The new SRAM AXS family launches today with an all-new RED eTap AXS 12-speed group, the new Eagle AXS wireless mountain bike shifting, a Rockshox Reverb AXS with wireless remote, and an app that ties it all together. It’s a comprehensive relaunch and massive upgrade of the original eTap concept, and it’s the future of their top-tier bicycle components across all of their brands. We’re covering each of the new groups and products separately. Here, we’ll cover the AXS concept that will define future product development at SRAM.

AXS the future

what is sram axs wireless shifting for eTap road bikes and Eagle AXS mountain bikes
Photos courtesy of SRAM.

Internally, SRAM’s stated goal is to be the leader in connected components. When they first started down the path of electronic drivetrains, they quickly realized how much they didn’t know. But they saw the potential. They saw a lot of opportunities to connect different components on a bike to make things work in new and better ways.

They actually started working on electronic shifting for mountain bikes more than 5 years ago. Then the Eagle project came along and pulled most of their attention away for a bit. Which was a good thing for them, because by some estimates they now own more than 70% of the OEM market for MTB drivetrains. But they worked on it when they could, then dove back in full speed once the Eagle family was complete.

But it grew. They saw electronics as a way to control more things. Like their Reverb dropper seatpost, which means no more cables and hoses, and drastically fewer frame restrictions for routing those cables and hoses. It’s likely they also saw what the competition was doing and knew they had to be better. That meant quicker response times, improved ergonomics and controls, and unquestionable reliability. The last thing they want is something to fail or suffer another recall.

So, all hands were called on deck, pulling people from every office and every department. They have eight distinct offices around the world (five in the US, plus Portugal, Germany and Taiwan), and all of them were involved.

So, what is SRAM eTap AXS?

mix and match SRAM eTap AXS components to create a bike with road and mountain bike shifters and derailleurs
Create your own monstercross bike by mixing AXS drop-bar shifters with their AXS mountain bike cassette and derailleur…and a wireless dropper post.

Technically, it’s just AXS. The “eTap” moniker refers only to electronic road shifting. AXS (pronounced as “access”) describes the wireless protocol that will unite components from drivetrain, suspension and potentially power, wheels and more in the future. Anything that’s labeled AXS will work together, so you can mix and match road and mountain bike AXS parts to create whatever type of bike you want.

AXS is there to let the rider do three things: Control, personalize and monitor the performance of their bikes.

The “control” part is, well, the controls. They give you shifting and dropper seatpost controls without cables, wires, hoses, friction or maintenance. The “personalize” part is that you can customize the controls to work the way you want. There are a lot of options, but the app has built in protections to keep you from creating a button arrangement that won’t let you do important things. Like, you know, shift.

how does SRAM AXS wireless shifting communicate with smartphones and components

It stitches together three different communication methods to tie everything together. Like the original eTap, it uses their proprietary AIREA communication protocol for the shifters, derailleurs and now droppers to communicate with each other in a way that can’t be hacked.

They added standard Bluetooth to let the system pair with the AXS smartphone app so you can customize the settings, and have the system update the app with your shift data and ride time. This last bit allows it to provide service reminders and other maintenance, which is where the “monitor” part comes in. Bluetooth is a new feature for the AXS group, the original eTap didn’t have Bluetooth, so, unfortunately, you can’t use the app with the first generation eTap group.

Lastly, it has ANT+ so it can talk with modern cycling computers to show gear selection…for both road and mountain bike groups.

What does the SRAM AXS app do?

how to use the SRAM axs app to set up wireless shifting on road and mountain bikes

The SRAM AXS app (iOS, Android) gives you complete control of how your group operates. But first, it’s important to note: You never actually HAVE to use the app. You can unbox the group, mount it and pair the shifters to the derailleurs and never need to download the app. They didn’t want your ability to ride your bike dependent on an app or having cellular data. And you don’t have to use it often. The components on the bike store their shift counts, rotations, etc., and the app simply sees that number whenever it’s connected and uses that data to suggest service recommendations.

Assuming you do download it and register, app data is saved to your account so that if you switch phones, all of your settings will immediately show up on your app as soon as you sign in. Or don’t register…just use Guest Mode and you’ll be a ghost.

As for data, the app is only recording operating time and shifting time, plus crank rotations if you have the power meter, but not mileage, location or other potentially personally identifying data. They’re not using or selling your data for anything else.

Inside the App

what is enhanced mode for sram etap axs road bike wireless shifting
The AXS app lets you assign button functions, add compnents to a bike’s profile, and select various multi-shift and sequential-shift options. Read our RED eTap AXS and Eagle AXS posts to learn about each group’ options.

When you set it up, you create a distinct profile for your bike and its AXS components. So, if you have more than one bike with AXS parts, you can easily know which bike you’re adjusting because there’s a visual distinction between them.

And to set up your bike with the app to begin with, you need to be in physical proximity of the bike so you can press the AXS button on the rear derailleur or the dropper. That ensures that only you have control over your components. Which means someone else with the app can’t just connect in the pits and screw up your settings right before a race. Only one device (phone, tablet, etc.) can be connected at a time, too. There are also no shift buttons in the app, so even if someone did sneakily connect to your bike when you’re not looking, they could mess with your settings, but they wouldn’t be able to shift your bike for you.

If you have the Quarq power meter and have been using the Qalvin app, this will have those same functionalities so you can do all your power meter stuff from the AXS app. Their TireWiz and ShockWiz stuff will likely be added, too, with some but not all functions in there at launch. Check back in April.

what is enhanced mode for SRAM etap axs wireless road bike shifting
The pairing/tuning buttons have a secret function if you enable “Enhanced Mode” inside the app…check our full RED eTap AXS post to see what it is!

What else is coming?

At launch, there will be no push notifications coming from the app, but that’ll likely change. They didn’t want to launch with any service notifications or anything else that would annoy you to the point where you’re turn it off. Once they have it fully refined, you’ll probably see something come around to alert you to system updates (the app can push firmware updates to the components) and service reminders.

While it’s not really capturing ride data now, it likely will soon enough. Things like attaching tire pressure, gear selection, gear use, power, and more could all be compiled and related to provide a picture of how you’re using your bike. We can see a lot of coaching applications for such data, helping people to learn where they’re most efficient in the gear and cadence range.

Whatever comes, it’s clear that AXS connected components are their platform for the future on road, gravel and mountain. Now, let’s talk components and groups. We’ve created a dedicated tech post for each group and major part, plus ride reviews. Here’s links to everything you need to know about SRAM RED eTap AXS for road, and the all-new SRAM Eagle AXS and Reverb AXS for mountain bikes:

SRAM.com

12 COMMENTS

  1. Advantages of wireless: no cables, great. No cables for suspension locks, no cables for suspension, no cables for my garmin, no cables for the go pro.

    Disadvantages: setups, annoying, you know it. How many batteries will I have to recharge? 7? 10? seatpost, rear shock, fork, rear der, shifter, garmin, go pro… 7 already…

    Will this be compatible with garmin? can i finally have a unified control thing? can i control my garmin and my go pro from just 1 or 2 shifters, max? how may buttons will i need otherwise?

    Compatible with fox or other companies? no, there is no unifier protocol, bike industry new game…

    Would this be better with cable option? and charge all the stuff with just one plug? it would be doable, shimano of course won’t play that game either…

    Long story short: commercial interest is against basic and obvious flaws. this all should work like a usb hub, 1 cable along the whole bike, cable built with the frame, bike should have “usb” tiny kinda port, and parts should connect to that…

    • I agree that the best way for Shimano to combat this would be to go the complete opposite direction and commit to a common electrical architecture for bikes, with a single central battery that could power shifting, dropper posts, shock adjustments, lights, power meters, computers, etc.

    • Have you ever set up an etap bike? Its amazing. So easy. Most of what makes it so great are that there are no wires. Being so concerned about all the charging that you’ll have to do sounds to me a bit paranoid. Do you blame apple if you forget to charge your iphone? And to answer your question about batteries/chargers, I use current etap and have one charger for my 2 batteries and a pile of CR2032 coin cells which any cyclist probably already buys in bulk to power their power meters, heart rate monitors, shift levers, etc.

    • I think someone on the industry, eventually, of course, it will be in the 4-5 generation of these electronic groupsets, will have to decide what is better wired, and what should be wireless. I would love to have a universal, setup-able cockpit, wireless, like a heart band. It was great to have garmin upload stuff via bluetooth to strava. but these groupsets seem very first gen, they will sell all the features step by step, generation after generation to juice us properly.

      FSA strategy of wired rear part is better, a central battery would be nice. eventually the bike would have 6 acelerometers and giroscopes, same as with the batteries… makes no sense.

      Some kind of less over-engeniered shifter, much lighter for xc, would be great too. Happens the same with shimano, over engineer shifter, not to mention the uber ackward shimano display to handle their di-2 groups… Shimano xtr 12 speed di-2 might be out any time, same with xt 12 speed… XTR is priced lower than X0 and it’s so much better in drivetrain mechanics, cassette, shifting (compared to sram cable actuated), new XT will dominate the market hopefully.

      To all the sram pr people commenting here, hi there guys!!!!!

  2. > SRAM AXS wireless control system is
    > the all-access pass to future components

    That has absolutely *zero* access to past components. But we will be a good citizen from now on. You can believe us. Really you can. -SRAM

  3. Wanted to improve ergonomics but used the same shifters as the old group which are by far the least ergonomic of the big 3……

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