Sneak Peek: SRAM Blackbox Eagle eTap wireless mountain bike shifting; UPDATED

We’ve heard & seen rumors of a wireless eTap version of SRAM’s 1×12 Eagle mountain bike drivetrain for months now. But the project seems confirmed now, thanks to an Instagram photo posted overnight by respected photographer Michal Červený of Nino Schurter’s bike ahead of the South African opening of the XC World Cup this weekend.

SRAM Blackbox Eagle eTap wireless derailleur prototype

Červený got up close with Schurter’s 12-speed Blackbox Eagle eTap rear derailleur. The derailleur has an entirely new geometry vs. either current mechanical Eagle derailleurs or current eTap road designs. It tucks what looks like a standard eTap battery into a new skeletal upper link design. And it appears to also sandwich the actuator motor up there as well (vs. Red eTap which puts the motor on the lower link.) A machined outer parallelogram plate again supports that this is not yet a production part, with a small window letting some of the electronics peek out. Of course there are no wires to be seen, leaving the Scott frame with unused internal routing ports.

The prototype Eagle eTap derailleur gets a Blackbox logo over the lower P-knuckle, where we can see the standard SRAM cap over the Type3 Roller Bearing Clutch. As if the giant golden XG-1299 Eagle Tech 500% cassette didn’t confirm it, the prototype derailleur mount calls out ‘Eagle Technology”, and it uses the standard offset wide-gear-range pulley design.

The pulleys themselves are a new design, though. They look to use an overall wide profile that tapers to the narrower teeth vs. the current versions that are thin, but have wider protrusions on alternating teeth for chain retention. That could be a welcome change for real world usability, as I have seen the current version to collect debris and be more difficult to clean (although these dusty pulleys don’t promise a much cleaner solution). The outer cage looks to be quite similar, but not identical to X01, although that could be explained by it being a prototype vs. a final production part.

Wireless Eagle eTap trigger shifter

courtesy RedBull.tv

Update: Check out these screencaps of the new Eagle eTap trigger shifter, from RedBull.tv’s World Cup track preview with Nino & Andrew Neethling.

courtesy Scott Sports, photos by Jochen Haar

Next update: The SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing team just sent over some photos of the team Scott Spark RCs race bikes for this season. Of course, no driveside detail shots of Nino’s Eagle eTap equipped bike, but still a new & interesting perspective. Clearly SRAM isn’t trying to keep this under wraps any longer.

No longer just the realm of hacked together projects, it looks like a wide-ranging, wireless  Eagle eTap mountain bike drivetrain is in the development pipeline. And out in the real world getting race tested.

SRAM.com

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Chris
Chris
4 years ago

Wireless mtn bike shifting is a nice option but I would love for SRAM to introduce a 12 speed Eagle cassette with a 10-42 or or 10-39 range for XC racing. My legs would welcome a tighter cluster without such large jumps in the gear ratios. Any other takers?

Dinger
Dinger
4 years ago
Reply to  Chris

Seconded.

Chris Maltby
Chris Maltby
4 years ago
Reply to  Dinger

Hell yesssssss!

edge
edge
4 years ago
Reply to  Chris

yes please. I really have no use for the 50 tooth sproket.

codyish
codyish
4 years ago
Reply to  edge

Then why not just put on a bigger chainring?

edge
edge
4 years ago
Reply to  codyish

the jumps between gears would just be greater. we want a tighter cassette . Also it would be lighter than huge rear cogs and a large front chainring.

Tyni Tyres
Tyni Tyres
4 years ago
Reply to  Chris

I’d like 12spd 10-28 for my small wheeled Moultons.

therealgreenplease
4 years ago
Reply to  Chris

I completely agree. I think a 10-42 12 speed would be absolutely perfect for XC for most people. A 10-39 would be perfect for stronger riders. That might be a better product mix: 10-39 for stronger riders and 10-50 for everyone else.

Zach
Zach
4 years ago
Reply to  Chris

Agreed! I’ve actually switched to XT cassettes with my 11spd Sram drivetrains because I can get an 11-40t…and they’re cheaper than X1

larry miller
larry miller
4 years ago
Reply to  Zach

So this works with sram shifters?

larry miller
larry miller
4 years ago
Reply to  larry miller

And sram derailleurs?!

Chris Maltby
Chris Maltby
4 years ago
Reply to  larry miller

I too convert all my sram bikes to shimano xt 11 speed cassettes. They work great!! Last longer and are less coin.

Bret Miedema
Bret Miedema
4 years ago
Reply to  larry miller

Sure does…I run Sunrace cassette (Shimano hub) on my on my GX groupset because I didn’t feel like upgrading to a XD hub…and the stupid cassette prices. Now I have full GX groupset with a 11-46 Sunrace cassette…slight weight penalty.

Mjolnir Cycles
4 years ago

I’d be curious about the potential to pair it with a Red (road) shifter…

Dinger
Dinger
4 years ago
Reply to  Mjolnir Cycles

Seconded..

therealgreenplease
4 years ago
Reply to  Mjolnir Cycles

Also curious. I see no reason why SRAM wouldn’t enable this.

Ed Ng
Ed Ng
4 years ago

SRAM, if you’re reading this, PLEEEEEAAAAASE let Red eTap levers pair up to this derailleur! It will be the ultimate upgrade to my current Force CX1 build!

-Ed

Isaac Denham
4 years ago
Reply to  Ed Ng

Haha Ed, I was thinking the same thing but with a 10-42 gearing. 12 speed road and cross eTap cant be far from production now, and I have a a few cx and gravel bikes to build

Chris
Chris
4 years ago

The new Rd XD driver supports 12 speed. I believe all you will need is a Firmware update via the eTap dongle to support 1x 12. Which will be ideal for gravel and cross.

mud+rock
mud+rock
4 years ago

That won’t come cheap. Way back when I was a roadie the saying was “flesh heals, Campy doesn’t.” That expression needs an update.

tech9
4 years ago

in the mean time, shimano is still pushing 2x. 🙂

Long live the triple
Long live the triple
4 years ago
Reply to  tech9

I’m running a 3×11 on my hardtail, 700% range, without the huge jumps in gears. Q factor is the same, weighs a little more.

Sam
Sam
4 years ago

k

P Dub
P Dub
4 years ago

your 3×11 has incredible and unnecessary overlap in gearing…i.e. wasted gears.

CHKPNT
CHKPNT
4 years ago
Reply to  P Dub

Although there is more overlap in gears, there is also the added advantage of retaining better chain line, reducing wear on both chainrings and chain. For the rider that likes riding more than just the weekend 10mile rides, this shows up as massive total cost reductions from less wear on components. Plus MUCH better chainslap control. Big plus if you like riding the rough stuff hard.

There’s room to keep both around.
I personally prefer 1x because of its simplicity. Although I do accept it has it’s own drawbacks like 2x and 3x

comrad
comrad
4 years ago
Reply to  CHKPNT

Front gearing has literally no impact on chainslap. Just use a clutch equipped mech.

Aaron
Aaron
4 years ago
Reply to  comrad

Actually, it literally does. Big front range = more chain links. Longer chain = more chain to flop around, regardless of clutchiness.

JBikes
JBikes
4 years ago
Reply to  tech9

They are? As in pushing people to buy their 2x vs their available and for sale 1x options?

Somehow, I am missing something as my 1x m8000 has a cassette perfect for my needs while being significantly cheaper than sram. Running m8000 crankset, the ability to run another chainring somehow hasn’t hurt its dedicated 1x use for me.

Maybe I need wait a little bit until some Shimano goon jumps out of a bush and converts me back to 2x but so far I think this is unlikely to happen.

Bill
Bill
4 years ago
Reply to  JBikes

Most of my XC mountain biking is relatively easy marathon stuff, and I just switched to an XTR 9000 double setup, and it works great for me. I think SRAM’s 1x certainly has it’s place but I do think they’re trying to force the issue a bit. SRAM’s 2x shifting just isn’t great.

T
T
4 years ago
Reply to  Bill

Exactly.

JBikes
JBikes
4 years ago
Reply to  Bill

My comments was more in that Shimano provides one with valid extremely functional options of 1x, 2x, and 3x.
Because they provide the option of 2x and 3x, people apparently think they don’t provide 1x drivetrains

They may be lacking in very large cassette ranges and 10t cogs, but I think this is somewhat a paper argument for the vast majority of riders.

Crash Bandicoot
Crash Bandicoot
4 years ago
Reply to  JBikes

Thanks J bikes you hit the nail on the head. 1x Shimano systems are just as good as sram IMHO especially when you drill down to 11speed, you just get the ability to run a 2x with the same cranks if you want to. I don’t see How choice is a problem.

Raoul Morley
4 years ago

Love the comments about gear ratio’s seems Nino just about manages with the jumps…
Genuinely excited about this it makes all sorts of fun options doable, ie a clean SS frame so no cable for gears, drop bars with TRP brake level just acness.
It’s just weird that Shimano is so behind with 1x I know they think the front mech is a thing but?

elvis
elvis
4 years ago
Reply to  Raoul Morley

That’s great for Nino but I’m going out on a limb and guessing that the people commenting about the jumps aren’t Nino. I’m not and I don’t like the jumps but hopefully my opinion is invalid because a GOAT level guy doesn’t have an issue with it.

Also, fwiw, I have 2x di2 on my marathon bikes and LOVE it. Shifts super fast and reliable as f#ck. Hopefully for the people who buy this, the mtb version (or perhaps the second generation?) shifts faster. My limited time on road eTap was underwhelming to say the least. Seemed like it’d be fine for recreational riders but not serious racer types. ymmv

P Dub
P Dub
4 years ago
Reply to  elvis

underwhelming how? was it not fast? crisp and precise? it should have been glorious unless it failed to do something you really needed it to or wasn’t set up right. Also, several Pro Tour teams using eTap since launch back in 2016…sigh.

Crash Bandicoot
Crash Bandicoot
4 years ago
Reply to  P Dub

It is slow, I’d agree with the OP Red is a premier group-set which puts it in the emotion bucket for buyers and not logic. Personally I’d have a hard time spending “best of what’s available” money for something that shifts slower than 105 at a minimum it needs to shift at the speed of Di2 or EPS, I know at the end of the day this won’t effect race day performance (much like you’re ultra light Red cassette) but its a hard justification emotionally for dream bike buyers.

Dan Lind
4 years ago

Crash, I don’t understand complaining about eTap shift speed and then recognizing that slower-than-Di2 shifting won’t effect race day performance? I guess lawyers and doctors doing 2 hour Saturday morning coffee rides on their $10K eTap-equipped Pinarellos need to have something to complain about.

I’ve ridden and raced eTap for the past 18 months (about 12,000 miles) and have not experienced a single time when a millisecond faster shift would have had a profound affect on my performance. During that time, I also have not had a single mis-shift either up/down the cassette or big/small chainring. Precise shifting > faster shifting always.

Crash Bandicoot
Crash Bandicoot
4 years ago
Reply to  Cory Benson

Ahh very interesting never knew that.

Crash Bandicoot
Crash Bandicoot
4 years ago
Reply to  Dan Lind

Missing the point slightly, there is a different emotional mindset with top tier groupset buyers which is why people buy Mechanical Dura Ace when 105 and Ultegra and UDi2 shift just as well at a fraction of the price.

I’m not one of these buyers but have seen them balk at the difference in shift speeds between Di2, EPS, and Etap, my reference to the cassette had more to do with the fact that none of this reflects in race day performance I’d gather the difference in actual race day performance in between 105, Rival, Dura-Ace, and Red Etap or any other combo of 11 speed groupsets is imperceptible. Ride whatever you want I don’t think there is an inverse relationship between shift speed and precision as evident by the performance of other electronic shifting systems on the market so I wonder why Sram couldn’t engineer a faster shifting group.

duder
duder
4 years ago
Reply to  Raoul Morley

In my experience racing, bigger jumps are better because you get to the right gear quicker with fewer shifts when the terrain changes. I’m on a 10-44 cassette and I almost always shift 2 or 3 gears at a time when racing enduro or XC. I’d love to have a 6 gear system: steep up, up, flat up, flat down, down, steep down. I might try the 46-9 trs 11sp.

X01 7sp DH cassette was a result of Gwinn asking for bigger jumps between gears for DH racing too.

Chuck
Chuck
4 years ago
Reply to  duder

I think the trs 9-46 cassette is one of the best out there. nearly as light as the fancy sram cassettes with a wider gear range than eagle. Plus the option to switch out the low end cluster. I’ve been loving my so far

comrad
comrad
4 years ago
Reply to  Raoul Morley

Fun fact: Probably any pro can manage with almost any equipment.

JBikes
JBikes
4 years ago
Reply to  Raoul Morley

Yeah, cause your average mtb’er puts our Nino FTP levels, VO2 #’s, peak power and similar effort recovery times, therefore Nino and other pro riders gear selection directly applies to the guy that rides casually for fun 2-3x week for total of maybe 4-6 hours.

Crash Bandicoot
Crash Bandicoot
4 years ago
Reply to  JBikes

Triathlete logic “I don’t have pro level ftp, v02 #’s, peak power, and similar effort recovery times consequently I NEED $750 derailleur pulleys to maximize the power I do have”. (Sarcasm people)

Jeb
Jeb
4 years ago

This is funny be be because it’s true.

Heffe
Heffe
4 years ago

I’m mostly interested in hooking this up to Red eTap shifters.

jbt
jbt
4 years ago

So basically, this also confirms SRAM road 1X12 eTap by proxy, in the near future.

fitness
fitness
4 years ago

Fantastic! Can’t wait to try on MTB. Also for gravel bike with drop bar E-tap road hydro shifters

Andrew
Andrew
4 years ago

Can’t wait for eTap technology to trickle down a few levels and be affordable for us mortals!…. maybe in 10-15 years 😛

Epic throatbeard
Epic throatbeard
4 years ago

I enjoyed the implication that those who don’t find the “jumps” in the cassette annoying or insurmountable are closer in skill set to Nino than they are to those who are challenged by the “jumps”. I really like the cassette the way it is. Look out Olympics. IMHO.

A. K.
A. K.
4 years ago

I questions the sanity of those involved, why cannot one use 22T granny with a 30-32T , instead of that huge 45T ?

Dockboy
Dockboy
4 years ago
Reply to  A. K.

Because of what you sacrifice on the top end. A 1X with a 22:32 low gear gives about a 2:1 top gear, while a 10-50 with the same low end would use a 34 tooth ring and a 3.4:1 top gear, much faster.

We want to keep the cogs as big as manageable for smoothness. We aren’t likely to see cogs or pulleys smaller than 9 teeth because shapes with fewer sides are terrible wheels.

Gregor
Gregor
4 years ago

Well guys consider that Nino rocks a 38t front ring and is running 27.5 tires. His perfect record from last season suggest it works pretty good. I roll on a 34t or 36t on a 29er and find I use the 50 often enough. It also works better then my XTR combo. 11-40 1x . I welcome the new wireless tech. Wires need to go away on bikes! SRAM for the win.

Andrew
Andrew
4 years ago
Reply to  Gregor

Technically Nino’s on a 29er since the Rio Olympics, but otherwise you’re right 😛

Large D
Large D
4 years ago
Reply to  Andrew

He’s been on a 29er since April or May of 2016, before the Olympics. He switched and raced a 29er at the World Cup in France in 2016 and has not been back on a 27.5 since then in competition.

Mike W
Mike W
4 years ago
Reply to  Gregor

Technically, he has done one world cup race on the electronic drivetrain and he lost.

CW
CW
4 years ago

The pulleys aren’t exclusive to this etap rear derailleur, the latest xo1/xx1 derailleurs have this new style as well.

Me
Me
4 years ago

The story directly following this one is about the new Shimano altus and acera. This is the new reality. SRAM rocks! Shimano sucks!

nopers is bopes
nopers is bopes
4 years ago

i love my 500% personally. just use a bigger front ring if you never use the 50t, or use a regular xx1 10-42t cassette.. your derailleur wont let you over shift anyway. but heck, you might as well save money and use a 11s shifter anyway.

Tom
Tom
4 years ago

An article on a potentially great new tech trickle-down to mtbs turns into another debate on 1X.

Can NOBODY manage to work press fit BBs into the conversation?!

Greg
Greg
4 years ago
Reply to  Tom

Rub a DUB DUB

Dominic
Dominic
4 years ago

Biggest heaviest deraileur since the dawn of time?
Hard pass.
I saw one of those 50t cassettes the other day, and well, all i can say is, i’m all for innovation, but this looks like an amphetamine addict took the idea of “bigger is better” to a new level.

Aaron
Aaron
4 years ago
Reply to  Dominic

That giganto-derailleur + the battery can’t be good for unsprung weight.

arp
arp
4 years ago
Reply to  Dominic

I use think that the 42T looked big, but now it looks entirely normal…and kinda small. People use to think sloping top tubes on road bikes were odd looking and something to be debated. People don’t even notice it anymore. Actually, horizontal top tubes look almost out of place and retro. Point being, our paradigm of what a bike “should” look like is always evolving and what is odd or weird becomes normal. And it goes beyond looks.

Back on topic, this offering from is awesome and I’ve been waiting for it since the wireless road group came out. I hope they are working on a wireless dropper that has no lag.

Hexsense
Hexsense
4 years ago

why chain tension spring isn’t replaced by something electronically controlled?
Instead of putting a lot tension on chain all the time,
Just allow the move easily when gear shifting. Then completely lock the cage movement when we don’t shift. With completely locked position instead of spring tensioned, the chain tension doesn’t have to be high to prevent chain slap too.

Aaron
Aaron
4 years ago
Reply to  Hexsense

I mean, shifting effort is kind of a non-factor when you consider that it’s already motor-controlled.

Hexsense
Hexsense
4 years ago
Reply to  Aaron

nah, it’ll for

having no chain slap at all as the cage was locked in place electronically. Think about single speed bike, there is no chain slap even with minimal to no chain tension.
Low(er) chain tension also means (tiny tiny bit) better drive train efficiency.

Larry Kaatz
Larry Kaatz
4 years ago
Reply to  Hexsense

You need a spring for pulley cage chain tension for most rear suspension designs.

Puhdaswarschwer
Puhdaswarschwer
4 years ago

500€ rear derailleur banged to trash in a regular crash. As we ride faster on harder trails, our bikes will suffer more. So cheers to anyone who uses a super expensive rear derailleur!

Crash Bandicoot
Crash Bandicoot
4 years ago

Agreed an XTR di2 rear derailleur can be found online new for less than $400 and a XT di2 variant is <$250 if you race or push things to the limit then its very difficult to justify etap. I know for the road its even more drastic, a 8050 rear derailleur is less than $200 whereas a Red Etap rear is nearly $700, not something I'll be using during a road race season, shifters (most likely to break in a crash) there is a $280 difference between di2 (granted 8050) and eTap.

Jimmy
Jimmy
4 years ago

I love “bike parts comments”.
They are the exact opposite of political comments. All you people are awesome (58 so far ).

Bas
Bas
4 years ago

Cool. nice step up. not sure why the shifter still looks like a mechanical one, tho.

André Domin
4 years ago

Just switched to XX1 11 on a fullsuspension and still run a 2×10 XTR on hardtail. 34/42 is quite hard on training rides in my region. Gearing differences of the 11 cassette are noticeably bigger than with 2x. The friction due to lesser teeth when using the 10 T is also an issue even with a brandnew chain and cassette. I´d say the 2x is still better for an experienced rider in hilly regions / races.
Chain suck of 2x is a significant disadvantage!! Maybe Di2 helps as many users say. I use mech XTR and seldom have to deal with chainsucking in races.
I believe a 36 front + 10-50 would give me all I might ever need (still having huge gearing jumps, high prices etc.)
eTap (as well as DI2) really improves bike tech. Wireless is way better than Di2 today!
Regarding pro´s (and their “choices”): they have to use what the sponsors dictate. They do not have a choice if being SRAM sponsored. Di2 sponsored pros do have a choice (see Shimano marketing videos).
Matthieu has to use 2x in cyclocross and used 1x in Stellenbosch (the latter might be his own choice). Besides that it is useless to compare oneself (an amateur) with a pro and his “choices” in 1.3 h races.
Erdnah

Mark_Landsaat
4 years ago

This…..is something I want. Love it SRAM, can’t come to market soon enough!