We’ve heard & seen rumors of a wireless eTap version of SRAM’s 1×12 Eagle mountain bike drivetrain for months now. But the project seems confirmed now, thanks to an Instagram photo posted overnight by respected photographer Michal Červený of Nino Schurter’s bike ahead of the South African opening of the XC World Cup this weekend.

SRAM Blackbox Eagle eTap wireless derailleur prototype

SRAM Blackbox Eagle eTap Eagle Wireless prototype wireless mountain bike derailleur protoype photo by Michal Cerveny
via Instagram of Michal Červený

Červený got up close with Schurter’s 12-speed Blackbox Eagle eTap rear derailleur. The derailleur has an entirely new geometry vs. either current mechanical Eagle derailleurs or current eTap road designs. It tucks what looks like a standard eTap battery into a new skeletal upper link design. And it appears to also sandwich the actuator motor up there as well (vs. Red eTap which puts the motor on the lower link.) A machined outer parallelogram plate again supports that this is not yet a production part, with a small window letting some of the electronics peek out. Of course there are no wires to be seen, leaving the Scott frame with unused internal routing ports.

The prototype Eagle eTap derailleur gets a Blackbox logo over the lower P-knuckle, where we can see the standard SRAM cap over the Type3 Roller Bearing Clutch. As if the giant golden XG-1299 Eagle Tech 500% cassette didn’t confirm it, the prototype derailleur mount calls out ‘Eagle Technology”, and it uses the standard offset wide-gear-range pulley design.

The pulleys themselves are a new design, though. They look to use an overall wide profile that tapers to the narrower teeth vs. the current versions that are thin, but have wider protrusions on alternating teeth for chain retention. That could be a welcome change for real world usability, as I have seen the current version to collect debris and be more difficult to clean (although these dusty pulleys don’t promise a much cleaner solution). The outer cage looks to be quite similar, but not identical to X01, although that could be explained by it being a prototype vs. a final production part.

Wireless Eagle eTap trigger shifter

courtesy RedBull.tv

Update: Check out these screencaps of the new Eagle eTap trigger shifter, from RedBull.tv’s World Cup track preview with Nino & Andrew Neethling.

courtesy Scott Sports, photos by Jochen Haar

Next update: The SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing team just sent over some photos of the team Scott Spark RCs race bikes for this season. Of course, no driveside detail shots of Nino’s Eagle eTap equipped bike, but still a new & interesting perspective. Clearly SRAM isn’t trying to keep this under wraps any longer.

No longer just the realm of hacked together projects, it looks like a wide-ranging, wireless  Eagle eTap mountain bike drivetrain is in the development pipeline. And out in the real world getting race tested.

SRAM.com

75 COMMENTS

  1. Wireless mtn bike shifting is a nice option but I would love for SRAM to introduce a 12 speed Eagle cassette with a 10-42 or or 10-39 range for XC racing. My legs would welcome a tighter cluster without such large jumps in the gear ratios. Any other takers?

  2. SRAM, if you’re reading this, PLEEEEEAAAAASE let Red eTap levers pair up to this derailleur! It will be the ultimate upgrade to my current Force CX1 build!

    -Ed

    • Haha Ed, I was thinking the same thing but with a 10-42 gearing. 12 speed road and cross eTap cant be far from production now, and I have a a few cx and gravel bikes to build

  3. The new Rd XD driver supports 12 speed. I believe all you will need is a Firmware update via the eTap dongle to support 1x 12. Which will be ideal for gravel and cross.

  4. That won’t come cheap. Way back when I was a roadie the saying was “flesh heals, Campy doesn’t.” That expression needs an update.

    • I’m running a 3×11 on my hardtail, 700% range, without the huge jumps in gears. Q factor is the same, weighs a little more.

        • Although there is more overlap in gears, there is also the added advantage of retaining better chain line, reducing wear on both chainrings and chain. For the rider that likes riding more than just the weekend 10mile rides, this shows up as massive total cost reductions from less wear on components. Plus MUCH better chainslap control. Big plus if you like riding the rough stuff hard.

          There’s room to keep both around.
          I personally prefer 1x because of its simplicity. Although I do accept it has it’s own drawbacks like 2x and 3x

    • They are? As in pushing people to buy their 2x vs their available and for sale 1x options?

      Somehow, I am missing something as my 1x m8000 has a cassette perfect for my needs while being significantly cheaper than sram. Running m8000 crankset, the ability to run another chainring somehow hasn’t hurt its dedicated 1x use for me.

      Maybe I need wait a little bit until some Shimano goon jumps out of a bush and converts me back to 2x but so far I think this is unlikely to happen.

      • Most of my XC mountain biking is relatively easy marathon stuff, and I just switched to an XTR 9000 double setup, and it works great for me. I think SRAM’s 1x certainly has it’s place but I do think they’re trying to force the issue a bit. SRAM’s 2x shifting just isn’t great.

        • My comments was more in that Shimano provides one with valid extremely functional options of 1x, 2x, and 3x.
          Because they provide the option of 2x and 3x, people apparently think they don’t provide 1x drivetrains

          They may be lacking in very large cassette ranges and 10t cogs, but I think this is somewhat a paper argument for the vast majority of riders.

      • Thanks J bikes you hit the nail on the head. 1x Shimano systems are just as good as sram IMHO especially when you drill down to 11speed, you just get the ability to run a 2x with the same cranks if you want to. I don’t see How choice is a problem.

  5. Love the comments about gear ratio’s seems Nino just about manages with the jumps…
    Genuinely excited about this it makes all sorts of fun options doable, ie a clean SS frame so no cable for gears, drop bars with TRP brake level just acness.
    It’s just weird that Shimano is so behind with 1x I know they think the front mech is a thing but?

    • That’s great for Nino but I’m going out on a limb and guessing that the people commenting about the jumps aren’t Nino. I’m not and I don’t like the jumps but hopefully my opinion is invalid because a GOAT level guy doesn’t have an issue with it.

      Also, fwiw, I have 2x di2 on my marathon bikes and LOVE it. Shifts super fast and reliable as f#ck. Hopefully for the people who buy this, the mtb version (or perhaps the second generation?) shifts faster. My limited time on road eTap was underwhelming to say the least. Seemed like it’d be fine for recreational riders but not serious racer types. ymmv

      • underwhelming how? was it not fast? crisp and precise? it should have been glorious unless it failed to do something you really needed it to or wasn’t set up right. Also, several Pro Tour teams using eTap since launch back in 2016…sigh.

        • It is slow, I’d agree with the OP Red is a premier group-set which puts it in the emotion bucket for buyers and not logic. Personally I’d have a hard time spending “best of what’s available” money for something that shifts slower than 105 at a minimum it needs to shift at the speed of Di2 or EPS, I know at the end of the day this won’t effect race day performance (much like you’re ultra light Red cassette) but its a hard justification emotionally for dream bike buyers.

          • Crash, I don’t understand complaining about eTap shift speed and then recognizing that slower-than-Di2 shifting won’t effect race day performance? I guess lawyers and doctors doing 2 hour Saturday morning coffee rides on their $10K eTap-equipped Pinarellos need to have something to complain about.

            I’ve ridden and raced eTap for the past 18 months (about 12,000 miles) and have not experienced a single time when a millisecond faster shift would have had a profound affect on my performance. During that time, I also have not had a single mis-shift either up/down the cassette or big/small chainring. Precise shifting > faster shifting always.

            • Just to chime in here a second… the slower Red eTap shift results in the shifters waiting to see if a front shift is being activated. A 1x eTap system should in theory eliminate that tiny lag. Ponder that Eagle eTap will likely shifter quicker than on the road…

            • Missing the point slightly, there is a different emotional mindset with top tier groupset buyers which is why people buy Mechanical Dura Ace when 105 and Ultegra and UDi2 shift just as well at a fraction of the price.

              I’m not one of these buyers but have seen them balk at the difference in shift speeds between Di2, EPS, and Etap, my reference to the cassette had more to do with the fact that none of this reflects in race day performance I’d gather the difference in actual race day performance in between 105, Rival, Dura-Ace, and Red Etap or any other combo of 11 speed groupsets is imperceptible. Ride whatever you want I don’t think there is an inverse relationship between shift speed and precision as evident by the performance of other electronic shifting systems on the market so I wonder why Sram couldn’t engineer a faster shifting group.

    • In my experience racing, bigger jumps are better because you get to the right gear quicker with fewer shifts when the terrain changes. I’m on a 10-44 cassette and I almost always shift 2 or 3 gears at a time when racing enduro or XC. I’d love to have a 6 gear system: steep up, up, flat up, flat down, down, steep down. I might try the 46-9 trs 11sp.

      X01 7sp DH cassette was a result of Gwinn asking for bigger jumps between gears for DH racing too.

      • I think the trs 9-46 cassette is one of the best out there. nearly as light as the fancy sram cassettes with a wider gear range than eagle. Plus the option to switch out the low end cluster. I’ve been loving my so far

    • Yeah, cause your average mtb’er puts our Nino FTP levels, VO2 #’s, peak power and similar effort recovery times, therefore Nino and other pro riders gear selection directly applies to the guy that rides casually for fun 2-3x week for total of maybe 4-6 hours.

      • Triathlete logic “I don’t have pro level ftp, v02 #’s, peak power, and similar effort recovery times consequently I NEED $750 derailleur pulleys to maximize the power I do have”. (Sarcasm people)

  6. Can’t wait for eTap technology to trickle down a few levels and be affordable for us mortals!…. maybe in 10-15 years 😛

  7. I enjoyed the implication that those who don’t find the “jumps” in the cassette annoying or insurmountable are closer in skill set to Nino than they are to those who are challenged by the “jumps”. I really like the cassette the way it is. Look out Olympics. IMHO.

    • Because of what you sacrifice on the top end. A 1X with a 22:32 low gear gives about a 2:1 top gear, while a 10-50 with the same low end would use a 34 tooth ring and a 3.4:1 top gear, much faster.

      We want to keep the cogs as big as manageable for smoothness. We aren’t likely to see cogs or pulleys smaller than 9 teeth because shapes with fewer sides are terrible wheels.

  8. Well guys consider that Nino rocks a 38t front ring and is running 27.5 tires. His perfect record from last season suggest it works pretty good. I roll on a 34t or 36t on a 29er and find I use the 50 often enough. It also works better then my XTR combo. 11-40 1x . I welcome the new wireless tech. Wires need to go away on bikes! SRAM for the win.

      • He’s been on a 29er since April or May of 2016, before the Olympics. He switched and raced a 29er at the World Cup in France in 2016 and has not been back on a 27.5 since then in competition.

  9. The pulleys aren’t exclusive to this etap rear derailleur, the latest xo1/xx1 derailleurs have this new style as well.

  10. The story directly following this one is about the new Shimano altus and acera. This is the new reality. SRAM rocks! Shimano sucks!

  11. i love my 500% personally. just use a bigger front ring if you never use the 50t, or use a regular xx1 10-42t cassette.. your derailleur wont let you over shift anyway. but heck, you might as well save money and use a 11s shifter anyway.

  12. An article on a potentially great new tech trickle-down to mtbs turns into another debate on 1X.

    Can NOBODY manage to work press fit BBs into the conversation?!

  13. Biggest heaviest deraileur since the dawn of time?
    Hard pass.
    I saw one of those 50t cassettes the other day, and well, all i can say is, i’m all for innovation, but this looks like an amphetamine addict took the idea of “bigger is better” to a new level.

    • I use think that the 42T looked big, but now it looks entirely normal…and kinda small. People use to think sloping top tubes on road bikes were odd looking and something to be debated. People don’t even notice it anymore. Actually, horizontal top tubes look almost out of place and retro. Point being, our paradigm of what a bike “should” look like is always evolving and what is odd or weird becomes normal. And it goes beyond looks.

      Back on topic, this offering from is awesome and I’ve been waiting for it since the wireless road group came out. I hope they are working on a wireless dropper that has no lag.

  14. why chain tension spring isn’t replaced by something electronically controlled?
    Instead of putting a lot tension on chain all the time,
    Just allow the move easily when gear shifting. Then completely lock the cage movement when we don’t shift. With completely locked position instead of spring tensioned, the chain tension doesn’t have to be high to prevent chain slap too.

      • nah, it’ll for

        having no chain slap at all as the cage was locked in place electronically. Think about single speed bike, there is no chain slap even with minimal to no chain tension.
        Low(er) chain tension also means (tiny tiny bit) better drive train efficiency.

  15. 500€ rear derailleur banged to trash in a regular crash. As we ride faster on harder trails, our bikes will suffer more. So cheers to anyone who uses a super expensive rear derailleur!

    • Agreed an XTR di2 rear derailleur can be found online new for less than $400 and a XT di2 variant is <$250 if you race or push things to the limit then its very difficult to justify etap. I know for the road its even more drastic, a 8050 rear derailleur is less than $200 whereas a Red Etap rear is nearly $700, not something I'll be using during a road race season, shifters (most likely to break in a crash) there is a $280 difference between di2 (granted 8050) and eTap.

  16. I love “bike parts comments”.
    They are the exact opposite of political comments. All you people are awesome (58 so far ).

  17. Just switched to XX1 11 on a fullsuspension and still run a 2×10 XTR on hardtail. 34/42 is quite hard on training rides in my region. Gearing differences of the 11 cassette are noticeably bigger than with 2x. The friction due to lesser teeth when using the 10 T is also an issue even with a brandnew chain and cassette. I´d say the 2x is still better for an experienced rider in hilly regions / races.
    Chain suck of 2x is a significant disadvantage!! Maybe Di2 helps as many users say. I use mech XTR and seldom have to deal with chainsucking in races.
    I believe a 36 front + 10-50 would give me all I might ever need (still having huge gearing jumps, high prices etc.)
    eTap (as well as DI2) really improves bike tech. Wireless is way better than Di2 today!
    Regarding pro´s (and their “choices”): they have to use what the sponsors dictate. They do not have a choice if being SRAM sponsored. Di2 sponsored pros do have a choice (see Shimano marketing videos).
    Matthieu has to use 2x in cyclocross and used 1x in Stellenbosch (the latter might be his own choice). Besides that it is useless to compare oneself (an amateur) with a pro and his “choices” in 1.3 h races.
    Erdnah

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