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Introducing SRAM eTap AXS

SRAM have unveiled their new eTap AXS groupset family. The launch of a new groupset is always interesting, but this one is particularly exciting.

Between the need to test on Pro's bikes and the inevitable leaks it might seem like there are no surprises left in modern bike tech. SRAM have always prided themselves on being the disruptors in the world of groupsets, what they might lack in history they make up for with innovation, and if you were merely expecting an upgrade to 12 cogs at the back you're in for a big surprise...

Build your dream bike with the new SRAM eTap AXS groupsets in our Online Bike Builder

Our Head of Bike Fitting, Dan, got to experience the new system first-hand at the European launch at SRAM's HQ in Germany, and he was very impressed with the speed and fluidity of the shifting.

Here are the key highlights, we'll take a deeper dive into the specifics below:

  • Wider gear range with smaller gaps between gears
  • Fluid-damped rear derailleur provides smoother shifting and reduces noise
  • One front derailleur works across the whole range
  • Mix and match road and MTB components (e.g. combine drop bar shifters with wireless dropper seatpost controls)
  • All chainset options (single, double and aero) available with integrated Quarq power measurement (and easily upgradeable if not chosen initially)
  • AXS smartphone app allows you to quickly check battery level, change component behaviour, customise controls, get maintenance reminders, and update firmware
  • Available in 1x or 2x drivetrain, disc or rim brake and drop-bar or TT/Tri bar configurations
  • Fully wireless shifting across the range

SRAM RED eTap AXS is available to order now and the first stock will be with us soon. We expect initial supplies to be limited, so contact us to pre-order now if you want to be one of the first to experience this new gruppo.

You can also expect to see it appearing on "off the peg" complete bikes over the coming months. Our friends at Parlee have had a pre-release set for testing for some time, and it really blew them away with its performance (and they know a thing or two about precision engineering).

SRAM Force eTap AXS will be launching in April 2019, more details to follow.

Read on for a closer look at eTap AXS:

above: a few examples of the combinations available, including disc and rim brake variants, plus 1x aero cranks with hydraulic disc brakes, for TT/Triathlon

SRAM haven't simply stuck an extra cog on the back to make a 12 speed groupset. They've rethought the front and rear drivetrain components completely, to give what they refer to as X-Range gearing. This gives a wider gear range than a conventional setup but without introducing any unpleasant gaps between gears - in fact they've been able to provide more 1-tooth jumps between gears than on a traditional system.

All of the new X-Range cranksets are compatible with any of the X-Range cassettes, so you can mix and match to find the perfect combination for any style of riding.

One of our favourite things about AXS is that it has been designed with an eye on the future, SRAM have taken into account the wide range of different riding styles that modern cyclists encompass and built a groupset that can handle them all with ease.

below: some suggested combinations for race, endurance and gravel/adventure, compared to their traditional equivalents:

One rear derailleur handles every combination. This is welcome news, meaning you can opt for a 2x setup, then change to 1x later without needing to swap out components.

Likewise the front mech will work with any rear cassette combo. Flexibility is very much the name of the game here - we're very pleased to see that SRAM are maximising compatibility rather than making change for change's sake.

Even the brake disc rotors have been updated, to the new Centerline XR model, making them more road-focused and aerodynamic, quieter and with rounded edges for added safety.

below: our image gallery gives a close-up view of a number of key components

Aero electronic shifting has been one of the great innovations of recent years for TT/Triathlon, enabling shifts with a minimum of effort and no need to change from the most efficient position. Red eTap AXS includes a range of aero options, including bar extension shifters, an aero crankset, and even a brand new Vuka aero bar from SRAM's sister company, Zipp:

  • Integrated BlipBoxTM mount
  • Improved adjustability; wide adjustment ranges with small steps in adjustment
  • New extension angle adjustment Independent armrest angle adjustment
  • Works with any 31.8mm clamp stem

AXS (pronounced "Access") is of course a fully wireless drivetrain system, keeping cable clutter to a minimum. That means no wires or cables for shifting, only for braking.

You have full control over configuration via the AXS app, giving you the ability to assign shifting actions to different buttons as required.

There's also the option to change the gear shifting pattern via Enhanced Modes:

Sequential - Activates the next available gear using the assigned upshift and downshift buttons.
Automatic actuation of the front derailleur keeps your gear ratio and pedaling cadence steady. You can still manually command a front shift.

Compensating - Smooths gear transitions.
When a front gear change is performed, the rear derailleur compensates for the large change in gear ratio by shifting 1 or 2 cogs, keeping your pedaling cadence steady.

The rear derailleur uses SRAM's "Orbit" chain management to minimise chain bounce and ensure crisp shifting whether at lower speeds, under load, or on rough terrain. Rather than a clutch system, which can arguably increase drag, it uses a fluid damper to maintain even tension. Certainly based on initial rider reports it is doing a good job, we've found it to be noticeably smoother and quicker shifting than comparable groupsets from other brands.

Of course a narrower chain is needed when adding cogs to the cassette. SRAM haven't simply thinned out an existing design, they went back to the drawing board and came up with a new shape that they're calling FlatTop. This distinctive chain with it's asymmetrical flattened outer profile is designed to be stronger and quieter than a conventional chain despite its slimmer construction.

Overall AXS isn't just a small step up in performance, we've found a tangible improvement in the smoothness and accuracy of shifts. The new wider range cassettes and redesigned derailleurs combine with a host of updates throughout the drivetrain, and the end result is that you're simply more likely to always be in the right gear at any given moment.

We're looking forwards to putting some serious miles on this stunning groupset, so keep an eye out for blog updates. Meanwhile, if you are tempted to try it for yourself, don't hang around - initial supplies are likely to be limited, so contact us now to reserve a set for your build.

Build your dream bike with the new SRAM eTap AXS groupsets in our Online Bike Builder