After an extended development and testing period, SRAM has finally launched its new wireless electronic groupset for road bikes called Red eTap. Shifters and derailleurs communicate with each other via SRAM's own encryption system. And for those worrying about your riding buddy's shifters being able to shift your bike, SRAM says the derailleurs will only pair with one shifter at a time.
Each derailleur has its own rechargeable battery. Those batteries must be removed from the bike for charging. Shifter batteries are the standard disk type that you see in the grocery store. Those are a little harder to get to, but SRAM says they last a long time, so this might be just a once-a-year issue. The derailleur batteries are good for about 620 miles between full charges, claims SRAM. Full charge takes about 45 minutes on a charging port that's included with the system.
LED lights on the battery indicate when the charge is getting low and a recharge is necessary. Also batteries are interchangeable, so if the rear goes out and the front is still good, you could switch the two and still have 11 gears to get yourself home.
The derailleurs add weight compared to traditional SRAM Red 22 mechs, but overall the difference is claimed to be minimal (click to enlarge).
Gear shifting is also different from all past systems. Pressing the left shift lever moves the chain up the cassette into an easier gear; pressing the right shifter moves down the cassette into a harder gear; and pressing both shifters at the same time moves the chain to the opposite chainring that it's currently on. Unlike Shimano's wired electronic system, you can't make changes to the SRAM system's operation, so no reversing lever function.
SRAM also went to work on the brake hoods, decreasing the diameter for better ergonomics. Reach adjust is also built into the levers.
The new eTap system also comes with remote shifters (called Blips) that can be placed in various places on the bars, say on the tops for climbing, or along the sweep of the drops for sprinting. You can run up to two Blips per side, so there are countless set-up options.
Continue to page 2 to see how the new system is set-up and complete pricing, plus a pair of videos and photo gallery »
Derailleur adjustment is a achieved via a combination of limit screws and a function button on the levers, which allows you to micro-adjust the indexing. The max cassette is 28t, so no wide range WiFLi for now.
While the system has an entirely new feel to it, the cranks, chain and cassette all carryover from traditional SRAM Red 22, meaning you could update your current bike just by swapping on the new shifters and derailleurs. Mechanics we've spoken to who've worked on the system say it takes longer to remove an old cabled system than it does to install the new wireless group.
We haven't weighed the system ourselves, but based on rough calculations, the wireless system (with its heavy derailleurs and batteries) will be slightly heavier than a traditional SRAM Red group, which is considered the lightest on the market.
As for pricing, as you'd expect this is not a budget buy. A complete groupset with a pair of shift/brake levers, front derailleur with battery, rear derailleur with battery, GXP crankset, GXP team English bottom bracket, XG-1190 cassette, Red 22 chain, brakeset, battery charger and USB stick will run you $2758. Cost for the four major components (2 shifters, 2 derailleurs), plus batteries, charger and a USB stick is $1660. For more info check out these two informative videos from our friends at the Global Cycling Network and click through the photo gallery below. Also visit www.sram.com.