Channeling a bit of last spring’s Force Wide, now SRAM Red eTap AXS gets wider gearing capability thanks to a new Max 36T cog-capable rear derailleur. The details are simple, a new medium cage option for Red AXS means you can now get lower than 1:1 gearing for the lung-busting climbs on your road and all-road bikes.

SRAM Red eTap AXS Max 36T medium cage rear derailleur

SRAM’s website refers to the new Max 36T derailleur as a ‘Medium’ cage vs. the original Max 33T ‘Short’ cage, but it’s more than just lengthening the cage, like derailleurs of old.

SRAM Red eTap AXS Max 36T medium cage rear derailleur, wider range gearing, new WiFiLi
new Max 36T (left) vs. original Max 33T (right)

Instead, the difference is in the geometry of the B-knuckle (the upper body where the derailleur attaches to your bike’s hanger). This allows the greater max gear size, while retaining the close tracking of derailleur-to-cassette for optimized shifting.

SRAM Red eTap AXS Max 36T medium cage rear derailleur, wider range gearing, new marking

All the other derailleur tech is unchanged from the original AXS road debut – just all new derailleurs will say Max 33T or Max 36T next to the B-tension screw. (Any derailleur without a marking is Max 33T.)

SRAM Red eTap AXS Max 36T medium cage rear derailleur, wider range gearing, Catskills riding
c. SRAM, photos by Donalrey Nieva

That revised Wide derailleur geometry does mean that you shouldn’t just use the new Red AXS Max 36T with the tighter-spaced cassettes. SRAM doesn’t recommend pairing the new Max 36T with the 10-26T option for the best shift performance. But you can use it with either 1x or 2x drivetrains, meaning it will give you similar 360% gearing spread like an old 11-40T cassette would have… cyclocross, maybe? Or pair it with the 46/33T cranks for 502% gear range.

What cassettes are compatible?

SRAM wide range XG-1270 Force cassette

Interestingly SRAM doesn’t offer a Red 10-36T cassette (it still comes in 10-26T, 10-28T & 10-33T variants), so you’ll want to pair it with the wider Force XG-1270 10-36T.

SRAM Red eTap AXS Max 36T medium cage rear derailleur, wider range Force cassette
new shiny 10-36T Force XG1270 cassette

SRAM has also changed the look of that Force cassette, going to a shiny new nickel-chrome finish with a dark alloy backplate/big cog, replacing the old all-black cassettes. SRAM says the new shinier version looks better as it wears. The new color move also is part of a phase-out of the Force 10-26T option. Once the current black stock is gone, you’ll need to go Red for the tighter road gearing.

SRAM Red eTap AXS Max 36T – Pricing, options & availability

SRAM Red eTap AXS Max 36T medium cage rear derailleur, wider range gearing, riding

The new SRAM Red eTap AXS Max 36T medium cage rear derailleur is available now for the same $710 / 685€. And the original Max 33T sort cage derailleur carries over for those looking for the more tightly-spaced gearing option. The new dark gray Force cassette sells for $185 / 190€, and comes in 10-28T, 10-33T & 10-36T options.

SRAM.com

12 COMMENTS

  1. Saw this coming. Interesting thing though for anyone (like me) who has the ‘old’ Red Axs RD…. a 36T seems to work just fine (both 1x and 2x).

  2. Seems like a 13s 10-40 or 10-42 is only a matter of time and will be the true death of the road 2x. I’m honestly surprised it hasn’t happened yet.

  3. I have both Force 36T RD and Red original RD. They are the same in all dimensions. And both works well with 10-36T cassette.

    Marketing!

    • @Ibex is incorrect. The Max 36T & Max 33T versions of both Red & Force are NOT the same dimensions. While the cage length is the same, there is distinct difference in the length of the upper arm of each of these derailleurs. Please see the composite image I included above showing the two side-by-side for reference.

    • Right?! Around me I rarely touch the 42t ring on my Eagle. I’ve been waiting for a 10-42t MTB cassette but maybe it’ll come from road instead?

  4. I have no doubt a large part of why they’re dropping the black Force cassettes is the horrible noise issue. Yeah, the gray one may look better as it wears, but I bet it’s a lot quieter from day one, and won’t generate warantee claims nearly as often.

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