After getting a detailed sneak peek of the upcoming SRAM Red eTap 12-speed groupset raced on the road in Japan, we wanted to see how it would differ racing cross. So back in Europe, we chased down the World Cup race bike of CX World Champ Wout van Aert. After his contentious split from his Vérandas Willems–Crelan team earlier in this season, van Aert stayed riding the Stevens Super Prestige cross bike of his previous sponsor, but left that team’s Shimano Di2 drivetrain to try is testing out the latest and greatest SRAM wireless prototypes.

Stevens Super Prestige Disc carbon cyclocross race bike of WvA

SRAM Red eTap 12-speed CX 1x 1x12 cross prototype groupset - Wout van Aert 2018 World Champion Stevens Super Prestige disc carbon cyclocross bike UCI World Cup Tabor, Czech Republic

The bike that Wout van Aert is racing for World Cup cyclocross is the 2018 Stevens Super Prestige Disc carbon cross bike. You may have noticed the same bike grace our pages a couple of times last week, as we are using it as a CX test mule for a number of detailed cross component reviews – like the Rotor 2INpower power meter cranks & UNO groupset and Duke Baccara 35T carbon tubular wheels.

SRAM Red eTap 12-speed CX 1x 1x12 cross prototype groupset - Wout van Aert 2018 World Champion Stevens Super Prestige disc carbon cyclocross bike UCI World Cup Tabor, Czech Republic

Wout started racing this weekend on one of his custom sparkly rainbow edition bikes, but finished on one with a stock paint job (even though cleaning bikes wasn’t a concern on the mostly frozen & dry Tábor parcours). Both of these two main bikes though, were built up with a new SRAM Red eTap 12-speed groupset. Details of the build were similar – but not identical to the road bike Nils Politt rode at the Saitama Crit a couple of weeks back – most notably a 1x setup & a different Quarq power meter prototype.

SRAM Red eTap 12-speed CX 1x 1x12 cross prototype groupset - Wout van Aert 2018 World Champion Stevens Super Prestige disc carbon cyclocross bike UCI World Cup Tabor, Czech Republic

While cyclocross can be a bit more open with the top pros with several spare bikes in the pit, van Aert’s support team kept a tight leash on the new Red eTap 12-speed prototypes. And it looked like they didn’t have a lot of spare groupsets, with two more custom painted bikes still built up with the current 2×11 Red eTap groups.

2019 SRAM Red eTap 12-speed wireless 1x cyclocross groupset prototype

SRAM Red eTap 12-speed CX 1x 1x12 cross prototype groupset - Wout van Aert 2018 World Champion Stevens Super Prestige disc carbon cyclocross bike UCI World Cup Tabor, Czech RepublicWhile the core components of van Aert’s prototype SRAM Red eTap groupset look mostly the same as what we saw raced on the road in Japan, there is one key difference – this bike is a 1x, single chainring setup, with what appears to be the same rear derailleur.

That same directional chain is here again, as is the mostly one-piece machined steel cassette with its large step alloy big cog for 12 speed options.

SRAM Red eTap 12-speed CX 1x 1x12 cross prototype groupset - Wout van Aert 2018 World Champion Stevens Super Prestige disc carbon cyclocross bike UCI World Cup Tabor, Czech RepublicThe wireless rear derailleur looks identical to what we saw on the road. It does not have a longer cage. It does not have prominent narrow-wide teeth on its pulleys. And it does not have a larger knuckle housing a mountain bike-style clutch. Watching the bike bounce around on course though, something obviously was providing chain tension. (And only the rainbow sparkle bike had a high direct mount chain guide.)

SRAM Red eTap 12-speed CX 1x 1x12 cross prototype groupset - Wout van Aert 2018 World Champion Stevens Super Prestige disc carbon cyclocross bike UCI World Cup Tabor, Czech Republic

While we saw Di2 setup chains arcing up and down, every photo I took of this new group the chain was taut. So like I suspected two weeks ago, the large housing around the pivot  where the derailleur body & cage are connected, likely houses some form of tensioning device.

SRAM Red eTap 12-speed CX 1x 1x12 cross prototype groupset - Wout van Aert 2018 World Champion Stevens Super Prestige disc carbon cyclocross bike UCI World Cup Tabor, Czech RepublicAs for the crankset, again we see an unmarked Quarq power meter. In fact, these carbon arms (likely to get Red branding) even have the same black tape masking their most likely finished graphics, and a DUB bottom bracket interface. But the connection to the ring is much different. While the road prototype used a one-piece machined direct mount double chainring, here van Aert has a crankset with what looks like a 4-bolt spider and a single ring.

The four bolt setup would already be a departure for SRAM, but it looks like these cranks may still share the original direct mount interface between the crank arm and the spider?

Why would they do that?

Perhaps since cyclocross racers need to change gear ratios more quickly, this new design would allow van Aert’s mechanics to unbolt the ring, rotate it about 10°, and remove it without pulling the crank. That may also save them from having to re-calibrate the power meter, something they would definitely have to do if they pulled the crank arm to swap direct mount single chainrings.

SRAM Red eTap 12-speed CX 1x 1x12 cross prototype groupset - Wout van Aert 2018 World Champion Stevens Super Prestige disc carbon cyclocross bike UCI World Cup Tabor, Czech RepublicThe levers are the same as we saw before, with the little added grip texture on the shift paddle. On second look, I also realize that these new levers differ a bit more from the current Red eTap HRD Shift-Brake Control levers in that the shift paddle sits a bit further back from the front of the lever. And the carbon brake lever blade itself does not get cutout to allow overlap between brake and shift controls. Together with the updated texture, that should offer a bigger, easier button to activate shifts.

It is of course interesting (but unsurprising) to note that van Aert’s single ring setup uses the same single left, single right shift button layout to shift.

SRAM Red eTap 12-speed CX 1x 1x12 cross prototype groupset - Wout van Aert 2018 World Champion Stevens Super Prestige disc carbon cyclocross bike UCI World Cup Tabor, Czech Republic

Van Aert’s 1x prototype shifters, derailleur, chain & cassette all appear identical to the road double prototypes we saw earlier this month. Only his power meter crankset is really different. Does that suggest that the new group is coming ever sooner, or just that it might be versatile for road, gravel & cyclocross once it is available? The fact that only one rider at the CX World Cup was riding the new components (and only one rider at the Japanese crit) suggests we will have to wait quite a while until there is any hopes of consumer availability.

But at least now we know that the upcoming SRAM Red eTap 12 groupset can be run as either a road double or cyclocross 1x setup. Now we just have to wait for more official details from SRAM itself.

SRAM.com

33 COMMENTS

  1. Actually Wout has been a sram rider for several seasons and his old road team are also a sram team. All 3 of wouts world championship wins have been on sram. Almost sure he has never used di2 in his pro career.

  2. Hope there will be 12 mechanical next year, if possible in medium range drivetrain like rival with well thought cassettes. After all eagle had a medium range at launch we can dream.

  3. “but left that team’s Shimano Di2 drivetrain” say what?? :-))) weird you wrote that thingy… like why?? :-))) any photo you search with Wout you find him with Sram…

  4. “While we saw Di2 setup chains arcing up and down, every photo I took of this new group the chain was taut.” – yeah, cause he never stops putting power through the chain!
    (seriously though it’ll be interesting to see if it’s their different derailleur geometry/architecture or something else).

      • Editor’s Note: While we are like 92% sure that he is on the site everyday, we cannot independently verify if that comment is 100% from Wout. I mean it could be, right?

        • If Van Aert didn’t really know who Powers is, and was too thick or lazy to do a quick Google search (which would involve less typing than was used for that comment) and was a little mean-spirited, then it could be him.

          • Yeah, that’s really not van Aert (you can tell by the capital V), but rather a tongue-in-cheek American. Wout does in fact know JPows.

      • The cassette appears to be different to the road cassette, with fewer 1T gaps and bigger jumps at the bottom end. The road one looks like 10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,19,21,24,28 while this looks more like 10,11,12,13,14,15,17,19,21,24,28,34 or similar. I guess we’ll all find out sooner or later…

  5. Give me one good reason other than to make SRAM more money that the clutch rear D shouldn’t be compatible with 11speed e-tap shifters.

    • Good point. Did Shimano make Di2 forward compatible when they went from 10s to 11s? It would also be good if the Eagle R/D were compatible for the gravel/ADV guys.

  6. “That may also save them from having to re-calibrate the power meter, something they would definitely have to do if they pulled the crank arm to swap direct mount single chainrings.”
    Wrong.
    You can currently pull the spiders off arms, swap arm length and rings. All you have to do is a calibrate zero whatever it is on your head unit.

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