There’s been a flurry of speculation that SRAM Wireless eTap is coming to Eagle. To be honest, it isn’t a huge stretch of the imagination to suspect that something would eventually be coming to SRAM’s premier mountain bike group set. After all, SRAM Red eTAP has been on the road for about 18 months now, so it doesn’t take a genius to realise that SRAM would likely be working on implementing that same wireless technology for use off the road as well.
Stoking the internet rumour mill, last night spy shots emerged of what appeared to be Nino Schurter with an unusual rear derailleur, and there was speculation that Nino’s own Instagram showed a lack of front shifter cable:
Can you see a rear derailleur cable on the front of Nino’s bike? We can’t – just the front and rear brake hoses, and the TwinLoc suspension cable. But no shift cable.
Nino also had another photo on his Instagram feed that showed his Scott Scale RC from the driveside. It quite clearly showed a prototype rear derailleur without a cable. That post has since been deleted.
But now there’s more fuel for the fire. In addition to Nino’s post, we’ve just spotted further evidence via an account called werkstatt17_bikeshop on Instagram:
Now firstly, this looks pretty much identical to the button used on Specialied’s Turbo Levo e-MTB that is designed to change between power modes. So it’s highly likely that we’ve all been trolled on this one by werkstatt17_bikeshop thanks to the addition of a SRAM sticker and an Eagle logo. Golf claps my friend.
But we like conjecture, so let’s go for it – this could also be a two-button wireless shifter for XX1 eTAP. It is quite different from SRAM’s current mechanical XX1 trigger shifter, which uses two individual paddles to click up or down a gear. The shifter shown in this Instagram post is much more compact, with two simple buttons tagged with a ‘+’ and a ‘-‘ symbol to indicate the up and down shift. Unlike a mechanical system, a wireless shifter doesn’t need to house any cables, ratchets or indexing system – it literally just needs to transmit two different wireless signals; up or down, so it can be a pretty compact and simple unit.
If this shifter was to work like SRAM’s current Red eTAP system, the transmitter system could be powered with a single CR2032 battery, which is why it can be made so compact. We’ve got no idea what the ergonomics would be like with a shifter like this, but at the very least, it’s very neat!
As for the rear mech, who knows if that’s real? Maybe there’s a grain of truth hidden in a hoax? Or just someone with a lot of spare parts on their hands? Hell, let’s continue with the conjecture!
It appears to be a cross between a SRAM eTAP road rear derailleur, and an XX1 Eagle mechanical derailleur. Indicated on the cassette is ‘Eagle Technology 500%’, so we can safely assume that the 10-50t 12-speed cassette is remaining the same. The only difference is that rear derailleur, which appears to be housing a battery inside the black casing at the rear of the mech – just like like Red eTAP. That means it could be removed for recharging and/or to fit a spare battery – perhaps necessary if you were racing a multi-day stage race like the Cape Epic.
Now why might we be excited about this? Is it because it could signal that electronic shifting is about to come to SRAM Eagle? Or is it because it’s a sign that our very own Wil can see into the future?
Yes, in Wil’s predictions for 2018 he said that we’d see electronic shifting for SRAM Eagle. And before you read this, bear in mind that we have had zero information or confirmation from SRAM about anything to do with eTAP going off-road; all of this is entirely conjecture on our (Wil’s) behalf.
‘1. SRAM Will Go Wireless With Eagle eTAP
This could be wishful thinking on my behalf, but I have a good feeling about this one. I predict that SRAM will introduce electronic shifting at the XX1 Eagle level in 2018, but rather than use wires like Shimano, it’ll be wireless (as it already has on the road). The system will comprise of a compact shifter and a single rear derailleur, which will allow riders with existing 1×12 Eagle drivetrains to easily upgrade to wireless shifting without having to buy a whole new groupset…’
After more futuresight spookiness, he went on:
‘As of right now, I’m still wondering what the shift mechanism will look like – mostly because Shimano holds A LOT of patents for shifters (especially electronic ones). Will there just be a single trigger shifter with two buttons? Or will there be a button on each side of the bar to emulate that same F1 shift style?’
Well, Wil, unless it is indeed all a big Photoshop and stickers job, we reckon your questions have been answered.
We’re off to join the queue for lottery tickets, and we’re taking Wil with us.
So what do you guys reckon? Are the photos we’ve spotted online real? Or are we all being taken for a ride by someone who’s put some Eagle stickers onto an e-MTB motor remote switch? And if those components are indeed real, what do you think of that shifter design?