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Bike brands start to roll out Sram Red eTap AXS-equipped bikes

Sam Challis
6 Feb 2019

The Specialized Tarmac, Venge and the BMC Teammachine all get the 12-speed treatment and tasty paint schemes to match

The 12-speed Sram eTap AXS groupset has now been officially released so, right on cue, the bike industry’s big names are presenting their eTap AXS-equipped models.

Most brands offer Dura-Ace Di2 equivalents already so to distinguish the new options beyond the groupset, brands have devised eTap AXS-specific paint jobs that aim to complement the chrome-and-carbon looks of the groupset.

BMC has chosen to match the black and carbon elements of the groupset by rolling out a stealthy, black-grey Teammachine SLR01 Disc while Specialized has taken a bolder approach, opting to accent the polished aluminium parts of eTap AXS with a shining silver scheme.

It is a move that, in our opinion, suits the redesigned chainset of the groupset particularly well.

Specialized wanted to make a statement with the release of the newly-equipped bikes. ‘We haven’t historically specced Sram on our road bikes because the market has never accepted it very well,’ says Specialized’s Will Watt.

‘In this case, though we believe that this groupset is progressive enough for there to be the market for it. There is enough of a benefit and point of difference to warrant its place in our range, sitting alongside our Dura-Ace bikes at the same price.’

Thanks to Sram’s comprehensive overhaul of eTap, there are several potential benefits that Specialized is seeking to exploit.

One is the more expansive gearing options offered by Sram’s 12-speed design. ‘You’d argue in terms of pure functionality it is probably the most progressive groupset on the market now,’ says Watt. ‘It is the most aligned with a performance rider’s needs at the moment, so naturally suits our S-Works Venge and Tarmac models.’

That is an opinion further manifested in Specialized’s choice to spec Sram’s Quark D-Zero AXS power meter in place of its own model. ‘The Specialized Dura-Ace bikes use our own power meter, despite Shimano offering one,’ says Watt.

‘But eTap AXS has so much functional integration you really want to use the groupset in its entirety to get the best performance out of it. More than anything though, it is just good to be able to give consumers more choice at the top end of the market.’

If you missed the link to our deputy editor Stu Bowers’ exclusive first look and review at the top of the article, find it here. Stu is the only member of the UK cycling media to have had extensive time using the groupset, so make sure you check out his thoughts on eTap AXS. Spoiler: it is rather good.

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