SRAM Eagle AXS is here and it is already changing the mountain bike industry. But what if you don't want to go all out and buy the full kit? Well, SRAM is now offering the Eagle AXS upgrade kit as a stand-alone option. That's right, $1,000 will get you everything you need to get into the electronic shifting game. Read on to hear our first impressions!
I love electronics. Cell phones, cameras, computers, drones...stuff with batteries and lights and screens all intrigue me. But I also love getting away from all of that by riding my bike. So when SRAM announced AXS, I was curious. A lot of my bike rides are motivated by the fact that I’ve been staring at screens all day and I want to get away from that. So would the addition of electronics to my bike be a positive or a negative experience? My initial gut reaction, no matter how much the thought of adding such a cool piece of technology to my bike would be, is that I wouldn’t want it. Let’s just avoid the batteries, the buttons, the cables (of the electrical kind), cords, and circuitry. Simple machines powered by simple legs.
Buuuuuut then I spent three minutes spinning around a parking lot with an AXS equipped bike.
I was wrong.
I want this. Those first couple of minutes were enough to realize that the massive upsides of AXS are enough for me to put up with just charging a battery. Really when I think about it, AXS is nothing like my computer or my phone. It doesn’t distract me from riding and it certainly doesn’t feed my ridiculous need for social media. It just makes riding bikes easier and better.
The sticker shock of AXS is real, though. The thought of $2000 for a drivetrain is a hard pill to swallow, but thankfully SRAM was kind enough to come out with an upgrade kit for those of us who can’t fathom spending that kind of money. The upgrade kit still isn’t exactly cheap, but it certainly makes getting onto AXS a lot easier.
Both the SRAM XX1 and XO1 Eagle AXS (pronounced: “access”, by the way) upgrade kits are available for $1000 and they supply you with everything you need to get your electronic shifting game started. It includes an Eagle AXS derailleur, an AXS controller (AKA shifter), an AXS battery, a battery charger, and a chain gap tool made specifically for AXS. Installation is about as easy as you would expect, except actually way easier. All it takes is bolting the derailleur and controller on, threading your chain on, then following the super simple instructions for pairing your derailleur and controller. Obviously the usual steps of adjusting your high and low limit screws and your B-screw are still required, but this is nothing new to installing a drivetrain.
So knowing that installing fancy electronics on your bike is less complicated than a regular drivetrain is good to hear, but is it still worth it to have to put up with a battery? Let’s talk just for a second about what having this particular battery on your bike means. First off, it’s waterproof (don’t go diving with it), so puddles, mud, and rain don’t mean anything to it. Secondly, it’s long-lasting (there’s a dirty joke in here somewhere). The system really only uses power when it’s actually in action, so you’ll get months of riding in before your derailleur stops working. Should you discover that you’re low on power as you’re getting ready for a ride, 20 minutes of charge will get you 60% power, which is more than enough for what you’re going to ride. And the controller battery? It’s a button cell that’ll last more than two years before needing to be replaced. Chances are you’ll have a new drivetrain before you need a new controller battery. And to top everything off, the AXS battery is swappable for any other AXS battery.
So how do we answer the question of whether or not putting up with a battery is worth the upgrade in shifting? Basically charge a battery every couple of months to get: faster shifting, safer shifting, a dual-clutch derailleur, a shorter derailleur cage than its mechanical counterpart, customizable shifting paddles, a cleaner cockpit, no cables that need to be retensioned, and more. If you’re on the fence about the upgrade kit and you haven’t figured it out yet, the answer is just to buy the damn thing already.
The upgrade kits for XX1 and XO1 include the Eagle AXS derailleur, the AXS controller (shifter), an AXS battery, a battery charger, and an AXS specific chain gap tool. All of this goodness can be had for a cool $1,000. Before you scoff at that number, remember that this is an incredibly well-engineered system that is leaps and bounds better than your typical drivetrain. The fact that SRAM designed it so that all the good bits will play nice with most of your pre-existing drivetrain deserves a round of applause. Once I made the upgrade, my riding experience hasn’t been the same...and that’s a good thing.
Want to know more about SRAM Eagle AXS? Check out our full video and blog here.