Electronic bike components — for many riders that’s still a big NO GO! We too were sceptical of SRAM’s new Eagle AXS rear-derailleur and RockShox Reverb AXS dropper. But after testing, we found 13 good reasons to change our minds and now we can’t wait to stick these gems of wireless innovation onto our own bikes. Here’s why.
Our lives have changed enormously over the past ten years. We now book flights directly from our sofa, control our heating via a smartphone application and unlock the doors of our car automatically just by walking towards it. We live in 2019, and technological progress has made our life easier and way more comfortable. It’s now time to take the same approach with our bikes and make them simpler too. SRAM’s new AXS program is a big step in this direction. This new technology runs deeper than simply adding motors to mechanical components, AXS is SRAM’s newly developed data transmission standard, linking all the components and allowing them to communicate with each other. The result is a whole new range of networked products that will help improve performance and simplify usage — and that can be tailored to each user’s needs.
1. Assembly is easier than ever!
Installing SRAM’s AXS components is even more straightforward than plug and play. Endless hours of frustrating cable-routing torture are a thing of the past. Attach the shifter to the handlebars, install the rear-derailleur or dropper-post and connect both units at the push of a button. Job done! The rear-derailleur is programmed to recognise the gear-step intervals and can be adjusted quickly and easily.
2. A clear performance boost
The signal is transmitted from the remote to the components without any perceptible delay and both electric motors are extremely fast and accurate. All of this makes for the fastest shifting performance we’ve ever experienced. If that wasn’t enough, the new RockShox Reverb AXS offers the most precise height adjustments we’ve ever seen on a dropper post.
3. Super-clean look and minimal rattling noise!
What’s more frustrating? Spending endless hours faffing around with the cable-routing while trying to install your new dropper or riding with a messy explosion of cables right in front of your head tube? Fewer cables mean less mess — and a tidier cockpit makes for a quieter ride. Easy! The sound of (wireless) silence.
4. Clicking trumps shifting!
Clicking a button takes less effort than moving a shifter. Yes, this sounds ridiculous but if you think about it’s not entirely untrue: with SRAM’s new click shifter your thumb covers a shorter distance than with mechanical shifters and you don’t have to take your hand off the handlebars. As a result gear shifts happen quicker and you can focus more on the trail.
5. Less shifting mistakes reduce the chances of chain break
Shifting is a simple action. Unfortunately, mistakes are inevitable and we’ve all heard our drivetrain making that horrible metallic crunching-noise. Now SRAM’s new Eagle AXS significantly decreases the chances of shifting mistakes. The new rear derailleur is programmed to detect and anticipate erroneous inputs; If the shifting force is too high it will automatically delay the shift by a fraction of a second. On top of this SRAM’s new “intelligent” rear-derailleur always engages with the correct force, unlike conventional shifters which we tend to operate either with too much or too little strength. All of this drastically reduces your chances of breaking the chain. When a chain breaks it usually means it was damaged for a while before snapping — and most likely because of recurring shifting mistakes.
6. Smart battery solution
Suddenly there’s a rechargeable battery stuck to your bike… which needs regular charging. Luckily the people at SRAM have put a lot of thought into this. On one hand the battery is cross-compatible and works with all ASX products; this means you could use the battery of your dropper-post in your rear-derailleur. And then there’s the long battery life which ranges from 20 hours in the rear-derailleur to up to 40 hours in the Reverb dropper — for most riders this means up to a month of riding pleasure without having to charge the battery in between rides. On top of this, the components only draw power when they’re actively working (if you’re not shifting the system uses virtually no power). Once the battery is low you can fully charge it in just one hour and up to 60% within 20 minutes. LEDs indicate the charging status. The entire system is waterproof (protection class IP 69K) and can withstand the abuse of high-pressure cleaners. The remote-control units contain a 2032 button cell which according to SRAM will last a whole two years before needing to be replaced.
7. A dedicated app – you can do it all but you don’t have to!
The AXS-specific app developed by SRAM allows you to set up the components to your own liking and check the battery status of each component. In future the system will include even more exciting features. For example, the app will tell you the exact number of gear shifts or remind you when it’s time to replace your chain. If you’re not too keen on techy gimmicks you can run the system without the app!
8. Get connected
Apart from interacting with each other through SRAM’s new communication standard the AXS components can interact with other devices via Bluetooth and ANT+. For example the system allows you to display your current gear on a Garmin device. The rear-derailleur serves as the master device and communicates with all other devices. All components communicate exclusively with the rear derailleur. And of course, you can also use the Reverb dropper or rear-derailleur individually.
9. Off you go!
If you think you have to activate the system before each ride, you’re wrong. AXS components use a motion sensor and switch themselves on automatically.
Since all AXS components communicate with each other you can match them as you wish. Gravel riders for example can set up a road shifter with an Eagle rear-derailleur and use the shifter of the front- derailleur (yes, some road bikes still have one!) to operate a Reverb AXS dropper. You can pair up all components at the push of a button.
11. Don’t worry about sabotage
Now, some of you might be feeling a little paranoid about strangers fiddling around with their systems from the trail-side… while you’re riding! Don’t! If someone wanted to access the component settings via the app, they’ll have to physically press the button on the rear-derailleur to pair any of the components with the app. And if someone’s able to do that, they can also tamper with your gears with a mechanical groupset.
12. Rear-derailleur self defence system
A bent mech-hanger sucks, but a broken rear-derailleur sucks even more — and it’s a lot more expensive too! To make sure this won’t happen SRAM equipped the Eagle AXS with a second clutch that allows the rear derailleur to bend inwards when it comes into contact with obstacles. The derailleur will automatically return to its original position.
In case of impact the rear-derailleur will automatically swing inwards and automatically move back to its original position.
13. Mechanical parts have been improved too!
Not only has SRAM gifted the new AXS range with an electric motor but it has also optimised its mechanical features. SRAM´s engineers also revised the position of the jockey wheels to enable the chain to better enclose the cassette, achieving a smoother shifting performance. Also the lubrication on the Reverb AXS has been improved to ensure smoother operation. On top of that, the newly-integrated vent valve makes for easy venting in case air enters the circuit.
(14.) This is just the beginning
SRAM´s new AXS component-range is the first step towards a fully-networked bike. The possibilities are infinite. Smart bikes which use data from an “intelligent” rear-derailleur to automatically adjust the suspension to the terrain or even rear-derailleurs that adjust themselves automatically. We’re excited to see what the future has in store and are looking forward to building simpler, more intuitive bikes. Because this way we’ll be able to focus on what really counts – having fun on the trail!
Words & Photos: Christoph Bayer