Prototype Electronic SRAM Red Drivetrain Spotted!

Prototype electronic SRAM red shfiters and derailleurs
Prototype electronic SRAM Red drivetrain spotted! Photo: Von R Buzard, used with permission.

Spotted at the Illinois state cyclocross championships and photo’d by Von R Buzzard, this presumably prototype SRAM Red electronic derailleur and shifter could mean they’re finally powering up their own version.

Buzard told us he shot the photo without realizing what he captured, but thanks to an eagle eyed Bikerumor reader (thanks MacArthur!), we were tipped off to it (after it was first posted to VeloNews)and, well, here it is. Even at full res and full size, it’s a bit grainy, so there’s only the obvious to spout. First, it obviously works quite well cross chained, as does the current Red 22 group. Second, there’s a small boxy section at the rear of the derailleur that likely houses the motor. Lastly, looks like a battery on the stem, and possibly (hopefully) some sort of tie in with the Garmin computer on the front. That last bit is doubtful, but how sweet would it be for it to tie into Quarq’s (owned by SRAM) power meters and use that to highlight power output in different gear ratios. Hello, geekery!

Tap that ‘more’ button for closeup crops below…

Prototype electronic SRAM red shfiters and derailleurs
Photo: Von R Buzard, used with permission.

A bit boxier than Shimano Di2 and Campagnolo EPS, but who knows where it is in the development stage. We’re guessing close if it’s out in the wild, but we’re also guessing it’ll get a bit more streamlined before making its debut.

Prototype electronic SRAM red shfiters and derailleurs
Photo: Von R Buzard, used with permission.

These are mated to standard cantilever brakes, so it’s no surprise the lever hoods are pretty sleek. They still appear to have SRAM’s tall front poke, which I think is quite comfy, but the button nub looks pretty small. It’ll be interesting to see how they get around the other two designs. Could give DoubleTap a whole new meaning. Or, what if there’s only one button per side and it automatically shifts front and rear to keep the gear ratio ideal? Obviously, that wouldn’t be how it’s working here given the chain position, but still cool. And entirely possible from a technological standpoint. Of course, this is all speculation. So far we haven’t heard back from SRAM, and typically it’ll just be that they’re “always testing stuff”. Calls are in, update here if/when we get it. Official SRAM Comment: “Development product, no specifics available, no additional comment.”

Huge thanks to Von R Buzard for sharing the pics!

Now, let’s have some fun. Shimano’s calling it Di2 (Digital Integrated Intelligence), Campy’s got EPS (Electronic Power Shift). What do you suppose SRAM will call theirs? Leave it in the comments, keep it clean. Best answer (as determined by us and that we don’t have to delete for language) wins a Bikerumor pint glass!


100 thoughts on “Prototype Electronic SRAM Red Drivetrain Spotted!

  1. SRAM HGH (Haters Gonna Hate)? It would be appropriate for Bikerumor commenters.

    Given their history of distilling a feature to a short word or two (e.g. DoubleTap, ExactActuation, Yaw, ZeroLoss, HydroR, AeroGlide, OpenGlide, XGlide, XActuation, etc.), it would break from convention to use a 3 letter combination. My guess is that they will have some feature that sets it apart from Campy and Shimano, and that feature will be summarized in 1-2 buzzwords. I doubt they will just bring a “me too” product to market several years late — they’re going to have some unique feature that people will love or (in the case of BR) hate. Plus, they have to get around patents, and they are good at creating new features in the process.

    So, perhaps they do have a smart shifting system that automatically puts you in the right gear to maintain ratios? It may not be seen in this picture because there might not even be a front derailleur on that bike. So, I’ll go with XTap, even though I’m sure they will do better.

    Disclosure: I like SRAM.

  2. Really putting it through the ringer there eh? I guess if it can handle that kind of cross shifting they must be doing something right.

  3. @Ben – Yes, SRAM shifts fine. Unfortunately for them, everyone else’s stuff shifts great.

    Also, Velo News reported this over a day ago.

  4. I’m guessing SRAM will use the term Actuation in whatever it ends up being called.
    Electronic (Exact) Actuation? EA II?
    Digital (Exact) Actuation?
    X2 Actuation?
    XXX Actuation?

  5. It’s the future so it was only a matter of time before they developed their own system. eSRAM is my name choice. I don’t think it will be double tap but it will be the lightest and probably not as good as Di2.

  6. just in time for XTR Di2?! i still think mtb makes far more sense for electronic shifting… you could even do it with servos and a screw and lose most of the chain bounce.. instant chain retention

  7. SRAM HydroE otherwise know as SRAM HydroElectric

    The new era of Powerful Breaking now joins blissfully smooth electronic shifting!

  8. I wonder if they release a working ‘Pro’-front derailleur after over two years?

    And maybe they finally build a rear derailleur, that dosn’t collapse while riding…

  9. I wonder what the weight is going to be line considering the biggest advantage SRAM had over Shimano in group weights game from the mechanical shifter design.

  10. @Teddy, So instead of coming up with a cleaver name you go out of your way to bash another cyclist. Real nice, real nice.

    Yeah, the rider is cross chaining to hell and back. The race that this image was taken at was the Illinois State Championships. The course is in the open and right on Lake Michigan, it is a sandy course and that day had snow, wind and 20 degree temperatures. If you have ever actually raced in those conditions you would know that you don’t really worry about what gear you are in and you just go.

    If the guy is still a fred…well, check out his results, they aren’t that hard to find. My bet is you’re not a CAT 1 cross racer who is not getting lapped by Tim Johnson and friends in National races…

  11. I don’t own a skinny tire bike, but I’d have to guess it’s not a triple chainring right? So with a double isn’t it one of the features to be able to cross like that without any issues…… That’s how it works on 2×10 mountain set ups. Just sayin….. I’d also say the folks racing in those conditions are more of a man/woman than any of the haters….or even the non haters on here!

  12. Industry secret! Sram’s development has taken awhile because they want to make a closed system. This occurred after it has uncovered that the NSA had hacked in to wireless power meters that were integrated with Di2 to spy on the training methods of cyclist that could be terrorists.

  13. I will go electronic when it goes wireless. Now that would be awesome. Sram Red mechanical has worked great for me and still does. My guess is the Tech. is here. Get rid of the wires. Sometimes I feel stringed along.

  14. I bet, in order to one up campag and shimano, that it has sequential shifting. Told by a shimano rep that Di2 XTR should, maybe, might be sequential (ie one button for up, one for low, and works the front der automatically).

    lame but, SequentialActuation

  15. ZeroTap
    with YAWN front shifting. as in “not excited at all”.
    ZeroTolerance assembly methods, just slap any old parts together. we can warranty it later.
    ExactAntidiluvian motion.

  16. Anyone else remember those stupid SRAM ads where they knocked electronic shifting and said people should stick with cables? One of the dumbest and more transparent ad campaigns in cycling I can remember…………

  17. WiFli
    When that wide range crap came out I through wifli was their electronic shifting. Now they just need to get ahead, XX1 electronic!!!

  18. As much as these photos are positioned as a ‘spy shot’, what are the chances of the front mech being hidden from view at the exact moment that the shot was taken? Is something going on there that we aren’t meant to see? There is a 1 in 360 degree chance that the cranks would just be at that angle when the shot was taken, and I am sure this bike passed the photographer more than once?

    I wonder if it is (as has been rumoured) a Bluetooth system and the cable from the rear mech is either a) a dummy to put people off the scent (because there isn’t one to the hidden front mech), or b) it is a dynamo-type charging wire that powers the front mech, thus elminiating the need for a wire. Maybe you only then need small batteries for the shifters to send a pulse of Bluetooth signal.

    Pure speculation, but it’s good to speculate sometimes!

  19. And another thing. I hope that the front mech doesn’t automatically move in response to a sequential double tap lever.

    I can see the benefits in some ways, but a computer wouldn’t know what gear I want to select next, and therefore which is the optimum front chainring to select at one time.

  20. @VonKruiser : well… to be honest, “Spark” is used by Scott bike, too…
    Let’s get another chance… what about “SRAM Lightning” ???

  21. Andrew, that would be a whole lot of deception from SRAM, a relatively small bike parts manufacturer. I take your point about the photo, but I think you can forget about Bluetooth.

  22. SRAM turned over US$550m last year. A ‘relatively small’ number?

    But yes, I take your point. Maybe a bit too much of a conspiracy theory that one, but I have it on very good authority that Bluetooth is in the mix somewhere………

  23. @Andrew : It kinda looks like he’s coasting through a right turn so the chances of his right foot being at a 12 o’clock position are pretty high. Also it is mentioned that the photographer didnt realize what he had shot, so he might have only taken one picture. Sorry to rain on your parade.

  24. Maybe the electronic derailleur is only meant to distract people from the fact that a SRAM sponsored rider is still riding canti brakes. Ha.. Ha.. Nice try SRAM. Hydraulic brakes version 2.0 will be their next big product release.

    They should just name the product what it really is… SRAM… “S”omething already “R”eleased by “A”nother “M”anufacturer.

    The real innovation will be the upcoming release of the next generation Dura-Ace electronic group.. wireless Bluetooth shifting and hydraulic brakes.

    SRAM is continually trying to play catch-up with old technology. If they really want market share, then they should focus on c-r-e-a-t-i-n-g the next generation of technology. You have to think one step ahead of everyone else SRAM. I’m rooting for you. I want you to be successful. Competition is good for everyone involved.

  25. Dustin, take a look at SRAM 1×11 and tell me they are catching up? Who are they catching up too, same for 2×10. Both were first to market items.

  26. @dustin,
    shimano copied the shifter and deraileur design from campy.
    shimano changed it’s cable routing and shifter/ brake lever shape after sram came out with their system.
    magura, then formula , then sram came out with hydraulic braking systems for road and try bikes, then shimano followed suit.
    shimano revamped it’s entire mtb drive train after sram came out with 2×10.
    because of srams much stiffer parallelogram on mtb der. shimano came up with the shadow rear der, then later the clutch style rear der. when the shadow did’nt really improve dropped chains (my assumption from observation )
    a giant like shimano reacting to a (relatively ) small U.S. based company seems like perhaps sram is innovative …

  27. Max L, You might be on to something. I don’t know much about electronics but there must be some sort of magnetic field being generated when a disk constantly spins through the caliper.
    Is there anyone that knows more about this type of stuff that could let me know if I am totally off base?

  28. SRAM WSN (we said never)

    Come on guys!!! I love Sram, I thought you were cool (i still do really)
    But this has got to stop! You said there’s no need to ever go electronic and I agreed.
    You said it wasn’t worth the weight penalty, maintenance penalty and cost penalty! AGREED

    Whenever you add and electronic advantage to something that can be accomplished mechanically the said action should be difficult in the first place and the added penalty to go “assisted”(hydraulically electronically or otherwise) should be worth it based on results (time/energy invested)

    i.e. Blending a smoothie by hand difficult…. blenders relatively cheap… End result = happy

    shifting your bike by “hand” easy… electronic shifting is expensive, requieres outlet…End result = Why?

    cutting a tree down by hand = Difficult… chainsaw = easier = worth the cost and fuel

    Shifting your properly maintained and tuned mech drivetrain = flawless and quick = Why add weight and something you need to charge?

    Drilling a hole, washing dishes, opening a garage door, climbing a ton of stairs, Give me something difficult, inconvenient or tedious and then make it easy/quicker with assistance. Not something as easy and quick as shifting a bike.

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