By: Todd Anthes
This review is for the uninitiated. It is not an in-depth review of the product. It is a scant overview of someone using electronic shifting for the first time.
It was time to replace my SRAM Eagle cassette (ouch), and in doing so, I was one of the first to purchase SRAM’s XX1 Eagle AXS Upgrade Kit. This is not the entire gruppo, simply the rear derailleur, shifter, battery, and battery charger. When SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS was released you could only purchase the entire gruppo.
I was neither in the market, nor planning on switching to electronic, but nevertheless I decided to give it a go.
Electronic shifting has been touted as a game changer. However, I was not convinced. The thought of having a battery and relying on electronic means to shift off-road on a mountain bike seemed risky. I don’t know that I am past that issue (although no issues yet, including the 48 mile “Hard Rock” Ore to Shore” and a few other races).
But what I can tell you is that electronic shifting is everything the proponents have suggested it is. A perfect shift, every damn time. Nothing better than that “clunk” of a shift that is perfectly timed, especially in a race setting
The shifter is somewhat finicky. You can’t rest your thumb on trigger like a regular shifter. If you do you will initiate a shift. And if you hold your thumb on the shifter it runs through the gears without stopping. You really need to learn to rest your thumb on the bar and only touch the shifter when you want to initiate a shift. I often bump the shifter when I am off the bike, which is somewhat annoying when you move the bike or start to peddle, and the bike is not in the proper gear.
Within a few weeks I purchased a backup battery. A battery is supposed to get you 620 miles, but I rarely look at the lights on the derailleur to see if it is “red,” meaning a charge is necessary. Plus, if for some reason the battery de-chargers (e.g., cold, water, etc.). I want to have a back-up as you can’t shift manually.
I have heard stories, but it might be an urban myth, that if you transport your bike on a rack or in the back of your truck that it might initiate shifts and prematurely drain the battery. I have not witnessed this, but I am concerned that in the colder seasons that the battery life may be affected.
All in all, I haven’t experienced any issues with the unit. I am somewhat mystified as to how the shifting stays true all the time, but I suppose without a cable to stretch that is one less variable to control.