Thursday, May 19, 2022

Robot Noises For (Almost) Any Bike - Part 3

The Archer Components D-1X unit on the Snow Dog
A while back I tried to ride the Snow Dog, my 2011 Salsa Cycles Mukluk, and I forgot something. I forgot that I had installed the Archer Components D-1X electronic shifting mod on it and the batteries were dead. No wonder! I had the stuff since 2020 and I had never charged the batteries! 

Well, as an update to the previous post I did back at the end of 2020, (HERE), and as a way to actually, you know, get to ride that bike again, I decided I had better learn how this recharging works. 

Frankly, I had no idea that it had been over a year since I last had written up anything on the system, but that is the case. So, here is your update- finally- and a few words about the charging aspect of the system. 

First off, these Archer D-1X's run off special batteries which are sized like AA and AAA batteries, but don't try those! The Archer batteries are a special voltage and your garden variety battery is not recommended. There are two of these batteries in the main "box" on the seat stay of my bike and one in the remote shifter. The battery hatch for the main 'box' is an easily removed - a screw off cap which is located at the front of the 'box', opposite of where the cable exits the unit. Hint: A telescoping, 'pencil' magnet tool will help you extract the batteries without trying to tip the bike oddly.

The Snow Dog set up with the Archer D-1X. You can see the main shifting 'box' on the seat stay

Okay, now to extract the single, smaller sized battery from that remote. It is behind a 'door' located on the bottom side of the remote and held on by two, small hex tool compatible bolts. No big deal, right? just remove those two bolts and grab the battery. Well, it is easy if you have a 1.5mm hex key! 

Who uses 1.5mm hex key head bolts? Archer Components, that's who!
This precipitated a search for said odd-ball tool. That led to a feng shui session in my shop. This felt great, and I was better organized than ever, but I still did not have a 1.5mm hex key! 

Who the heck uses 1.5mm hex socket bolts anyway! 2mm hex keys? I have them all day long. But 1.5mm? Really?!

Anyway, I finally found one on a Park Tool hex key set I had misplaced in another drawer. Hallelujah! Now on to getting these batteries recharged. I wondered how long that would take. 

Well, I never found out via the Archer Components website. It wasn't in the instruction manual that came with the unit. It wasn't with the instructions for the special charger either. Wow! You'd think that might be an important bit for a user of the system to know. Anyway......

The charger works great, but it is a little kludgy.

Only one way to find out how long the batteries take to charge, and that was to observe a charge cycle in real time. That's what I did, not knowing if this would be an hour or three. 

Good news was that the two larger batteries charged up in about one hour. The little battery? Wow! That battery took maybe 20 minutes to charge. And I am pretty sure all the batteries were drained. I am not sure if this adversely affects battery life, or not, but I was good to go in under two hours. 

Conclusions: I'm okay with this system but for a couple weird things that it has going on with it. One: You have to physically turn on and off the shift box or battery life is adversely affected. Two: Those dratted 1.5mm bolts on the remote shifter battery door. Why? There is no good reason for that. Give me some Phillips head screws, or 2mm bolts, but not this odd-ball size that most cyclist won't have a wrench for. 

Go read the link back for more about riding with the D-1X system. It works well, and it is easy to adjust, once you get used to it. I should note that Archer has a new, paddle shifter for flat bars now and the drop bar remote is available as well. This works with 5 speed freewheels all the way up to 11 speed cassettes. It doesn't care if you have a SRAM rear derailleur and a Campy cassette. Whatever. You can make it go, so I think it makes sense from the aspect that you can swap a single set up around to different bikes and enjoy crisp, electronic shifting with no worries about cables and housings. 

And then again, you can always just ride a single speed! 

 NOTE: Archer Components sent over the D1X shifting system to Riding Gravel for test and review at no charge. I am not being paid, nor bribed, to post this here. See the Standard Disclaimer Page.


Doug M. said...

The only reason I have 1.5 mm hexes lying around is for Fender Strat-style saddle height adjustments. There might be one used somewhere on the inside of a RockShox fork I have? Foggy memory.

Guitar Ted said...

@Doug M. - Strat saddle adjustment wrenches are 1.5mm? I probably have a couple in my possession then, as I have two Strats I've owned since new. Dang! I never knew that! Thanks for the tip.

Doug M. said...

I think it depends on where it was made and new vs. old, etc. Guitar stuff is all over the place. But yeah my ~2004 Mexican-made Strat uses 1.5 (which I've lost and re-bought a few times, haha).

Guitar Ted said...

@Doug M. - Yeah? I have an '88 Strat Plus and a '90 Clapton Sig. They have different bridge saddles, so maybe one wouldn't work. Anyway, I also just remembered I have one of those 'guitar specific' multi-tools around somewhere. I bet that has a 1.5mm hex key in it. Thanks again!

Hoggyp said...

I have the Archer DBR and it works great (and no fiddly battery--internal battery is rechargeable). Anyway, I wanted to correct something in the above--the shifter works way past and 11-speed cassette. I'm too lazy to look this up, but if I remember right, Archer says that it'll actually accommodate a 22-speed cassette. Which, yeah, but still--when I wear out my 11-speed, the transition to 12 will be as easy as getting new cassettes and doing some simple adjustment via the Archer app.

Guitar Ted said...

@Hoggyp - Yeah, I know they say "up to 22 speeds" but that is pretty irrelevant. I don't think anyone is going to be impressed, or buy the system, based on an outlandish claim- true or not.

Saying what I know it will do is relevant. And if you have a 12 or 13 speed cassette group now, you probably are not using an Archer system. You are probably using the shifter and rear derailleur meant for it, which is probably electronic anyway. But yeah- it would work with that too.

That said, it is most likely not a very relevant situation- yet- for an Archer system.