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SRAM unveils Red eTap wireless road groupset

Published August 26, 2015

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany (BRAIN) — With a global release set for spring 2016, SRAM unveiled its long-awaited wireless electronic road groupset, SRAM Red eTAP, on the opening day of Eurobike on Wednesday.

Taking inspiration from the paddle shifters of Formula 1 race cars, Red eTap delivers intuitive, nearly mistake-free shifting in a lightweight package that’s simple to install and offers long battery life, SRAM claims.

The system operates via shifter paddles that are positioned the same as SRAM’s current Red mechanical shifters, but do not use SRAM’s Double Tap action. The left lever downshifts the rear derailleur and the right upshifts it, while hitting both levers simultaneously shifts the front derailleur. Users can also fire through multiple gears by holding the lever down.

For multiple hand positions, satellite shift buttons called Blips can be mounted over or under bar tape and port into the shift levers with wires. Triathletes and TT riders can also use Blips on their aero extensions to port into an accompanying Blipbox that sends wireless signals to the eTAP derailleurs.

Lightweight battery packs mount directly to the front and rear derailleurs, and the battery packs are interchangeable between both components. A full charge takes 45 minutes via a USB charger cradle and is good for 60 hours of use. Coin cell batteries power the shift levers for up to two years of use, according to Brad Menna, product manager for road drivetrain at SRAM.

Accelerometers in the shifters and derailleurs put them into sleep mode when not in use to extend battery life, and each component also has an LED indicating battery use: green at full charge, red at 15 hours remaining, and blinking at five hours left. Since the rear derailleur sees more use than the front, its battery pack can be switched with the front pack to extend ride time as it wears down, noted Michael Zellmann, SRAM’s U.S. public relations manager.

The components communicate with one another via SRAM’s proprietary Airea protocol — no ANT+ or Bluetooth — and pairing the system takes just 15 seconds by holding down a function button. Due to the system’s lack of shift cables or electronic wires, installation will take less time than removing mechanical components, Zellmann said. 

The 2x11 system is compatible with all mechanical brakes, but not hydraulics. Total weight is 137 grams heavier than SRAM Red mechanical.

Pricing and weights:

  • Shift levers, pair: $580 (260 grams)
  • Front derailleur with battery: $290 (187 grams)
  • Rear derailleur with battery: $590 (239 grams)
  • Blips, four: $200 (6 to 9 grams each)
  • Blipbox: $300 (31 grams)
  • Charger power pack: $70 (NA)
  • USB stick: $50 (NA)

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