SRAM still isn't yet talking openly about its upcoming wireless electronic road group but sponsored teams and riders are continuing to test the new bits in competition, most recently in Australia at the Tour Down Under with the Ag2r-La Mondiale squad. Although not much appears to have changed since the group's last public appearance, we've since learned that the novel shifter actuation will likely be called 'eTap or 'ETAP' (a play on SRAM's long-running 'DoubleTap' moniker) and that group will most likely simple be called Red with a stylized 'e'.
SRAM is at least no longer forcing team mechanics to fabricate faux wiring since we blew the lid on the wired charade last May. Mechanics are still covering up the badging on the lever blade, however, although we can still make out a faint 'Red' outline. Between the highly finished look of the components themselves and the fact that SRAM has apparently already finalized graphics, we expect an official release some time this season.
SRAM's upcoming wireless electronic group looks ready to go, despite the company's continued insistence on remaining tight-lipped
Otherwise, everything we have hypothesized so far is holding true: the system uses no wires, each component is powered by its own battery source, pairing and adjustments are done via simple buttons and single-LED indicator lights, and the system is lighter than comparable setups from Shimano and Campagnolo given SRAM's unique low-power data transmission protocol. As we had guessed, each derailleur's Li-ion rechargeable battery pack is indeed both removable and interchangeable, meaning you could not only easily limp home on a single battery if one is depleted but pack spares if you're worried about running out of juice on a multi-day trip off the grid.
Sources have informed us that each lever is powered by conventional CR2032 coin-type batteries instead of bespoke rechargeable units
In contrast, sources have told BikeRadar that the levers will be powered by conventional, non-rechargeable CR2032 coin-type batteries since the power requirements are much lower. While some will undoubtedly be disappointed with the idea of repeatedly buying batteries (not to mention environmental impacts), we've heard that the batteries "will last ages", suggesting that run times as long as a year or more might not be out of the question.
SRAM will introduce a new shifter actuation with the new Red wireless electronic group called 'eTap'. Shifts are performed in the manner we disclosed previously with each lever bearing a single, one-stage button. Push on one lever's shift button to move the rear derailleur in one direction, or push the button on the other lever to move the chain in the opposite direction. Front gear changes are accomplished by pushing both buttons at roughly the same time. So far, it seems that SRAM has built a fair bit more tactile feedback into the button action as well – a long-standing criticism of Shimano's system – while some clever programming suggests that riders won't have to be unreasonably precise to make those front shifts, either.
As with the rest of the system, the rear derailleur requires no external wiring. Wireless data hardware and a power source are all built right in, which should make life easier for mechanics
As always, we're working to uncover more. Stay tuned.