What’s New at the Shop
From The Racing Post, April 2016
So it may have been the worst kept secret in years, but SRAM eTap has finally made it to the Bike Mart, sort of. Let’s lead with this. SRAM is doing the eTap release in very limited waves. Each of the larger distributors around the country were allocated a select quantity of groupos, then each distributor allocated a select quantity of groupos to the LBS. So while we have seen a few groupos alreasy come and go, we patiently await our next fulfilment. But we do happen to have 3 fully built Pinarello’s with eTap on them and that is what I took out for a spin last weekend.
So how does the eTap work? Well, it is really quite simple. eTap works on its own wireless network. Once the front and rear derailleurs have been paired with a set of shifters, the network is closed. There is no need for concern with cross talk between another eTap groupo. Nor is there any need for concern from other networks jamming up the signals. SRAM was very concerned about that very issue and did plenty of testing during the Tour of California as teams road through the Silicon Valley, one of the busiest areas of the world in regard to “dirty air” and the eTap equipped bikes performed flawlessly.
The functionality of the groupos is also very simple. The shift lever is still in place, but no longer does it swing inwards, instead a large ”mouse” type button is on the lever. The right hand shifter takes you down to a smaller cog on the cassette. Left hand shifter takes you back up to a larger cog on the cassette. Holding both buttons at the same time will make the front derailleur shift up to the big ring or back down to the small ring.
One of the largest concerns with a new technology is always how long the batteries will last. Here is what SRAM had to tell us during the launch. The said that this is the 27th iteration of eTap and battery life and costs were given plenty of attention. There are CR2032 batteries in both of the shift levers, the same battery as your standard heart rate monitor strap. The battery life on these is quoted at approximately 2 years. The front and rear derailleurs will work with a proprietary rechargeable battery. This is a very small, lightweight, and inexpensive battery. Battery life is to be at approximately 1000k or little over 600 miles.
So if you do forget to charge up the batteries a few things can be done to help finish a ride. The first is to carry a spare in your jersey or seat bag. If only one battery is losing its charge pick the position you want on either the cassette or the chain ring, swap the batteries and ride on in. Of course if none of these options work, hope you are in a gear you like and now you have some single speed practice.
A few of the other features to the eTap groupo are the blip box and blip buttons. There are a few different applications here. One of them is going to be a time trial set up with the blip buttons wrapped under the bar tape on the ends of the aerobars. The blip buttons are then plugged into the blip box that will in turn be mounted under a Garmin mount or something along those lines. The blip buttons and blip box could also be used to set up “sprinter” style switches or perhaps even help someone with a disability access an easier experience in riding.
As far as performance goes, it was exactly what I expected as I set off on my ride. Smooth and seamless SRAM Red shifting. If you want to work your way up or down the cassette, all you have to do is hold down the buttons and keep pedaling. On and off the big ring is also a breeze, even under load. I still found myself backing off just a bit as I used the front derailleur, but it felt to me as if it would make the shift in either direction no matter the load on the drivetrain.
All in all I was very impressed with the entire groupo and the aesthetics are bang on as well. Very beautiful and pleasing to the eye. A slight variation to the logo and placement on the cranks from the previous generation of Red 22. If I were to find anything that was not met with full satisfaction it would be the ergonomics of the hoods, after spending months on my CX1 hydro groupo these hoods just don’t seem beefy enough for me. Other than that, it’s awesome. Come on by the shop and see one of the bikes we have built up – if they aren’t sold by the time you make it in. See you on the road!