SRAM first announced eTap, their long anticipated electronic groupset, in August 2015. In the meantime you may have already spotted the eTap on the bikes of pro-cyclists, now it is finally available in Australia for everybody. Lets taker a look and see if your next upgrade or new bike will be with eTap.
SRAM RED eTap electronic groupset sits at the top of the range for and boasts a few differences over the competition. As an electronic groupset, the gears are no longer ‘mechanical’, which means that instead of using gear cables that run from the shifters to the front and rear derailleurs, the shifters instead send an electronic signal to the front and rear derailleurs to tell them when to shift up or down.
I rode with David Evans of SRAM Australia for first hand experience with the groupset and to discus the functionality and advantages of eTAP.
A major difference of eTap compared with Di2 is that the SRAM groupset is wireless, there are no cables from the shifters to the derailleurs. The wireless system simplifies the installation of the gears, the only cables required on the bike are for the the front and rear brakes. The gear shifters communicate directly with the front and rear derailleur – to install a new groupset, first you pair the derailleur and shifters, then mount and adjust and you are ready to go.
The front and rear derailleur each have their own battery unit. It is estimated that one charge will last 1000 kilometers and if power was lost while riding, the batteries can be simply switched (front / rear) to get you into the correct gear. One battery charger is provided with the groupset and charging takes 45 minutes for each battery.
Red eTap front derailleur
Red eTap rear derailleur
Rechargable eTap battery
For triathletes, SRAM have a few styles of Blips available, Blips are small buttons which can be mounted (or integrated) on aerobars or on a standard dropbar handlebar to provide convenient shifting. The blips require an additional BlipBox which is a small ‘junction’ box fitted under the stem to send the wireless signal to the derailleurs.
Subtle blip integrated under the bars (under the bartape) for convenient shifting
How to shift with eTap
Shifting with eTap is different, but it is fast to learn and very natural to use. The right shifter (paddle) is pressed to shift the rear derailleur to the harder gears. The left shifter is pressed to change to the easier gears. Simple!
To change the front derailleur, press both shifters at once and it changes from the big chain ring to the small chain ring. If it is in the small chain ring, then it will move into the big chain ring.
Adjustment button inside the shifters for fine-tuning the gears
You may ask, is the shifting on eTap better than Shimano Di2? The eTap is far simpler to learn, a new road cyclist will need more time to become familiar and comfortable with Di2. For an experienced cyclist transitioning from mechanical gears or switching brands, it will come down to personal preference. Both Di2 and eTap shift very well and make sense. Installation is faster with eTap as you don’t need to thread the cables through the bike. The versatile Blips provide a lot of flexibility to setup shifting to suit the rider, so will be appealing for triathletes.
Upgrading to eTap
SRAM Red eTap is currently available in Australia as a complete groupset and and retails for $4509. There may be some slight price variations depending on the bottom bracket standard, SRAM RED cranks are available for GXP, PressFit, BB30 and PressFit 30.
In May 2016, SRAM distributer Echelon Sports will also have upgrade kits available. For riders with SRAM RED, the upgrade kit will include the shifters, front and rear derailleur, battery charger and the dongle (for upgrading the firmware) and let you change to eTap electronic and wireless shifting.
More details about SRAM eTap is online
SRAM have published a video demonstrating SRAM eTap installation.