SRAM Red eTap has to be the most anticipated new product to hit the market in the last few years and after finally being officially launched in September 2015, we're one of a lucky few in the UK to have it in stock online and in store(It's just arrived at our Peterborough and Whitwell stores). The question is, after nearly two years of hype and anticipation, will SRAM Red eTap be able to meet its lofty expectations?
There are two key differences with the SRAM Red eTap compared to its Shimano or Campagnolo competitors. Firstly, shifting is done wirelessly via a proprietary protocol called Airea, which uses a 128-bit rolling encryption, so each shift generates a new, unique encryption code, which according to SRAM �is more secure than any cash machine�. Secondly, the method of shifting is completely new - the left lever upshifts the rear derailleur, the right lever downshifts the rear derailleur, whilst pressing both levers causes the system to shift the front derailleur to the opposite position.
�Shifting is simple: the left paddle handles upshifts, the right paddle downshifts, and pressing both together shifts the front derailleur to its alternative position. With eTap, we were really working with a blank sheet of paper that meant we could look at the way in which shifting happens, we soon realized we didn't need to emulate our mechanical system.�
Brad Menna, road product manager at SRAM
Take a look at Bike Radar's first ride with The SRAM Red eTap:
The SRAM Red eTap group shares some componentry with the mechanical Red 22 group, namely the cranks, chain and brake calipers. The eTap group as a whole is about 1,970g, roughly 60g heavier than mechanical Red but about 75g lighter than Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 and around 100g lighter than the Campaganolo Super Record EPS. The exact weight of the shifting components and hardware weights are as follows:
- Front derailleur (with battery) - 162g
- Front derailleur (without battery) - 138g
- Rear derailleur (with battery) - 235g
- Rear derailleur (without battery) - 211g
- Shifters (each) - 131g
- Batteries (each)- 24g
- Blips (each) - 6g
- Crankset (53/39t) - 557g
- Bottom bracket - 53g
- Cassette (11-25) - 151g
- Chain - 246g
- Brake calipers - 240g
How to get the SRAM Red eTap
- SRAM Red eTap Groupset - £1,179.99
- SRAM Red eTap GXP Crankset 52/36T - £360.99
- SRAM Rival Road Doubletap Right Hand Shifter - £97.99
- SRAM Red eTap Shifter Blips - £74.99
- SRAM eTap Charger with Cord - £29.99
- SRAM eTap Replacement Battery - £29.99
- SRAM eTap Blip Clamps - £9.99
The groupset, for £1,179.99, is all you need if you already have a mechanical SRAM crankset and cassette. Also, the SRAM Red eTap will work perfectly well with a Shimano crankset and cassette, so you could possibly make the massive jump from running the latest version of Shimano 105 to full wireless SRAM Red eTap for only a little more than a grand.
While both Shimano Di2 and Campagnolo EPS use one single battery to provide power to all their components, thanks to its wired system, SRAM Red eTap goes down a different route. SRAM eTap gives interchangeable, rechargeable individual lithium batteries to the front and rear derailleurs, which should provide enough life for a minimum of 60 hours or 1000km. While, the shifters use standard CR2032 batteries, common on most heart rate monitors and cadence sensors, which traditionally have a fairly long battery life. Battery life is extended by an accelerometer in each electronic component, so after 15 minutes of inactivity, the system will go to sleep.
One of the big questions surrounding SRAM Red eTap when it was announced was about security. SRAM admitted at its launch that that someone could potentially hack the group, but posed a rhetorical question: �Why would someone put so much effort into hacking some derailleurs? What would they get out of it?�. But to be honest, it's not hard to conceive a crafty technician hacking into a rival riders shifting system and having their chain drop into the small ring, just as they need to respond to an attack.
The derailleurs can only be paired with one set of shifters at any one time, and the pairing session that you have to go through when setting up the system times out automatically after 30 seconds, so you cannot accidentally leave the system vulnerable if you forget to end the session.
Wireless is particularly advantageous for ever-more complex and integrated time trial and triathlon bikes, and SRAM eTap will also offer remote shifting, with a solution they are calling Blips. These will be small, easy to use and set-up, buttons hat can be attached beneath your handlebar tape and instead of plugging into the drop bar shift/brake levers, they plug into a Blipbox sending unit - The four-port Blipbox (two buttons per direction) is a hair smaller than a Garmin Edge 500, and mounts to the bike with a quarter-turn Garmin-style interface.
Riding Test by Cycling Weekly
Our friends over at Cycling Weekly were one of the first to test SRAM Red eTap back in January:
�The shifting on SRAM Red eTap makes a pretty major departure from that on the mechanical SRAM groupsets. Gone is DoubleTap and in its place is a shifting system that is far more intuitive and easy to use. You change up at the back by pressing the right shifter, change down using the left shifter, and change the front derailleur by pressing both shifters simultaneously. Being so different to all other systems on the market means that it can take a couple of rides to get used to, but no more than that.�
�As well as being a highly intuitive way to set up a shifting system, this configuration also does away with one of the big problems with Di2. With Shimano's system, the shifter buttons are positioned right next to each other, and while they are easy enough to distinguish when riding with bare hands, once you impede your sense of touch with bulky winter gloves it is very easy to press the wrong button and find yourself shifting in the wrong direction. With SRAM Red eTap, this is impossible.�
�The shifting, both front and rear, is crisp and precise. The rear derailleur is very consistent, giving the exact same feel whether shifting from the 28 to the 25 or from the 12 to the 11. As is the case with Di2 and EPS, SRAM Red eTap has a multi-shift system, which means that if you press and hold the levers, the chain will be sent cascading up or down the cassette. Even better, while you're doing this you can also shift at the front. So if you're at the top of a climb and about to start a quick descent, you can hold down the right shifter to send the chain skipping down the cassette, while also pressing the left shifter to change into the big ring at the front.�
�As you'd maybe expect, the SRAM Red eTap front derailleur inherits the excellent Yaw technology that has received so much praise on the mechanical version of SRAM Red. This means that the front derailleur cage rotates as the chain moves up and down the cassette so that it is always parallel with the chain. This differs from the auto-trim function on Shimano Di2, and means that as long as you have set it up correctly, it is impossible to have any chain rub on the front derailleur, even if you're forcing it to deal with a seriously inefficient chainline, running a gear combination like 53�28.�
�SRAM Red eTap is an excellent groupset that is the match of any other groupset on the market. It's an absolute doddle to install and set up, and once it's in place provides excellent shifting with a revolutionary shift logic. What's more, with a recommended retail price of £2,060, SRAM Red eTap is almost a grand cheaper than Shimano Dura-Ace Di2, while also being lighter too.�
Store Details and Directions
Rutland Cycling Peterborough (Next to Notcutts on Ham Lane)
Telephone: 01733 371013
Rutland Cycling Whitwell
Whitwell Leisure Park
Bull Brigg Lane
Telephone: 01780 460705