Nino Schurter & Malene Degn's Wireless Electronic Drivetrains - Albstadt World Cup XC

May 21, 2018
by Mike Kazimer  
SRAM eTap

Photos of Nino Schurter's eTap-equipped mountain bike began surfacing a few months ago, confirming rumors that had been flying ever since the road version of SRAM's wireless electronic drivetrain debuted back in 2015. After all, the promise of perfect shifting every time, and the elimination of cables that can get fouled up by mud and grit makes a lot of sense for the world of XC racing. The eTap road drivetrain's battery life is claimed to be 1000km, and if the mountain bike version has similar numbers that means there should be plenty of juice in one battery to last an entire weekend of racing and practicing.

Nino Schurter was on the prototype eTap system at the second World Cup XC race of the year in Albstadt, Germany, but he wasn't alone – U23 racer Malene Degn was also putting the drivetrain to the test on the muddy track. Pinkbike photographer Irmo Keizer was able to snap some photos that provide a better look at the system's derailleur and shifter.


Hacked? The weekend got off to an inauspicious start for Schurter during the short track event, but he turned things around for the big race on Sunday.

SRAM eTap
Malene Degn's mud-caked eTap derailleur.

SRAM eTap
The shifter uses a single paddle to change gears, although the use of electronics rather than cables opens up a whole range of possible shifter shapes.

SRAM eTap
That front paddle may allow for both up- and downshifts, but it does look like there’s the option of shifting with a small button located on the backside of the device as well.


SRAM eTap
Will wireless electronic drivetrains become the norm for XC racing? It's certainly possible, although it'll probably take a couple more seasons before we see widespread adoption of the system.



173 Comments

  • + 135
 When your rear mech goes Error 403 on you...
  • + 60
 "Sorry dudes - I need to control+alt+delete my derailleur; I'll catch up with you guys next time."
  • + 13
 @NYShred: and control+alt+delete = hold the button on derailleur for 15 sec and then push paddle 5 times within 3 seconds Wink
  • + 5
 Or a 500 error...
  • + 87
 Have you tried turning it off and back on again?
  • + 5
 Cookies are stealing my bandwidth.
  • + 14
 What's 403? The common one is 404
  • + 7
 What we really need isn't old lame paddle shifters. We need shit by voice command. Leverage Google assistant and say okay bike, shift up 3.
  • + 44
 @makripper: 403 is "Access denied. Insufficient privileges."
Not to be confused with 401 which is just "login required".

Kinda prefer "HTTP/404: derailleur not found" tbh.
  • + 15
 @makripper: "alexa, drop 5 gears for me will you?"
  • + 25
 What does “PC LOAD LETTER” even mean?
  • + 1
 @enki: lol easily the most frustrating. I've never seen 403 luckily
  • + 10
 @shakeyakey: Put it in some rice
  • + 3
 @MikeAzBS: rediculous how often that is the answer. Work on an instrument all day only to find out that the answer is turn it off and on. I do that first now.
  • + 7
 @NYShred: Have you tried holding down “Shift”?
  • + 6
 Damn it, my derailleur is a spinning beach ball again. Or worse, what if it turns into the dreaded blue screen of death
  • - 7
flag mhoshal (May 20, 2018 at 17:42) (Below Threshold)
 Everyone praise Eagle its the best.... pure trash.
  • + 27
 Perhaps Nino pretended to have a mechanical? Though contracted to race it, he ditches the short track and keeps his powder dry for the main event the next day. Can he overtake two rows of guys when they are on tired legs. Result say 'yes'. Now where's my tin foil hat?
  • + 5
 Just get off your bike and hop on again. It should be good.
  • + 9
 Plug & Pray...
  • + 3
 @makripper: 404 is for "Oops! Derailleur not found", which was not the case Big Grin
  • + 3
 @GalenS:
"Well you must be a HUGE Michael Bolton Fan.. which one of his songs is your favorite?"
  • + 1
 more of a 500...
  • + 3
 More like 404 50T not found..
  • + 3
 @samoooli: I wonder why won't they push it to 54t, come on Sram, you can do it. Based on what 10-50 is enough?!
  • + 2
 @iamamodel: You get UCI points for the short track too.
  • + 4
 @iamamodel: a 30min race two days before the main race will not tire them out. MVDP races both Saturday and Sunday in a normal CX race weekend.
  • + 2
 @enki: HTTP/404 will end up a sticker on a singlespeed.
  • + 2
 @makripper: "Ok SRAM, shift down two and play Swiss pop music greatest hits."
  • + 1
 Kernel Panic.
  • + 1
 @orderoftheflame: 420 Enhance Your Calm (sadly unofficial)
  • + 4
 Turns bike on, Sram Derailluer updating like windows.
  • + 2
 Keyboard error. Press any key to continue.
  • + 1
 What happens when you accidentally hit: up down up down left right left right A B A B Start during your ride?
  • + 3
 @exodus1500: you get to ride any track you want.
  • + 1
 With a bit of tinkering, you might change gears on the other bikes from your cockpit? Unfair competition?
  • + 1
 Hey Siri, shift up.

Siri: Would you like me to search the web for that?
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: go to 60. Man up
  • + 3
 @SilentDrone:
Siri: "That option is not available without a SRAM premium account subscription. You can subscribe for the low price of $9.99 a month or $0.10 per shift. when you subscribe to a premium account."
  • + 4
 "Okay google, order a mechanical xt derailleur online..."
  • + 1
 @coletaylor017: Alexa, shimano alfine single speed tensioner
  • + 2
 Just give it a good ol' knock. Works with the telly, silences the fridge, surely should work with a modern rear mech too.
  • + 1
 @makripper: I wonder how you would use voice commands after 20km climb Big Grin DD
  • + 54
 1st this.......next Skynet.
  • + 29
 After fully sentient electronics have taken over bikes, I’ll be with the Resistance... come with me if you want to shift!
  • + 1
 haha that's awesome
  • + 3
 Single speed if you want to live.
  • + 46
 Shimano comes out with an mtb drivetrain that is reliable and robust and available at a second tier price point = meh.

SRAM comes out with an electronic drivetrain that even with pro level support doesn’t work all the time = ooh exciting news about electronic drive trains!
  • + 12
 It's sram..what did you expect..
  • + 3
 Erm... Shimano gets plenty of coverage here, they just haven’t released anything lately. Pinkbike covered the last crap out of Di2 and you could feel reading the first ride review that RC was nearly peeing himself out of excitement
  • + 5
 mmm.... maybe because sram /rs spends most of their budget in ads/marketing?
ever read a bad review?
  • - 2
 @RedRedRe: I'm not into defending Pinkbike, just basic human decency, encouraging not throwing assumed sht on others, so do you have any numbers to back it up? Then I've read some negative things in reviews that go out of the scheme of "we got send some stuff as brand new and serviced through by the sender so a chance of it failing is rather little". I mean, based on initial observation you and me are miserable, sad trolls who don't ride.
  • + 3
 @WAKIdesigns: You have a valid point, as always. Then again, there is no point in defending anything that Sram makes, just do not buy the products and you're golden. The only Sram product I would buy is a 2007 Juicy 5/7 brake, that's it Big Grin
  • - 2
 @FrEeZa: I have a Lyrik, Reverb, Guide brakes, Elixir 3 brakes, 10sp X9 drivetrain. I am disgusted with myself but that's just how I am. #sonotwoke
  • - 2
 @WAKIdesigns: hahah... you need a spread sheet... but I am just a "Troll" and my comments are "sarcastic/humor" ... still have to see a bad review about their "benchmark" products on any sites. not PB. Most sites give them 4 out of 5 stars even when the product does not work and gets recalled!
Long term user reviews are often the opposite.
Shimano has a different business model.
Otherwise you would often read ---below random pictures--- XTR the best crankset you can buy or SLX the best crankset you should buy or Shimano chains last 2 times as much as Sram or Shimano 1x tooth profile work as well as NW but saves torque or Shimano xtr di2 2x is the most advanced mtb drivetrain etc. etc.

For what i have expereinced myself, imho, (i own many bikes and rent/demo often) sram products are lower quality than shimano. They last less time (i do have a spreedsheet for this!), some questionable designs (i.e. brake lever clamps snapping carbon bars etc.) and overall do not work as well or are as reliable as shimano.
Yesterday I did a 15km/3.5 hours/2000 meters climb and 45 min 14km descend on a 3x10 qr - sram x5 - rs reba - avid 1 bike yesterday. I have had the bike since 2013. Did I wish I had my other bike running formula fork / saint brakes, xtr drivetrain etc etc...? you bet. did the pogo fork, poor shifters/derailers, flexy crankset prevented me from having fun? no.
  • - 3
 @RedRedRe: I do think Shimano does better 11sp stuff but 9 and 10speeds were just crap. And I don’t think it’s that much about Shimano stepping up with 11sp, it’s Sram going to sht below 11sp X01. Shimano beat them with pricing as simple as that. And yeah Sram carbon cranks are crap for the hype. There was a short period when you could buy them for 170€ On German sites and that made them worth it if you really wanted to try a carbon crank. But Sram does deserve respect for popularizing wide range cassettes and N/W chainrings. In a way, Reverb did kick in the door for the dropper posts.
  • + 41
 I would like a switch that electronically preloads my suspension and then releases full throttle on take off so I can send it to the moon.
  • + 25
 Thats old technology. I had all that back in the 90's. Not on a mountain bike but on a 5ft bong with electric assist. Preload, full throttle, hello moon.
  • + 9
 @Boardlife69: 20 years later, the tech has moved on. We're just going past Uranus right now.
  • + 5
 @BenPea: hold your nose because I had the Mexican munchies. And yes, I know errr, heard of this DAB and RSO tech. Its quite shattering.
  • - 3
 @dudeism - sorry, but being German you should be able to do a couple of simple calculations to realize that any bike component size device is incapable of generating enough thrust let alone store energy to provide thrust to overcome escape velocity of planet Earth.
  • + 2
 Was it the Honda DH bike Minnar rode on that had a fork lock-down for starts, that released when you pushed down on it hard. I remember reading about someone having it back in the day but cant find anything online.
  • + 44
 Di2 Saint please ASAP
  • - 9
flag WAKIdesigns (May 20, 2018 at 11:17) (Below Threshold)
 Yes! And the crankset will have magnetic BB/axle interface
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: like a dynamo?
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: lol right. It's too heavy for bike applications. We use them on high rpm motors. Mag-lev bearings are great but require a ton more tech and controls. Start up sequences take a while too before powering up the magnets.
  • + 11
 When Up, down, up, down, A, B, A, B becomes mandatory to win the race by unlocking god mode
  • + 9
 check my short cage hack photo. so far it's been great. www.pinkbike.com/photo/15801598
  • + 2
 Anyone heard anything about new saint? It's been out about six years now. All I hear is new xtr, which is only four years old. Got to get seven speed e bike saint ready shimano.
  • + 1
 @makripper: neato. Whatcha do with those motors?
  • - 2
 @nojzilla: no, like a motor
  • + 29
 How long before teams start hacking into the Bluetooth to sabotage others?
  • + 5
 Hacking into bluetooth would not be a sabotage as Sram's etap is not using bluetooth. Instead, it's a proprietary system, closer to ANT+ instead of Bluetooth.
  • + 12
 @siim-s: Hasnt it still got to operate on the ISM band, the rest is marekting speak for ieee standards?
  • + 4
 www.jammer-store.com Well shit.
  • + 2
 @atrokz: Rad!!!
  • + 4
 dont need to hack anything... it just does't work by itself. ask yourself why road teams refuse sram sponsorship.
  • + 19
 I hope they don't run on windows. Bet it starts updating whilst running-up for a canyon gap
  • - 2
 That wouldn't be a big problem because you would still be able to send it as you dont' need gears. More commonly it would start updating as soon as you get the bike off your car/trailer and you're are ready to go. But the bike isn't...
  • + 16
 Forget etap. What I think is more important is the fact that nino (one of the best bike handlers around) used a dropper post
  • + 0
 why is that important?
  • + 5
 In a utopia where r&d, time and money are less of a factor, this coupled to a gearbox might shift gearboxes over the hump.

I haven't the foggiest idea how you could electronify a mtb gearbox, but Zerode might...
  • + 2
 Maybe a dual clutch system?
  • + 7
 I suposse it wont be long until the wheels or bb rotation will recharge the shifter battery
  • + 1
 what about regenerative braking, to charge up your lights and garmin as well
  • + 2
 Those would translate to slower coasting and slower climbing (stiffer pedaling) in order to spin the motor for generating electricity. Perhaps regenerative braking could be used if it only engaged while braking.
  • + 8
 can't wait for the enduro version
  • + 1
 Screw Enduro, it’s all about Down Country now. Seat bags, roadie half lids with protection glasses, minion on front Ikon in the rear, you know, what teenagers do when their fireroad warrior dad tells them: I won’t buy you a long travel rig, you have to deserve it, but you can get my FS XC bike to ride with boys.
  • + 5
 I bet none of you ding dongs have ridden etap road stuff! Shit works flawlessly! We will revisit this post in two years and most of you will be riding etap mountain!
  • + 3
 I highly doubt wireless electronic drive trains will become the norm. Whats to gain? Couple ounces? One less wire to route? Similar to wireless breaking; wireless gear shifting is a risk I'm not willing to take and control that I'm not willing to give up. Who wants this?
  • + 10
 i do
  • + 3
 Shifting is one thing, but brakes are way too important to me. I would not want them to go wrong, or me, being forgetful sometimes and might have forgotten to charge the batteries, have it die out when I'm speeding down a hill.
  • + 9
 When the systems become mature, proven and cheaper, everyone will switch (myself included). Slight weight savings is the smallest benefit, the real benefit is perfectly indexed shifting every time, no cable stretch/replacement issues. I'd say probably 5 years until Di2 XT is affordable and proven enough for me to try it, not willing to pay a big premium that's for sure.
  • + 6
 Ergonomics. Fast forward ten years from now and few will understand why use a cable, housing and a finger actuated lever to do something as simple as changing gears ,,,
  • + 1
 Yeah breaking is a hell of a lot more important than gear shifting, id rather mt gears take a few seconds extra to shift but if my brakes were to take 1-2 seconds to work i woukd probably take another look at them haha
  • + 2
 @gramboh: I think I'd end up charging batteries more often futzing with a cable these days. I barely have to touch my shifter setup, maybe a barrel turn here or there. I spend more time on my chainline these days. Can they make that wireless?
  • + 0
 No chance for wireless braking, Mercedes tried it on some German taxis and because there was no feedback loop (sense of hydraulic pressure) the cars brakes would slam on and they got rear ended. Stupid af
  • + 0
 I wonder if someone coil come up with a system where the sprockets move into the chain, rather than the chain moving over the sprockets. That would be chain line gold. Imagine how quiet it would be, and how much longer a chain would last. You could pedal backwards in any gear too.
  • + 1
 Imagine putting a new derailleur on as fast as a new wheel.
  • + 1
 @iamamodel: I change derailleurs at least twice a ride, you too?
  • + 1
 @blamacken: My comment is from thinking that for a WC XC racer smashes a rear mech it is no longer the end of their race.

And for a mechanic, professional or amateur, easy peasy.
  • + 1
 Wireless downhill brakes. Sign me up.
  • + 1
 @blamacken:
feed back would be quite easy to make
if that project failed its nit because of that
  • + 1
 @Konyp: wow! I have never heard of that until now. Very cool!
  • + 1
 @Asmodai: Well you'll never get the Germans to admit to the full extent of their shortcomings... Wink Litigation(which they can't talk about), expensive systems and loss of customer confidence seemed to be the big issue. autoweek.com/article/car-news/mercedes-cancels-wire-brake-system-decision-blow-technologys-future
  • + 5
 That picture of Nino left behind the pack must be a true PR nightmare for Sram.
  • + 1
 Then again he did ride a prototype and won the next day. On a proto.
  • + 1
 @ikeizer: what is proto about it? It is a production ready piece. Probably built with better parts than a production piece. He had the top sram techs setting up his drivetrain and it still failed at the first race lol.
They already have etap for road (and it still does not work).
This mtb version has the same problems.

Road teams do not run sram anymore... ask yourself why...

Sram PR does not have anything to worry... did you read any sites pointing out the derailer faliure?
Do you remember their road disk group being recalled twice? etc. etc.
Sites/magazines are not going to shoot on Sram/RS because they are the biggest source of income.
  • + 2
 @RedRedRe: it was not the first race, and it did not come from the actual production run. So that qualifies as a prototype in my book. A final one. Testing in a race is risky at all times, but it is the only way to truly test it under the most extreme circumstances. Schurter would not race it if the risk is TOO great however, so we'll see what happens.

I'd love to shoot at it, but how can we shoot at it if we have not even had it in our hands. So, bear with us.

Oh and I did not write this article...I did make the photos. Nonetheless happy to comment on your remarks.
  • + 1
 @ikeizer:
First official race, first fail!
With all sram top tech setting up schurter drivetrain.

How is this going to be better than the road version (still beta) since it has the same issues?

Sram is refused as sponsor by road teams because it is not relaible and the slower shifting.
  • + 1
 @RedRedRe: we do not know yet, lets see what happens. One thing is for sure; wireless will always be more prone to problems.
  • + 7
 Next wireless braking
  • + 8
 How about no?
  • + 2
 A good sized twig will stop ya!
  • + 0
 It's possible. Cars have gas, brake and steer by wire.
  • + 1
 @makripper: electronic by wire, but not wireless, big difference.
  • + 1
 @Kitejumping: thank you. I couldn’t think of a polite way to express what you said. Kudos sir.
  • + 2
 @Kitejumping: yeah that's true.
  • + 1
 No chance for wireless braking, Mercedes tried it on some German taxis and because there was no feedback loop (sense of hydraulic pressure) the cars brakes would slam on and they got rear ended. Stupid af
  • + 3
 @blamacken: so, fun on the berms?
  • + 2
 @blamacken: Not that I'm clamoring for wireless braking, but isn't that just an engineering problem that's likely solvable?
  • + 0
 @hllclmbr: Like a motor on the lever that applies pressure back onto the lever so your finger feels the pressure at the caliper? That took me a couple seconds to think about but the idea of a motor on the lever would be v stupid... Maybe an elastomer that mimicked the pad bite but I digress bc they meltttttt
  • + 2
 @blamacken: we already have pressure sensitive screens on our phones, pressure sensors in engines, etc. so i guess this won't be a problem an engineer could solve..
  • + 1
 @xkriegerx: yeah now that I think about it, maybe a haptic feedback motor (cell phone sized) in the lever could give you a sense of pressure buildup. Having your fingers vibrate is not good for blood flow though, actually really awful feeling.
  • + 2
 we buy bikes trying to escape from routine,offices, machines, things and contact with nature,and those assholes from sram and shimano just kill our disconection from matrix! Shit is real
  • + 1
 @ikeizer : Are you an official PB photographer as mentioned in the article? I thought you were freelance. At least I didn't see you mentioned on this page: www.pinkbike.com/about. And to be honest I'd rather see you independent, publish your work wherever you see fit.
  • + 1
 I am independent ????
  • + 1
 @vinay most people on PB's list are freelance actually. But some of them/us are on a retainer.
  • + 1
 I guess that with half the money put in both Di2 and eTap, we all would be happy now with our bikes spec'd with affordable gearboxes, but they'd rather go the wrong way to keep derrailleurs catching logs and such. A pity Frown
  • + 2
 Mountain bikers: Quit working on marginal improvements to technology!
Also Mountain bikers: Oh hell no! You can pull my mechanical shifters out of my cold dead hands!
  • + 2
 Sign me up man! This industry is bunch of garbage anyway, so I’ll buy it!
  • + 1
 Next version will come with a robotic humanoid to ride the bike. You wont even need to break a sweat and will be able to enjoy the ride from the comfort of your living room.
  • + 2
 Hopefully it cries like an eagle with every shift. If it doesnt dont wast my time.
  • + 1
 All those hashtags in that otherwise short message from Nino. Is that the way people communicate these days? Even a short message like that becomes TL;DR.
  • + 0
 We'll all be riding electric shifting in 5 years and ripping on all the neanderthals still using cables. Just like dropper seat posts, and wagon wheels...
  • + 2
 Ride by wire(less)? Heresy! #cableaintdead!
  • + 2
 they fixed pretty quickly
  • + 3
 Needs a bigger shifter.
  • + 1
 I would consider etap if it was the same price as Shimano XT.
  • + 1
 it should have a cadence sensor and auto shift function
  • + 1
 My smart derailleur is running a quad processor.
  • + 1
 Can they please call it EagleTap
  • + 1
 did he try turning it off and on again?
  • + 1
 But we suposed to get rid of delirieurs right?
  • + 0
 First good images also show first failure? Not a great start.
  • + 0
 No serious road team is dealing with Sram anymore ... now bring it to mtb.
  • + 1
 Interesting. I notice a lot of mtb companies are going back to shimano heavy builds too. In 2010-2014 it was all Sram.
  • + 1
 Fix It Again Nino !
  • - 2
 Give us a GX eagle etap derailleur and shifter and sram will put shimano out of business haha
  • + 2
 You probably dont know that shimano is bigger company than sram which also covers other sports...
  • - 1
 Oh yea! Nino won on that shifting the next day! Ding Dongs!
  • + 4
 I bet he could win on my three year old XT groupo aswell.
  • + 1
 @IluvRIDING: true as well haha
  • - 2
 Digital motor = Ebike
Get outta here with that shit
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