First Look: SRAM Red eTap

Cape Cycle Systems unveiled the SRAM Red eTap to Africa at the Cape Town Cycle Tour Expo this weekend. We managed to get some alone time with the display for a hands on experience with the first production wireless shifting groupset.

SRAM Red eTap 13.jpg

 

The SRAM Red eTap was mounted to a display stand for the Cape Town Cycle Tour Expo. This meant that our testing was somewhat limited but the Red eTap didn't disappoint. The demonstration rig shifted smoothly. The motors made a reassuring sound when called into action and the shifter paddles, although wireless, provided positive feedback. However, we would have to get on system on a functioning bike to make a proper assessment.

 

For those with existing mechanical SRAM drivetrains and an eye on upgrading, the Red eTap shares chain, cassette, cranks, and brakes with the mechanical Red groupset with only the shifters and derailleurs being eTap specific.

 

SRAM Red eTap 2.jpg


SRAM Red eTap 6.jpg

SRAM Red eTap 10.jpg

SRAM Red eTap 4.jpg

 

Wireless


Instead of using cables (mechanical or electronic) to activate the derailleurs, the SRAM Red eTap sends wireless signals between the shifters and derailleurs. It was a bit strange being able to walk around (and even outside of) the room with the handlebar while shifting.

 

While there are a number of practical and aesthetic advantages to going wireless, there has been a big question around security and whether unscrupulous people can gain access to force a miss-shift or complete malfunction. SRAM believe they have addressed any concerns with their own proprietary wireless protocol called AIREA. AIREA uses a 128-bit encrypted signal which generates a new encryption code each time the components are paired together. Apparently they went as far as to placing security experts in team cars during races to attempt to crack the system, which they supposedly failed to do.

 

Despite the use of the proprietary AIREA signal, the eTap system also supports ANT+ which will allow the components to integrate happily with your bike computer and other devices.

 

SRAM Red eTap 7.jpg


SRAM Red eTap 8.jpg

SRAM Red eTap 9.jpg


Operation


The shifting process is a bit different. Two hands are required to shift up and down at the same time or to shift the front derailleur at all. A push of a paddle moves the rear derailleur up or down depending on which side is pressed. Holding both paddles at the same time moves the front derailleur either up or down depending on its current position. The aim of this setup is prevent any miss-shifting, which is apparently an issue with big gloves in colder climates.

 

Where a mechanical derailleur relies on the correct cable tension for aligned, the placement of the rear derailleur on the eTap is fine-tuned from the shifters. By pressing a shift paddle while holding the function button the derailleur will adjust itself in that direction. Each press moves the derailleur 0.2 millimetres allowing for accurate adjustment.

 

Unlike the Shimano Di2 grouspet, the SRAM eTap front derailleur does not need to trim to avoid chain rub. Like the mechanical version of the Red 22 groupset, if the front derailleur is correctly aligned, the entire range of gears on the cassette should be usable from either chainring without chain rub on the front derailleur cage.

 


SRAM Red eTap 11.jpg

SRAM Red eTap 1.jpg

SRAM Red eTap 12.jpg

 

Battery Life


As the eTap system is wireless there is no central battery pack and each component requires its own battery. The derailleurs use a custom rechargeable battery which is interchangeable between front and rear. The shifters use an off the shelf CR2032 battery which needs to be replaced when it runs flat.

 

SRAM say the eTap is good for 60 hours of use before needing a recharge. The battery level indicators work with a simple pressing of the function button on each component which indicates green, flashing or red depending on the battery level. A full charge of the derailleur batteries is said to take 45 minutes.

 

To assist with power saving, the eTap falls asleep when not in use. Accelerometers are used to detect movement, so there is no fear of the system going to sleep while being ridden.

 

The SRAM Red eTap also offers blips for satellite shifting on other locations on the handlebar or bike. These blips are not wireless and plug into the shifters. Unfortunately there were no blips available to try out on the test rig.

 

Local availability and pricing


Stock levels of the Red eTap components are currently restricted and the local distributor hopes to have some available by mid year. Pricing has not be finalised but they say that they would like to match the overseas pricing as closely as possible.

 






22 Comments

JKK, Mar 09 2016 11:00

Why not have a central battery which can be routed to all the components? Not just the shifters but to riding lights as well. Just add more external connections. Complete with integrated charging point concealed under a shifter hood... 

 

Either that or buy a massive multi-plug just to prep your bike for a ride.

Charge front and rear riding light AND front and rear derailleur batteries

Madone69, Mar 09 2016 11:05

one observation i had was the operation / shifting has a slight delay compared to other electronic groupsets.

Rocket-Boy, Mar 09 2016 11:08

Why not have a central battery which can be routed to all the components? Not just the shifters but to riding lights as well. Just add more external connections. Complete with integrated charging point concealed under a shifter hood... 

 

Either that or buy a massive multi-plug just to prep your bike for a ride.

Charge front and rear riding light AND front and rear derailleur batteries

because then it couldnt be wireless...

The batteries are also interchangeable so if you had the RD battery go flat you could shift to the small front ring then swap the FD and RD batteries and still carry on riding with it fairly normally just minus the ability to change front rings.

lechatnoir, Mar 09 2016 12:25

this is a very smartly designed system. if this is the start, imagine where it's headed in years to come.

raptor-22, Mar 09 2016 12:57

correction to the article; the Derailleur batteries are good for 60hours of riding time between recharge. Because they are rechargeable lithium ion chemistry they  can be recharged at any stage in their charge cycle without fear of developing memory or losing capacity.

 

 The Shifters CR2032 batteries are good for 2years approximately, before replacement is necessary

Thomo, Mar 09 2016 01:59

I chose to walk by the stand very quickly and avoid temptation. :blush:

Spinnekop, Mar 09 2016 02:09

If only there was stock in the world.

Amberdrake, Mar 09 2016 02:14

Imagine how upset someone is gonna be when the clips for the battery get knocked and break off

Underachiever, Mar 09 2016 02:21

If only there was stock in the world.

If there was only money in my bank account....

User error, Mar 09 2016 02:54

Why not have a central battery which can be routed to all the components? Not just the shifters but to riding lights as well. Just add more external connections. Complete with integrated charging point concealed under a shifter hood... 

 

Either that or buy a massive multi-plug just to prep your bike for a ride.

Charge front and rear riding light AND front and rear derailleur batteries

Seriously ?

 

Did you just say that ?

Spinnekop, Mar 09 2016 03:05

If there was only money in my bank account....

I have means.  I have lots of motive.

It is just the opportunity that needs to present itself.

 

:thumbup:  ;)

raptor-22, Mar 09 2016 03:32

Seriously ?

 

Did you just say that ?

 

I think he wants Sh*tmano

raptor-22, Mar 09 2016 03:34

Imagine how upset someone is gonna be when the clips for the battery get knocked and break off

 

 

and how pray will this happen? Have you seen how the battery fits? Only thing that can break is the battery or the whole derailleur. Going to need quite a knock to break either

Amberdrake, Mar 09 2016 03:42

and how pray will this happen? Have you seen how the battery fits? Only thing that can break is the battery or the whole derailleur. Going to need quite a knock to break either

Bottom of battery has a little tab that goes into metal of derailleur this plastic could potentially break. Its a road set so unlikely still possible.

raptor-22, Mar 09 2016 03:55

any connection on Di2 or EPC could also break. Wires can be cut or chafe through..

 

Everything has a weakness.

 

The Red catch lever is also replaceable

shaper, Mar 09 2016 04:47

I like and with the development of wireless charging of phones.. am sure it will trickle down to this too... maybe even F1 KERS in a few years time.. charge batteries under breaking whilst out riding... the technology possibilities are endless and wireless is the first step

robsc, Mar 09 2016 04:55

This is great with the ability to swop out batteries whilst on a ride is great too (if one goes flat) and to carry a spare CR2032 (for the front shifters) with you is negligible . 

Starvin' Marvin, Mar 09 2016 05:51

Why not have a central battery which can be routed to all the components? Not just the shifters but to riding lights as well. Just add more external connections. Complete with integrated charging point concealed under a shifter hood... 

 

Either that or buy a massive multi-plug just to prep your bike for a ride.

Charge front and rear riding light AND front and rear derailleur batteries

Oh no you didn't just say that!!

Capricorn, Mar 11 2016 01:03

i'd tap that 

robsc, Mar 11 2016 01:23

Must also be a lot easier for mechanic to build with this groupset .

User error, Mar 22 2016 03:18

Oh no you didn't just say that!!

This is why I no longer work in a bike shop and stay off the Hub. 

'Dale, Mar 22 2016 03:21

I have means.  I have lots of motive.
It is just the opportunity that needs to present itself.
 
:thumbup:  ;)



Hehehe
Tons of intent there
You are guilty

What a leap in gruppo evolution indeed