Say goodbye to cables

AXS is SRAM’s new wireless components and app. Wherever you see the AXS logo, you won’t find cables, wires or hydraulic hoses.

>>> We knew it was coming: Wireless electronic SRAM Eagle to debut at World Cup this weekend

Need to know: XX1 Eagle AXS and XO1 Eagle AXS

  • 12-speed Eagle wireless electronic shifting
  • Compatible with all frame designs
  • Uses same battery pack as other SRAM AXS components
  • Encrypted for maximum security
  • 20-40h shifting time on a single charge
  • Battery life indicator on derailleur
  • Two function buttons on controller
  • AXS app lets you customise the shifter functions
  • All AXS components have Bluetooth connectivity
  • Initially available as complete drivetrains
  • Fractionally lighter than equivalent SRAM mechanical drivetrains
  • RRP: SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS £1,950, XO1 Eagle AXS £1,900

AXS, pronounced “access”, is available at the XX1 and XO1 level. SRAM’s new wireless electronic drivetrains are designed to sit above, rather than replace, the current cable actuated systems.

Surprisingly normal

At first glance the two new Eagle AXS drivetrains look surprisingly normal, and that’s probably because they have been developed around SRAM’s popular 12-speed Eagle transmission and its 11-50t cassette.

Take a closer look at the AXS rear derailleur however, and it’s evident that this isn’t some minor change. It’s also clear that it isn’t simply a modified SRAM Red Etap road derailleur. Sure it uses the same plug and play SRAM battery pack to power the derailleur for over 20h on a single charge, but it’s a ground up redesign that’s much more sturdy than even the current mechanical mountain bike version.

More reliable than mechanical drivetrains

And in addition to its encrypted wireless connectivity and precision shifting, the new rear derailleur has some pretty amazing tech; take the Overload Clutch for example. This feature automatically disengages the motor and gearbox if the derailleur takes a knock, letting let it instantly move out of harms way then return to its original position as if nothing happened. And it actually works. We clattered the derailleur on a rock, hitting it hard enough to gouge a chuck of aluminium out of the body and it still shifted perfectly. Talk about high-tech.

Combine this with the shorter cage, the new geometry that increases chain over lap with the cassette, and more precise shifting control, and Eagle AXS is not just easier to use, it should also be more reliable than a mechanical drivetrain.

At the opposite end of the bike the cockpit looks completely different with no unruly gear cabling. It’s somewhat ironic then, that just as most bike manufacturers have finally sorted out internal cable routing SRAM’s AXS wireless technology makes it redundant for everything other than the rear brake hose.

Formally known as shifter

The controller, formally known as a shifter, is compact and amazingly sleek; powered by a single CR2032 watch battery that should last for more than two years. Rather than mirroring the action of a mechanical shifter, SRAM’s new controller has two function buttons that are covered by a shifter paddle that toggles up or down to change gear.

As you would expect, shifting is super light, instant and effortless compared to a mechanical system. And because you can assign different functions to each button within the AXS app, reversing the shift action couldn’t be easier. And that’s exactly what we did after the first ride, because we were constantly shifting up when we wanted to shift down and vice versa. It just felt more intuitive for us to have it the opposite way round. And that’s the real beauty of the AXS system, it’s very adaptable.

In fact, if your also have the Reverb AXS controller fitted, there’s nothing to stop you shifting up with one controller and down with the other, and using the second function on the r-hand controller to operate the seat post. Basically you choose what you want. Hold the shift paddle down and it automatically shift through each gear. Alternatively, you can adjust the settings with the app so it only shifts two or three gears at a time when you keep the paddle pressed.

Just the beginning

AXS really opens up a new world of potential and the next logical step for SRAM would be to integrate suspension functions like remote lockouts. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, as we haven’t even touched on the new wireless RockShox Reverb AXS seat post…

Need to know: RockShox Reverb AXS

  • Wireless electronic seat post actuation
  • Includes AXS handlebar controller and battery pack
  • New single-bolt head with tilt adjust
  • Vent Valve releases unwanted air without bleeding
  • New IFP and lubrication reduces friction
  • Battery life indicator on head
  • Customisable in AXS app
  • Available drop: 100, 125, 150, 170mm
  • Diameters: 30.9, 31.6 and 34.9
  • RRP £700

The biggest change to the most stealth version of the RockShox Reverb to date is the head. Gone is the twin-bold design, replaced instead by a single-bolt configuration that provides the necessary space for the battery pack and electric motor.

Same battery as AXS drivetrain

On the front of the seat post head there’s a neat tilt adjuster for fine-tuning the saddle angle and this also doubles as a position lock to ensure that the saddle won’t slip under load. The battery is the same SRAM unit as the one on the Eagle AXS rear derailleur, so one spare battery pack, approximately 25g, will work with both devices, or you can swap them around depending on remaining battery life.

And if you’re worried about having a battery and electronics right in the firing line of your rear tyre, don’t be. The Reverb AXS post has an IPX7 waterproof rating, which means it can be submerged in 1m of water for up to 30min with no issues.

Precise paddling

The Reverb AXS controller is the mirror image of the gear shifter, but with a single function button and a different shape paddle. Unlike the shifting though, that took us a little time to get used to, we took to the new Reverb like a duck to water. The action of the post feels instant, not lest because there’s very little travel in the paddle and this makes it incredibly precise too.

And it’s not just the speed of the wireless actuation that makes the new Reverb AXS post that much better, it also has improved reliability thanks to a new feature that SRAM has dubbed Vent Valve. Designed to make spongy seat posts or additional bleeding a thing of the past, you simply push on the Vent Valve at the base of the seat post to purge any unwanted air from the system.

New internals

In addition to the wireless electronic actuation and reduced maintenance, SRAM has also tweaked some of the internals, the new post getting a lower friction internal floating piston – the bit that separates the air from the oil – and better lubrication. This, combined with the electronic actuation makes the Reverb AXS dropper easer to compress and faster to return.

And just like the electronic drivetrain the new wireless Reverb AXS opens up a world of possibilities, especially for frame designers. With no remote hose or cable to hide, we could see the return of interrupted seat tube designs.

Wizzy integration

Going wireless has other potential advantages too, like seamless integration with SRAM’s ShockWiz and TireWiz, but by far the biggest one is that it the added complexity of electronics makes everything easier. SRAM AXS is easier to use, easier to fit, easier to adjust and easier to customise.

But going wireless comes at a price. Namely, £1,900 for the XO1 Eagle AXS complete drivetrain and £50 more for XX1. The wireless Reverb AXS dropper post will be available separately for £700. And both produces should be available in April.

How does it ride?

We’ve only had a handful of rides on the new Eagle XO1 AXS drivetrain and Reverb AXS dropper and we’ve been blown away by their performance, but it the potential AXS as a fully integrated system has that makes it really powerful.

We’re getting a drivetrain and post for test so once we’ve spent some quality time on it we’ll bring you a more detailed review.