SRAM Wireless Electronic Road Group Spotted (Again) at Tour Down Under Warmups

SRAM Red wireless electronic road group closeup photos from Gravel Cyclist at Tour Down Under 2015

Spotted by Jayson of GravelCyclist.com while riding along with the AG2R during training in Australia prior to the Tour Down Under, these SRAM wireless electronic front and rear derailleurs are looking pretty darn polished.

Mounted to Christophe Riblon’s Focus Izalco Max road bike, there’s at least one detail we hadn’t quite picked up on in the already profuse collection of photos and technical data we’ve amassed on this group. The tops of each derailleur appear to have a similar looking hatch, which we’re guessing hides the charging port. Micro-USB would be our guess, since it would allow both charging and firmware updates. Plenty of closeups and links below…

SRAM Red wireless electronic road group closeup photos from Gravel Cyclist at Tour Down Under 2015

SRAM Red wireless electronic road group closeup photos from Gravel Cyclist at Tour Down Under 2015

One interesting note is they appear to be running the base-level SRAM PG1130 cassette rather than X-Glide. With rumors that the new electronic group is the lightest battery-powered shifting system to be offered (when, of course, it actually is offered), could just be that the heavier cassette helps team bikes meet minimum weight limits.

SRAM Red wireless electronic road group closeup photos from Gravel Cyclist at Tour Down Under 2015

Electrical tape covers the wire ports. Bike manufacturers may have to start putting the wire ports in less conspicuous locations if this stuff takes off!

SRAM Red wireless electronic road group closeup photos from Gravel Cyclist at Tour Down Under 2015

The black tail end of both derailleurs look very similar, suggesting those are the battery packs and are likely replaceable. That would be a nice feature considering team mechanics could quickly swap out batteries from the car in a pinch, assuming it’s a tool-free process. Either way, it’s a nice precaution for pro-level use and for anyone doing RAAM.

SRAM Red wireless electronic road group closeup photos from Gravel Cyclist at Tour Down Under 2015

Want more? Check out the closeups of the derailleurs and shifters, including commentary from some of the racers using it, here. And check our patent coverage for tech details on how it functions.

Huge thanks to Jayson for the pics!

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MikeC
MikeC
7 years ago

Shifting without wires or cables… cool.

RobP
RobP
7 years ago

You can see the hole drilled for the pivot, it’s quite clearly a latch to hold the battery in place and not a charging port cover. I assume you will get a charging station to keep in your house and you’ll remove the batteries from the derailleurs so you can leave the bike in the shed.

dead
dead
7 years ago

I love charging my one battery of my DI2! I cant wait to charge 4 of them.

Colin
Colin
7 years ago

This is really cool, I think Sram has more than answered the frequency issue, the only thing I can think of is the hassle of charging all of those batteries…

erikv
erikv
7 years ago

Looks like a latch, not a hatch. Maybe that back part (black) pops off so you can take it back inside to charge.

messy
messy
7 years ago

Nice group. So if SRAM has the same charging intervals as Shimano Di2 and those are the top ‘latches’ to remove/install batteries, only has to be done 4-6 times a year for pros, 1-3 times for us mere mortals.

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
7 years ago

Colin, I have a feeling that only the rear mech will need frequent charging. Most people only shift their FD a few times a day…I practically never use mine…its a small ring ride or a big ring ride for me most of the year when I’m not in a race(but that’s just me). The shifters should rarely need charged. Actually, if they’re rechargeable, they’ll probably burn themselves out more from sitting still when you aren’t riding than the actual signal being sent when you are riding. The signal to shift will use VERY LITTLE energy, the moving of the motors is what will use 95% of the battery life

Erik
Erik
7 years ago

Have to agree they look like latches. Also, notice the symmetry between the front and rear derailleurs: They seem to be using the same box on the back, which looks to be a removable battery pack.

Ian
Ian
7 years ago

Hatch???? What are you smoking?

Did you expect the battery to be held on to the derailleur with smoke and mirrors? gravity? glue? The so called “hatch” is clearly a battery retention clip. The batteries will be removable and interchangeable for front and rear deraileur. I would also venture a guess that the derailleurs are “dumb” receivers and merely change gears when a they receive a signal and therefore would never need a firmware update of any sort, thus negating the value of a micro-USB port. The “brains” of the system are likely located in one of the levers, where there is more free space.

KBN
KBN
7 years ago

I would bet they are batteries you can remove to charge. This would let you pull a dead pack and put a fresh one on without waiting to recharge. Since they’re smaller, I would bet they could pull off that thought with less cash than the bigger Shimano system. They also probably don’t last as long between charges. Sounds like a decent engineering decision: shorter battery life but easier to simply swap and through the dead batteries on the charger while you’re out. Kinda like the rechargable hand tools we’ve got now. One spare battery is probably $40.

Sam
Sam
7 years ago

Now all we need is for SRAM to come out with wireless disc brakes so we eliminate all wires completely! Hopefully it’s not too far away!!!

boo urns
boo urns
7 years ago

The wireless part is appealing, but the cynic in me wonders if SRAM saw how much Shimano is asking for Di2 batteries and decided it was a good idea to require 3+ charged batteries to ensure a bike that can shift through all of its gears.

wheel-addict
wheel-addict
7 years ago

^^ “wireless disc brakes” ? Surely you jest.

randall
randall
7 years ago

re wireless hydraulic disc brakes:

While I agree that Sam’s comment may have been in jest, electronically actuated hydraulics would offer a huge advantage over any other system because you could map virtually any fluid pressure curve to the lever travel.

Of course, this could bring new meaning to “battery died.”

nightfend
nightfend
7 years ago

This is very cool. But the probably $3000 price tag for the group won’t be…

spike
spike
7 years ago

Replaceable/removable batteries on both derailleurs. Not sure if they have improved the retention mechanism yet, but you can lose the batteries on a ride if they aren’t properly secured. They do have to be removed to charge, which can be a pain if you take off on your ride and forget to grab them. Makes setting up a bike a breeze, not having so many wires. Shifting is reliable and the levers actually took a little more force to actuate than I was expecting. Wonder if they break in a little over time.

Alex
Alex
7 years ago

I’m just waiting for someone to hack the protocol. Suddenly everyone riding this stuff will be in there 53×11 going up Alpe d’Huez.

Ol' Shel'
Ol' Shel'
7 years ago

Your competition is already working to hack your wireless shifters.

“ALL YOUR SHIFT ARE BELONG TO US”

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
7 years ago

I’d really like a magnetic charger with a batter that screwed on for security. You “could” take it off for easy of charging, or just have your bike near a charger. If done right, this could be one solution to waterproofing a charging port. I’ve had plenty of lights leak water into the charging port when getting past the dinky covers from multiple brands.

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
7 years ago

***I mean near a plug with a long cord

MaraudingWalrus
7 years ago

I’m hugely excited about this. I will be riding this as soon as available. Sign me up to guinea pig this.

Dude
Dude
7 years ago

So cool. Here’s hoping speeds are just set via software and there’s no more BS about derailleur speeds like Shimano did w/ changing 10 to 11.

PbJoe
PbJoe
7 years ago

Can’t wait to see if lights interfere with the shifting.

I have Di2, the wires are not so bad to hide that I would want 3 extra batteries to get rid of them.

grouch
grouch
7 years ago

What was ever wrong with friction down tube levers?

I reckon this whole carbon fibre thing is just a fad…

FJ
FJ
7 years ago

The shifters likely won’t need any more than a little CR2032 or similar each. A Garmin HR strap uses a CR2032, has a strong enough signal to reach a couple of meters away with ease, transmits HR data four times per second, and lasts well over a season for us regular mortals.

A shifter would only need to send a signal once every few minutes on average. A CR2032 would likely outlive the shifter itself!

And the signal hacking, nothing a digitally encrypted protocol can’t prevent

I’m no fan of SRAM groupsets, but I’ll follow these with interest.

pmessal
pmessal
7 years ago

Interesting stuff. Thanks Jayson…I love your http://www.gravelcyclist.com website. I hope it continues to grow.

gravelcyclist.com
7 years ago

From what I saw when I was wheelsucking Christophe Riblon on the training ride, the groupset worked like a charm. I would like one. Unfortunately, I couldn’t ask any questions, as my French is non existent; also, it was near impossible to take any sneaky photographs of the shift levers, etc.

JBikes
JBikes
7 years ago

Randall –
re wireless hydraulic disc brakes

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that brake feedback will be a very, very difficult thing for e-hydro brakes to get anywhere near a hydro system, or even a cable system.

Feedback is critical to proper braking. It is not critical to shifting an indexed gear system.
E-shifters and wireless shifters solve some issue and increase performance. I don’t see how e-hydro brakes solve anything, especially with internal cable routing. Mapping a pressure curve is likely only a benefit for those with severely limited grip strength and I’d wonder if such a person could ride a bike anyway. Furthermore, such a system is travel based. The best brake systems are pressure based – makes it much less likely you don’t inadvertently “grab” way too much brake in a panic situation.
I guess technically one could put a pressure sensor and make an e-hydro pressure based, but it would seem to be taking a “Rune Goldberg” approach to achieve what standard hydro brakes achieve.

-
-
7 years ago

next, license wireless charging from apple. One charging base to a outlet and just place the close to the base, done!

JBikes
JBikes
7 years ago

Regarding battery life, yes the signal to shift uses very little battery, but won’t there be some additional drain compared to a wired system as each derailleur must constantly scan for a shift signal? Not that it is insurmountable or even an issue. Just sayin

PTymn Wolfe
PTymn Wolfe
7 years ago

Why would wireless brakes need to continue being hydro? If they’re wireless, why not just use little servo motors instead of hydraulic force to squeeze the rotor?

Derek
Derek
7 years ago

I don’t see what is the big deal of having two derailleur versus one. Just charge all of the derailleur batteries at the same time. It looks like they’re easy enough to remove.

salsarider79
salsarider79
7 years ago

If you had a micro usb port it’d be so you can upgrade/update it to 12spd when necessary….

JBikes
JBikes
7 years ago

@PT
Your correct, servo motors could be used.
I’d still question how much feedback could be provided, although improvement are always being made (see something like electric steering)
And I still question what problem sans bleeding maintenance is being solved by going this route. Finally there would be the cost of a servomotor and accompanying feedback controls required to coordinate with desired braking pressure.

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
7 years ago

While still uncommon…I have heard of a few Shimano batteries getting jostled around and loosing its contact points. This would suck but wouldn’t be the end of the world with shifters, basically you can stop and fix it.

With brakes…well…uh…you can’t stop and fix it because you can’t stop.

I would NEVER EVER want a brake without some kind of direct, physical relationship with my brake levers!!! Cars have fail-safes for brake by wire systems but they can still act in a way that’s less than idea but at least you’re in a car. On a bike, on a descent or in a race with 150 dudes next to me…I would not want some brake brain to gradually slow me down when there’s a failure(better than not stopping I guess). I’d much rather have a cable(or hydraulic).

felipe
felipe
7 years ago

this is great. think it’s a big jump. I hope the security protocol is inaccessible to hackers, would be nothing good that someone handle the changes.

WheresWaldo
WheresWaldo
7 years ago

@Jbikes, why are you trying to make sense of this or any other guessing about things which could be (such as wireless braking). These are businesses that happen to make bicycles or components. Do they do it because of some altruism, no, they do it to make money. (Didn’t you read then nonsense posted about tubeless and and the pundits on both sides droning on and on about its merits or demerits). It’s all about money and selling something to the public on the promise that its better!

George Carlin summed it up when he said, “If you nail two things together that have never been nailed together before … some schmuck will buy it from you.” PON, Dorel, Trek, Merida, SRAM all understand this, we should too.

Pistolero
Pistolero
7 years ago

This is great, because it will force shimano to improve their game a lot. Campy prices are way too high, so shimano is alone in the electronic groupsets right now.

One thing I can tell you for sure, this new groupset is gonna be uber-expensive. Way beyond dura-ace di2; to start off, sram will have to cover themselves for any typical recall…

felipe
felipe
7 years ago

ofcourse , everything is about money , for that reason we all work , but that does not mean that the product is bad, in fact it is amazing how advanced they are bicycles.
and as for the prices , the value is commensurate with the quality and durability of the product.
if you only use the bike to get around the city, but of course all this will seem unnecessary.
I love them technological advances on bicycles .

eric
eric
7 years ago

The patent describes communications chips that include encryption, which the protocol supports. I design and code encryption systems for a living. A quick read of the docs shows the tools are there to make a system that’s secure against the level of attackers who would care about cyclists or bike races. (i.e. not the NSA, who has many more resources).

The communications protocol is an industrial control one designed to work in an electrically noisy environment. Much of the patent concerns ensuring the commands reach the deraileurs correctly. While that is not proof against inteference (“jamming”) it should be much more resistant than a naive imlementation. It looks like Sram did their research on this.

My only concern is how the levers work- left for up and right for down on the rear, and push both to shift the front. Seems clumsy. But there’s no reason that Sram could not implement a sequential system where front shifts were automatic. If front shifts are reliable there is no need for the user to signal them manually. Hopefully the user could tune the crossover points to personal preference and gearing as is allowed on some of the Di2 systems modded to do sequential shifting.

b
b
7 years ago

*Rube Goldberg

Ilya
Ilya
7 years ago

I really hope this will stir up the competition, resulting in lower prices and faster progress. Can’t wait enought for moment when electronical shifting will achieve similar price level as mechanical. Imagine affordable 105 level wireless group, what a bliss.

Besides, electronic means better cross manufacter component compatibility, since it’s easier to hack. It might be possible to use SRAM derailleurs with Shimano shifters or vice versa. This way shifters became effectively just brake handles.

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
7 years ago

Electronic Ultegra is already about the same price as mechanical Dura-Ace. I think that’s pretty d*mn great considering that mechanical Ultegra and mechanical Dura-Ace work with basically the same internals but different materials that in NOW WAY deserve the markup that it gets. You’re getting a lot with Ultegra Di2 for the money. I couldn’t imagine 105 Di2 being much cheaper than $1600 with a big chunk of the difference being the crankset. I’d much rather spend a couple hundred extra bucks and have Ultegra Di2 with a 105 crank.

That said, if this is anywhere near the price of Dura-Ace Di2 then its a game changer. I’m thinking it could be cheaper but maybe not. For all the people out there with older but quality bikes with external housing…this is the best way to get electronic shifting without stupid tape holding down your cables. I’m guessing this will be lighter than mechanical Dura-Ace which is already lighter than Di2. Remember…both Dura-Ace and SRAM RED have an extra $300msrp tacked on for a light cassette that isn’t essential for functioning well. An 11spd 105 cassette or 11sspd Rival cassette will really cut down the price of the groupo

sram for the win?
sram for the win?
7 years ago

@eric – SRAM did state this system will have sequential shifting. They said that the right shifter will equate to harder gears and actuating the left shifter will equate to easier gears. They stated that if the rider would like to manually change the position of the front derailleur, the rider can push both levers inward at the same time to make this front der. shift.

Idea: If it goes to electronically controlled braking, pull on one lever (you choose which) and the system intelligently uses both calipers to provide optimal braking. Once the rider pulls on both at once (slightly), it overrides this feature, turning it off for the current braking cycle, but the rider could typically use just one brake lever to actuate both calipers as determined by the speed of the pull on the lever and the distance the rider pulls on the lever…..

but more importantly, SRAM needs to team up with the automatic shifting algorithm folks and incorporate that into their new component package!

I also think that with electronic shifting and hydraulic braking, we no longer need the current brake lever design. A two finger trigger that you pull back into the hood could be more ergonomic, effective and aero….

Søren
Søren
7 years ago

@pistelero. Might wanna put those guns away an consider this: SRAM had a recall on the Hydro brakes and a Small part of ten speed red wifli rear mech. And that’s about it!! Every company have recalls! Please judge companies on how they treat their customers in the period of a recall. As far I remember SRAM offered free mechanical brakes and money to bike shops..
And yes: the Dreamliner was grounded for a period.

Douglas F Shearer
7 years ago

“the new electronic group is the lightest battery-powered shifting system to be offered”

Lightest in a category of one? Shocka!

dereksmalls
dereksmalls
7 years ago

@Douglas F Shearer – EPS & Di2 are both battery powered, they just have wires connecting, so it would be a category of 3, not 1

gravelcyclist.com
7 years ago

You can see a little more of the SRAM drivetrain in the video I shot during the ride:

http://www.gravelcyclist.com/videos/tour-down-under-2015-the-ag2r-team-sky-movistar-training-ride-video/

Mi3ke
Mi3ke
7 years ago

Next Step: Syncing to power meter for automatic shifting. You heard it here first, patent pending.

Maxx
Maxx
7 years ago

Before getting carried away, it must be noted that being ‘hack proof’ wirelessly doesn’t infer that its ‘jam proof’.

Somebody can really play punk at a race with some 2.4ghz frequency jammers. Imagine being unable to shift gears for that 10 seconds up the steepest grades of the Alp d’huez or Zoncolan ….

It won’t be a laughing matter when that happens.