SRAM joins 12-speed party with Red eTap AXS road groupset

American company unveils overhaul of it's wireless groupset offering more gears, cross comparability with MTB components for gravel and programmable functions

February 6th, 2019 by | Posted in Gear Reviews, News | Tags:

American bicycle component manufacturer SRAM has introduced a new 12-speed hydraulic disc brake, wireless electronic groupset. The new Red eTap AXS expands gear range potentials for road, gravel and adventure riders whether using a 1x or 2x setup.

The new AXS groupset brings a wider gear range to e-Tap, carrying the 10-tooth cog over from the company’s Eagle mountain bike line. Along with the move to 12-speed, AXS introduces greater user-control, a first for eTap. The new wireless electronic group can be programmed to personalize component function and shifting behaviour.

While SRAM pioneered 12-speed technology on the mountain bike side, Campagnolo beat the American brand in bringing the extra gear to the road by introducing Super Record and Record 12-speed in 2018. SRAM’s carrying its wide-range cassette over to the road side with the aim of offering a wider rage of gear options while narrowing jumps between gears.

With AXS, SRAM is the first to bring a dedicated 12-speed option designed for use in the gravel-road market. For those looking for a wide-range 1x system, Red eTap AXS shifters are cross-compatible with the company’s new Eagle AXS mountain bike cassettes and derailleurs. For riders really pushing the capabilities of gravel bikes, AXS technology can integrate Rockshox Reverb AXS wireless dropper post.

The new levers have slightly updated ergonomics, with more pronounced textured buttons, but continue to use the same eTap shifting logic. If that’s not your style, SRAM has also implemented two new synchronized shifting modes – sequential and compensating. Riders can switch between shifting modes using buttons on the back of the shift paddles, choosing manual shifting or predictive shifting. There are two ports to attach additional controls to the groupset with SRAM’s Blips or Clics eTap buttons. These can be used as sprint buttons or aero shifters, as with the previous generation of eTap, or programmed to control other AXS devices across the system. All of this can be programmed used SRAM’s new mobile AXS app.

Going 12-speed has many implications for riders. With offering a 10-tooth sprocket on the cassette the available gear range for riders has been widened. There is also a slightly more gradual gear progression between cogs on a 10-28 cassette with five one-tooth jumps, from 10t up to 15t SRAM will offer 10-26, 10-28 and a 10-33 rear cassette.

The cranksets will be available in both 1x and 2x pairings. To achieve similar gear ratios currently available on 11-speed groupsets, SRAM will offer a 50/37, 48/35 and 46/33 cranksets. While the 2x offerings sound small, combined with a 10-tooth sprocket shifting rations are similar to what is currently available on 11-speed groupsets. For those interested in running a 1x system, SRAM will offer two aero cranksets, a 50-tooth and 48-tooth. Cross and adventure racers will find the range they need in the 46, 44, 42, 40, 38 and 36 options.

To accommodate the new gearing, SRAM has revised their front and rear derailleurs. The new SRAM Red eTap AXS rear derailleur only comes in one cage length that is compatible with all cassettes for both 1x and 2x setups. The derailleur has bigger pulleys and ceramic bearings to achieve smooth and quiet shifting.

The front derailleur has been designed to accommodate the trend of running wide tires especially with the groupsets potential application for use on gravel bikes. The design makes space for increased rear-tire clearance so installing a 2x setup on an adventure bike will be not a problem. Both derailleurs are compatible with existing SRAM eTap batteries.

The new chain has an asymmetric design that is flat on the outer side and it has larger rollers. This is intended to make the chain last longer and have more strength. The chain is also narrower to accommodate the extra cog. A new chain tool, the Park Toll CT 3.3 will be required to install the new chain.

As with it’s introduction of Eagle on the mountain bike side, SRAM e-Tap AXS requires a new freehub standard to accommodate the diminutive 10-tooth cog. The XDR freehub body is inspired by SRAM’s XD freehub, used on its 12-speed Eagle mountain bike groupset. XDR allows AXS to work with existing hub designs, while working off the existing XD standard means no new cassette tools are required for installation. The XDR cassette is designed to be installed with a 1.85mm spacer.

RELATED: Free bird: SRAM Eagle AXS brings wireless shifting to mountain bikes

If that wasn’t enough, SRAM’s also unveiled Quardq DZero integration for the new drivetrain. The power meter is fully integrated into the crankset. This means once the chainrings wear out, the power meter has to be replaced. That said, SRAM claims its new chainrings will last up to 50 per cent longer than the companies existing 11-speed chainrings.

SRAM Red eTap AXS pricing and availability

The 2x version of the SRAM Red eTap AXS with disc brakes MSRP is listed at US$3,648 . The rim brake version will be priced at $3,488. The 1x setup with disc brakes will retail for US$3,198 with the aero crank listed at US$3,178. The power meter versions of each groupset retails for an additional US$510. The rim 1x setup is listed at US$2,838

The wireless SRAM Red eTap AXS will be available to riders February 2019.