Ridden and Reviewed: SRAM Eagle AXS Wireless Groupset
It wasn’t until the past few years when SRAM really started to take hold of the mountain bike market. They pushed MTB 1x drivetrains at a time when people who toyed with the idea were mostly on the fringes. Then came Eagle, which pushed 1x forward as a viable option for the vast majority of mountain biking. New this year is SRAM Eagle AXS, available in SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS and SRAM X01 Eagle AXS. Two groups with a greater differentiation between enduro focus (X01) and XC focus (XX1). Just $100 separates the two groups, with XX1 receiving titanium hardware and a carbon derailleur cage instead of the stainless steel and aluminum cage of X01. Details, Details, Details When we saw the SRAM Eagle AXS Groupset earlier this year, we couldn’t help but be inquisitive. Asking the pro rider who had it on their bike what they thought about the group, they said a single word: “easy.” A touch of a button is much easier in the heat of a climb than swinging your wrist and physically overcoming the friction, resistance, and tension of the drivetrain as a whole. maker. In short, shift under load, over the roughest terrain, uphill, or without changing your grip on the bar. Each SRAM Eagle AXS lever has three buttons, which can be configured in any way through the AXSTM app. XC riders can set up the two buttons under the bars to upshift and downshift, and the third button out front (accessible by your pointer finger) can be set up as a sprint button with virtually no change in grip of the handlebar. Everyone else can set it up as your dropper post button when paired to the Rockshox Reverb AXS. A rear derailleur, especially on a 1x group with as wide a range as Eagle, has its work cut out for it. The new Eagle AXS derailleur is designed as an install and set it and forget it system, with a number of changes over mechanical Eagle to make it more reliable and durable. All Eagle AXS derailleurs feature an Overload Clutch, which disengages the motor gearbox upon impact. In the event of an impact, the motor gearbox disengages, giving the derailleur freedom to move, and instantly returns back to its position for a seamless experience for the rider. Small changes, but certainly changes that make a difference to the longevity and durability. Eagle AXS derailleurs also feature a shorter cage for 10mm more ground clearance, with more chain wrap on the cassette to sit slightly further forward, and further inboard from mechanical Eagle. It still uses the low-friction Type-3 bearing clutch, and is designed to work with existing Eagle cassettes, chainrings, and chains. Like SRAM RED eTap AXS, we expect approximately 20 hours of ride time before needing a recharge, with batteries needing an hour to go from empty to fully-charged. Also like eTap, Eagle AXS offers instantaneous shifts from a single touch of the shifter, affirmed by us as well as World Cup winners like Nino Schurter. Setting all of these electronics up is easy with the new SRAM AXS App. SRAM’s new app allows riders to assign button functions to shifter and Rockshox Reverb AXS dropper lever. Want to set your Reverb AXS remote on the left to shift to a higher gear, the shifter button in the right to move the chain to an easier gear, and the 'secret sprint paddle' to control the Reverb? you can do that too. Same thing; set it up according to what you think is best, and AXS takes care of the rest. It should also be said that Eagle AXS is compatible with RED eTap AXS levers, Blip Box, and any other AXS control buttons. On the Trail Getting our hands (or rather, fingers) on SRAM AXS was worth the wait. Everyone has their preferences when it comes to shift levers. Some love the tactility of SRAM mechanical shifting, while others think the downshift lever is too difficult to access, even after adjustment. It turns out our thumbs love AXS. It also turns out our legs loved AXS. Within the first climb, all of the good habits regarding shifting under load were thrown in the wind. There was no need to ease off the pedals in a shift, nor was there ever a need to shift a single gear at a time under load. Anywhere a mechanical drivetrain may have faltered, Eagle AXS scoffed at the challenge. We’ve never complained about shift speed or shift quality with Eagle mechanical, but we’ve always secretly wished that 11-speed eTap responded just a little bit more quickly. Fortunately, Eagle AXS is faster under heavy shift loads than just about anything we’ve tried, and more responsive than SRAM’s original eTap. The controller buttons also happen to have excellent feel and tactility; when you make a shift, the button provides satisfying feedback, replicating some of the feedback one gets from a mechanical shifter. There’s no denying that Eagle AXS improves on a proven backbone. The chain, chainrings, and cassette is essentially unchanged outside of new finishes (we’re partial to the rainbow of XX1 ourselves). While we didn’t get much time out on this drivetrain, we’ve seen great longevity out of Eagle drivetrains, and we see that continuing here. Conclusion Choosing what button shifts your derailleur (or dropper post!) is a novelty we feel won’t grow old with time. For years, we’ve conformed to the misgivings of bicycles, and it’s cool to see that good design allows a bike to more-fully mold to what works best for the rider individually. It’s also impressive to see how much that level of adaptability affects your riding. We rarely think about the concessions we make to mechanical shifting, but going from AXS and back to mechanical SRAM groups is a reminder of how much electronics do in the background. Shift anywhere, any time. Shift with whatever button you like without the complication of additional levers on your bars. Is this groupset for everyone? Sadly, not yet. Like just about anything, you get what you pay for, and at $1900 for X01 Eagle AXS and $2000 for XX1 Eagle AXS respectively, price will be a barrier for many. But for those who can spring it, Eagle AXS is a worthwhile step forward in cycling innovation, and one our thumbs are overjoyed for. Have any questions about SRAM Eagle AXS, or want to get a hold of a group for yourself? Give us a call during business hours, or send an email any time to email@example.com.