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SRAM's impressive new wireless group and dropper post

Ride Impressions: SRAM's Electronic AXS Wireless Group

Words Pete Roggeman
Photos AJ Barlas
Date Feb 8, 2019

For product launch details, spec, pricing, and other info on SRAM's Eagle AXS XX1 and XO1 drivetrain and RockShox Reverb Dropper Post, head to our launch article here.


It's not like we haven't all seen the spy shots or heard the rumours. SRAM has been hard at work for years to bring their electronic shifting group to the market. Shimano beat them to the punch by almost five years with the announcement of XTR Di2 back in May of 2014. But even then, in the punch-counterpunch duel between the two, Shimano's path and SRAM's were divergent: Shimano kept betting on and improving the front derailleur, insisting the global market demanded it, while SRAM went all Steve Jobs and insisted they knew what the mtb market needed better than some riders themselves, and worked diligently to assassinate the front derailleur altogether (they proclaimed success in March of 2016). 

Battle lines were drawn, with Shimano going all-in with options (1-, 2-, and 3-by systems with a truly excellent front derailleur and both XT and XTR Di2 options) and SRAM eliminating options because 'who needs 'em when you've got a 10-50?'. At present, it can't be denied that the market has spoken in favour of 1x systems with the widest possible spread at the rear cassette. SRAM's 10-50 tooth Eagle has trounced Shimano's 11-46 in the OE war (SRAM holds a healthy majority of the mid to high end OE market). Shimano has announced their own 12-spd 10-51 tooth cassette to go along with the latest iteration of XTR - but 9 months on from that announcement, they haven't delivered complete groups yet. While there's no doubt it'll be great when it arrives, the other stinger is that while Di2 is also excellent, it isn't selling. We simply don't see it in the wild here in BC. It's certainly a great option for racers, and the technology is impressive, but the modern mountain biker doesn't want a front derailleur, no matter how well it works, and neither Shimano's vaunted reputation for quality nor electronic wizardry is going to put that genie back in the bottle.

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Remove a shift cable (or two) and a dropper post cable from the front of the bike, and it cleans up the look significantly. Now you're going to have to plug a few of your frame's internal routing holes.

So with all of that preamble out of the way, it becomes a little easier to understand why SRAM wasn't in a hurry to get their electronic group out of the barn. Eagle has kicked ass from day one, with incredible quality, design, durability, and aesthetics, and the trickle down from XX1 and XO1 to GX and then the insanely affordable NX has meant that they are winning fight for spec at every price point. Certainly it didn't seem like another electronic group would be earth-shaking. Except for one little thing.

SRAM eliminated the cables. 

Not just from your derailleur. Also from your dropper post.

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That's a clean bar.

As brilliant as Di2 is, it fails to make the bike simpler - in fact it does the opposite. Cables are replaced with wires, and those wires are harder to install than cables because you can't just cut them to length - instead you have to select a combination of pre-selected lengths so you can plug them into the receivers on the shifter, head unit, battery AND derailleur(S). A battery pack must be fitted somewhere - preferably inside the frame - and to charge, you don't remove the battery, you run a cable from the head unit to a charger. That digital head unit will show you what gear you were in, your shift mode (only necessary because of that pesky front derailleur), and how your battery life is looking, (not all that necessary because those big batteries last a hell of a long time), as well as connect to your wirelessly controlled suspension if you wanted it to as well as other ANT+ accessories. All. More. Complications.

It worked really well. Shifted fast and precisely. Preserved chain and cassette life. It covered all the bases, but it just all felt like a lot of work.

By eliminating shift cables (or wires), SRAM did what Shimano should have been trying to do all along: use electronics not just as a performance improvement, but also as a way to make the bike simpler. And more beautiful. Just like removing a front shifter, cable, chainring, and derailleur made bikes simpler and better looking, it's even more pronounced when you remove two more cables from the front of the bike. We still need 'em for brakes, by the way (there's a reason wireless brakes don't exist on your car), but don't be fooled into thinking someone isn't working on it. Whether we're prepared to trust that is a story for later.

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Setting up SRAM's Eagle AXS XX1

I know I should start by recounting how easy it is to set the system up, but I want to get to riding impressions. Suffice to say, we got a quick run-down of the setup process, and it's faster and easier - by far - than installing a mechanical Eagle group. Bolt on the shifter (2 minutes if you drop a bolt on the floor and have to look for it), set the positioning of the paddles (2 more minutes, give or take), bolt on the derailleur and run the chain (3 minutes), set three limit screws (5 minutes max), pair the two together. Note: we originally reported that you need to use the app to set AXS up, but that is NOT the case - you can pair an Eagle AXS shifter and derailleur or Rock Shox AXS Reverb post and shifter manually, this video shows how easy it is. Use the trim function on the shifter (if it's even necessary), and then go ride. 

Rock Shox Reverb AXS Dropper Post Set Up

The speed of the Reverb AXS Dropper setup is an even more drastic reduction in time from a non-wireless unit - forget fishing around for a cable, or bleeding it. Simply bolt on the shifter, put the post in the seat tube, pair the two units with the app (or manually without the app), and you're off. Certainly fast enough that you could run the same post on two or more bikes (each with their own shifter - or not) and swap in between them. As an added bonus, the new Reverb has a redesigned head post head that employs a single bolt to set your rail position and another on the front of the post head to tweak your saddle angle. Rock Shox has also added what they call Vent Valve technology, that allows you to separate the air and oil should they decide to get together and party. No disassembly required: just depress the valve, compress the post, and get back to riding.

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The Rock Shox AXS Reverb.

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And the AXS Reverb shifter. It differs slightly from the Eagle AXS shifter - it has one button instead of three.

Riding SRAM AXS

After a sneak preview and product walk-through in December, we had a chance to ride a SRAM Eagle AXS XX1-equipped Specialized Stumpjumper on Mount Seymour last week. Having spent time on Shimano's XT and XTR Di2 groups, I felt like I knew what to expect, more or less: fast, precise shifts, with minimal button pressure, and, once you get used to it, a revised expectation about how fast your bike can be slammed into the next gear - or three or more gears at once. Over the course of one ride, it's actually hard to wring out all the performance of it, because you're trying hard to stay composed while you play around with the gears, as your inner voice starts to mess with you: 'How fast can I jump halfway through the cassette as we approach that next hill? Just how much faster is it to hold the upshift button down, rather than hammer it repeatedly with my thumb? I know this AXS stuff is supposed to shift well under load, but how hard am I willing to test that one out? Can I trick the seatpost or is it just going to do exactly what I ask it to?'

The only time AXS messed up was when I deserved it. Once, after using the app to reverse the shift button assignments so that down was up and up was now down, I inadvertently upshifted three times at the base of a steep climb when what I wanted were three downshifts. Another time, as I was looking down to try to figure out why I could only hear the rear derailleur's motor make a noise when I upshifted, I almost rode off of a bridge. These are not problems that would hang around for long. Once you decide which button you are comfortable with for up and down shifts, it's just as intuitive as using any other shifter. I was comfortable as it was, but longtime SRAM marketing rep Tyler Morland wanted me to see how easy it was to make a change with the app, even in the middle of a ride. Yep - easy.

Button action is light and smooth. If you've never tried an electronic shifter, it might take a ride or two to get used to the light action, and trust that a press = a shift, but you're not going to miss an electronic shift, whereas you certainly can miss a cable-actuated one. You just read that and are now thinking I'm describing a problem you don't have, however one thing you will notice is that a button push is a much more subtle action than the throw on a shift lever. Again, this isn't a game-changer (I only wrote that in order to tell you how much I hate the term 'game-changer') but it's a subtle refinement that you notice most when switching back from electronic to cables.

Shift speed is very fast. The AXS app lets you enable or disable the ability to hold your shift 'touch point' for multiple up or down shifts - this is a good thing since some people will like the ability to do that more than others. When you do hold it down, your shifts are quick and precise. However, you can shift even faster if you hammer the touch point repeatedly. As fast as you can imagine tapping something thrice, you can have that many shifts completed less than a second later.

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The AXS app will likely have several version releases over the next few months, but as of right now it looks good and works well.

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The only time you need to use the app is to pair your shifter with your AXS component. This includes a physical contact component as well - necessary to avoid confusion or, you know, sabotage.

Riding RockShox's AXS Reverb Dropper Post

If there is an adjustment period necessary to get used to AXS shifting, it is minimal. For RockShox's new wireless Reverb dropper post, the adjustment period is non-existent. Functions are exactly the same: hit the touch point to drop the post and sit on it, or touch it to raise it up again. Micro-adjustments and infinitely adjustable height are possible just like with the current Reverb (and most droppers), and there's no funny stuff in operation - it works exactly as promised. It's not voodoo magic, but it is mighty impressive to see how easy it is to set up and get it running.

The post head and internals have been redesigned; the former will make it easier to install and set your saddle's fore-aft positioning and angle (with a single bolt) whereas the latter comes with a new Internal Floating Piston with less friction for easier post actuation and less downward force needed to get it out of your way. On my ride I didn't notice a huge speed difference, but I would need to ride two generations of Reverb back to back and then decide. Once we've put time in on a test unit (and had a chance to tear it down), we'll be able to bring a lot more detail about the guts and performance of Rock Shox's fancy new wireless dropper.

Like with the Eagle AXS shifter, the motion required to carry out an input is far smaller than with a cable- or hydraulic-actuated shift or post position change. This is where one element of overall speed comes from, and SRAM is reporting that after thousands of hours of testing across more than 100 testers, people are shifting and using their droppers at least 20% more. Interesting.

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The Reverb's battery and motor are not very noticeable. The redesigned post head makes saddle installation and adjustments super easy.

SRAM AXS battery

We're a long way down the road from the 2014 release of the first electronic shift group for MTB, and there's no question SRAM benefited from five extra years of battery technology. The battery that powers the rear derailleur is the same spec as the one used for the AXS Reverb. It is said to give about 20 hours of ride time (for the derailleur) and about twice that on your post. But despite the shorter ride time than Shimano's battery, SRAM's configuration has several advantages. First, since it is attached to the derailleur or the seat post, rather than mounted inside the frame, you can simply remove it to recharge - which takes about an hour - rather than have to plug in the bike's head unit. We charge a lot of things on an almost daily basis these days - phones, watches, speakers, lights, etc - so it doesn't seem like a big deal to have to plug in your derailleur's battery either. Second, they're small, so it's easy to carry an extra on a ride or on an expedition style trip when charging opportunities may not come up as often as you'd like. Third, the post and derailleur's batteries can be swapped, so if your derailleur battery fails, you can pilfer your post's battery and get yourself home without losing the ability to shift. Detractors will complaing about having to charge a part of their bike, but to me this doesn't feel like a stretch at all.

The SRAM AXS App

I don't have hands on time with the app yet, and SRAM will be rolling out updates as groups end up in consumer hands and bugs inevitably rear their heads. From what I saw, though, it is a clean user interface, easy and fast to use, and offers options. Options include things like whether or not you want to use it to track your shifts and mileage on your AXS component (it'll tell you when it's time to lube your chain, or check for chain or cassette wear). It'll track the number of shifts and perhaps offer some insights into your riding - maybe that'll help you choose a different chainring size, or any number of other bits of info that may be useful. 

You may be thinking you don't want your riding info going to SRAM. They get that, so you don't need to use the app for anything other than setting up your AXS components - and you can do it while logged in as a guest. But, as they roll out more features, you'll have to decide whether you want to participate in info gathering in exchange for access to some of those features. The app will also allow firmware updates OTA (Over The Air) so it may prove useful even to users who don't want to have much else to do with it.

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The Eagle AXS XX1 rear derailleur. Given everything going on, including the battery, it's not as big as you might think.

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Green means it's at or close to full charge. A red light means it's around 50%. Flashing red means charge it up.

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The battery is small. Easy to carry 1-2 spares if you're nervous about running out of juice.

Do you need AXS? Of course not. In fact, between the communication coming from SRAM about the new group, and talking to people like Morland, a few things are clear. One, nobody is presenting this as the new 'gotta have it'. The technology is super cool and it's absolutely a step forward for shift performance and has other benefits like durability, ergonomics, and others, but it would be a stretch to present it as 'more fun' or 'something you need'. It's a great application of technology and it opens doors to other possibilities, but you're not missing out on something if you're not riding it next season. Riding is still riding and you don't need a wireless group to have fun on your bike. 

Two, while it sounds like OE uptake is pretty good (at the high and very high end of the price spectrum), there is still a bit of uncertainty about how well it will sell. While electronic groups have been popular on the road side of things, there's not a lot to go on for the fat-tire crowd. However, mountain bike prices continue to creep up, and sell at those elevated prices. You will see AXS Eagle groups and Reverb seatposts on the trails this summer, but it's hard to say with what kind of frequency.

So, hard to give you a final take yet, it's still early days. We'll hope to have our hands on some test parts soon that we can spend more time with, and then we'll be able to properly break everything down and give it a proper review. At the very least this represents a big leap forward and SRAM has to be commended for the design and execution of this new technology.


Once again, if you haven't already, head over to our other article on SRAM's new AXS components, to learn more about spec, pricing, and availability.

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Comments

xy9ine
+2 Bogey Todd Hellinga
Perry Schebel  - Feb. 6, 2019, 7:36 a.m.

impressive engineering. though i'm not sure i could come to grips with the fear of smashing that precious bit of tech dangling out back.

Reply

andrewbikeguide
0 Luix Beau Miller
AndrewR  - Feb. 6, 2019, 9:20 a.m.

I was worried about that when I went to XTR Di2 on my trail bike. Three years including a Trans-Provence, Trans-Madeira and approx 9000 km of single track riding including a lot of crashes (as I just don't seem to be able to lose that habit) and despite the scratches the derailleur is shifting as well as it did when I first bought it.

This re-design addresses almost every issue I had with the Eagle rear derailleur (too long, too exposed and set up too finicky) to the point that I might even have to try it.

Reply

IslandLife
+2 Dan Allen Lloyd
IslandLife  - Feb. 6, 2019, 9:54 a.m.

2 points...

1. This is very expensive kit.  Wireless tech has been around for years, not sure why it needs to cost so much in the mountain bike world?  I guess we're paying for the development of all that impressive tech inside the derailleur.  If I ever do go this route (I am woo'd by the lack of cables), I'll wait a year or two after the GX version is released and prices drop, then I'll just buy the derailleur and shifter.  Very nice that they're making it all cross compatible.  The dropper being $1000 cdn is totally ridiculous though, that makes no sense and just stinks of huge profit margins.

2. Wireless "brake-by-wire" systems are already heavily in use in the auto world, most hybrids and electric cars use it... as well as other higher end brands.  I think the Prius has been using it since 1998 or something.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+2 Dan Beau Miller
Cam McRae  - Feb. 6, 2019, 10:07 a.m.

Wireless brake by wire? That sounds like a contradiction. I think those on the prius send an electrical signal but I believe they send it using a wire no? I couldn't find any examples of wireless braking systems in cars in a cursory google search. 

I did however notice this https://www.zdnet.com/article/a-wireless-bicycle-brake-with-11-nines-reliability/

Reply

IslandLife
+1 Cam McRae
IslandLife  - Feb. 6, 2019, 11:39 a.m.

Ha, ya you're right... not sure what was going on with the ol logic processors this morning.

The article was interesting... though I'm not sure I'd want my brakes driven by how hard I'm gripping my handlebars haha!  But interesting tech for sure!

Reply

dan
0
Dan  - Feb. 12, 2019, 2:09 p.m.

Cam's right. Several cars feature or featured brake by wire tech, though it's not wireless (yet). In addition to these 5, there is also an Infiniti sedan that uses it is well.

Reply

awesterner
+1 Bogey
awesterner  - Feb. 6, 2019, 12:04 p.m.

I'm pretty sure you still need to bleed brakes on a Prius, there still are lines.  Do you mean regeneration?

Reply

cooperquinn
+1 Dan Cam McRae Bogey
Cooper Quinn  - Feb. 6, 2019, 1:22 p.m.

There's no mechanical connection between your foot and the master cylinder.

Reply

Haukka
+1 Bogey
Richard Haukka  - Feb. 9, 2019, 7:34 a.m.

I’d like to see an on-road example of this. Currently I am aware of only ‘piggy back’ electric brake systems. In automotive, the brake pedal always is connected physically to the master cylinder while the computer enjoys use of motorized pressure/control systems to control the braking.

Reply

bogey
0
Bogey  - Feb. 9, 2019, 7:36 a.m.

@awesterner, Unless things have changed very recently you’re correct. Typically there is a full hydraulic braking system that is controlled by the electric braking system. There are force and position sensors at the brake pedal and electric pumps in the hydraulic system to create the braking pressure to augment the regenerative braking. The system can still operate as full hydraulic if there is a power loss,. 

I’ve driven a few hybrids with this system and they all feel very disconnected compared to a traditional system. Electric steering feels awful in the same way.

Reply

FLATCH
0
flatch  - Feb. 14, 2019, 4:21 p.m.

Wouldn’t the dropper post tech be  similar to a garage door?

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+2 Dan Luix
Cam McRae  - Feb. 6, 2019, 10:01 a.m.

I rode the stuff for a short time as well and I really appreciated the speed and accuracy of each shift. It was also amazingly quiet when the chain moved from one cog to another - aside from the low android buzz from the motor, which has a satisfying tone to my ear. 

AJ made a good point this morning as well, recalling being so throttled during an XC race that he was physically unable to shift with his thumb so he had to use the heel of his hand to downshift. I've been there as well. The absence of effort or thought required (no need to vary pressure or throw depending on the situation) could be significant in high performance or stressful situations. 

You could liken it to paddle shifters in an F1 car. I personally prefer a stick for a daily driver but in the heat of battle paddles have become essential, and it's not like the bike does much else for us the way a modern car does.

Reply

phil-szczepaniak
+6 Dan AJ Barlas Luix Cr4w Andrew Major Mammal
Phil Szczepaniak  - Feb. 6, 2019, 10:47 a.m.

as a digitally-challenged individual (3 fingers on right hand, 4 fingers on left) I suffer from grip strength issues as well as the numbness AJ described during XC racing. I run all my controls on the right hand side because that is my stronger hand, even though it has less fingers. 

This may be the ticket, as much as I hate to say it due to price, if I can get 3 buttons on the right side. Cam or AJ... would it be possible to control dropper and shifting with the paddle button? ie: hold either button down for dropper?

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+1 Dan
Pete Roggeman  - Feb. 6, 2019, 11:38 a.m.

Hi Phil, my understanding is that the third button cannot - at this time - operate independently. In other words, you could pair it with the Reverb, but then you would lose either upshift or downshift function. I believe Levy's PB piece contradicts this, but we were sure to confirm with Tyler when we were out riding. I will, however, ask again, with your specific case in mind, and see what kind of answer I can get.

Reply

phil-szczepaniak
+1 Dan
Phil Szczepaniak  - Feb. 6, 2019, 11:40 a.m.

Cheers thanks Pete!

Reply

kos
+1 Dan
Kos  - Feb. 7, 2019, 8:34 a.m.

Phil, if you're serious about trying this stuff, I'd contact SRAM directly, and explain your challenges.  There is more than a chance that they would be stoked to help set you up.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+1 Dan
Pete Roggeman  - Feb. 8, 2019, 12:51 p.m.

No problem, Phil. And in fact, here's the response from Chris Hilton himself:

There are a wide variety of possibilities here, but none are as simple as what you describe.

1. The right controller / shifter only has two functions. It has multiple locations to operate those functions, but only two. 

2. The reduced operating force should be a huge benefit for this rider. Everything is faster and easier, so that alone should be a huge help.

3. Same thing with the Reverb. A crafty guy could probably concoct a clamp system that would allow you to mount both controllers on the right side of the bar. 

4. Best option might be using the road / Tri blip box and a combination of blip buttons. The box can accept up to 4 inputs, so you could plugin your 3 blips, and place them wherever you want on the bars. In this case, no other controllers would be required.

FYI, here's a link to the blip box he's referencing - these are buttons that SRAM eTap has had available for several years - primarily for use on Tri/time trial bikes when using the drops or the aero position and allowing a shift without changing position: https://www.sram.com/sram/road/products/sram-etap-blips

Reply

phil-szczepaniak
0
Phil Szczepaniak  - Feb. 8, 2019, 12:56 p.m.

Thanks Pete! This is great info. My case is obviously on the lower end of the spectrum but this tech will be great for the adaptive crowd in general.

IslandLife
0
IslandLife  - Feb. 6, 2019, 12:01 p.m.

Quick question for you... is there some kind of USB or other access within the derailleur or shifter??  Could they, down the line offer software updates to add different functionality that users request?  Or to fix issues?  Like: a double tap = take the chain all the way to the top of the cassette, for example.  Or perhaps software could be updated through the app?

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+1 IslandLife
Pete Roggeman  - Feb. 6, 2019, 5:03 p.m.

It's all wireless/bluetooth. I did reference this in the article - future firmware updates can be delivered OTA (Over the Air) which is the same way that Tesla, the most famous example, delivers software updates to their cars.

Reply

IslandLife
0
IslandLife  - Feb. 7, 2019, 1:29 p.m.

Thanks for the clarification... not sure why I missed that!!  Anyway, good to hear!

cooperquinn
+2 Dan Phil Szczepaniak
Cooper Quinn  - Feb. 6, 2019, 1:23 p.m.

Its OK, Phil only needs upshifts. 

#digitallychallengedbeastmode

Reply

IslandLife
0
IslandLife  - Feb. 6, 2019, 11:57 a.m.

From the Pinkbike article is sounds as if you can make either of the three buttons on the "shifter" do either of the 3 operations (upshift, downshift, dropper control).  But each button can only perform one operation.  Then, if you also buy the wireless reverb AXS as well, you gain a 4th programmable button that can also perform any of the 3 operations, but not more than one at a time.  At least that's what I get from the following two paragraphs:

"Instead of a thumb paddle and release trigger, there are actually three 'buttons' to choose from: the two under the bar would usually be setup to move the derailleur in opposite directions, and the third button that sits on the front of the shifter is designed to go to a harder gear if you bump it with your knuckle. SRAM is calling it the "secret sprint paddle" because it seems to work really well in those settings, but you can make any of the three "touch points" (that's what SRAM's calling the buttons) control shifting in any direction or even take command of your Reverb AXS dropper post, all via the AXS app."

"Want your Reverb AXS remote on the left to shift to a higher gear, the shifter button in the right to move the chain to an easier gear, and the ''secret sprint paddle'' to control the Reverb? Not a problem and as easy as tapping your phone's screen a few times."

At least that's what I get out of the descriptions above and from the PB article.  It leaves me wondering if there's some kind of USB access to update software??  Could they, down the line add functionality that users request?

Reply

slimshady76
+1 IslandLife
Luix  - Feb. 6, 2019, 1:46 p.m.

I understood a different way of integration from the PB piece. You could effectively devote one of the right hand shifter buttons to operate the Reverb, but you'll have to map the other shifting function to the left hand pod. Kind of the way those Rohloff thumb shifters work, one on each side of the handlebar. From the looks of the right hand pod, the front paddle is nothing but an extension of the rear set, and works merely by having a different push point, with an effectively bigger leverage than the rear one, since it's farther apart from the rear pad's pivot point.

Reply

IslandLife
0
IslandLife  - Feb. 6, 2019, 2:03 p.m.

Actually, yes I think you're right, after reading again and watching the video of the app... it specifically shows you only two programmable buttons on the shifter.  So yes the "knuckle" button does whatever the button it's attached to on the other side does.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+2 IslandLife AJ Barlas
Pete Roggeman  - Feb. 6, 2019, 5:02 p.m.

Correct. I think Levy originally had written that the three buttons on the Eagle AXS shifter were separately programmable, but the truth is that you're limited to two functions, and the trigger can simply reproduce one of the two.

andy-eunson
0
Andy Eunson  - Feb. 10, 2019, 1:43 p.m.

If you check out some of the videos of the system being shifted you will see that there is only one shift button. It’s a rocker switch. Pushing the top of the rocker causes a shift one way I think higher gear and pushing the bottom lower gear. You can see that there is an extension on the underside that you can push with your knuckle to shift to a lower gear. Unless I have that backwards.

Reply

Kevin26
0
Kevin26  - Feb. 6, 2019, 9:08 p.m.

This could be easier to operate with frozen numb hands too

Reply

pedalhound
0
pedalhound  - Feb. 6, 2019, 12:40 p.m.

This looks amazing! The first wireless control I used was my buddies Veyron dropper and I was less than impressed, the time between pressing the button and the post getting the message to drop was way too delayed IMO. Is there a lag time with the AXS system?

My inner bike geek wants this so friggin much!

Reply

IslandLife
0
IslandLife  - Feb. 6, 2019, 2:07 p.m.

It sounds pretty good... here's the quote from the PB test where Mike compares it (conveniently) to the Veyron:

"Yes, it goes up and down as it should, and the non-adjustable return speed is faster than the previous models. It also makes cool 'vvvvt' sounds when it does its thing. Most importantly, there's no delay between you pushing the button and the motor opening the port - it is much, much faster than Magura's Vyron dropper. It also feels damn near instantaneous next to a normal Reverb.

Part of that is down to not having to push a lever (or plunger on older Reverbs) through its stroke, however short, to activate the thing... Because it's literally a button that you push, the activation speed seems to be about on par with flipping a light switch and having the room brighten up."

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Feb. 8, 2019, 12:39 p.m.

There's no delay - it's faster than with the hydraulic remote.

Reply

andy-eunson
+2 Timer Cam McRae
Andy Eunson  - Feb. 6, 2019, 6:16 p.m.

One of the advantages to electronic shifting wired or wireless is that it solves the crappy shifting some bikes have due to a tortured mechanical cable routing. My neighbours Trance and my Bronson work poorly with Shimano mechanical and need the fancy polymer coated Shimano cable to work well. Even my XX1 works a lot better on the Bronson with those slick cables. That’s a lot of coin though. I had DI2 on my cross bike and it was really good. But not that much better than mechanical other than you never need to change shift cables when they get dirty and cause slow shifting.

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Vikb
0
Vik Banerjee  - Feb. 6, 2019, 8:35 p.m.

I am not particularly stoked about the idea of having to Keep two batteries charged for my mountain bike to operate. I'll stick with cables. Even in the PNWet I don't find it takes all that much maintenance time keeping my shifting and dropper operating well with cables.

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geraldooka
0
Michael  - Feb. 12, 2019, 11:31 a.m.

Curmudgeon alert: Agree, I'm already annoyed by the amount of battery charging faffing about I do in the rest of my life as it is. the last thing I want is to charge more batteries then have to carry those batteries with me on a ride. Do I have to rubber band my bike batteries now to so I know which has a charge and which doesn't?... Ugh. In my over 40 years of riding bicycles in every genre I can count on one hand a cable related issue that caused maybe a mild irritation to my riding experience. I guarantee this system will be far more annoying than that record.

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Timer
+2 Velocipedestrian Niels
Timer  - Feb. 7, 2019, 6:08 a.m.

As with everything digital, it will be interesting to see how long-term support works out. Requiring a smartphone app for setup means that SRAM has to keep the app going on a variety of OS versions and keep supporting older revisions of AXS. Or not.

I'm not terribly fond of the idea that the SRAM app available for my 2024 iOS phone will not be compatible with the "obsolete" 1st-gen AXS from 2019.

Problably not something most bike journalists think about because they constantly change equipment. But i'm still running a 9-speed drivetrain and 26" tires on one of my bikes and expect to continue doing so for half a decade.

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pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Feb. 8, 2019, 12:42 p.m.

I'm about to make a change to the article, but this is key: the app is NOT required to set up AXS - either the drivetrain or the Reverb post. You can do it with a simple pairing process shown in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyiFkTTuVjw

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Electric_Peanut
0
JF DesLauriers  - Feb. 7, 2019, 6:15 a.m.

Hey Pete thx for a good read . A pretty big step forward imo . 

I think it looks great and look forward to trying it someday . 

Whats the deal with the anodized cassette ?

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pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Feb. 8, 2019, 12:43 p.m.

Hi JF,

The XX1 cassette and chain come with that rainbow finish that is being called 'oil slick' whereas the XO1 stuff comes with a more sedate black finish.

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craw
0
Cr4w  - Feb. 7, 2019, 7:20 a.m.

If they can get this to work and then trickle down to lower price points will we eventually see the end of cables? Brakes too? A cablefree bike would be aesthetically pleasing.

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pete@nsmb.com
+1 Bogey
Pete Roggeman  - Feb. 8, 2019, 12:47 p.m.

I think we're still a long way away from the death of cabled drivetrains. They're still very practical and work well, and way less expensive. The difference in cost isn't going to change dramatically in the short term. 

As for brakes, there are safety issues at play with a true wireless braking system - it's one thing if a radio signal is dropped and you miss a shift, but if a brake signal was dropped at the wrong time - even once - it could have terrible consequences. So even though I alluded to it and think it's being worked on by someone, somewhere, I also don't expect to be writing about it anytime too soon.

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geraldooka
0
Michael  - Feb. 12, 2019, 11:20 a.m.

Ugh, I hope not... I suspect realistically no but I can see this becoming the only method of communication in the higher end groups which would suck. 

I guess I have officially become a curmudgeon, I don't think the bicycle needs to be improved with the use of electronics. Perhaps the only exception being those that make a living racing them. #mechanicalforever

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kos
0
Kos  - Feb. 7, 2019, 8:38 a.m.

Great review.  Cool tech, even if I'm likely to wait for V2 or V1.1 or whatever.

I've got a wonky right thumb that would love less shifting force requirement after two hours in the saddle.

I've also got an old Sprinter with a platform bed, and everything goes a lot more smoothly if you pull the seatpost out of the bikes before loading.  This dropper would rule in that regard!

But an $800 dropper?!  They've got me at five.

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metacomet
+3 Andy Eunson Pete Roggeman IslandLife
Metacomet  - Feb. 7, 2019, 9:38 a.m.

I'm impressed by this group.  I haven't had much of a desire to put a top tier drivetrain on my bike since the 90's, when it had a much more profound impact on your riding experience.  Nowadays, even the low tier SLX and GX stuff works so damn well, there is just no real value in the top tier options, beyond maybe the shifter pod or the durability of a Saint derailleur. 

But the thing about this whole group is that all of a sudden I think it could actually become very feasible and practical to move this group between multiple bikes.  At least the drivetrain.  Its really two to three bolts and you're done with the swap.  That could go a Very long way in convincing me it might be a good investment in the long run if I can use it across any number of bikes and have the same top end shifting experience on each of them. Removing the lower pulley wheel and moving the derailleur and shifter to another bike with no need for an adjustment would be dead simple and barely take more time than lubing and wiping your chain. 

The seat could be easy enough as well of course, but its a biiig markup in price over so many proven and reliable options, including the premium ones.  And I don't like the idea of having to fuss and adjust my saddle angle and seat height every time I make the swap.  Very occasionally sure, but not frequently.  At this point, I think I'd rather have a dropper and saddle dedicated to each bike to keep the bike fit dialed in all the time.  I guess that could largely depend on what you are starting with though.  If you already have the dropper posts, and they work fine, and if you have different seat tube diameters, then swapping becomes a lot less appealing.  But if you are building up another frame with a similar seat tube angle/diameter/reach/stack, then it might be a whole lot more sensible. 

Very cool regardless.  Personally, I think the group will have a lot of success.

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IslandLife
+1 Metacomet
IslandLife  - Feb. 7, 2019, 2:15 p.m.

That's a good point... if you're a multi-bike owner, you can effectively purchase one drivetrain and/or dropper for all of them.  All of a sudden $2000 becomes $1000 or even $666 and each bike has an amazing drivetrain vs maybe an older used or hand-me-down version.  Though part of this depends on cranks and cassette... but if you've already got some version of eagle on each bike, you're right it's just a matter of swapping the derailleur and shifter over.  And this is part of the reason I may eventually go this route because I'd be happy to just buy the derailleur and shift pod since it will work just fine with my current GX eagle set-up.  I'll be very interested to see how much they'll be charging for just those two parts... though I have a feeling that's where I'll be disappointed as that's where all the new tech is.

Actually, we could probably find out the prices fairly easily.  There's no real change from the current X01 cranks/chainring/cassette/chain... so, just subtract the current prices of those parts from $1900 and that should give you... well, looks like $970 USD (almost $1300 CAD) for just the derailleur and shift pod.

I also think if we wait a year we may see a "GX" version which could bring even more value.  EDIT: after reading the interview... I don't believe we'll see a "GX" version.

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metacomet
0
Metacomet  - Feb. 8, 2019, 8:28 a.m.

Sram (or some other aftermarket competitor....ahem wolftooth/oneup please contract an IT developer) would be damn smart if they released a firmware update for the app that allowed you to program the number of speeds for a given bike, etc.  I quite like durability of a steel Shimano driver body, and if I could keep a 11-42/46 10/11 speed cassette on this shifting platform (and theoretically any other combo as well), I think I would have this on order already. Sign me up for that. Please. Thank you.

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bogey
0
Bogey  - Feb. 9, 2019, 7:42 a.m.

The swap is not quite as simple as it sounds. You’d have to break and reconnect the chain for each swap and likely mess with the RD limit screws. Probably better to have a properly sized chain for each bike though. 

On the other hand, you could just buy a shifter bar clamp and leave one on each bike which makes for a quicker shifter swap.

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metacomet
0
Metacomet  - Feb. 11, 2019, 10:31 a.m.

I was imagining having a dedicated chain, crank, and cassette for each bike since that would save the most amount of time and keep this practical, and not cause any uneven wear.  I wouldn't want to keep opening up the quick link to move the chain frequently.  You would just remove the lower pulley wheel to avoid having to open up the chain every time.  Might need a limit screw adjustment, but I think if you are the type of person that would be strongly considering this option, that is probably a 1 minute adjustment at the most.  If I could use the AXS shifter and derailleur on 10, 11, and 12 speed cassettes, then that would be a silver bullet.

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digene
-3 Metacomet Bogey Velocipedestrian
digene  - Feb. 9, 2019, 4:19 a.m.

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DemonMike
0
mike  - Feb. 12, 2019, 10:12 a.m.

Well it will be a cold day in hell. Before I purchase this type of system for my bike/bikes. I will go single speed or give up riding . Biking is a mechanical sport.

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