If you explode a derailer, you're only out the cost of the cheapest replacement you can find. Like your hyperglide+ or whatever it's called? Keep it.

As much as I love my Archer system, it does have some downsides too. 

1. Charging the batteries blows. The team at Archer isn't backed by massive amounts of capital so the industrial design is decidedly utilitarian. The batteries aren't neatly integrated into a slick "ecosystem" so you can't slide out the power unit and click it into a specially designed charger. Rather, the batteries have to be removed from the devices and charged in an old-school-looking charger. On the plus side, the charge lasts a long time and nobody can easily steal the batteries.

2. There's no cachet associated with the product. Nobody will think you're cool or feel jealous of you for having it.

I like it because it makes shifting mindless. It doesn't matter how tired or distracted I am, if I can summon the will to move my thumb to the button, I can execute a perfect shift every time.

Reply

blackhat
+2 Andrew Major Mammal olaa Jake Smith
blackhat  - Sept. 24, 2021, 5:06 p.m.

The choice is simple for me: pony up for Gucci 12 speed axs, or buy a mechanical 9/10 speed system from box, microshift, or old SRAM and live with bigger steps.  If you want to go 12 speed do it right, otherwise HTFU and grind 75 rpm for a minute.  

How we got to SX I’ll never understand.  “I NEED 12 speed, but it doesn’t have to actually work.”  It’s like reverse rip vanwinkel, where I was the only person awake when everyone was rolling just fine on a 10-42.  12 speed is a luxury, not a necessity, and if you’re going to buy a luxury basic functionality should be a given.  Yes, yes, there are winch and drop trail systems that really call for these ranges, but that just means you require a luxury product and should expect to pay for it.  

Maybe I’m just an arrogant youngster with good legs, short mountains and no empathy.  But it sure seems like the majority of the market would be much better off with some different trade offs.  And for me personally, fighting to keep a mechanical 12 speed system running isn’t a trade off I’m excited about.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 blackhat Mammal
Andrew Major  - Sept. 24, 2021, 5:47 p.m.

From the bowels on my little downstairs shop in my apartment, I agree with you 100%. It's that belief that's given rise to my whole series of "Does The Future Have Fewer Gears" articles. Parts VIII and IX are both in the works as well actually. It could just be that I spend so much time coasting my single speed but I'm happy ditching a fair amount of high range and also with bigger jumps. 

I think in a current crate drivetrain most riders are going to buy 12-speed, even if they're doing a frame-up build or upgrading, even though I think there's a compelling argument for mixing the latest generations of 10-11spd Shimano Deore.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 24, 2021, 5:47 p.m.

This comment has been removed.

zigak
+1 Andrew Major taprider JVP
ZigaK  - Sept. 25, 2021, 2:50 a.m.

I agree with your point here, but there is a third option - you can have tiny steps, huge range and Lidl prices - just buy a 3x system. No need for htfu and grinding.

Humbled oldster with hollow ghost of former "good" legs here. Going back to my cave now.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+3 ZigaK JVP Metacomet
Andrew Major  - Sept. 25, 2021, 8:49 a.m.

Front derailleurs are dead for mountain biking for good reasons. If Shimano had perfected their shiftable narrow-wide system (and companies had kept designing kinematics around multiple ring sizes) it would be a different story. 

For example, the Titan worked awesome with multiple front chainrings but I wouldn’t give up n/w retention for faster/easier swapping between rings.

Reply

zigak
0 Andrew Major JVP
ZigaK  - Sept. 25, 2021, 12:39 p.m.

I'd argue these reasons are not as good for hardtails. Better chainline, wider range, tighter steps, shorter cage, ability to dump gears with one click and integrated chainguide - these are all good reasons for 3x or 2x system. As far as I can tell there's only one valid argument against them, the better retention of the narrow wide chain and the kinematics of the rear suspension, 0k two. One could argue that clutch derailleurs are enough for retention? At least somewhat? So one or two good reasons.

The clutter on the handlebars, the weight  and the brainfreeze associated with the operating the front derailleur are laughable imo. I thought the fd would sneak back to xc hardtails via the gravel but apparently not.

Back to my 90s cave.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 ZigaK JVP
Andrew Major  - Sept. 25, 2021, 2:22 p.m.

It’s funny, as much as the gravel marketing is pushing 1X, if I had a dedicated road or gravel bike I’d run a 2x for sure. For all the positive reasons you note.

For mountain biking I’m taking 1x, or manual 2x, with N/W. Hardtails eliminate the issue of kinematics, but even with a clutch it’s loud and seems over complicated for a simple bike. In all fairness that’s the opinion of someone who likes their hardtail with #1FG.

Reply

taprider
+2 ZigaK Mammal
taprider  - Sept. 25, 2021, 7:55 p.m.

Regarding kinematics, a smaller chain ring (at least on my bike) has greater anti-squat. So shifting with a front derailleur to a larger chain ring for downhill results in free-er moving kinematics, then shifting to a smaller chain ring for the uphill results in less bob.  Best of both worlds ;-)

Reply

ackshunW
0
ackshunW  - Sept. 27, 2021, 6:27 a.m.

Good point!! Had front derailleurs remained.... would we still now be seeing Ochain & the like?

just6979
0
Justin White  - Sept. 27, 2021, 12:10 p.m.

I think you underestimate "the brainfreeze associated with the operating the front derailleur". Many many people argue that XC and gravel bikes need steep head angles to make it "easier" to make quick moves even when you're on the ragged edge, body drained and brain thinking about nothing but survival. This also applies to messing with all the levers on your bars. One single lever to change gears takes so much less brain power than managing gears through 2  separate levers (that even work in completely opposite directions), especially when there are 2 to 3 other levers (lock, unlock, dropper) added to the equation.

Reply

sansarret
0
sansarret  - Sept. 24, 2021, 7:11 p.m.

I’ve been running Axs since the spring and I have smashed it hard a few times and it’s still running perfect, it can take a beating.

Reply

Wapti
0 Jake Smith 4Runner1 Konrad DancingWithMyself
Wapti  - Sept. 24, 2021, 7:22 p.m.

who gives a rat's ass what anyone else has on their bike

Reply

AndrewMajor
+8 Dan Konrad blackhat Vik Banerjee Mammal Chad K DancingWithMyself Pete Roggeman
Andrew Major  - Sept. 24, 2021, 8:01 p.m.

In my experience, most mountain bikers who read articles about drivetrains - reviews or editorials - are interested in what other folks run on their bikes.

Reply

Wapti
0 Reed Holden DancingWithMyself
Wapti  - Sept. 25, 2021, 7 a.m.

Depends, are they being curious or being critical.

Reply

taprider
+2 Mammal Velocipedestrian
taprider  - Sept. 25, 2021, 7:57 p.m.

Yes

Reply

Taiki
+4 Andrew Major Vik Banerjee 4Runner1 jaydubmah
Taiki  - Sept. 24, 2021, 7:31 p.m.

Yeah no need to worry about littering, so far I've picked up an AXS shifter and battery from the trails. Just waiting for some poor soul to donate a derailleur. 

AXS is definitely nice, I'd consider it for a road or gravel bike but not a mountain bike where I see derailleurs as disposable. I can't tell you how many people I see with mid-spec complete bikes who have chosen to spend $600 on AXS instead of tires, wheels, suspension, or other more performance related upgrades

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 jaydubmah Taiki
Andrew Major  - Sept. 25, 2021, 8:54 a.m.

I’ve seen plenty of chains break and I’ve seen a couple of derailleurs fall off… so my fingers are crossed that the perfect storm delivers you the missing piece!

Reply

otagoboy
+1 Andrew Major
otagoboy  - Sept. 24, 2021, 8:20 p.m.

I have two trail/enduro bikes. One has AXS which is great, albeit expensive, and hanging out in the breeze getting filthy, needing lubrication and exposed to impacts. 

The other has an even smoother-shifting drivetrain which never needs adjustment, gets a re-lube once per year, has no derailleur to break, and uses a Gates belt which never breaks or falls off. Bit pricey at the front end but virtually no ongoing costs. A Pinion gearbox. Now although I love Gripshift all it needs to be absolutely perfect is an electric shifter …………

Reply

Briain
+1 Andrew Major
Briain  - Sept. 25, 2021, 6:37 a.m.

I believe effi gearboxes have one in the works. They also just showed a gearbox integrated with a motor for ebikes which makes a lot of sense to me

Reply

xy9ine
+1 Andrew Major
Perry Schebel  - Sept. 25, 2021, 10:06 a.m.

Effigear uses a standard SRAM shifter, and they now have a gearbox that uses the pinion mounting standard. Also sounds like they shift better under load than the pinion; given all the above, will be interesting to see if they gain some traction in the market. 

And yes, integrated motor / gearbox solutions make SO much sense. Seems like an innevitable evolutionary step for high end offroad ebikes.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 25, 2021, 8:53 a.m.

I still wonder how much the e~bike aesthetic killed the gearbox desire for self-powered riders. 

Certainly gearboxes make infinite sense for e~bikes, or at least the full-juice ones, and wireless electronic shifting is what’s missing from the systems currently.

Reply

4Runner1
+2 Andrew Major Velocipedestrian
4Runner1  - Sept. 25, 2021, 8:56 a.m.

My previous bike was X01 and it never did impress me much other than being a relatively light group. I always felt the $ could be better spent elsewhere; like wheels.

So when I built a new bike, I went full SLX and now the opposite is true. I like everything about SLX minus the relatively portly weight. Shifts are smooth and quick. Also, if/when I kill the rear derailleur it won’t cost a ton to replace. Now, the “drivetrain $” has been put into my wheels and suspension. 

I realize I’m stating the obvious to most on this board, but it just doesn’t make sense (to me) to invest AXS $ into a drivetrain no matter how well it performs. Then again, far be it from me, to judge how others spend their $.

Reply

alexdi
+1 Jake Smith
Alex D  - Sept. 25, 2021, 10:20 a.m.

Can you try this out?

https://cell-cycling.com/shop/

Wireless, relatively cheap, light, uses any random mechanical derailleur, and appears to perform with similar accuracy and speed. I haven't impulse-bought the thing yet because I'm too happy with my XX1/11 MTB drivetrains, but given the cost of AXS and both SRAM and Shimano's predilection for abandoning older electronic products, I'm very keen on the notion of a derailleur-agnostic system.

Reply

JakeE.Pooh
0
Jake Smith  - Sept. 25, 2021, 11:26 a.m.

This fits the bill. 

https://archercomponents.com/

I swear, I'm in no way affiliated with anybody at Archer Components, but that product looks a lot like what they do. My instinct is to say Cell Cycling is ripping off Archer, but I have no evidence to back up that claim. I might just be making a racist assumption, now that I think about it...

Reply

alexdi
+1 Jake Smith
Alex D  - Sept. 25, 2021, 4:40 p.m.

More like parallel development. Cell Cycling is selling an updated XShifter, a Kickstarter product that was already prototyped by mid-2016. I believe Archer's D1X came later. They both fill the same niche, but XShifter appears to a better product (though the original Kickstarter backers would argue that Archer is a better company. Despite the logo on the site, however, Cell Cycling is not affiliated with XShifter's Kickstarter campaign.)

Reply

mhaager2
+5 Jake Smith Andrew Major Dan Todd Hellinga Mammal
Moritz Haager  - Sept. 25, 2021, 11:49 a.m.

I really like your articles Andrew, because you are willing to really commit to a verdict on not only a product’s performance, but also its bang for the buck.  You take nothing away from how well AXS works, but point out just how costly it might be to maintain, especially if you are hard on equipment.  I think that is really important to think about for prospective buyers so thank you for doing something many people in your field don’t.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Dan
Andrew Major  - Sept. 25, 2021, 2:14 p.m.

Thank you!

Reply

dan
+1 Andrew Major
Dan  - Sept. 25, 2021, 8:39 p.m.

Gotta say this is my take on SRAM cassettes. While a machining accomplishment, the higher end ones are just too damn spendy for what they are. I’ve never been on board with XD drivers. So I keep clinging to my HG drivers and reliable, AFFORDABLE 11sp drivetrain options from Japan. Min-max FTW!

Reply

AndrewMajor
+4 Dan Mammal Metacomet khai
Andrew Major  - Sept. 25, 2021, 9:21 p.m.

I always add a shout out to SunRace on the cassette front. Not light, but their 10spd and 11spd cassettes are an excellent value: shifting performance + price + longevity. It’s a company I’d love to interview someone from as, much like SR Suntour’s high performance suspension options, they fly below a lot of folks’ radars.

Reply

dan
+2 Andrew Major Metacomet
Dan  - Sept. 26, 2021, 9:32 p.m.

Good recommendation. Seems the 11sp 11–46 is a chest hair or two lighter than the XT option, and it’s available in always-fashionable black and at the same price. I’ll seriously consider that this week - I’m placing an order for some goodies on Friday.

Reply

mammal
0
Mammal  - Sept. 27, 2021, 9:18 a.m.

Yes, the 46T cassettes also have a much more even spread. Sunrace cassettes only for the 10 & 11spd bikes in my household.

Reply

metacomet
+1 Andrew Major
Metacomet  - Sept. 27, 2021, 10:48 a.m.

I've had nothing but great experience with the Sunrace cassettes and actually found the shift quality to be as good or better than 11speed Shimano XT.  Currently have a build in the works and am going to use the Sunrace 11speed 11-50T cassette with a 11 speed XT shifter and a 12 speed xt derailleur.

Reply

khai
+1 Andrew Major
khai  - Sept. 27, 2021, 11:37 a.m.

I've got an 11spd SunRace on my FS bike and it's been great.  Swapped to an XD freehub body as I had chewed through the splines on the original HD carrier and the OneUp Shark was starting to wear down with no replacement parts available.

Works well, affordable, and I was able to actually get one!

Reply

just6979
+1 DancingWithMyself
Justin White  - Sept. 27, 2021, 12:28 p.m.

Dan, have you tried one? To see if the total cost over time adds up? In my experience, the SRAM cassettes last quite a long time, offsetting the costs a bit. I also love the SunRace blocks, but I usually wear them out a bit faster, so the individual price isn't as much of a bonus when you have to buy more of them.

In other words: cost per mile of SRAM cassettes is competitive and may be better than alternatives with cheaper unit prices.

Reply

Sethimus
0
Sethimus  - Sept. 25, 2021, 5:10 p.m.

complains about losing a battery on the trail - drives his car to ride his bike

Reply

AndrewMajor
+6 Alex D Dan 4Runner1 Nologo Cooper Quinn DancingWithMyself
Andrew Major  - Sept. 25, 2021, 5:14 p.m.

I don’t understand the point you’re trying to make here.

Reply

khai
0
khai  - Sept. 27, 2021, 11:29 a.m.

Clearly it's that you need an ebike...

Reply

Sethimus
0
Sethimus  - Sept. 25, 2021, 5:10 p.m.

This comment has been removed.

RAHrider
+1 Rick M
Reed Holden  - Sept. 26, 2021, 3:37 p.m.

I think an important point to be extracted from this discussion is the fact that every advancement in cycling technology may improve one aspect but may also remove a quality that some enjoy. I share the opinion that I do not want to have to charge my bicycle. I think the analogy to a Swiss mechanical watch is a good one but I guess some would ask where suspension and hydraulic disc brakes fit into the equation of enjoying a "simpler" bike.  I'm sure Andrew would be the first to admit that gears themselves do improve on an aspect of cycling but at the same time, you lose a quality of the ride experience of single speed that is also enjoyable. As a fellow single speed enthusiast, I don't believe more gears is necessarily better. Similarly, I like the idea of a bike that is always ready to go, can be fixed on the side of the trail and can be worked on by myself - aka not axs.

Reply

ackshunW
+1 Andrew Major
ackshunW  - Sept. 27, 2021, 6:29 a.m.

The cover shot of the handlebar with 4 cables really confused me about the wireless aspect...!?

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 ackshunW
Andrew Major  - Sept. 27, 2021, 7:32 a.m.

The non-wireless-shifting versions of the bike have six cables. Its a German bike with less than 6” of travel so the dual lockouts shouldn’t be surprising.

Actually, that may be a bad Swiss-German/German stereotype. Now that I think about it, didn’t Brexit come about because everyone in the UK rides steel hardtails or uni-pivot suspension bikes and everyone on the continent wants dual-remote lockouts.

Reply

khai
+1 Andrew Major
khai  - Sept. 27, 2021, 11:44 a.m.

I think you should slap a coaster brake on that fully rigid single speed.  NO CABLES - to quote Sam Pilgrim, the dream!

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 khai
Andrew Major  - Sept. 27, 2021, 12:26 p.m.

I occasionally consider ditching the dropper, as I don't use it as often on a hardtail and even less so on a single speed and I'd love to kill a cable. Certainly, if there's a bike I'd ditch my dropper from it's the #1FG.

I'll keep my sweet brakes though!

Reply

khai
+1 Andrew Major
khai  - Sept. 27, 2021, 1:01 p.m.

I considered putting a dropper with one of those under-seat actuation levers on my DH bike.  It's not really necessary to drop/raise the saddle on-trail, but it sure is nice to have a higher saddle for the pedal from carpark to lift, lift to trailhead, and those rare occasions when I'm dumb enough to see how it pedals on the 'Shore.

I use the dropper on my HT every time I stop, so it ain't goin' nowhere!

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 29, 2021, 8:03 a.m.

If there was a good quality long travel dropper with an under the saddle actuator I would try it.

rockford
0 Andrew Major DancingWithMyself
rockford  - Sept. 27, 2021, 11:18 a.m.

Hit it right on the head Andrew.  

I'm a lucky boy and have had AXS shifting/dropper on two bikes now.  For my full sus, go-to, daily driver, trail bike I'll be hard-pressed not to have AXS shifting.  Once you get in that pool, then it's tough to swim in other water.  I have scratches on both derailleurs showing that 1) they do still hit stuff, and 2) the breakaway works perfect cause I didn't notice a thing.  I'm sure I'll take a big blow one day and yes, that bill will suck.  But I'll take the performance for every ride for the risk on that one ride.  The bike I'm on now came with the TireWiz too on the 3Zero Motos.  I thought that was full gimmick...but bloody hell, they are damn useful!  I am loving the SRAM tech way more than I figured I would.

HOWEVER, you are bang on for Deore for 12 speed mech choice.  My Honzo ESD came with XT shifter/SLX der.  The der got manged early on.  I was able to 'bend it back', but when the drivetrain upgrade is due, I'll be going M6100 on the new derailleur for sure.  Solid operation, great price point.  Them and the M6120 brakes are the best cockpit deal going.

Reply

spilinki
+2 Andrew Major ZigaK
Spilinki  - Sept. 30, 2021, 12:49 p.m.

Well said Andrew. It's interesting how many people spend money on the Ferrari level product for their bikes, likely more so than in many other aspects of their life, relative to their income. We're so easily drawn to proposed benefits, and marketing of the new stuff, and the fashion show appeal, that we often forget the practicality of these simple machines. Durability, simplicity of service, and user serviceable products are most appealing to me now.

I was very disappointed to see with Shimano's new DA and Ultegra road groups, that there was no mechanical option, especially with Ultegra. I would hate to see this happen to the mtb groups. I also, don't have the money or tolerance for when those electronic components fair, with a likely more random occurrence. 

The note about a AXS Reverb coming out of a bike so easily, as well as the ability to remove a battery, becoming a concern when you 'pop in' to a coffee shop, etc.

I love how the industry prescribes what the user is supposed to want, and then turns it back on the user saying that the user has demanded this, so that's why they have made the product...

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 3, 2021, 7:29 p.m.

I was also really disappointed to see a lack of mechanical Ultegra. Let's face it, for DuraAce the folks who can afford it are either looking for every edge for racing - where the motorized version will be superior - or are looking for the best of the new-new which again gives the edge to electronic components. 

But, a savvy rider with a preference for a cable-shifted drivetrain is going to be happy with the latest gen Ultegra set up at a slight weight hit compared to full DA, and could always run a DuraAce cassette and chain and crank if they wanted.

Stepping down to 105 the out-of-the-box performance is okay. But the long-term longevity/quality/performance just can't touch Ultegra.

Reply

DancingWithMyself
+1 Andrew Major
DancingWithMyself  - Oct. 4, 2021, 5:37 p.m.

Reading this only reinforces my preference for shifting vs e-shifting.  I’ve ridden this stuff around the parking lot.  I’m very fortunate that I could afford it no problem.  

Guess it’s yet another product from the bike industry to help me easily identify people who have a very different ethos than me and with whom I’m probably not very compatible.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 4, 2021, 10:35 p.m.

I know a fair few folks with that same take. Certainly, in your shoes, I'd be of the same mind.

Reply

Please log in to leave a comment.