SRAM Red wireless electronic shifting road bike drivetrain spy shots from 2015 Tour Down Under

Just before the 2015 Santos Tour Down Under kicked off, we spotted the AG2R team testing prototype SRAM wireless bits on a training ride. Now, it looks like up to four of the team bikes are running the system in competition, too, and we’ve snagged quite a few more detail (albeit phone cam quality) pics, including a look at what’s (not) under the bar tape!

Video and tons more photos below…

The video shows the bike being tuned and having its limit screws set, hence the dropped chains. Note how quickly and smoothly the shifts between chainrings are!

SRAM Red wireless electronic shifting road bike drivetrain spy shots from 2015 Tour Down Under

We speculated on the battery charging, but now we’re all but certain the batteries will simply be removed to charge, likely in some sort of docking station. Comparing the images above and below of front and rear mechs, the batteries appear identical, suggesting they’re interchangeable.

SRAM Red wireless electronic shifting road bike drivetrain spy shots from 2015 Tour Down Under

Our guess is that top hatch is simply the release/locking lever for the battery.

SRAM Red wireless electronic shifting road bike drivetrain spy shots from 2015 Tour Down Under

Up front, the large box we’ve seen attached to the stem on early prototypes is gone, as are any hint of wires. That lack of visible wires suggests each shifter has it’s own battery, too. And that there’s no junction box or other central command center that needs to be installed, hidden or otherwise clutter up your bike.

SRAM Red wireless electronic shifting road bike drivetrain spy shots from 2015 Tour Down Under

One of our non-SRAM contacts (who wished to remain anonymous) that’s had their hands on it said it has a 50m range, meaning it could easily be controlled by a team car or other remote device. Not that it would, but it could. That range also suggests it could be communicating on something like a WiFi network, since 50m is about the max range of a good router, which could mean wireless updates and tuning. That’s pure speculation, and perhaps it’ll just require a wireless transmitter plugged into your computer or just something plugged into a single component of the system to update the entire group.

SRAM Red wireless electronic shifting road bike drivetrain spy shots from 2015 Tour Down Under

Another view we hadn’t seen before is the back and underside of the rear derailleur. Where Shimano and Campagnolo have placed the motor off the back and running the mechanical bits between the parallelograms, these SRAM units use a different tack.

SRAM Red wireless electronic shifting road bike drivetrain spy shots from 2015 Tour Down Under

Note the large box behind the P-knuckle, between it and the pulley cage.

SRAM Red wireless electronic shifting road bike drivetrain spy shots from 2015 Tour Down Under

SRAM Red wireless electronic shifting road bike drivetrain spy shots from 2015 Tour Down Under

We’re guessing that’s the motor since there’s not much going on at the back.

The fact that the system is being put into use in a major UCI tour, and reportedly on up to four of the AG2R team bikes at a time, suggests it’s getting close to final. Jayson said the SRAM tech rep on site at the TDU wasn’t saying anything other than that it was a prototype, but I spoke to another SRAM rep closer to our office that said they’re spending as much time as they need to make sure that it’s absolutely flawless when it launches. He suggested that there wasn’t much point in being the last party to the electronic shifting game unless they could make something that’s better than the others. Makes sense, and makes us all that much more excited to try it if/when it finally comes available!

Huge thanks to Jayson for the pics and info, check him out at GravelCyclist.com and on Facebook here. Now, more random photos:

SRAM Red wireless electronic shifting road bike drivetrain spy shots from 2015 Tour Down Under

SRAM Red wireless electronic shifting road bike drivetrain spy shots from 2015 Tour Down Under

SRAM Red wireless electronic shifting road bike drivetrain spy shots from 2015 Tour Down Under

SRAM Red wireless electronic shifting road bike drivetrain spy shots from 2015 Tour Down Under

SRAM Red wireless electronic shifting road bike drivetrain spy shots from 2015 Tour Down Under

 

66 COMMENTS

  1. I think this is very cool and I would probably be interested in it if it came to market, mostly because I am a nerd.

    That being said, what value does wireless add to electronic shifting? Other than the aesthetic value or, maybe occasional routing (like once per bike)?

    I’m not asking to make it seem like SRAM isn’t doing something cool, because I think they are, I’m just wondering whether it’s technology for the sake of technology (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

  2. The lack of wires not only makes installation easier but also removes any chance of a failed wire problem. It also cuts down on parts needed at the time of purchase.

  3. Looks like the method of shifting the front derailleur being both shifters at the same time is all but confirmed, which is the worst possible method of shifting I could imagine. Both paddles in to shift the front derailleur means you won’t be able to shift front and rear simultaneously; one of the big draws of electronic, being able to slam it into any gear without any fear of derailment. Shifting with one hand on the bars (eating) becomes cumbersome. If they offer sequential shifting out of the box, it would be something, but I’d still prefer a better method of manually shifting.

    And that front derailleur button to execute shifts while doing maintenance sounds seems incredibly kludgy.

    Wires are a set it and forget it sort of thing, so I don’t see a huge draw to wireless outside of the initial setup.

  4. @super – Don’t discount the ease of setup. Especially for OEs. Bolt on 4 parts and go instead of 11+ for other electric groups.

    Also, no cables/junction boxes = less weight.

  5. @Superstantial

    It brings a couple things really.

    If the batteries are light enough to compete with the weight of the Shimano and Campy systems, then you have the reduced weight from no wires, junctions, battery mounts, etc.

    That’s negligible.

    But what you do gain, is the security of knowing if you’re in a crash, you don’t have a wire that can get caught and pop out.

    Might not be a huge deal in road racing, but for CX, that’s one of the downsides of DI2, is the potential of the wire getting caught and yanked out.

    When it’s even worse, is when it happens under your bar wrap (and it has).

    So I see that as being the biggest improvement.

  6. @super- not all frames are equipped for di2 cable routing. wireless means hat almost any preexisting frame would be able to run an electronic setup. This is huge. For example, my supersix evo.

  7. I’ve only got one thing to say, it’s not WiFi at all, it’s…VOODOO…did you see how that thing was changing from big to small chain ring. 🙂

    Good to see this kinda stuff, I may not buy it, but if this is a prototype I’m intrigued what the final product will look like for sure.

  8. The problem with multiple batteries is a greater chance of being stuck in one gear after losing power in one battery. Will the whole system stop working if one battery dies, or will parts of the system still work?

  9. Interested in the fact you don’t need to have a frame designed for the internal batteries. Also a side thought. If the Front and Rear Derailleurs both use the same battery this COULD be great should you run out of juice on a ride. Just switch the packs around and you could continue to use the Rear Derailleur.

  10. Meh. I am kind of disappointed that, although they have road hydraulic calipers, they have chosen not to include them on this product.

  11. Wifi, bluetooth, ANT+, it’s all here get use to it. Now I can’t wait for Shimano’s version, so I can feel confident in using and its durability.

  12. Come on…where are the wireless brakes?! All joking aside, this is certainly a novel iteration. I imagine the potential for mishaps is great in this type of setup. Hopefully (for their sake) Sram executes this better than their hydro brakes. I’m curious to see how this plays out.

    For me I’m sticking with my 2015 Campagnolo Record.

  13. I’m really excited about this. Only downside is that this will be pretty expensive. But wireless is the obvious direction of electronic shifting, and SRAM is the first to get there. Kudos to SRAM!

  14. Looks interesting, removing the wires / junction boxes etc., should limit possible glitches in the system and may also decrease the overall costs. The cabling kits and junctions boxes aren’t cheap for Di2.
    Will be interesting to see what frequency/transmission protocol SRAM use be it Ant+ or Bluetooth. Hopefully all the groupset manufacturers choose one protocol. From what I’ve read Ant+ seems to be the most reliable. This will open up alot of inter-connectivity possibilities between drivetrain and computer/gps head units.

  15. I bet the price will be astronomical at first, but never the less, I’ll be one of the first in line to get this. Wireless electronic shifting will bring years of more usable life to my road bike equipped with traditional cable routing.

    The levers seem to have traditional brake cables coming out. There may not be enough room for a brake fluid reservoir and the electronics + battery in the lever? Even better, if you ask me.

  16. Removal batteries and dock is a good idea for sure, albeit its still anoying to remove 2 to 4 batteries. But yeah its nice.
    50m range is a lil weird. It’d be nice if someone in the area could capture the traffic and post it, its pretty easy to do with that range.

  17. So with a 50m range what would the advantages be of local networking all of your team’s bikes to the team car to monitor gears in use, wattage being produced, cadence, etc during a race? How about being the team mechanic being able to tweak the shifting from the car without your rider ever leaving the breakaway, much less coming back to hold onto the team car while the wrench leans out the window? Point-to-point networking could extend that range to 50m between units, meaning a span of 500m for ten riders to the team car with each bike acting as a relay point. Or (black hat on) …what happens when you hack your opponents’ systems….? You guys are thinking way too small….

  18. @David, I would imagine that if a battery at the front derailleur dies, it’ll just stay on that chainring and you’ll still be able to shift the rear (and vice versa). The levers are basically like a car remote — just sends a signal to say “do this”, and it the derailleur motor doesn’t have the juice to do it, it’ll just stay idle.

    As a builder, this is awesome. No braze-ons or tunnels for gear cables, no holes in the main tubes for wire routing… Cleaner build, less to go wrong. I’ll be on this (or FSA’s) as soon as possible.

  19. +1 on the OE thing. And if this is first-gen, wait until second-gen. And third-gen. And when batts get smaller/more powerful. Di2 shifts like black magic but it makes for an untidy install (unless your mechanic is a genius). Doubters gonna doubt, but this is a hell of a thing.

  20. Cool! I’d love to even see a photo of FSA’s project. They’ve kept their protos under wrap very well, ever since it was determined they were working on a road groupo.

  21. @Brad: When the patents for this first surfaced, I had the exact same reaction. When I change chainrings, I almost certainly want to change cogs in the back to compensate. That said, if this includes some sort of programmable sequential shifting, and changing chainrings is more of a manual override, it might not be as bad as I first thought.

  22. What would be really cool: Holding down both shifters as a manual override to change the chain ring while making an equal change at the rear derailleur (to a similar gear ratio).

    Assuming SRAM has their proverbial sequential shifting act together…

  23. I highly doubt they’re using wifi.

    First, there are several, better, near-fi protocols (ANT and Bluetooth, at least).

    Second, wifi requires each component to have its own IP address. That’s unnecessary and risky if IPs become unavailable.

  24. “Second, wifi requires each component to have its own IP address. That’s unnecessary and risky if IPs become unavailable.”

    I agree that WiFi is unlikely but because it’s very high power compared to alternatives. The IP address is a non-issue, if they wanted them they would use some from non-routable blocks. The protocol must include some kind of pairing operation I would think.

  25. Hope this comes to market soon, it will make 105 Di2 closer to reality.

    No wires, no battery as another component, wether it’s internal or external, no wires, internal or external, better aesthetics, maybe it can work as xtr di2… maybe it connects with a garmin edge showing gear info or battery…

    It looks great. It will be affordable by 2020, that’s my guess… 🙂

    CYCLING IS THE NEW GOLF!!

  26. This is great for bikes that aren’t set up for internal routing but are otherwise still great bikes. It also makes travel easier. If your cable stops aren’t completely closed for your rear brake, you can essentially move your bars with brakes, box the bike and even have your bars with shifters and brakes in your carry on(no sense it doing it but just giving an example).
    With a coupled bike…this is awesome!!! Also great for older TT bikes with less than great routing with a cable.

  27. Watching that mechanics hands, it’s obvious someone else is shifting while he adjusts the front derailleur. how’s the home mechanic supposed to set up their bike?

  28. Those derailleurs are hideous! SRAM couldn’t have come up with better aesthetics?!?! It’s like their CAD designer only had basic skills in making blocks and lines. At least Di2 and EPS (maybe not the EPS front der) look like they made an effort to make the groupset look nice.

  29. In the 2014 TDF, most teams were using electronic components. 4 teams were sponsored by SRAM, which went to the podium 18 times and took 1st 6 times. Shimano sponsored 11 teams, podiumed 31 times and took 1st 6 times. Campy sponsored 7 teams, which podiumed 23 times and took 1st 9 times. The top 5 finishers including Nibali, were all using electronic components. If anything, at that level, electronic components will give pro riders a definite edge. For mere mortals, maybe not so much. For SRAM, it’s a no brainer. If they want to be part of the conversation, it needs an electronic component group.

  30. No more internal cable routing and such would be amazing.. also Never having to fish a new der cable into a Sram Doubletap shifter would be welcome..
    Maybe a coach would write some baseline rules that the system would obey during training rides based on an assumed communication with a computer, HRM and Power meter… Just throwing that out there..

  31. Wireless? I can see it now. The cheats would be jamming those frequencies intermittently and in strategic points in the course. No amount of security, encryption and such will protect the signals from a good dose of radio waves.

  32. @ Arvi. Nibali did not use an electronic group-set to win the 2014 TDF. He was riding Super Record RS mechanical.

    A bicycle is a simple efficient machine. One of the great things about bicycles is that all you need to go riding on one is to make sure you have air in the tires.

    Call me old fashioned, but I for one do not need the added worries and complexity of electronic group-sets and I am grateful manufacturers are still improving the mechanical ones too.

  33. @Pistolero. Cycling has been the new golf for the past decade.

    I am personally excited for the technology, but with anything sram give it a couple of years so they can work out the kinks. Remember the Sram disc brake recall that happened last year?

  34. I have a number of coupled triples and tandems (Calfee, Lynskey, Litespeed), including tandems convertible to a single, with which I travel to Europe, NZ, Australia. Currently they all have Shimano DI2 internal wired electronic. Wireless is a big improvement because assembly of the frame will be much easier with no internal wires to connect before the S&S coupled frame parts are connected. Currently I run an 11/38 rear cassette (K edge long cage derailleur) to climb the major ascents in the Alps, Pyrenees and Dolomites. Hopefully Sram develops a long cage derailleur to accommodate say an 11/40, or if not I would expect K edge to do so. I will definitely be an early adopter.

  35. To those who doubt this is ready for market, I’m sure Sram is doing their homework this time. This will now be the 2nd season it’s been used by a pro team. (the disc brake problem was in the tooling, not the design of the calipers)

  36. I’m pretty excited about this as well. still curious how the shift logic will play out. Having the front derailleur shift governed by the rider pressing two buttons really seems lame to me. One of the nicer advantages to electronic shifting in general is the ergonomics. Needing two buttons to execute a shift is the opposite of ergonomic. Hopefully its programmable so can shift up through the various gear combinations without having to worry about shifting the front and rear independently.

  37. Interested to see if Shimano follows with wireless like they did with EPS and its press and hold feature.

    Been told that during the epoch long development cycle of Di2 they tried both the press and hold and wireless stuff. But settled on wired and single click. But went press and hold the following year.

    Would be fun to step inside the product development lab for Shimano and just see what the mad scientists are up to.

  38. Until SRAM figures out shift ramps/pins and makes some quality chainrings, Ill stick with Shimano. I can’t even begin to tell you about how many times I’ve installed new chainrings/chains/cassettes on SRAM equipped bikes and still experienced lack luster shifting. Right out of the box, DI2 doesn’t drop chains, even before limit screw adjustment. Wireless or not, SRAM is still playing catch up.

  39. @DUDESOSICK Yeah, your Di2 front shift doesn’t drop chains because it uses a step-down progression only possible with the use of a computer and a motor. If a derailleur is spring loaded, the plate just whips the chain sideways – there’s always a chance of derailing to the inside because of that.

    If you’re not having any luck with your Sram road groups (especially post 2013 design), try a new mechanic. To that end, if you’re doing the work yourself, it may be time to seek someone who has built a few hundred Sram bikes successfully. (We never develop the same skill in the home shop that a professional shop mechanic gains from turning the bolts on 1,000+ bikes per year. It just doesn’t happen.)

    If you set up Campy like it’s Shimano, it never works like Campy. Same with everything else. Every product has its specific needs in the set up and the mechanic needs to experience those differences in the set-up process several times over before they get the product dialed. If your shop has an aversion to Sram product, they may accept sub-standard function as a matter of course.

    If the mechanic doesn’t want something to work, it won’t.

  40. In regards to wireless advantages, one of the biggest ones I consider is realibility and simpler electromechanical design. Making and creating cable connections that are robust, waterproof and compact is difficult. hermetically sealing an electronic assembly is a simpler way of making something environment proof. Wireless signals pass easily through most plastics. Integrated chips with different wireless communication problems have been coming down in price and size, its easier to seal stuff by eliminating wires.

  41. I’d like to see one of these companies developing hub gears (14 gears like a Rolhoff should be enough). Imagine the aero advantage possible. No derailleurs disrupting the airflow, perfect chainline, two cogs and a chain so easy maintenance and easy to change ratio (swap one cog – new ratios), wider spaced hub flanges to build stronger wheels…it would need a fair bit of work to get the weight down to an acceptable amount, but the possibilities are there. Oh, and Shimano already has a Di2 Alfine hub…. 😉

  42. Thanks @craigsj

    I think @Chris. and @Brent are both right. Mechanical has its place and the beauty of cycling would be lost if every bike was electronic and wireless. Nevertheless, a wireless groupset has some real advantages – especially for travel bikes and tandems.

  43. I’m going to have to partially agree with @Ultracycle. You’re going to have to protect the frequency this transmits on as a jammer fit into a pocket or car could easily jack up someone’s day.

  44. Shimano has on battery to concern. SRAM has 4. I go with the on. Once the cables are attached and all internal, there is nothing left to do but charge on battery once every 1 o 2 months! Besides, Shimano quality is the best.

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