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I’ve been enjoying riding SRAM’s wireless Force eTap AXS HRD group on gravel in recent weeks, and this past weekend I used it for the aborted Old Man Winter Rally.
Here’s a quick video synopsis on how the day went and the group fared in the snow and ice, as three of us decided to continue riding the course after the race was cancelled partway through.
- SRAM Force eTap AXS HRD first ride review
- Gallery: Snowy fun at Old Man Winter Rally
- Excessive snowfall forces mid-race stoppage at Old Man Winter Rally
The short of it is this: SRAM’s eTap AXS wireless drivetrain works like a charm in nasty conditions. Those of you who have ridden mechanical bikes in ice and slush know that shifting can be compromised when cables get gunked up. With a wireless system, that whole situation is removed.
The ice build-up did cause two problems over the course of the day. One, the small chainring would become a frozen block of ice when I kept the chain on the big ring for a while, requiring me to stop and clear the ice off. This would happen on any two-ring system. And two, the Quarq power meter stopped working, not because of the sub-zero temps during the first couple of hours but seemingly because of ice build-up in the final hours. After the ice thawed, functionality resumed.
Early adopters of SRAM’s HRD system will recall that the first iteration years ago could fail to brake in freezing temperatures. That has long since been resolved. Braking was robust if a bit squeaky at times the way all discs do in the wet.
The eTap AXS shifter paddles are especially cold weather friendly, or, I should say, lobster-mitt glove friendly. With Shimano Di2, you have two shifters close together on each lever, which can be tricky to navigate in thick gloves. With eTap, you just have a single paddle per level. Even numb fingers in huge gloves can handle this. (And yes, you can reprogram Di2 levers to function similarly to eTap, but I’m just referring to the stock configuration.)
Check out the video above, if for no other reason than to watch a few icy crashes.