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Sram Force eTap AXS Wide gearing: more options, more versatility

13 May 2020
Verdict:

New Force eTap AXS components increases the versatility of Sram’s hugely popular second-tier wireless groupset

A host of new Sram Force eTap AXS components increases the versatility of Sram’s hugely popular second-tier wireless groupset, and it gets a posh new gloss-black look to boot.

New options available in the Sram Force eTap AXS groupset include wider gear ratios at both ends of the drivetrain plus a wider DUB axle standard paired to a new Wide front derailleur to increase rear tyre clearance for gravel bikes using a 2x set-up.

Front mech and chainset

Up front is a new Wide chainset and front derailleur pairing designed to work specifically together, for two reasons. Firstly, Sram has added a 43/30 chainring combo for Force eTap AXS, now its lowest 2x chainset gearing option, but this requires a specific front derailleur to maintain perfect shifting on the smaller rings.

The 43/30 combination critically maintains the ratio of a 13 tooth maximum difference between the ring sizes, something which Sram says is crucial to minimise the effect making a front shift has on pedalling efficiency.

The second and quite significant benefit of the new Wide components is improved rear tyre clearance.

This will be good news to anyone wishing to use a double chainring set-up on a gravel bike, as normally the placement of the front derailleur restricts the use of very wide tyres.

The new Sram Force eTap AXS Wide chainset has an extended DUB axle (5mm longer overall) to increase the width by 2.5mm each side.

The new Wide front derailleur, then, also sits 2.5mm further outboard freeing up some space behind to facilitate the use of bigger tyres, for which Sram states up to 700x45mm and 650b x 2.1”(53mm).

Other than the extra clearance offered and new shiny gloss black look, the function of the new Wide front derailleur remains mostly unchanged, maintaining the same eTap battery and Sram’s Yaw, trimless front shifting.

For those interested in the minutiae of bikefit, and wondering: does this increase the Q-Factor (the distance between the crank arms)? The answer is yes. This has been extended by 5mm overall (2.5mm on each side).

The chainline too is also affected by the same 2.5mm - making the new chainline 47.5mm.

Currently there is no power meter option for this chainset, as the bolt circle diameter is less (94mm) compared to the other cranks in the range (107mm).

Cassette and rear derailleur

To go with the new front of drivetrain options, Sram has also added a Force level (XG-1270) 10-36t cassette (12-speed) to the range. Like the changes up front, the new gear ratios require a new rear derailleur (the maximum capacity of the current Force eTap AXS rear mech is a 10-33t cassette).

The new Force eTap AXS Wide rear derailleur - clearly marked with ‘MAX 36T’ is designed to pair specifically with the new lower ratios 10-36t cassette size. Otherwise it remains mostly unchanged. Again aside from a more high-end, glossy aesthetic, it retains the same eTap battery, Orbit clutch system and oversized jockey wheels.

The cassette mounts via the XDR driver body, as per the rest of Sram’s 12-speed cassette range.

A useful point to note is the new Wide 36T max Rear derailleur is still compatible with smaller cassettes - so it will shift fine with 10-33t and 10-28t cassettes too and can be used in a 1x set-up or as a 2x with any of Sram’s chainset options, as follows: 43/30, 46/33, 48/35, 50/37

Adding these new gearing options means Sram has extended its gear offering to having significantly greater range - now 516% - which is notably larger than its competitors (Shimano GRX options shown in blue in the following table).

Sram has also maintained a good number of single tooth jumps on the new 10-36t cassette ratio, as shown in the following breakdown, which also compares it to competitor cassette options.

Pricing

XG-1270 10-36 12-speed Cassette £170  
Force eTap AXS Wide (36T max) Rear Derailleur £415 (battery not included)  
Force eTap AXS Wide Front Derailleur £290 (battery not included). 
Force Wide Crankset (165-172.5mm) £390 (bottom bracket not included). 

As an aside to these component launches, Sram has also added some slick looking new Paceline rotors in 140mm and 160mm sizes (6-bolt and centre-lock all £40 each) as well as a quirky new solution for anyone wishing to use a dropper seatpost on their 1x gravel bike.

Sram has redesigned the paddle that is normally assigned to front mech shifting on its mechanical 2x groupsets such that it can now be used as a remote dropper post lever.

Sram has essentially just removed the ratcheting mechanism from within that left hand shift lever, such that the paddle can now seamlessly actuate a dropper post. (It was possible to do this previously, and we’ve seen this technique widely used already, but was obviously much more fiddly to work around the shift mechanism).

This dropper post option is available on HRD shift levers (used as part of a 1x set-up only, for obvious reasons) on its Force,Rival and Apex levers. Shift levers priced £273, £231, £202 respectively.

All the above mentioned products should be available in stores in May.

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