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Sram AXS XO review.

Ive been riding with the new Sram AXS (said axis) wireless rear mech and dropper post the last few weeks. It came standard on my new Giant Trance29 Pro 0 (which will be reviewed under seperate blog).

I’ve been riding Shimano di2 on both road and CX for the last 3 years and electronic shifting has been a very positive experience for me. In fact I’m yet to find someone who regrets changing from mechanical to electronic shifting, and doubt I ever will. The CX bike has seen the full on frozen mud conditions of a european winter, rain storm road riding and rocky trail conditions and has not missed a beat. Gear changes happen under load easily (although not recommended for chain longevity) and precisely all day every day with no chatter or fuss (providing your derailier hanger is not bent). The Sram offering is equally up to the task, just with a few different features as per below.

The biggest difference between the two brands electronic shifting offerings is that AXS is wireless. The install and set up is super easy and leaves your cockpit super tidy. It also leaves a bike with hydro brakes with no cable controls (unless you have suspension lockout mechanisms- in which case upgrade to fox-live!). No cables makes maintenance of a trail going machine so much easier and things just work.

Another feature that is useful is the batteries unclip from mechs for charging. This allows you to carry a spare battery if you are the paranoid type. They come with a handy battery cover with a full/empty level indicator so you know which to charge if you have a couple of batteries.

The charger is USB/ micro usb so you can charge on the go in the car on the way to the trails even. More convenient than di2 but smaller battery capacity which equals more frequent charging required. (But still several weeks depending on how often you ride).

Being removable does put them at risk of being easily stolen say if your bike is on your car parked up for a post ride brew. The benefit of both AXS derailleur and dropper is you could take a battery from the dropper if the rear mech battery runs out of charge. With di2 this is not an option, when it’s gone, it’s gone until you have charger access.

There is also a Sram AXS app. This allows you to modify the button applications, shifting style, battery levels etc. Not something you will use every ride but easy enough to use when you do want to do these things.

The ergonomics of the derailier gear change switch took a bit of getting use to. It didn’t help that I was still riding my Anthem over the same period that had mechanical shifting as the action is quite different. I would think this would become natural over time, and is a very light shift action. Not that I have ever found mechanical difficult. Time of writing this Sram have released a alternate button mechanism which apparently is a closer replication to the mechanical system. It’s a $35 part and a two minute change over, I have mine on order already.

The dropper ergonomics are excellent. I found myself using the dropper more with the AXS system. I’m not sure why, perhaps just the novelty of the wireless trickery of the system.

From a price perspective it’s not cheap! At circa $1600 for a derailier/ lever combo (upgrade kit) and $1100 for a dropper, there are much cheaper ways to kit your bike out, and would be a ways off becoming mainstream. The good news is it is compatible with all GX, XO and XX drivetrains. I am contemplating changing the Anthem over from mechanical at present.

It won’t make you faster, takes a little more off bike work to ensure charge batteries But it’s bullet-proof and boy is it smooth!

All in all it appears to be a great system. If you have been contemplating it, and have the financial means, do it. You won’t regret it.

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