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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Just got one of the Archer DBR + D1x kits. This allows wireless shifting of the rear derailleur. D1x Trail Shifter w/ DBR Remote

Just one big catch: it is engineered to work with one specific right brake lever: The obscure TRP Hylex RS drop bar hydraulic brake lever, a brake lever without a gear shift mechanism in it meant for a gravel bike with hydro disc brakes. I want it for my rim braked bike.

Being kind of fed up with my 11 sp Ultegra rear shifting, and being that my bike is a break-away bike, I though I'd give it a try. SRAM has gone off the reservation with 12 speed and disc brakes and proprietary cassette hub it seems ever more unlikely the stars will align for me to go with eTap. Of course I complicate things with the roadlink and 42 cassette, lol, otherwise mechanical Ultegra is as we all know very precise, albeit it also destroys gear cables.

So I have this janky 'Empire' right side road levers lying around. I bought for my wife's trainer bike (she only uses this bike on an indoor trainer), but the chinese Empire shifter mechanism went south within a day. $50 shifter set from china, thus expendable, and fairly similar appearance and ergonomics to my Ultegra shifters. So I decided to sacrifice the shifter for this experiment.

I removed the oem screw-on panel and did some more dremel work on the left side of the Empire shifter. Added a screw to disable the shifting action. Fitted the Archer DBR Remote shifter unit with some fabricating effort. It kinda fits OK. It's not the ideal shifting ergonomics, requiring the left thumb to dance fwd and back to find the two buttons. For the business end of the wireless system I install the D1X servo box onto the chain stay, re-using the existing cable housing to the Ultegra rear mech.

Fired up the app and paired them. Then tuned the shifting.

Tuning is unique, and actually amazingly liberating. This is the one index shifter on the globe which you can tune for any rear derailleur. Any one of them from a 1950 Campagnolo Gran Sport, to a stamped steel Huret duopar from 1970 to a new Box One or GRX or you name it if it has a cable and a spring it will work. No matter if you have a 5 speed Regina spin-on freewheel or a 12 speed or 7 speed, it will all just work. You choose how many cogs you have and then you set the precise rear mech position for each separate gear within a fraction of a mm individually. You can add in a little over-shift action. You can program to jump handfuls of cogs with long clicks. You can set an emergency gear if you run the batteries down on their 80 hour runtime.

First short ride: no more noisy no more hesitation in shifting. No more clanging on the frame of my breakaway cable connector to the rear (still have the front mech and rear brake ones though). Also gives me the option to use a Sram MTB rear mech with their better-than-Shimano clutch for dealing with the wide gear ranges.

It adds about 200g extra. So I save $2000 compared to a massive upgrade to Rival eTap, but there has to be a penalty in there somewhere. Sram really threw a monkey wrench into upgrades to eTap once changing to 12 speed, usually requiring purchase of new freehub, hubs or whole wheelset now.

anyways, I did it. I don't know if I will like it long term. It's all very reversible if not. Most folks would probably not do it because the shifter remote unit will not easily fit on any common brake lever. OTOH it is a lot less messy than a di2 installation.







 

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That looks pretty nice. I have a coupled travel bike that I had previously though of doing something with wireless, all those cables are a hassle. But, since planes started falling out of the sky and travel pandemic, air travel now is off the table.
With all the different pull ratios for the RD/road/mtn, that unit looks pretty handy.
 

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I remember seeing these when it was a prototype or Kickstarter. It's definitely a cool concept with lots of potential. Hopefully they can get enough sales to do more refinement. It's still a little clunky looking.
I assume the buttons are just toggle switches. It's be cool if they could adapt them to work with a Di2 shifter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I read somewhere that someone opened up one of the Archer shifters to wire in one or two of the sram Blip (or shimano?) remote buttons, which can be mounted anywhere. I've though about doing the same, placing the blip on the underside of the brake lever grip. The thumb is OK for one of the buttons, kind of like Campy's upshift lever which is thumb operated. But it would be nice to use the index finger to blip the shifter underneath. Have to investigate what kind of momentary switch they use here and with the Blips - whether it is push-on or push-off type (push-on as in closing the circuit)

I'd like to see Archer engineer another remote casing fitted to some common cable-brake lever. Thing is I can see it needing to be a non-gearshifting lever and there are not too many of those around on the market any more. I remember seeing Bob Roll installing a brand new non-shifting Shimano brake lever on his bike build a couple years ago though, as he prefers using bar-end shifters.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I have been calculating some other things to move all the way to a 1x12 system.

  • Sunrace 11-52 cassette. 12 speed.
  • Wolftooth 42T 1x chainring for my Ultegra crankset
  • lose the front derailleur and cable and breakaway connector (they make rattling noise on the frame)
  • remove the brake cable breakaway connector as well, as it is fairly trivial to remove the rear brake cable from the aft frame section for travel (solder the end of the cable to avoid fraying)
  • Box One or SRAM NX rear derailleur to deal with the wide ratio cassette, and gain the chainslap-cancelling clutch

I'd retain the same lower gears as I have now - from 34-42 now to 42-52 with the 1x system. We have some 20% ramps here to deal with, esp with bikepacking loads I like that low gear once in a while.

I'd lose only the top gear ratio equivalent of 50-11 I have now and rarely use as my racing career ended in 1994 lol. I could regain this top gear with a change to XD freehub and Sram 10 tooth cog cassette, though this may not be possible on my current rear wheel which has a Shimano hub. Also would lose a couple or 3 of the mid ratios of the 22 speed system.

That leaves one main concern: chain alignment?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
fuuuu 4km into a longer ride today... shifting stopped. might be a defective shifter remote, or might have been something I missed about charging the remote. Archer seems to have 0 instructions on operting this drop bar remote. I was able to change gears with the phone app, and changed my ride to a flatter route using the front chainrings for 2 gears.

It's also really slow shifting, so much that it disallows the Shimano chain and ramps to do their slick magic, and instead results in ka-chunk ka chunk shifts.

hmmm
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
OK after another week I am figuring it out. Shifting lasted 2 hours without quitting on one ride lol. I figured out it was a conflict with the app on my phone. I guess if I leave the app open on the phone and somehow the remote loses contact for a bit, then all connection with the remote is lost and you're stuck with connection to the phone app only. weird, but OK I can do that.

I changed settings to add in 5 units of over-shifting, so it changes gear with more authority past the gear and back each shift. Now the only bakly shifting was down to the 17 tooth, but this was fixed with some fine trimming of that gear in the app.

It still changes gear with a bit too much of a Ka-chunk compared to the same setup with Ultegra mech levers. I think this is a product of slow derailleur movement. You can see how much faster the AXS electronic derailleur moves compared to an Archer setup in this video:
. AXS is pretty impressive there.

So how to solve that? Well let's consider pull ratios. In the video they are using a SRAM Eagle rear mech, with a pull ratio of ~1:1. But typical road derailleurs operate at a pull ratio of 1:1.3 to 1:1.9. So they are showing the slowest possible derailleur movement for the Archer wireless shifting, at 1:1. My current Ultegra derailleur is about 1:1.4 ratio. I can also add in a mullet-pull-ratio device like a Jtek or Wolfbike TanPan to multiply the derailleur movement by another 30 or 40%. So I ordered a Tanpan to see if this can speed up the shifting substantially and make it smoother too. That should make it about double the speed of the Archer/Eagle combo in the video. If not there is the idea of using a 26 year old Dura Ace derailleur with pull ratio of 1:1.9 plus the Tanpan. Or even doubling up with the Tanpans lol to get to 1:2.7 lol, 2.7x faster than in the video. Can also gain some shifting speed by going to a 12 or 13 speed cassette, as the cog spacing is less and thus derailleur travels to the next gear sooner too.

Also ordered a 42 tooth narrow wide chainring from Wolftooth to try out running it as a 1x11 system (I have 11-42 cassette on there). A 10-52 12 speed cassette gives me the same range as my 50-34x11-42 gearing, albeit the gears spacing is wider. If I go to 11-50 cassette then the gears spacing is similar to what I am used to and I will just lose a bit off range off the top and bottom gear which is probably fine for my riding terrain. The Wolftooth narrow wide chainring is offset to dead in between where the oem 50 and 34 rings were, so the chain line should be great. I notice some of the other narrow wide rings are not offset which could be a big problem.
 
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