Thursday, February 07, 2019

A Big Day For SRAM

SRAM Eagle AXS e-Tap. Yes, that's an "oil slick" finish on the chain and cassette. Image courtesy of SRAM
There was a big media blitz on SRAM introductions on both the road and mtb sides yesterday. The long looked for e-tap version of SRAM's Eagle technology was introduced along with a wireless Rock Shox Reverb dropper post. The road side also was revamped as a 12 speed group with Red e-Tap AXS announced.

So, on the mtb side, it basically was about getting in the game where Shimano has had the playground to itself with regard to electronic shifting. Of course, everyone was making a big deal out of the lack of cables on the bike now and how that was going to make things "so much quieter". Hmm...... I think that claim is a bit over-hyped, SRAM. There may be a modicum of "less noise", but really now..... The lack of having to route cables? Now that is definitely a bigger deal than any noise reduction. You may say, yeah, but cables inside frames make rattles. Well, you'll probably still have a rear brake cable running through there, and that is an issue with the frame manufacturing, nothing to do with a "better drive train".

But this is a cool, if not super expensive, new entry. SRAM also did the aesthetics up with an addition of the "oil slick" look to the entire chain and cassette, (optional- if you don't like it, there is an alternative) which was only previously seen on the connector links for Eagle chains.

The Eagle e-Tap AXS rear derailleur will likely be seen on many high end gravel rigs. Image courtesy of SRAM
The other cool thing is that now the Eagle AXS is also compatible with the road AXS stuff. At least as far as a drop bar lever and rear derailleur are concerned. So, a set up with a drop bar and a really wide range rear cassette is now possible. SRAM also pointed out that the parts are currently only available as group sets, so your "pick and choose" options are not quite there yet.

I thought it was sort of interesting how the new Eagle rear derailleur will "give" a bit inwards if it is hit by a rock, or something. That's cool, but the rear hangars are where your leverage is focused on, and shearing off of derailleurs generally happens in a completely different plane than inward, toward the wheel. I'm not buying this claim either.

Finally, the road stuff- I see SRAM is pushing the "one jump shifts" thing to make us think they have closer ratio cassettes than Shimano. Well, there are some tricksy-tricks going on with their cyphering. First, they do have many one cog jumps, but these come with big jumps on the last few cogs of there cassettes- 3 and sometimes four teeth. Then they ding Shimano on one cassette for having no single cog jumps. However, that particular cassette they pick on has 2 cog jumps the entire way through the cassette. SRAM? Not so much. So, you have to be careful how you interpret the marketing.

But this is a cool development on several levels. Time will tell how it works in the field and how riders adapt it to their rigs.


bostonbybike said...

I have nothing against going 1x12 for the road but I was really hoping SRAM will introduce some wider range road cassettes at this point. I'd love to try 1x12 with a 10-46T 12sp cassette.

At the same time though, the one thing that keeps me to steer away from such setups is chain lifetime. From my own experience 11sp chains do not last much longer than 1000mi, yet a cheap singlespeed chain can easily last 3500mi. Now we get a $70 12sp even thinner chain that will probably be even weaker.

Doug M. said...

That robo-dropper looks neat! Not $800 neat though.

@bostonbybike: As an anecdote for the MTB side, I ride MTB often and almost exclusively, and managed to go 720 miles last year. Split that up between a SS and a new GX Eagle 12 speed bike, so anticipate replacing the 12 speed chain (~$35) once per year, maybe every other year. I usually replace SS chains when I change gearing, well before they wear out.

Just one data point, but for an average mountain biker, the wear part costs aren't too bad IMHO. Suspension service eats up more of my maintenance budget, especially while I'm still buying tools and bulk fluids.

Unknown said...

In my mind, bikes and electricity don't go together. No e-bikes. No e-shifters. No e-seatposts. It's a high tech solution to a problem I'm not having. On of the things I like best about bikes is that they are 100% mechanical. Call me a dinosaur but low tech is the best tech. Kiss (keep it simple stupid).

S.Fuller said...

While I have a bike with electronic shifting now, it's a road bike, whose parts are relatively safe in terms of getting bent or torn off in day to day use. I'll skip the electronic bits on my gravel or mountain rigs. The derailleur replacements can be spendy enough as it is without tacking on another $100 because it's electronic. One exception to that would be my bike with the Rohloff hub, just to eliminate the long cables and the associated work of replacing them.