is bubbling with comments about recent Instagram and Facebook images of multi-time World Champion Nino Schurter riding what looks like a prototype SRAM eTap wireless rear derailleur and shifting system. The story was picked up by Velozine
, who dug up some old patent drawings of shifters and derailleurs to that effect. That said, eTap has been around for years, so there can be no doubt that by now, SRAM has a fully armed and operational group for mountain bikes. The only question is "when?" Attempts to contact SRAM have not yet borne fruit, so (in the spirit of PB) some unfounded conjecture is in order.
The rear derailleur of Nino's Scott is definitely eTap, but it's doubtful that SRAM would model it in polished silver like its road version - it wouldn't look tough enough for dirt bikes. Two explanations: it could be a modified road changer, adapted with an XX1 pulley cage (eTap Red is 11-speed); Or it could be a production Eagle wireless rear 12-speed derailleur that has been polished as a sort of camouflage to make us think it's a MacGyvered road bike mech
The rear derailleur is not the big question anyway. We know
it's going to shift and we know
it will be a 12 speed. What we are most curious about is what the shifter will look and feel like. That, however, will remain a mystery, because the shift levers are not apparent in the images. The default would be a abbreviated version of SRAM's paddle shifters that feel more like buttons, but possess a tactile and audible click - a retro solution which would play well to the change-reluctant mountain biker crowd. The more progressive solution, however. would be a pair of rubberized buttons or a single radial paddle that could be switched intuitively without moving the thumb completely off of the grip.
More photographs and speculation DIY Wireless Shifting
If you had access to a small lathe and possessed some basic metal-working skills, you could splice a long-travel pulley cage from an 11-speed XX1 group to an eTap Red rear derailleur. The cassette spacing is the same as XX1, according to road bike forums. Shifters? Well, SRAM caters to the Triathlon and time trial segment with a pair of clever plug-in remote buttons called "eTap Blips.
" It wouldn't be too hard to place both on the right side of the handlebar for one-thumb shifting, or if you are already paddle-shifting your sports car, you could place one button on either side of the bars and have a similar setup.
Enough nonsense for now. If I do get any facts from SRAM, I'll post them here.