In March we got a sneak peak of a prototype wireless eTap mountain bike groupset raced by World Champ Nino Schurter. But today in Albstadt at the second XC World Cup we spotted a production-ready version of the SRAM eTap Eagle drivetrain, and got a close-up look at the unique shifter, on the bike of women’s U23 WC leader Malene Degn of the Ghost Factory Racing team…

SRAM XX1 Eagle eTap wireless mountain bike drivetrain

Having a look in the Ghost Factory Racing Team tent we spotted the current U23 Women’s World Cup leader’s bike resting after a few practice laps on the steep & slippery Albstadt course. Outfitted with what looked like a standard black XX1 Eagle groupset, the lack of a derailleur cable clued us in to something unique.

Looking closely this derailleur is more refined than the machined aluminum one that Nino was spotted riding back at the World Cup opener. The black finish looks more like a typical XX1 component, with forgings replacing CNC’ed parts. The clutch mechanism in the lower P-knuckle also gets what appears to be a composite cover to protect the sensitive bits. And gone are any remnants of Blackbox logos, suggesting that this might just be waiting for final graphics.

Having a look at Degn’s bike, another clue was the lack of a shifter. It seems SRAM was keeping the shifter under close control, not wanting too many people to see it yet. But, lucky for us (and you readers), you can’t race without a shifter. (OK, we did joke with team mechanics that they could just chase along and shift the bike for their racer with a smartphone. But in all seriousness…)

Warming up with SRAM XX1 eTap Eagle for World Cup XCO racing

We caught up with Malene Degn just before the start of her race on Sunday morning, and got a more detailed look at the upcoming drivetrain.

From the back we can see that it clearly uses a standard eTap battery pack. The inner & lower parts of the cage looks similar to current XX1. But like we saw back in March the overall cage shaping in all new, in addition to a new pulley design.

SRAM XX1 Eagle eTap wireless mountain bike paddle shifter

Possibly the biggest news here is that shifter SRAM was kind of keeping out of the public eye. Besides just trying to keep the new group on the down low, there are a couple more reasons this was hush-hush…

Looking at that paddle shifter we see what looks like a finished production part, complete with Eagle logos. Of course the shifter is Matchmaker compatible, which makes it light weight, adjustable, and easy for the Ghost team mechanics to pop off.

What is also interesting is that the large single paddle is shifted with one thumb by either pushing up or down on the shaped paddle that moves on a single rocker-type pivot in its middle, or…

From the front we can see a bit of that rocking pivot (the shiny black part in the middle above.) And we see that the paddle extends to the front so it can be shifted with the index finger. Oh and of course that it is powered by a CR2032 coin cell battery, and is not rechargeable as was previously thought.

So why was Degn the one to have the first go on this new drivetrain? Well the Ghost Factory Racing team has some undeniable talent for sure. Warming up, you are reminded that the Danish woman who won the first World Cup also sits next to U23 World Champ Sina Frei on the team. Maybe SRAM thought Degn would keep the new group out of the spotlight, which isn’t really working out with her excellent results this season.

Here in Abstadt Frei took the second round World Cup win, and that new eTap Eagle groupset seemed to work out well for Degn who rounded out the podium in third place after Evie Richards racing for Trek.

So what’s the timing for an official release of the new SRAM XX1 eTap Eagle groupset? We’ve asked around and everyone is super tight-lipped. There are rumors of new mountain bike groupsets being released within the next week or so. Maybe even in time for next week’s XC World Cup in Nové Město?! Until then we will all just have to wait and see.

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50 COMMENTS

  1. Once again I will laugh at the choir of etap believers. Etap rhymes with crap. Don’t get fooled by paid reviewers, it far less capable than di2 or EPS. No wonder why in road racing, pro teams turn Sram sponsorship down and buy di2 groupset instead. Etap shifting is not as crisp as di2 or EPS nor it is reliable, etap shifts slower, the batteries are not secured enough when riding on cobbles -you’re forced to duct tape the battery-.

    The “wireless” aspect of the etap is pure marketing. Shimano and Campagnolo stick to fly-by-wire, because unless prove otherwise, it is a better solution. Airbus or Boeing are not ditching the fly-by-wire anytime soon for a wireless solution.

    • Tethered aviation is kite… Airbus and Boeing have been wireless for years.

      Likewise, I assume you own a phone with a cord.

    • I’ll second the thought that wireless shifting is marketing only. There’s no practical reason to switch away from modular wiring. Routing wires is not hard. It can be done poorly, but so can anything else. Until brakes become wireless(fat chance that realistically happening), the vanity of “there’s too many cables” holds no water. All the arguments in favor of wireless shifting fall squarely into a well defined fallacy.

      The reliability, consistency, and security of a wired system can’t be beat. I won’t say wireless can’t be done well, but it’s a telltale sign that you’ve run out of ideas when you resort to gimmicks being sold as features. Wireless–from the same team that brought us repeated brake recalls, and who continually fail at front derailleur design.

      • I wonder if you watched any of the Spring road racing classics? There were several crashes where you could see the rider frantically trying to reconnect wire on the rear derailleur of their Di2 system.

        • It looks like you don’t know what you’re talking about. I wrenched for continental pro team. Di2 is by far, the most reliable drive-train solution out there.

          The only downside of di2, was that it had light action switches. Was, because the 9150 and 8050 have moved away from those switches.

      • I’d rather have a company acknowledge an issue with their brakes and make an effort to fix them, rather than keep selling the same fundamentally flawed design year after year with no attempt to address the obvious and well-understood issues (cough shimano cough)

    • Comparing Airbus and Boeing to a bicycle drivetrain is ridiculous. Commercial aircraft control systems are among the most overbuilt, redundant systems in the world. For obvious reasons. And they exist in a harsh environment surrounded by potential powerful RF interference. Bikes, not so much. Wireless works now, and it is the future. There are compromises with any system, wireless trades one set for another, and the engineers figure out how to minimize them. Considering that there is a system on the market now from a small component maker, the Archer Components D1x, that is fully wireless and has excellent wireless function, SRAM should be able to get it right, too.

      • What about a big no? Archer or Ecrap shift like a cable actuated rear mech. Nothing change at all in the derailleur motions.

        Any pro mechanic with a long time experience with both di2 and eps knows that. Try to index an etrap groupset around a worn out cassette. It won’t work, just like it won’t work with a classic drive-train. Now try with di2 or eps, all of a sudden you can.

        Etap is just another scam from Sram. They should go back to work and try to make it shift as well as di2 or eps.

        Pro road racers hate Sram, so are race mechanics. Maybe there is a reason for that? How many teams have walked away from Sram because of their poor designs? Loads … unless you’re begging for money like the Aqua blue guys or Sram is the title sponsor of your squad.

        I was given a free Red22 and Red22 Etap drivetrain through work. And I chose to buy a di2 with my own money.

        • You seem to know a lot about a system nobody has seen yet other than in a few pictures. I agree that Di2 is an excellent performing system. I wish it were wireless, I have played with the Archer system and if Di2 were more like it I would be running it on my bike. I am sure the Di2 rear derailleur works better than a servo tugging on a traditional derailleur, but the flawless wireless connectivity and versatile programming features make the Archer system impressive for what it is. So I am hoping that SRAM can raise the bar with a good wireless system. Maybe that will push Shimano to release a simpler wireless option for XTR Di2.

  2. That new pulley is the current gen of pulley. If you get replacements from sram you will get those. IMO they are needed. The old pulleys were garbage.

    • On the contrary. Sram is about to loose a fair share of the market with all the OEM awaiting for the upcoming XTR 12sp 91×0. 30% cheaper than XX1 Eagle, way more reliable, 10-45 and 10-51T cassettes, direct mount chainring, a new freehub standard -the Hyperglide Plus- replacing the 25yo HG8.

      And that’s only the first shot. Because when the XT 81×0 12sp will be announced in 2019, Sram will have hard time selling its unreliable GX eagle -plagued with so many gremlins-.

      • Paid reviewers, eh? I’ve been absolutely hammering a GX Eagle system for months now and have only nice things to say. Shifting’s equally as good as my XT Shadow+.

      • XTR and Dura Ace are an infinitesimally small segment of the OEM market. Same goes for Red and Eagle. Neither company is primarily with high end OEM stuff, because there’s not a lot of profit in it.

      • @Razorback the new freehub standard from Shimano is going to be met with plenty of well-deserved resistance. Shimano is becoming irrelevant in the MTB sector for good reason. Anything below an XTR shifter feels like a brittle piece of plastic, and the brakes are an absolute liability. Think what you will about SRAM, but I appreciate a company that actually understands what mountain bikers want, instead of forcing the same stale and out-dated products into the market year after year.

        • My XT 11sp feels just as nice as my buddy’s GX Eagle, it cost less and shifts better. Plus this weekend at PA Mudfest he had a couple of chain drops and I never had one. Frankly I’d rather have the XT since I can upshift two cogs at once instead of one, I can push or pull the small trigger and I can replace a cogset for about half of what he can. Plus I’d rather have the XT crank over his SRAM gxp unit since the pinch bolt attachment is superior in nearly every way to the GXP 40Nm crush it on, method.

        • “Anything below XTR feels like a brittle piece of plastic”, really? I’ve had 2x10XT (brakes and shifters) on my MTB since 2013 with zero issues, 2×10 SLX on my commuter since 2014 with zero issues. I don’t hate SRAM like others seem to (had 3×9 SRAM X9 and Avid Juicy brakes on my previous bike which was also trouble free), but your criticism reads like you have gone off the deep end in the Kool-aid pool.

        • @Eric E. Strava

          A company that understands what mtbikers want really? More of a company that forces people to go 1 by. One by, two by, three by … I don’t care I want people to have the choice.

          In typical Sram fashion they go full on when it comes to marketing, something they’re brilliant at.

          Saying that all but XTR shifters work like crap from the Shimano range shows that you’re just a end user. The XT shifters are a bargain.

          @Dylan

          S has gone south at Sram with the last batch of the 3×9 X9, for years it was okay, then all of the sudden the rear mech were plagued with issues -pulleys issues, pivots were not working like they should-.

          And the Avid Juicy, well … they were design by Avid before Sram came in. The Juicy 7 was the result of Avid and Formula working together. It was made by Formula at first, then Sram came in and moved the production to Asia. That’s the origin of the bad reputation for Avid/Sram brakes.

          • Hey Razor, could u send me the etrap garbage? 😉
            In aviation, the “triple” redundancy is mandated by the regulations.
            Without it, the industry would have gone “wireless” a long time ago, cause it saves weight&money. Less safe though.

            Greetings from a 737 pilot

      • Sorry to break (brake?) your brains, but the hose is just cropped off the top of the image. It extends out inline with the Level LTD graphics via the matte black rubber cover on the lever before you get the hose.

  3. Surprised no one has pointed out already that Nino Shurter dropped out of the World Cup short track race because his drivetrain stopped working immediately. Good sign me thinks.

    • In effort of giving complete information it’s worth pointing out that he did not drop out of the cross country race today, which he won starting multiple rows back. Good sign, me thinks.

      Also Degn seems to have placed well in the U23 race.

      Small sample size is small sample size. The stuff probably works pretty darn well, otherwise it wouldn’t be out there. You can doubt the necessity of going wireless, and even not like it, but to say it completely doesn’t work or is utter crap is somewhat flawed.

      • I didn’t say anything like that it is complete crap. Obviously Shurter wouldn’t use it if it was. I’m sure it does work pretty darn well. But, on the other hand he has a full time mechanic to keep it working and therefore it should work 100% of the time. But to me it seems like a solution looking for a problem. I’m sure it’s extremely hard to engineer electronics that are going to keep working given the abuse they see MTBing. If only we could just use a simple metal cable instead.

        • Is it though? Modern electronics are very robust. Speed and cadence sensors and GPS bike computers are very reliable. Smart phones and watches take a beating and plenty of people ride around with them strapped to the bike or shoved in their packs. Di2 XTR is very reliable, adding a tiny BLE radio seems like it has the potential to be more reliable than all those little cables and connectors. From my limited exposure to Di2, the cables seem to be the least robust part of it, although the entire system seems to be more than reliable enough to run in place of traditional systems. There is already a wireless system on the market designed for mountain bikes, the Archer Components D1x system, and it has been entirely reliable and consistent in my use. The guys who built it have a fraction of the resources available to SRAM. It’s not quite a game changer, but once you setup and ride a bike with a wireless drivetrain you realize that you don’t want to go back to needing that longest cable on the bike.

  4. In 2018, with all info and reports available-anybody talking well about sram-has to be either green behind the ears or paid by sram.

    They do have the best marketing department. They do sell inferior product to Campagnolo and Shimano. Road teams refuse to work with them for a reason.
    Sram is covering Schurter with money. He does not run the same stuff available to public… He almost lost the race for malfunction of the etap. This malfunction happened while the best sram techs are there, setting up his derailer…
    They can’t get stuff to work right, road etap is still BETA… lol but they know how to get reviews$

    • That’s why racing is a great thing, it forces improvements or provides merciless shame. All high level racing is like this, even Formula 1 teams go from a bad joke to world champions in cycles and hopefully SRAM will respond to the challenge. I am an XTR guy to the bone but I don’t want anybody resting on their laurels, ever, because the improvements eventually get to all of our gear.

  5. Love it. That means wireless 12-speed road groups can’t be too far away. LOVE the idea of wireless transmission, have ridden on bikes that have both and prefer the cleanliness of wireless. No drilling holes, ports, etc. Can’t wait

  6. Maybe I am naive, but what is point of wireless, or even electronic on a 1X setup? I got Di2 for my road and mountain bikes to take advantage of the huge gear ranges (with double) and snycro-shifting, along with the great front derailleur trimming feature.

    On a 1X, most modern cable rear derailleurs work like a champ and shift perfectly. I have a 1X setup and 2X setup and my 1X works great with my XT shifting. Yes, there is some cable pull, but once dialed in, it works perfectly. Its up or down…why bother with something that works as good as electronic? The button push on the XTR shifters is the same amount of travel I feel like as the cable shifters, so I am not gaining much here

    Am I missing something?

  7. Woh….I’m more surprised about all the negative comments that some readers have about SRAM than the spy shots of this new SRAM group. I’m riding since a while with GX Eagle and Red Etap and used Di2 as well for some months. I’m super happy with the performance of both groups. To be honest the reaction from Razorbake is way to negative which give me more the impression he/she works for the blue company. I think we should always be grateful and happy to have 3 major players in drivetrain and also that we have RockShox and Fox. Competition between those brand is good and healthy and at the end the consumer can decide what to do.
    Let’s get back to the topic about this cool new product! Look forward to the final design and first tests by media and users.

    • Campagnolo and Shimano knows a thing or two when it comes to drivetrain. Sram well, that’s just Sachs with a different name and a better marketing. Same bad design, same lack of reliability.

      Explain to me why we send back loads of GX Eagle to warranty, just straight out of the box? It only happens with Sram. GX and NX are the worst. Sram markets the GX in front of the XT: what a joke. How many brand new XT rear mech out from the box did I send back to warranty? NONE.

      What about the Pulleys? The GX Eagle is plagued with pulleys issues. But no problem, the customer service has your back.

      What about the Sram Dub Standard? Another joke, another useless standard. Campagnolo or Shimano both have better crankset design and bottom bracket. No need for a 29mm aluminium spindle, Campy and Shimano prove it.

      It’s funny that some sees Sram as the underdog. Sram is still a joke for the industry. They try to act like they are, but the industry follows Shimano when it comes to standards. The upcoming Hyperglide+ fixes all the shit that came with the badly design XD. XD stresses the outer bearings way way too much. And XD cassettes are too expensive to make. Maybe there is a reason why Campa and Shimano use a cassette lockring … But no, Sram they know better. I’ve seen and dealt with enough smashed/worn out XD lockring to welcome the Hyperglide+.

      • You really are too negative and waaaaaaay too emotional about this topic to not have a dog in the fight. Just stop it. You don’t like SRAM…we get it. But you’re throwing these numbers about SRAM returns and failures around like you actually have a realistic sample size and you don’t. I’ve used both Shimano and SRAM for years and have loved both. Been running eTap on my road bike for 6 months and it is AWESOME and not one problem.
        I will be going with Eagle eTap AS SOON AS IT IS RELEASED!
        The other reviewers are right, the more competition there is the more improved products become and the more we all win. Yes, SRAM is the youngest of the Big 3 but that doesn’t mean it’s inherently bad like you desperately keep trying to convince us of.
        Why are you even reading an article about a new SRAM product you clearly think the company is a “joke”?
        You want to ride Shimano and hate on SRAM, fine, but get off your rant about SRAM.
        You’re high jacking this thread and we don’t need your continued negativity over and over and over replying to every comment. Honestly you seem a bit unstable.

      • You have had to warranty more SRAM components out of the box? Maybe you’re not a very skilled technician and you let your unbridled hatred and bias overtake your mediocre skills.

        In my shop, your negativity wouldn’t have gotten you past the first interview.
        My technicians have been trained by SRAM and Shimano which makes them very adept at diagnosing and correcting issues with either.

        We have experienced issues with both companies. Last year there was an issue with Guide brakes with sticking levers. This year Shimano brakes have had several problems. By working with both of these companies and not jumping on the hate bandwagon, more is accomplished and remedied.

        Both companies make very good performing and reliable products, both companies can make mistakes, both companies have made mistakes. I am fine running either and really don’t have a preference.

        Maybe you should work on those anger issues and not spew such poison every time a company you don’t like tries to innovate and brings something new to the table.
        Because you are not adding anything useful to the conversation.

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