SRAM's wireless Eagle AXS drivetrain has impressed us with its performance and consistency, but a grumble we've had ourselves and heard from others is the shifter paddle's shape - it just doesn't feel natural. Now there's a second and very different paddle option that's said to provide ''more traditional feeling actuation.''
The new paddle comes with a replacement pivot pin and spring for $20 USD on its own, or you can have it already installed when you buy your $200 AXS shifter.
AXS Rocker Paddle Details
• Replaces stock AXS paddle
• Mimics traditional paddles
• Pivot pin, spring incl.
• MSRP: $20 USD
The original AXS paddle is on the right, with the new rocker paddle on the left with a larger face and added extension.What's Different?
Being wireless, the AXS paddle obviously doesn't have to pull or release cable like on a traditional shifter. Instead, there are two buttons underneath (and a single spring) that tell the derailleur to shift one way or the other. When your thumb hits the paddle, it's rocking up or down and simply pushing one of those buttons. The shifter's modular design means that as long as the buttons are getting pushed, it doesn't really matter how you're doing it, and SRAM designed and tested a load of different options during the group's development.
Unfortunately, the one they chose for production isn't ideal for some rider's thumbs, including my own.
''With the brake where it needed to be, I found myself pushing on the outer third of the paddle, or just the edge of it, more often than not,
'' I said in my review last year
. My solution was to run the shifter on its own clamp and nearly right up against the grip where I could essentially bump it with my thumb. That worked well for me, but most people who sat on my bike commented on the unfamiliar ergonomics.
The new paddle is designed to feel much more normal, though, with a completely different shape that includes a new extension intended to mimic the smaller release paddle found on traditional shifters. The paddle's much larger face also gets a textured surface rather than the original's eagle logo.
The new paddle is flatter, larger, and the extension is designed to mimic the release trigger found on normal shifters.Is It Any Better?
If you can handle a 3mm hex key without losing an eye, you can likely install the new rocker paddle, but be prepared to do some tinkering as you'll probably need to reposition the shifter as well. With the original paddle, I had the shifter on its own clamp and close to the grip. But that same clamp had the new paddle a bit too low from the grip, forcing me to unwrap my thumb too much. The answer was a MatchMaker mount that put the shifter tighter to the grip, making it much easier to reach.
The new paddle does two things better than the original. First, your thumb ends up pushing on its face, whereas it always felt like you were just touching the edge of the stock paddle when shifting. That worked okay, but the new one feels much more positive and on purpose.
The new paddle's extension will be even more noticeable to most riders, with it being close to where you'd expect the release trigger on a traditional shifter to be. Only, it goes 'vvvvt' instead of 'ka-chung' when you press it, and shifts in the same direction as when you push on the bottom face of the main paddle. I use the AXS app to change the button function on mine, with the bottom of the paddle and trigger both shifting to smaller cogs. The top of the new paddle still shifts to an easier gear, and while I rarely do it on the trail, you can also shift from above with your pointer finger to do the same thing.
The new paddle is an improvement, but you might need to also use a different clamp setup to get the most out of it.Pinkbike's Take