SRAM's Force eTap AXS groupset has proved to be a popular choice for road bikes, with wireless electronic shifting providing effortless shifts and keeping cables to a minimum.
Our one complaint has been a relative lack of lower gears - but this has been addressed by the newly launched Force eTap AXS Wide, which brings a new 43/30t chainset and a 10-36t cassette (along with the necessary updates to front and rear mechs).
With significantly lower gear ratios for climbing and smaller gaps between gears on the rear cassette this gives a whopping 516% gear range. And thanks to that electronic shifting the large gap between front gears isn't an issue - yes there's a relatively big jump, but the shifting itself remains smooth and effortless, and you have a "climb anything" gear range when you need it.
This looks certain to be a popular choice, not just for new builds but as an upgrade for existing bikes, providing gearing that won't limit you on the flat, but can also climb brilliantly.
For events like Haute Route or L'Étape this is a godsend, allowing for extreme climbing gears without losing top speed on the flat. So road/endurance riders are as likely to see the benefits as much as gravel/adventurers. Lets take a closer look...
One of the highlights is the new 10-36t cassette, which is sure to prove popular for 1x drivetrains, as well as being a superb 2x all-rounder option.
For 1x, if you don't need a massive climbing gear the range provided gives a brilliant selection of closely spaced gears that'll make for a smooth cadence across the range.
For 2x you get the best of both worlds, with a tiny 30t front inner ring that'll make light work of steeper slopes, but plenty of top end gearing available for speed on the flat.
In common with all the AXS 12-speed range the cassette requires an XDR freehub body on your wheels. Many wheelsets can be upgraded if required - get in touch to discuss options.
The carbon crankset is similar in design to the existing Force range, but with a wider q factor on the cranks (i.e. they are set further apart) which can allow for more tyre clearance - useful on chunky-tyred gravel/adventure bikes, especially with the trend towards more compact rear triangles.
A 43/30 crankset paired with a 10-36 cassette provides a massive 516 percent range. Multiple gears below a 1:1 ratio keep you spinning comfortably on the steepest slopes. A 30x36 gear allows a cadence of over 80 rpm at speeds as low as 5 mph/9 kph.
When it's time to go fast, the 43x10 high gear, equivalent to a 48x11 or 50x12, means you can still accelerate above 35 mph/56 kph without spinning out.
Paired with a 46/33 crankset, the 10-36 cassette still reaches below a 1:1 ratio while retaining the gears needed for fast and spirited group rides.
Part of the beauty of an electronic shifting system is that you don't need different shifters to swap between the regular and wide systems. with no cable pull differences to worry about.
So if you want to update an existing Force AXS-equipped 2x bike to the new wide drivetrain we can swap out the crankset, cassette, front and rear mechs (and pop on a fresh chain and bottom bracket spacers). Shifters and brakes will remain the same.
If you currently run a 1x drivetrain but would like to take advantage of the close gearing of the new 10-36t cassette we'll only need to replace the cassette and rear mech.
In areas without a massive variation in terrain, the simplicity of a 1x drivetrain is tough to beat. The 360% range of the 10-36 cassette is perfect for fast gravel or CX routes. Pair this cassette with any chainring size from 36 to 44 teeth to get the exact range you need.
1x is a great option on road bikes as well. A 48T chainring paired with a 10-36 cassette replicates the gear range of a traditional 53/39 chainring with a 11-28 cassette. With a 44T ring, you have all the climbing gears of a 50/34 and 11-28, with the cleanliness and simplicity of 1x.
If you want to delve deep into the technical detail, our friend Gerard Vroomen has already spent some time with the new groupset (the perks of being a legendary bike designer!) and has some typically insightful observations over on the 3T blog.
We already have Force eTap AXS Wide up in the Bespoke Bike Builder, so you can create your own custom builds with the new groupset , online and interactive.
Of course that's just the tip of the iceberg, and we can mix and match components as required to achieve not just the perfect fit, but also the perfect gearing for your individual requirements.
Force eTap AXS Wide will be available in the UK from the end of May 2020.
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