S-Works Tarmac AXS in brief
This will only be a brief review; I have owned two S-Works
Tarmac SL6s (first a
rim brake model, and then last year the Disc one I rode in
Haute Route Stelvio and in
I decided to buy a new one; my last two were size 58 and I
wanted to try a 56. But the main reason was that this was a good
excuse to test the new SRAM Red AXS groupset!
Up until now I've had limited mileage on AXS: only a few demo
rides including the Paris-Roubaix sportive. 99% of my riding is on
Di2. So I wanted to get a proper comparison between the two.
So far I really like AXS; I think it looks fantastic; the crank
is a work of industrial art.
I also love the hood shape; they are really big and chunky; lots
to grab onto when you want to get into an aggressive position with
a flat back and your forearms parallel to the ground. In that sense
they are much better than the Di2 ones, which feel skinny in
I also love the ease of setting it up via the phone app; the Di2
way of plugging a cable into a computer is much more clunky and
involved. The neatness (and tiny aero benefit - but mainly looks)
of the wireless shifting is also a welcome benefit (and less of a
pain to install/work on than a nest of Shimano cables).
The star of the show for me on this bike is the Quarq AXS power
meter integrated into the cranks. Shimano have had their well
documented issues with making a reliable power meter for the
Dura-Ace crank. Whereas Quarq have a stellar reputation; and having
this built-in and ready to go is a real competitive advantage in my
eyes. In my testing it performed flawlessly, and feedback from
customers indicates that this is a common experience.
Athough AXS shifting is much quicker than previous generations
of eTap; I still prefer the 'bolt action' feel of Di2. It just
feels a more engineered and precise shift. Both are precise and
fast, Di2 just has a crisper feel, to my mind.
The fact that it's 12 speed is, I must confess, lost on me so
far; I've really not noticed any difference vs 11 speed. It's early
days though and that might change...
So - Di2 or AXS - which is best? I am honestly not sure; I can
see compelling arguments for both. Put it this way; you will likely
be delighted with either.