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
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.