Is SRAM about to launch an Apex eTap AXS electronic groupset?

Wireless electronic drivetrains might be about to get even cheaper

SRAM Apex crankset and Apex eTap AXS shifter diagram from FCC filing

SRAM may be readying itself to launch an Apex eTap AXS wireless electronic groupset, according to documents filed with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

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Though most of the documents and photographs submitted to the FCC have been granted confidentiality, documents showing the placement of wireless ID labels on both right and left-hand shifter hoods reveal these are SRAM Apex wireless electronic shifters.

As reported by road.cc, that these documents have been submitted to the FCC (the federal body that regulates wireless communications within the USA) indicates the shifters are designed to communicate wirelessly with other devices.

The documents indicate the shifters are capable of communicating via two wireless protocols, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Airea. Airea is SRAM’s proprietary wireless communications protocol, which it uses to control drivetrain parts and other components such as dropper posts.

On top of this, other documents filed include two user manuals named “etap-axs-systems-manual_1 of 2” and “etap-axs-systems-manual_2 of 2”, confirming it is part of SRAM’s eTap AXS range.

Given this, it’s likely fair to surmise this new groupset will follow the naming convention of other SRAM wireless electronic groupsets, and will be called SRAM Apex eTap AXS.

One document from the FCC filing shows a wireless electronic shifter labelled SRAM Apex.
SRAM

Where would Apex eTap AXS sit in SRAM’s range?

SRAM has only produced its wireless electronic drivetrains at the Red, Force and Rival level until now. Given Apex mechanical sits below Rival mechanical, we expect an eTap version to fall in line below Rival eTap AXS, in terms of cost and performance.

The 10-speed mechanical version of SRAM Apex was originally designed as an option for budget-conscious riders, and was roughly equivalent to Shimano Tiagra.

Apex was updated to bring 1×11-speed and hydraulic disc brake compatibility in 2016, but otherwise had been left largely undeveloped since its launch.

SRAM updated Apex in 2016 with a 1×11-speed shifter, rear derailleur and hydraulic disc brakes, but has otherwise left it undeveloped for a while now.
SRAM

The documents filed with the FCC don’t reveal the derailleurs or other parts, so it’s a guessing game as to what form the rest of the Apex eTap AXS groupset will take.

Every other eTap AXS groupset in SRAM’s catalogue is currently 12-speed, meaning there is cross-compatibility between all components in the range.

We might therefore expect Apex eTap AXS to make a jump from 11- to 12-speed as well.

SRAM Apex mechanical currently exists as a 2×10-speed groupset. Will it gain a single extra cog or make the jump straight to 12-speed?
SRAM

Given SRAM’s original Red eTap groupset was 11-speed and it still has other 11-speed mechanical groupsets in its range (such as Force, Rival and Apex 1), it’s also conceivable that Apex eTap AXS is launched as an 11-speed groupset.

This would enable SRAM to take advantage of its existing catalogue of compatible parts and components, and differentiate it from its more expensive groupsets.

When will SRAM Apex eTap be released?

The documents filed with the FCC don’t indicate a release date, but it is worth noting that when SRAM filed similar documents with the FCC prior to the release of Rival eTap AXS, the groupset was announced only a few months later.

This latest filing could therefore suggest a release is imminent.

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Given Shimano recently announced Shimano 105 Di2 R7150, its cheapest electronic groupset yet, SRAM may be keen to respond quickly with an even more accessible option.