2019 Pinkbike Awards: Innovation of the Year Winner

Dec 19, 2019
by Mike Kazimer  
2019 Pinkbike Awards

The modern mountain bike has evolved dramatically over the last decade, thanks to innovations like dropper posts, 1x drivetrains, and improved geometry. The evolution doesn't show any signs of slowing down either - there's still plenty of room for improvement and refinement.

This year's nominees for Innovation of the Year included a clever coil spring rate adjuster, a futuristic XC race bike, compliant carbon wheels, and a wireless electronic drivetrain. All of those products have the potential to advance the sport in their own way, but it was SRAM's AXS component group that takes the win.




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2019 INNOVATION OF THE YEAR

SRAM's AXS Components

The future is wireless.



The concept of an electronic drivetrain isn't entirely new - early attempts took place from several manufacturers back in the 1990s, but it wasn't until the introduction of Shimano's Di2 drivetrain in 2014 that there was a viable option for mountain bikers. There was one issue, though; Di2 still had a wire running from the shifter to the derailleur. That meant that setup wasn't any easier (and it often actually took longer) than installing a drivetrain with 'regular' cable and housing.

In 2016 SRAM launched their wireless road gruppo, SRAM Red eTap, and it wasn't long before speculation began about when that technology would make it over to the mountain bike world. The rumor mill kicked into high gear when prototypes popped up in late 2018 on the bikes of various athletes, and then the group was finally launched to the public in early 2019.

As it turns out, it was worth the wait. The shifting is instant and impeccable, and the same goes for the action of the wireless dropper post - there's no delay between when the lever is pushed and the derailleur moves or the dropper can be lowered. As for setup, that's just about instant as well. There's no need to fuss with cables and housing; just bolt on the derailleur and shifter, install the battery, push a couple buttons and you're ready to go.
RockShox Reverb AXS review
With AXS, dropper post installation takes a matter of seconds.

There was a lot riding on the launch of AXS - a glitchy interface or poor performance could have stalled it at the starting line, but after nine months of near-constant use our original test parts are still going strong. Yes, the shape of the shifter paddle could stand a little more refinement, and the price is still situated up in the stratosphere, at least for now, but as far as overall execution goes, SRAM nailed it the first time around. The future is wireless, and the launch of AXS has put SRAM right at the front of the pack.

The 2019 Pinkbike Award for Innovation of the Year goes to SRAM's AXS components.








225 Comments

  • 287 96
 Imo thats a solution to a problem that wasnt really a problem..
  • 172 120
 The same could be, and has been said for many things about bikes. Derailleurs: who really needs shifting, if you can just push harder? Mountain bikes: you could simply stay on the road, that is what it is made for. Suspension forks. Rear suspension. Dropper posts.
The question is not whether the old situation was a problem. The question is whether it is better with this solution. Pinkbike seems to think that it is.
  • 87 28
 @ak-77: sorry but your suggestion is basically every idea is a good idea. People need shifting. That provided actual benefits. This? This simply does the same thing differently while risking being less reliable for more aggressive and crash prone riding
  • 55 3
 @dirtenistderwahnsinn : yes it was a solution to answer internal routing, though the problem remains for brake lines. I would put as innovation of the year: external cable routing!
  • 39 13
 You're confusing solution with progressive innovation. SRAM got rid of the cables, just like when someone decided to get rid of tubes...
  • 12 15
 You could say the same thing about hydraulic vs cable actuated though
  • 67 7
 @priest55: tubes got punctures, and that's why we got rid of them. OK, so you're gonna tell me "cable break" yep, though it's not happened to me in years. When is that last time you had a problem with one device refusing to communicate with another via bluetooth or ANT+? It did happen to me several times just this year. Not excited to have to look for a firmware update in order to be able to go for a ride and realize the update failed and I have to make a hard reset and re-synchronize everything. This kind of thing will happen.
Wireless sounds cool but it's substituting a problem with another one. Not really a solution for me.
  • 17 14
 @EnduroManiac: No tyres get punctures, and we found a better way to run them. Tubes weren't necessarily a 'problem', someone just decided to innovate and progress the sport. Cable run drivetrains aren't a 'problem', pretty much everyone still runs them, me included. But an electronic drivetrain is a progression to the sport, not a solution to a problem.

A firmware update isn't going to prevent you from riding any more or less than setting the correct pressures for your tires is...
  • 6 2
 @spaced: No you got my 'suggestion' wrong. That's not what I am saying. I am saying that every product that is essentially different from what was there before, and is better than the previous solution in some aspect, is an innovation. It's not just about the idea, it's also about how well it is executed. It doesn't matter whether or not people were of the opinion that the previous situation was problematic.
I can't know for sure, but I really don't think there was a large population of cyclists in the early 70's that were annoyed by the fact there were no bikes available that allowed you to safely and comfortably ride down steep hiking trails at speed. So in my opinion, the mountain bike is also a solution to a problem that wasn't really a problem. Doesn't make it less fun.
Oh, and people don't need shifting. There is a large community of single speed enthousiasts that could easily get a bike with gears. It's a lot easier to get up the mountain if you have gears, that's for sure. But you don't need them.
  • 34 14
 Congratulations Sram, especially considering that you are about to release direct mount derailleurs for your new "hanger" standard, which basically means derailleur can no longer partially rely on flex of the hanger since it is mounted to the axle, which basially means the chance of wasting your already morbidly overpriced derailleurs increases. Business idea of the decade.

I still have this video of a desperate roadie trying to shift a wireless sram derailleur and shouting: Fuuuuk Sram!!! Fuuuuuk Sram!!!

Come on Pinkbike... at least before you could put it on RC who is a gear fetishist.
  • 3 2
 @priest55: If the update works, as you might have read in my post. Still an unlikely case I get it, but I do not see progression for my riding. Shifting is faster maybe? As long as your battery is charged I presume.
  • 12 1
 @priest55: You obviously never have any technical problems with electronics then. My experience the more electrics, the more the random issues I have.
  • 23 8
 @EnduroManiac: This year i've been to Hafjell 3 times with my buddy who had Di2 on his DH bike (which he installed for a goof). On 2 occasions he had it discharged... oh I know what someone wants to say: human error. Guess what everything is a human error, this is what we do and some systems are much more prone to human error. I cannot count how many times I forgot to charge my phone when something much more important that ride with the lads was at stake. Oh cables are not reliable either. No. But much more reliable when faced with human being than batteries. Also, I don't see Di2 owners popping up and saying how it changed their riding, they were all over the place when Di2 was released. So are AXS fanbois now. Post purchase rationalization is a bitch. Let the history judge. Don't knock it until you've tried it, ok - do me a favor don't praise it until you've had it for 4 years. Fkng shifting quality... on a Sram cassette. That's not true and it's not even funny.
  • 28 17
 I have big respect to Sram for coming up with wide range cassettes and N7W chainrings in 2010, but I cannot think of a single thing they have done in drivetrain game that is not covered in bullsht since then, other disciplines included. All the folks saying Shimano is behind, yes in fact they are behind shitting all over the place with solutions to problems that nobody has ever had: Boost, Predictive steering (with X01 hubs having bearngs that last shorter than Superstar) Dub, 12speeds, this, Not to mention the sht show with Levels and Guides, somehow making Codes actually work, suspension being mediocre until latest 2018/19 versions of Boxxers, Pikes and Lyriks. Shocks are possibly still in 2015 or earlier when compared to Fox, CC or Öhlins. I cannot think of a single thing they done right since they started partnering with Trek to "fix" everything that was working and messing it up.
  • 5 8
 innovation isn't just problem-driven anymore - axs is just a logical step forward
  • 6 0
 @WAKIdesigns: you speak out of my hart this time!
  • 7 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Bad day in Gothenburg?
  • 4 1
 Maybe for you the average rider, but for me as a bike mechanic and a racer it does make life better Smile
  • 22 5
 @alexei92: yes, it makes all the sense in the world... until you have to pay for it from your own pocket. It comes in "Dollars" or "Euros" not "Somebody elses". Something RC forgot when he was praising Di2 few years back. When you get paid for a trip, they stuff wine and Sallads into your mouth in Sedona, then yeah, oh yeah! Best drive train you have ever tried.
  • 5 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Interesting take on a proven shock design that can actually be tuned. Fox's X2s are the only shocks they make worth a grain of salt. The DP series are a worthless as you believe AXS is and "solved" problems that didn't exist. The Super Deluxe Ultimate is the best feeling stock shock I've ridden in the past 5 years.

I'll take part of that back now that I think about it. The Marzocchi Bomber CR (Fox VAN RC) is a solid design and an amazing performer when custom tuned.
  • 18 1
 If I can't fix it trail side, I don't want it. AXS is a step towards dispensable electronics.
  • 7 8
 @BoneDog: when was the last time you fixed a broken frame at the trail side?
  • 5 1
 someone get @WAKIdesigns: a beer.
massive YES to all that!
  • 8 1
 @WAKIdesigns: It reminds me a guy in Dirt Magazine (not sure it was now PB James Smurthwaite or the guy that co-founded Robot Bike, Haythornthway ??) claiming how justified the price of SRAM drive trains were after coming back from a one week trip in NZ offered by SRAM. When I see the price of their miserable made in China XO1 that are comparable or higher to the made in Japan XTR excellence I can only shake my head.
  • 6 2
 @EnduroManiac: in all honesty 11sp XTR was a well masked XT, not worth the ca 150% price increase. I will not forgive them the plastic clutch lever. Carbon cage which is a mentionworthy upgrade shouldn’t cost 100$. When Sram made X9 10sp they offered carbon cage for only 20$ more than alloy. Shimano is not wothout fault, after all they started this insanity with electronic drivetrains for MTBs and certain parts of their drivetrains are stupid as well. I am comparing the whole picture so no point for whataboutism.
  • 9 1
 Everyone here complaining about durability and reliability, meanwhile all the reviews say this stuff has worked flawlessly since day 1. Don’t like it? Don’t buy it. But in the meantime why are advancements bad. Ditching the cable and housing, cleaner cockpit, all that sounds pretty good.
  • 6 2
 @lognar: Well smashing a 500$ piece of equipment on a rock at 20mph is not a matter of reliability. We can call it an act of God. Unlike shitty channeling of the chain through cogs while shifting on a cassette costing nearly 400$. If I was fine with such performance I’d buy a 100$ Sunrace. “Shifting is instant and impeccable?” Excuse me go ride XT cassette or XTR shift some under power and you’ll never put on this clunky oil slick crap back again

We are commenting on this silly thing winning what is possible the most prominent journalist award in MTB world for bike products. And they even have a bloody nerve to mention Reverb! Oh now they got it right! It’s abused wife/child syndrome.
  • 3 0
 yep. Agree. I'm never going to buy a wireless setup for tons more money. Rather just run a cable for .99cents.
  • 1 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Obviously XT is better value and sometimes even performance (!). I prefered 10s XT derailleur to XTR. Shifting felt faster in a strange way.
For the rest I was only corroborating the slight lack neutrality of the media at times, maybe as they get spoiled by the industry.
  • 2 0
 @priest55: A firmware problem likely won't but a battery problem definitely will. I can't say I would be excited about plugging my bike into power after a ride or having it fail near the end because I hadn't. I see the issue as having to plug it in every time as a hassle. Or that the battery is long lasting so you don't have to constantly watch it, where you may run it down without realizing it.
  • 1 0
 @priest55:sorry, that tubeless analogy is the worst ever. Tubeless is a setup comparable in price and simplicity that actually finished 80% of punctures, Axs is just a Rube Goldberg machine. Swap a $2 part that will run smooth as long as you change it once a year for 1 grand worth of wireless electronics anf servos is just stupid.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: My experience has been similar. I can’t count the number of times customers walked into our shop with a Di2 system that quit mid ride and needed a firmware update. It was infuriating because instead of replacing a cable or adjusting a mech, it meant tearing the thing off, and shipping it back to Shimano (worst case), and reinstalling it weeks later.

However, that was Di2. It’s not fair to say that AXS will be plagued with the same issues. Maybe it will being electronic, but I think we have to let time tell before we can make that judgement.
  • 1 0
 @EnduroManiac: Yeah, I get ya. It’s an obvious outcome of press camps. In a way they are necessary in another way It takes a certain dose of psychopathy to criticize someone’s product after having been through such party. So in many ways I get it, I can filter it out. Ehat I can’t is people who get stuff like that for free and never wonder oh... how lovely, but I am never spending 1000$ on a fricking drive train! In such way, If we asked Starling bicycles to actually develop a carbon frame built up to Aerospace standards, ir would weigh 1500g and it would cost 100k, would some journalists go: “the best bicycle I have ever tried?” How expensive something needs to be for some people to go: well... great, but I would never fricking spend 1/4th of that on anything!
  • 5 1
 @spaced: You sound like my dad. He would never buy a car with power windows because the window motors could break down easier.

This is innovation of the year, not keep doing the same thing award.

Not every idea is good. They didn't make it to the list.
  • 1 0
 AXS Im happy for you and all but I just wanna say Springdex had one of the best inventions of all time! - Kanye
  • 3 0
 @rockchomper: Springdex got Norbed big time.

@fabwizard: that is not a fair comparison. Problem with AXS is not the way it works, that is beyond fanatabulous. If they had a nuclear reactor and antenna capable of contacting Voyager 1, it would still be flawed. It is the fact that a virtually disposable product costs so much. This is not road racing where derailleurs are unlikely to get damaged and where one could make an argument that shifting quality can mean a successful sprint out of the peloton or not. SRAM could simply sell the whole thing at package price only, and then charge 100$ for replacement of each rear mech. I'd buy that argument. So far, it is the rear mech that is the most expensive element of the package.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: But by that argument, we should all ride single speed. I get that it is Fng expensive but most new tech is while they have the control of the market waiting for competitors to catch up. Once the competition comes the price comes down.

Since the category is for innovation i think this is a fair winner.

BTW you may have something there. Nuclear reactors for EBikes????????? Patent it quick.
  • 1 0
 @EnduroManiac: Agreed, cool concept but i had a live valve on my Kona and it wouldn't lock out my suspension until i got an update. Cool when it works though
  • 2 0
 Ffs, Shimano had electric shifting years ago, and Sr has had it on their road bikes for years. How is this an innovation. Also, this does the exact same thing cables did go 40x the price. If anything in the drivetrain is an innovation it is hg+. Shifting both ways under load is a genuine and significant change to how drivetrains function.
  • 2 0
 @fabwizard: oh give me a bloody break. I heard that on every single occasion something stupid came out. Have a dropper stem - if you don't like this obvious upgrade over a regular stem then ride a single speed with cantilevers. Sprindex is a genuine innovation here, just like other nominees carbon rims with extra fat flanges decreasing risk of puncture and breaking the rim. It actually matters with next to no increase in price. 500$ derailleur is as innovative as a golden toilet at the palace of the owner of a network of Gyms in Moscow.
  • 1 0
 but at least is really fkn expensive.... so there's that as a plus Smile
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Can't fix human...
  • 4 1
 @ismasan:I disagree, my point is that SRAM went and progressed the sport. They didn't look to 'solve a problem'. Of course the AXS setup costs more, but how much would it cost to replace your entire drivetrain as it stands? And if they didn't create it, then someone else was going to.

By most peoples logic on here, did we really need anything that costs more for our bike when the original does the job? Perhaps not, but you have a choice, just like you have a choice for most things in the world.
  • 3 0
 @priest55: how did they progress the sport ??? Do you ride faster w.o. cables? Because better aerodynamics ?? Come on, it does not bring anything.
  • 2 0
 Replace mechanical issues with electrical issues, what could go wrong? And just another thing on my 'head out for a ride' checklist of things I need to have done before leaving: charge batteries.
  • 2 0
 @priest55:

quit preaching the false doctrine, priest!

IMO 'progress the sport' would be pulling their heads out of their arses and working on the next logical step.... now that we've murdered the front derailleur let's murder the rear... GEARBOXES!

The gearbox journey has been a gradual one and the path to enlightenment is paved with perils and pitfalls. I'd love to see a gearbox with less range (sorry i don't need 500%) so fewer gears and lighter.

But in the meantime i'm cool if AXS tech trickles down so non-surgeons can get a piece of the action one day.
  • 1 0
 @EnduroManiac: my tubes got punctures so i removed them. My damn tyres now get punctures, they will have to go in the new year.....
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: I’m with you Waki. You’re bang on the money with this one.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: the plastic XT clutch lever! Yeah what a mess that one is. So frustrating trying to get in there with a little flat head screw driver to move it. Thought I was the only one that had that problem.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: 2 Thumbs waaay up!
  • 1 0
 @Knackerbags: At low pressure you get less punctures wo tubes than with -> progress (even though still not a sufficient one imho).
  • 1 0
 @EnduroManiac: hmmm im running 55 psi in the rear and 95 in the front so i might try reducing to 53 & 85 and see how i go....
  • 1 1
 @priest55: agree to disagree, hehe. I'll make another analogy; car's power windows. You had to do that crank for 10 seconds to fully open a window, sometimes it took some effort even, depending on the car. Even though that worked fine, someone innovated and brang motors and switches. Now you only have to press a button for about 5 seconds and that's it. Even you can action every window from your seat. Damn, even tho those motors fail every now and then I wouldn't go back to manual.

What about electric shifting in mtb?
You still have to push a lever with your thumb to move the chain to the next cog, zero innovation there.
It brings only the benefit of more precise shifting (they say) at the big expenses of having to remember to charge batteries and eliminating any chance of repairing it yourself or hack it in the trail if something goes wrong.
And I haven't talked about price, cause even if some day thry're equally priced to mechanical counterparts, I'd pick mecanical.
  • 3 0
 @ismasan: a better analogy would be a traditional manual car gearbox vs automated manual, clutchless paddle shift gears. People harp on about how traditional manual is better, not hard to use, more involved, can be fixed at home (to an extent, if you really want) and cheaper than the new tech. But most people when buying new, go for the paddle shift, despite early issues, forcing the markets hand. Now most enthusiast cars have it has an option, and they’re all pretty good.
  • 40 1
 Wait didn't Sram already do the same thing for road bikes? My money was on the coil spring rate adjuster cause its new and specfific to MTBing
  • 11 9
 Yes. This isn't innovative in the slightest, it already existed and doesn't solve any pressing problem.
  • 6 3
 Electronic shifting is about a decade old now (Dura-Ace Di2 in 2009). Wireless is four years old (Red eTap in 2014).
But given the hate for everything "roadie" on Pinkbike, i'm not surprised that they are totally blind to these facts.
  • 6 2
 @mnorris122: overload clutch which moves the derailleur away from impacts on the trail, shift timing, as well as general refinement to shift quality. It’s a purpose built mountain product where the road drivetrain was just making it wireless. The battery is shared with RED/AXS and that’s it.

I’ve had red, di2, and axs equipped bikes. Axs by far has the best features and shift quality - as well it should, since it’s the newest.
  • 7 7
 @parkourfan: what refinements to shift quality? The cassette and chain are the same as the mechanical group, so there isn't any improvement there. The derailleur's geometry isn't different in the slightest from the mechanical version, so it can't be that, and to top it all off, it actually takes longer for the derailleur to move after your thumb demands a shift with the electronic version. When you push or pull one end of a cable, the other end moves at the exact same time, no lag whatsoever. The speed at which radio signals move is slower than that. As for the overload clutch, that solves a problem that only exists with electronic derailleurs lol
  • 3 6
 @mnorris122: Jesus dude, you killed him!
  • 7 3
 @mnorris122:
There’s more force from the motor.

The chain is different and AXS specific, so you’re wrong.

The geometry is different in a variety of ways. More chain wrap, for one. Shorter, stiffer cage. By saying there’s no difference between the mechanical and AXS components you show you have no clue what you’re talking about.

Indexing is perfect every time, again due to the electronics.

If the shift speed is too high, the motor slows down the shift so it doesn’t crunch into place and have a bad shift. Every shift is indexed perfectly, which you can’t do with your thumbs every time.

@highfivenwhiteguy

I’m tagging you so you can learn a thing or two as well.
  • 4 1
 @mnorris122:
The overload clutch moves the derailleur away from impact. Any derailleur could benefit from that.
  • 4 10
flag highfivenwhiteguy (Dec 19, 2019 at 9:36) (Below Threshold)
 @parkourfan: Well, in order to teach me something you might want to first learn how to form a cogent argument.
The complete arrogance with which you assume that your nonsensical arguments will "teach" myself or anyone else anything is astounding.

On the other hand from what I gathered above you need AXS because you are incapable of shifting correctly without electronic assistance. If you are special needs please say so and I will back off out of respect. I think it is really cool that people with disabilities can still get out and ride, and if the point of your post was to state that AXS is a lifesaver for you then my apologies.
  • 7 2
 @highfivenwhiteguy:
Saying that someone “killed me” presumes they were correct, which he was not.

I can guarantee I’ve run and worked on more mechanical systems than you ever will.

You can learn the facts about the system and why it has advantages and disadvantages over mechanical - and perhaps how to read and interpret facts correctly as well.
  • 5 3
 @parkourfan:
"The overload clutch moves the derailleur away from impact. Any derailleur could benefit from that."

lolololol

Every-single-derialleur-ever has done that by desing.
Since the first derialleurs. Ever. Even that crappy SIS from the 80's. You push them, they move in, then go back to the original position with a spring, the same spring that takes the chain to the lower cogs when cable is released.

Only Sram could sell that as a feature XD
  • 5 2
 @ismasan: completely free movement and returning via a motor to the perfect spot is very different from smacking your mechanical derailleur around. If you ever got to feel it work on the trail, you’d love it. It’s very smooth, all you hear is a quick blip from the motor. And, unlike mechanical systems, much less force is going into the cage, the b knuckle, and the derailleur hanger - meaning rare fine tuning adjustments.

Like the price or not, you can’t argue that it’s a legitimate feature - but of course that’s what you’re doing.
  • 2 2
 @parkourfan: Jesus, and I thought I was an opinionated, know-it-all, twenty-something mechanic.
P.S. I still run 11s XX1 because it's lighter, no ifs ands or buts.
  • 3 1
 @fullfacemike:
Don’t think I’ve expressed any actual opinions here thus far. All I’ve been saying is that AXS has better quality shifting than the similar mechanical group when people claim it’s identical who clearly have no idea what they’re talking about. And if you want to get into the e-peen swinging of you being a “20 something mechanic”, go right ahead, but speak for yourself, not me.
  • 2 0
 They had a different system for road bikes called etap. AXS is new tech for both mtb and road this year.
  • 3 2
 @parkourfan: Telling everyone they know nothing and rattling off how many top-end builds you've had at the ripe old age of 23 certainly doesn't qualify as e-peen swinging I guess? I'm not even saying those guys aren't wrong; AXS clearly has some unique and superior features. You sound super privileged though and that's cool but seriously: chill.
  • 2 0
 @parkourfan: You're correct on every aspect other than the chain/cassette being different for AXS. It's the same unit that XX1 drivetrains use to have.

The rest is bang on, and it's honestly a giant step forward in drivetrains. I'm going to keep rocking cables until it comes down to a better pricepoint, and I'm not totally sold on the ergonomics of the shifter, but holy f*ck it is absolutely sublime in action.

Also shoutout to everyone going for personal attacks on Parkour for sharing. Y'all f*ckin' suck. Come up with a point or don't hit submit.
  • 2 1
 @fullfacemike:
Di2 doesn’t count as high end in the road bike world, and that’s not me being privileged or something - which I’d certainly say I’m not.

Telling someone that they know nothing about a subject when they clearly don’t isn’t e-peen swinging, it’s not even arrogant. Just because people get triggered when people tell them they’re wrong doesn’t make me uptight.

I made a point of not referencing specific bikes I’ve owned, and certainly try to keep the details on exactly what I did in the industry to a minimum to not look like a total tryhard/arrogant e-peen swinging “know it all 20 something mechanic”

However to sum up both of those earlier points, I used my full time job in the industry during undergrad and a year after to pay it off. There’s some of the uprights super privileged e-peen you wanted.

@sherbet
I believe I said something about the chain being different, not the cassette - IIRC, it was my j&b rep marketed the AXS chains as being different from the normal eagle ones in design as well as just being labeled as the AXS line. Admittedly, probably shouldn’t have thrown that in without double checking. I know the cassettes are exactly the same.

Thanks for the shoutout, and a legitimate correction. I have no problems with tossing a few comments out into the fray of people who hero worship the mid tier bike and are blind to everything else, I’m well aware it gets a lot of personal hate.
  • 2 0
 @sherbet:
Double checked, you’re right.
Rep was probably feeding the guys some lines about the wear benefits of the ti-nitride XX1 vs the chain that comes with x01 AXS.

And a further qualification on what I said about di2, Ultegra di2 bikes are pretty solidly midrange in the grand scheme of road bikes, especially with the new force and red out.
  • 2 0
 @mnorris122: "The speed at which radio signals move is slower than..." stopped reading at this point.
  • 1 2
 @parkourfan: I know it sounds weird, but thank you? This back and forth has been like looking in a mirror from six years ago when I was fresh out of college and thought I was the hottest shit to hit the bike industry. Not even a dis, just a thanks for reminding me to think about how far I've come.
  • 37 0
 Sprindex got robbed
  • 1 0
 Please god make this a meme
  • 43 24
 And the winner goes to SRAM...For making the most expensive drivetrain which is not really needed but gets peoples money! Sure this should have gone to something that fixes everyones problem or a new product that is engineered differently?

Shimano brought out the XTR electronic shifting years ago, there's no difference.
  • 22 26
flag priest55 (Dec 19, 2019 at 1:28) (Below Threshold)
 so don't buy the drivetrain, don't buy the S-Works enduro, don't buy carbon rims, don't buy Trickstuff brakes, don't buy a Ferrari, don't buy a Yacht...
  • 23 10
 AXS is light years ahead of Di2. Quick, precise, easy to adjust, and not to mention a breeze to set up. Also makes trouble shooting super easy since you update the firmware from your phone instead of having to use Shimano's E-Tube program on a computer along with an expensive wired adapter.
  • 27 0
 @priest55: and there i was, wondering whether to buy a yacht or not...
  • 3 0
 @tobiusmaximum: dude the answer is always yes...
  • 3 2
 You can do a DI2 update via phone aswell...@seraph:
  • 6 4
 @priest55: Haha, you got down voted for suggesting that 'people can put their money where their mouth is'! What a time we live in! It's like they're being forced upon them. @WAKIdesigns, save my comment and post it back in the comments when SRAM completely discontinues all cable operated MTB drivetrains....
  • 6 4
 No difference? You obviously haven't used AXS then. I agree its expensive. Most top tier drive-trains are when they are first released. And to get peoples money? Isn't that the idea for most any business? I would guess most people on here with negative comments about it probably haven't tried it. Its incredible and will trickle down like every other drive-train has.
  • 4 2
 This is engineered differently. Name another mountain drivetrain where the shifter isn't directly connected to the derailleur... I’ll wait.
  • 2 1
 @lognar: Archer components D1X (though still uses a cable setup to actually shift) ;-)
  • 2 1
 @tobiusmaximum: rich people buy yatches. Smart rich people rent them Wink
  • 1 0
 Exactly. @lognar:
  • 1 0
 @mitchbike: I know right. How dare I suggest such logic. HOW DARE I!
  • 1 1
 @lognar: Rohloff, pinion, uhh... singlespeed?
  • 2 0
 @Bob-Agg: rolhoff and pinion both have cables that directly connect the shift mechanism to the gearing mechanism
  • 1 3
 @lognar: Correct, but the shifting system isn't a derailleur.
  • 1 0
 @Bob-Agg: shifting mechanism then, be that derailleur or GB or whatever. The Archer system is the only other one we’re there isn’t a hard connection between the shifting mechanism, and the shifter.
  • 25 3
 Pinkbike is home to the most annoying know it all commentators I swear.
  • 1 2
 Couldn’t agree more
  • 25 5
 So the future is charging and changing batteries constantly, sounds like we just went back to the chuffin 80's again!
  • 21 8
 They last for like 25 hours of riding. If you can ride your bike for 25 hours without it needing any maintenance. (oiling chain, inflating tyres, checking suspension settings etc which are of the same level of effort as popping a battery on charge) then you don't need a high end drivetrain because you either don't look after your bike at all and its a rattly bag of shit or all your riding is in perfectly dry, smooth, flat conditions at 5 mph.
  • 16 1
 Its that one time you go to the trails and forget to charge it tho..
  • 6 1
 @zyoungson: Heaven forbid you'd be inconvenienced by a mechanical at the trail head, I've never seen someone make that mistake before....
  • 3 0
 @Patrick9-32: like a 24hr race?
  • 6 1
 @Klainmeister: If you are doing a 24 hour race you bring spares or you expect to DNF. This would include spare batteries.
  • 1 0
 @Patrick9-32: agreed that there are more things that take time maintenance wise, but does that mean we can't complain about an additional thing to do before riding. Also, don't oil your chain, adjust tire pressure or adjust your suspension and your bike rides worse, but you're still able to ride. Forget to charge your derailleur and you're in trouble at the first climb or flat section...
  • 3 2
 @Mac1987: I would put not shifting at all but still being able to be pedalled in one gear in the same category of "riding worse" as having a rusty chain, bottoming out suspension or flat tyres.
  • 5 5
 @Patrick9-32: Done a couple of week-long self-supported MTB races where I was riding >100 mi / 16 hour days and was away from any possibility of a plug in for 2 days. Let me know when AXS lasts 100 hours on a single charge.
  • 6 1
 @wheel-addict: What spares did you bring with you on those trips? Realistically, you probably could have carried enough batteries and the charger to make AXS work for you without making a noticeable difference to your pack weight; but this isn't pinkbike's "an item that works for everyone in every conceivable scenario award" its the innovation of the year award.
  • 6 1
 @Patrick9-32: oh i dunno, the extra 25g of a spare battery might mean he doesn't finish....
  • 2 0
 @Patrick9-32: I can do all that in the trail head after popping the bike out of the car in about 5 minutes, good luck arriving to the trailhead and finding out your battery is dead.
  • 2 1
 @ctd07: yeah! I’m sick of this! I want my landline back!
  • 1 0
 @Patrick9-32: sorry, but a sightly dry chain or sightly low tire pressure for me is not just as annoying as riding in the lowest or highest gear all the time. A dry chain works, but worse then a lubed chain. An empty derailleur doesn't work at all. That's the difference.
  • 1 0
 Cuz we arent constantly charging any kind of electronics now this really sounds like an inconvenience.
  • 1 1
 @lognar: cuz we already have to deal with electronics, charging batteries and worrying about making it through the day without charging our phones. Even cars cause 'range anxiety' nowadays.
Some of us go out riding to get away from all that stuff and don't want to have to think about charging our derailleurs. But that's a personal thing. I can imagine a lot of people don't care and are happy to charge another device or two.
  • 1 0
 @zyoungson: carrying a spare AXS battery is really easy. I put one in my bag and I haven't had to use it yet.
  • 1 0
 @wheel-addict: just carry a spare battery. It's really easy.
  • 14 1
 While I like my AXS drive train on my not everyday bike, I don't see the point of the dropper. It's ugly, needs charging , it's heavy, and it costs more than the whole AXS upgrade kit
  • 4 0
 Upgrade kit is £975 RRP, AXS reverb is £700?
  • 3 4
 I just paid £450 for a AXS reverb. shop around and you can save. Although its still crazy money, but sometimes you just gotta throw caution to the wind!
  • 4 0
 @v7fmp: where? That’s less than trade price?
  • 2 1
 Its even more pointless on the new S-Works Enduro where you get the AXS dropper but no AXS drivetrain.....
  • 4 2
 The AXS version of the reverb literally only weighs a few grams more than its cabled friend. It’s also almost on par in weight to a fox transfer post. It’s awesome having a dropper that’s doesn’t require cable or hose maintenance, the trade off of that versus charging it (very seldomly I might add) is awesome

Does diarrhea always come out of your mouth?
  • 1 1
 @tomhoward379: Through BikeBitz on here. Dave always seems to do cracking prices!

oh and LOLZ at my comment getting down voted.... the mind boggles!
  • 1 2
 With the dropper, you can at least switch it between bikes without having to route the cable and bleed the system. Its the drivetrain that seems pointless to me.
  • 1 1
 @f00bar: I agree that this would be an advantage if it was priced differently. But for the price of a single AXS dropper you can equip all your bikes with really good conventional droppers so you don't need to switch around at all.
  • 1 1
 How does it shift under load compared to Shimano 12sp? Is it similar to just Eagle X01 load shifting (same old clanking through gears).
  • 1 0
 Std reverb 30.9mm 100mm is only 13g heavier than the axs version of the same spec
  • 2 0
 Er... other way around. U know
  • 11 0
 I agree with this choice even though I'm not personally intert in the product right now. I suspect that 10 years from now, all decent mountain bike drive trains will be wireless and this is where it started. That being said, Springdex is the people's champion!
  • 15 1
 An electrifying decision.
  • 6 1
 I am shocked!
  • 5 0
 I think there's gonna be some resistance against this decision...
  • 3 0
 I feel like this is just a plug for SRAM
  • 1 0
 These puns seem to have a loose connection.
  • 3 7
flag kyytaM (Dec 19, 2019 at 4:23) (Below Threshold)
 they can shove it up their asses
  • 1 0
 Guess it was worth the buzz.
  • 12 4
 A bit disappointing... First of all, the product doesn't really solve a problem, the improvement is just marginal. Also, this is just a carry over of existing tech, brought over from the roadie side, so not even new really
  • 10 0
 Cannot wait for the tech to filter down to affordable groups purely fro the shifter ergonomics
  • 12 2
 I still prefer the unplugged version...
  • 6 3
 I need an app to change gears but my phone just crashed
  • 5 3
 @JimmyWeir: you don’t need the app to shift.
  • 2 3
 @JimmyWeir: even if you did, it’s not SRAMs fault you have a **** phone...
  • 2 2
 @tomhoward379: #christmasburn
  • 2 0
 Best album nirvana ever did lol.
  • 1 1
 It's called acoustic.
You can't unplug this thing, because it runs on batteries.
Or am I being petty here?
  • 4 1
 My nomination would have to be Tubolito inner tubes. They are tough and light as fudge, have a high resistance to snakebite punctures and are easy to set up. It's hardly a revolution but then neither is wireless gear changing. Expensive for an innertube - but then this is MTBing.
  • 4 1
 What is the estimated lifespan of a single 11-speed derailleur? Because I just bought a bike last year with a 9-speed XT derailer from 2012.

Somehow the only place I can visualize an electronic derailleur from 2019 in 2026 is in the dumpster.

I mean, where are your 2012 items now? If there’s anything lying around, how many of them are battery operated?

Call me a Luddite now Big Grin
  • 2 1
 Seriously, we have enough of a problem with waste without adding more of it. Are all the extra resources that go into making and charging this versus mechanical really worth the shifting performance?
  • 2 0
 @highfivenwhiteguy:
Oh, you again!
I’ve had plenty of customers with OG di2 with external batteries that they like enough to run. Ultegra from the same year has worn out shifter and derailleur bushings in my experience. DA is slightly better and obviously more internals are available to replace.

Tons of r&d in the bike industry is pretty wasteful. It’s boutique, it’s niche, etc. However, weighing the environmental impact of making the couple of (old) red etap batteries going into AXS, is it anywhere close to common consumables like laptops, cheap usb banks that break after a year, etc? Doubtful.

Nice of you to admit there’s a shifting performance difference though - instead of suggests anyone who likes the product is disabled.
  • 1 1
 @parkourfan: "Instead of suggests..."

Nice work, ever proof-read your posts? Or is that too much work, like learning how to use a trigger shifter?
  • 2 0
 @highfivenwhiteguy:
Sorry my sweet triggered little baby, it’s down to autocorrect on my phone, on a train. I don’t feel the need to proofread for spelling errors when I’m texting a response on a bike forum.

Instead of pointing out one typo that’s not worth anyone’s time, how about a substantive response to any points I’ve brought up across any of these threads?
  • 8 6
 Yea. So SRAM got the win for electronic shifting which Shimano relased years ago for mtbs, and appearantly an electronic dropper which Magura also did years ago. Oh and Fox also had an idea for an electronic dropper as well if my memory serves me correctly. The only actual MTB innovation is Sprindex.
  • 1 0
 AXS is light years ahead of Di2. No wires or junction boxes to mess up, no computer program to run diagnostics or update firmware (plus an expensive adapter cable just to plug it in), and a battery you can easily and quickly change out if you run out of juice on the trail. Also no doesn't-always-work-on-every-bike internal wiring required,
  • 3 1
 I have a graveyard of rear mechs hanging on my garage wall. Sometimes I'll go a year without breaking one then I'll do two in one month on hidden tree stumps or just bad riding. I bought a CX bike equipped with Ultegra Di2 last year and broke two rear mechs in one month of racing and that set me back £400 in rear mechs in one month. I sold that bike very quickly before it bankrupted me.

With that in mind I am in absolutely no rush to go electronic/wireless on my MTB's for what I can see is no real discernible benefit, but a massive cost deficit.
  • 2 4
 You must seriously lack space awareness lol. But yeah, AXS is something no one needed.
  • 5 2
 This is like giving the award to Ceramicspeed for making a pulley that costs more than derailleur itself. PB this is not an innovative product, just a more expensive version of something we already had.
  • 2 0
 If it was up for a vote I would have voted for the rim development or spring adjuster. Those, or Shimanos new chain that can be shifted under greater load, are real innovations. Taking an existing technology and using it to create something most don’t want or can’t afford isn’t much of an innovation. AXS doesn’t even eliminate wires because you still need wires to charge it. I don’t want to charge my bike and if I did it’d have to be for a night ride or a commute.
  • 5 1
 So what's innovative about it? Cmon it is 2019, electrical shifting, seat post is it new? Seriously?
  • 1 0
 Electronic wireless shifting that requires no special hardware to set up, and you can update the firmware from your phone instead of having to plug it into a PC. I'd call that pretty innovative. Not to mention the AXS integration which allows you to pair any AXS-branded derailleur or dropper to any AXS-branded shifter, which lets us run neat things like 1x12 road and gravel bikes with 10-50 cassettes.
  • 6 1
 Innovation of the year sponsored by SRAM.
  • 6 2
 I think this Sram equipment is a good idea and will look into getting some.
  • 1 0
 As an X01 Eagle guy...how does AXS shift compared to the X01 eagle? More importantly, how does the AXS shift compared to Shimano XTR/XT 12sp? Can it shift under load like Shimano?? That seems like a fairly large feature with real enhancements that Shimano tackled, I actually need that to help ride some stuff....deep/steep chutes with the same steep climb out...have to keep speed down and up and then make a couple of shifts under load to keep momentum. I can clang through my Eagle today (when mistiming a shift) but not having to worry about loaded shifting/timing etc...that would be pretty sick. Does the AXS do this?
  • 1 1
 It can shift under load, no problem. One of the major benefits of an electronic drivetrain is that it knows exactly how far to move the derailleur to get to the next gear. With a human controlling the shifter, there's always a margin of error when we push the lever down. Even with the most precise, well-adjusted shifting system, there will always be a margin. With AXS there is no margin.
  • 2 1
 As an IT guy I love wireless. But you know what I like more than wireless? Wires.

The cable part of shifters/derailers has been _extremely_ reliable for a while now. When they fail, it tends to be from an impact to the derailer bending or breaking something.Given that cable actuated shifting is not only reliable but also cheap, electronic/wireless shifting is not obviously preferable over mechanical shifting.
  • 2 1
 XTR 9100 is still better and I'll never have to charge it! XTR and XT shifting is quicker, smoother and quieter in all conditions. IMO, Sram got the wireless part right but didn't get the mechanical part quite right. Still a great groupset but Shimano takes it for cost, feel and quality.
  • 1 2
 That's hilarious, because new Shimano 12-speed feels like absolute dogshit compared to AXS. It's so difficult to shift the new stuff that it actually makes my thumb hurt after a few shifts. lol
  • 6 2
 I bet on new rear axle for 2020
  • 5 0
 *front axle for 2021 : 20x110 Boost on all forks expect XC ones.
  • 7 0
 I'm betting 2020 will be "zero pedal mountain bikes" with electric motors and no cranks (but we'll never call them motorcycles because that would be insensitive).
Then in 2040 human powered bikes will win the innovation contest and the author will write about how this idea was tried 20 years ago and so on.
  • 1 0
 @vweb: Yay I can finally put the 6 26er front wheels in my garage to use now!
  • 1 0
 There is a new cassette size inbound from sram to one shimano
  • 1 0
 After Fox bribed away the 20mm front axle out of pure stupidity, lets bring it back as a rear axle.....
  • 3 0
 I think it should have gone to Rev Grips innovation for getting £100 out of people for Grips!
  • 12 1
 If it means the difference between riding with and without pain then what's the issue?
  • 1 0
 @jeneson46: with u on that. Game changer for me. As the whole system is modular on going costs are very reasonable.
  • 5 1
 People, let your wallet do the talking.
  • 1 0
 Capitalism my dudes.
  • 3 0
 Isn't it a philosophical controvercy? Using external power source to enhance performance?
  • 3 1
 Nope, its not an inovation in my book, unlike Stans original tubeless conversions for instance. Just hi tech being used in a differwnt place.
  • 4 1
 Hope this is a Steve Harvey incident where the wrong winner is accidentally announced.
  • 2 1
 How many PB readers will ever run this overpriced drivetrain? 1%? Maybe 2%? Would it make our ride more fun, or our race times faster, or our bikes more reliable? I don't think so.
  • 1 1
 For an innovation to have meaningful impact, it needs to be accessible to a broader proportion of the population.

The rear derailleur of this groupset alone costs what an entire XT drivetrain costs. Sure, it's new, cutting edge and spendier-but will the price of wireless shifting come down? Will there be a GX AXS groupset at $600, complete? If not, SRAM's reliance on electronics (vs Shimano's superior chain and sprocket design) will be nothing more than reading fodder for most mountain bikers.

So....is AXS innovative? Sure. Will it matter? Only if the design and benefits become more affordable.
  • 4 1
 I thought this "advancement's" chances were remote.
  • 3 0
 I would have guessed the Trust fork would be the winner in this category.
  • 1 0
 Yeah while the Trust Fork and AXS are both dentist level "innovations" the Trust fork seems like it took a lot more R&D and would have the most noticeable difference.
  • 1 1
 2018 Smile
  • 7 6
 Innovation????

No: regression of the year.

Strictly useless, overpriced and unreliable, so strictly dispensable.

No thanks; I`ll stay a cable lover
  • 7 1
 Unreliable? If you haven’t personally had it fail or see a test where it’s bricked multiple times, it sure isn’t unreliable.

Di2 on the other hand...
  • 3 0
 This category shows how I really don't need to buy anything new.
  • 2 0
 Hell yea! There is something very satisfying about buying parts and using them for more than 2 seasons because they just work.
  • 1 0
 How many of the haters on here would spec the full AXS on their next bikef it were the same price as XO1? How many have tried it?
  • 1 0
 If the rear derailleur was the same price I'd consider it, even if the shifter still cost more. That's my hangup with electronic shifting cost-one of the most expensive bits is liable to get munched by a rock.
  • 1 1
 Not worthy of winning in my opinion. It’s so expensive and not something you need. If I am going to get a wireless shifter I’m just gonna wait a couple years when it is more common
  • 2 1
 In the AI era, a wireless mechanical drivetrain is the innovation of the year, c'mon. This thing could have happened in the 90s or before.
  • 6 4
 AXS Innovation of the Year = SRAM: A Top PB Advertiser of the Year. What's "innovative" about electronic shifting in 2019?
  • 2 0
 Price versus performance Shimano XT is the best drive train on the market hands down.
  • 1 0
 The reason this got Innovation of the Year is not SRAM’s fault. This is a result of a lack of innovation in the industry. It’s a side effect of a good economy.
  • 3 1
 wireless electronics will NEVER make it on to my bike. Long live mechanical and analogue
  • 2 0
 LOL what a joke.
Does the reverb work when it is cold, unlike past generations?
  • 1 0
 That'd be cool if the AXS can be hacked real-time and someone reversed everything on it or switch gears and raised/lowered the dropper at will.
  • 5 2
 No thanks
  • 1 0
 None of the nominees really excite me. I'm probably not going to spend money on either one of them.
  • 4 1
 yawn..
  • 5 4
 This is a shit innovation. Fancy and barely more functional crap that only the rich can afford - way to fukin go pinkbike.
  • 2 3
 I’m assuming most saying axs is unnecessary don’t live in sloppy conditions. For those that do, axs is a relief. I hope soon, cables are a thing of the past. I love axs.
  • 2 0
 Skynet is taking over. Keep your robots away from my bike.
  • 2 0
 only for the rich an infamous
  • 2 0
 Was hoping a solid foam tire, or anodized stem would win this year.
  • 1 0
 I knew! Just try to integrate all reminding hoses to have the cleanest bike!
  • 3 0
 Meh.
  • 2 1
 lmao "innovation" is apparently putting shit from road bikes on mountainbikes.
  • 1 0
 I was wondering where the strong smell of popcorn was coming from when I opened the PB page.
  • 1 0
 For what it’s worth: In my humble but infinitely correct opinion... Sprindex got robbed.
  • 1 1
 SRAM innovated so hard they forgot to fix their shit cassette. I have yet to lie down to set B-tension on 12 speed Shimano, I must be doing something wrong...
  • 4 4
 AXS is one of those "Just because you can doesn't mean you should" sort of things.
  • 1 0
 Choices, choices, we all have choices.
  • 2 2
 SERIOUSLY ?

WHERE IS TREK SOFTAIL

I know it's not enduro but the suspension is very very innovative
  • 1 0
 Can't wait for $10,000 " mid priced" builds...
  • 3 6
 OK? Pick the one thing that's not actually an innovation, its not even new. Its just etap renamed and they added in MTB versions. Its great and was an innovation when new but not sure it belongs in 2019 awards
  • 1 1
 Perfectly compliments an E bike.
  • 2 2
 singlespeed 26' forever!
  • 2 0
 Twenty-six foot wot?
  • 2 5
 Oh ! one nomination for innovation for sram on Pinkbike, I am so suprised !
  • 1 1
 "This year's nominees for Innovation of the Year included a clever coil spring rate adjuster, a futuristic XC race bike, compliant carbon wheels, and a wireless electronic drivetrain. All of those products have the potential to advance the sport in their own way, but it was SRAM's AXS component group that takes the win."

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