Wireless Groupsets

These last couple of months have seen wireless groupsets arrive in the pro peloton and at Eurobike. SRAM and FSA showcased theirs at the Tour de France and rumours abound that both Shimano and Campagnolo are working on theirs. It’s an exciting time to be a road cyclist!

As anyone who has built or owned a bike with internal routing can attest, cables can be a real PITA to manage. This should change all of that. I have been considering upgrading my BMC from 105 to Di2 but was concerned with wiring and battery placement. I’ll think I will wait a while to see what happens with these.

SRAM wireless groupset

We first saw the SRAM eTap wireless groupset on AG2R La Mondiale bikes as a prototype. We then knew it was coming soon as UCI regulations say that teams are only allowed to use available, or imminently available, tech on their race bikes. There was a press embargo for a while but now we have plenty of information about the new kit.

I like SRAM shifters. They do sound a little agricultural at times but the shift is solid and dependable. So I for one look forward to the same quality of shifting without the loud clicks. That’s one of the things eTap will bring to the table.

GCN got to try the new groupset and made this video.

The shifters are slightly smaller and rather than Double Tap, you shift down on one lever and up with the other. Use both shifters to move the chainring. It will take a little getting used to but it seems like an elegant and simple design.

Both front and rear derailleur use separate batteries attached to the unit itself. This saves having to find space for a bulky battery a la Di2. They detach and fit into a special eTap battery charger that comes with the kit.

According to SRAM, battery life should be up to a year depending on use. Thanks to a sleep mode between shifts, there is no need for manual power up or down like Campagnolo.

The main selling point of the SRAM eTap wireless groupset is simple operation. It would be easy to upgrade if you have a compatible frame, simple to pair the shifters and derailleurs and a breeze to use. The fact that once paired, each unit uses encryption to protect itself is a useful bonus. While Bluejacking never really took off as people feared, this security will protect you while out on the road.

FSA wireless groupset

Also at the Tour we saw a prototype FSA wireless groupset on a couple of Tinkoff-Saxo and Etixx-QuickStep bikes. FSA had been talking about getting more into the components business for years but look to have made some headway.

At the time of writing, there has been no official press release or news from FSA, but GCN did go a good piece on it here.

Unlike the SRAM wireless option, FSA’s looks to be wireless from the shifters to the front mech and have a wire from front to rear mech. This may be a dummy wire to keep everyone guessing, we just don’t know yet. The shifters look to be more along the lines of Di2, with up and down on each shifter. This should be instantly familiar to all of us, needing little familiarisation before becoming second nature.

Personally, I like the look for SRAM eTap but will need to wait for the trickledown effect to kick in. At £2,059 the price is good, but a little rich for my taste. It will be interesting to see how and how long Shimano and Camagnolo will respond.

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