SRAM Electronic Rear Derailleur Spotted Again, This Time Less Fuzzy

prototype SRAM electronic derailleurs closeup photos

Prototype SRAM electronic derailleur. Photo: Von R Buzard

Last week’s spy shots were a little fuzzy, but Von was back at it at the Midwest Cyclocross Finals and captured these glamour shots of the prototype SRAM electronic derailleur.

It’s all still speculation, but these do look awfully quite finished now that they’re sitting still. Our guess is that black box is the brains of the operation (or at least the rear mech) and the black section protruding inward from the parallelograms is the actuator. The small black knob facing out the back is likely the lower limit screw, but could be a tuning adjustment.

Unlike the CXX1 prototype we spotted at a NC race that uses a very XX1-like horizontally moving parallelogram setup, this one’s moving at an angle like a traditional rear derailleur…which is expected since it’s going to be paired with a front derailleur.

Prototype SRAM electronic derailleur. Photo: Von R Buzard

Photo: Von R Buzard

From the front, the motor unit disappears.

Prototype SRAM electronic derailleur. Photo: Von R Buzard

Photo: Von R Buzard

This week’s batch of pics gives us our first look at the front derailleur, which uses a top entry for the wire and a reasonably sized motor/control box on the top.

Photo: Von R Buzard

Photo: Von R Buzard

That crop came from this full driveside view, which shows (presumably) the battery taped to the stem. If that’s what it is, it’s pretty small, which could help keep SRAM leading the lightest-road-bike-group contest.

Prototype SRAM electronic derailleur and shifters

Photo: Von R Buzard

It also gives us a look at the outer face of the button, of which there’s only one that we can see. Double tap as electronic? Seems logical, and we’d guess not all that difficult to do. One outer button with enough spring tension to provide a tactile “click” but that surrounds an inner button that is depressed with a longer throw of the button and overrides the first signal. Again, all speculation, but it makes us all the more interested in trying it out!

Comments

mack10 - 12/16/13 - 2:17pm

ahhh yeah!!!

greg - 12/16/13 - 2:20pm

two quick links on the chain, both installed backwards.

harrochan - 12/16/13 - 2:24pm

But I thought

“SRAM has not jumped into the electronic-shifting game because SRAM believes the bicycle is a pure, leg and lung-powered expression of utter simplicity and grace. And using a battery to power an essential part of the experience just isn’t right. Or necessary. Especially because the real performance benefits of electronic shifting really don’t exist.”

stay safe poverty SRAM

Chris - 12/16/13 - 2:24pm

Bad news guys; these have already been recalled.

wako29 - 12/16/13 - 2:25pm

irony of proto SRAM drivetrain and Shimano pedals! Woot!
But seriously I hope it shifts better than current SRAM stuff. Gross.

harrochan - 12/16/13 - 2:25pm

@wako29 those are crank bros pedals

wako29 - 12/16/13 - 2:28pm

@harrochan: scroll up. 2 different bikes.

gravity - 12/16/13 - 2:32pm

Mark my words – by the time SRAM gets this to market, Shimano will be either producing or testing a wireless Di2 configuration, using currently still-in-development Bluetooth standards. They already know exactly how to do it, they just need a new standard with low enough battery draw. Much like SRAM’s awful hydro lever, Shimano’s offering will look like a glittering new iPhone next to SRAM’s old fashioned bag-phone.

MissedThePoint - 12/16/13 - 2:39pm

Weak looking wire.

Pete - 12/16/13 - 2:43pm

There is a new BT standard out called BT Low Energy (LE).

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluetooth_low_energy

You’ll probably be able to directly wirelessly interface with Di using a mobile app on your smartphone. Do on the fly adjustments and maybe even be able to record data (power, cadence, speed, gear) off the components themselves. It’s probably sometime off but not too far over the horizon.

Brakeless Bonnie - 12/16/13 - 2:45pm

Nice spy shots! That rear der looks near production. More siked on this than disc brakes for sure.

puffy - 12/16/13 - 2:47pm

“awfully finished”? looks fine to me…..

jon - 12/16/13 - 2:47pm

I’m with greg on this one.

Chris - 12/16/13 - 2:49pm

Shimano already has a wireless product in testing that’ll probably be released within a month or so. It’s not quite there yet, but it’ll be a good step in the direction of taking the system wireless.

LawyerKnowItAll - 12/16/13 - 2:50pm

Despite my user name, I don’t know too much about design.

You would think sram would learn from some of the weaknesses (IMO) of campy and shimano and build the battery, brains, and ports into the shifter and try to do away with the clutter that the other electric drive trains have. I know wireless poses a lot of different problems, but Bluetooth low energy means smaller batteries which could go in the shifters and just have a separate battery for the derailleurs. Then no hassling with half of the wiring system.

Again, I really don’t know if its possible. However there should be some really nice things about the SRAM that shimano and campy had to learn the hard way.

Martin - 12/16/13 - 2:51pm

Looks like 11 speed too :)

ApeEscape - 12/16/13 - 2:56pm

I dont understand why everyone would want to make the system wireless? That is adding extra complexity for strictly vanity. The system will most likely be heavier because each individual component will now require a battery or for it to be independently charged. A wired system is a much better design IMHO.

mateo - 12/16/13 - 2:57pm

Wireless would be great, but you still have to power the derailleurs.

You’re not going to power those wirelessly, so either they stay attached to a remote battery or you have to build one in to each derailleur.

Karsten - 12/16/13 - 2:59pm

I doubt if Shimano wil use a blue tooth connection between the next generation di2 grouo components. Blue tooth is a high energy consumer. All components wouls need their own battery. I doubt if this would be compensated by the wireless advantages.

JohnnyD - 12/16/13 - 3:19pm

So, I can’t wait! Soon, I will be able to hack my training partner’s drivetrain via my iPhone!!

We’ll put a special code in there so the bike always jumps to the smallest cog whenever he’s approaching the steeps. Sweet.

Sean Melchionda - 12/16/13 - 3:20pm

Not sure why everyone would even want to go electronic when the Dura Ace 9000 stuff is just so amazing. It really shows what is possible with a traditional cable actuated system. SRAM RED shifts so poorly in comparison I’m sure the electronic stuff will be an improvement, but then again… Why not get the cable actuated stuff working properly…. I know they can do it…. My SRAM XX1 group shifts amazing. Don’t get me wrong… The electronic stuff is very cool… But I’d rather save my money for maybe another srt of wheels…. Or retirement.

yourbikehatesyou - 12/16/13 - 3:23pm

They can’t even put brakes into production that work the first time. I can hardly wait to have to deal with this recall nightmare waiting to happen.

Surprised it wasn’t spec’d on bikes already to let consumers once again do SRAM’s product testing.

Jacob - 12/16/13 - 3:33pm

It’s good to see that they are testing it during cyclocross as that should mean that it will hold up to road riding conditions. More competition can only be good for us, the consumer, as it will push innovation, weight and hopefully price. I do think that this system will be the lightest but probably Shimano will shift smoother (just like the mechanical). I also think that it will be some kind of double tap button system as they will want to stay true to their mechanical roots.

Eyal - 12/16/13 - 3:38pm

@karsten and other, Bluetooth LE (low energy) will be everywhere, especially when Blue LE 4.1 is adopted.

A very technical article but please solider on and read it

http://www.digikey.com/us/en/techzone/wireless/resources/articles/comparing-low-power-wireless.html

wireless - 12/16/13 - 3:45pm

They should go wireless w/ 11sp AT THE MINIMUM.

gravity - 12/16/13 - 3:55pm

@Sean Melchionda – Truth. Current generation high-end mechanical groups from Shimano and Campagnolo both operate to near perfection. The electronic stuff is neat and everything, but invariably looks uglier, lacks the positive mechanical feel, and complicates the drivetrain in a way that the cable-actuated stuff simply doesn’t.

I just built up a Super Record EPS bike, and it doesn’t shift any better than my Record 11, and weights more.

Eli - 12/16/13 - 4:02pm

Is that 10 or 11 speed?

Moove - 12/16/13 - 4:27pm

This can not be stressed enough:

“SRAM has not jumped into the electronic-shifting game because SRAM believes the bicycle is a pure, leg and lung-powered expression of utter simplicity and grace. And using a battery to power an essential part of the experience just isn’t right. Or necessary. Especially because the real performance benefits of electronic shifting really don’t exist.”

puffy - 12/16/13 - 4:49pm

Moove, harrochan:

Meh; Your dad probably told you babies are delivered from Candyland by a stork. You’ll get over this too.

A. - 12/16/13 - 5:34pm

SRAM is doing electronic… because they are SOOOO good at mechanical and hydraulic systems!

mudrock - 12/16/13 - 5:58pm

Sram right now reminds me of Shimano in the 80s, when they came out with a lot of innovative ideas that weren’t ready for market (DynaDrive comes to mind). Sram has had a ton of innovative ideas in their short history, mostly in mountain groups. 1×11 has been a big revelation in the sport. They were caught flat-footed with the failure of their seals, and should have known better with all the Avid expertise in-house.

Backpedaling - 12/16/13 - 6:07pm

Here’s the full statement from SRAM of what a few people posted earlier.

http://303cycling.com/Help-SRAM-Communicate-their-Stance-on-the-Electronic-Shifting-Trend

I can’t wait to hear them try to backpedal out of this one!

muf - 12/16/13 - 7:33pm

bluetooth low power doesn’t mean that the system will use less power than the wire system. it means it uses less power than regular bluetooth. Both of which use more power than a wire.
There is no wireless system that does (or can – it’s physics..) use less power than a wire for the same transmission distance & bitrate ;-)

Also, I also believe that electronic drive trains aren’t all that nice. They’re big/bulky/boxes, have to charge batteries for what benefit.. sram and shimano mechanical systems work just as as well, without the additional troubles.

I’m pretty sure the only reason sram is testing electronic shifting is because of marketing issues (just like people want to jump on a BT LE system with 2 batteries, no matter how dumb the technical choice is compared to a wire. And Shimano knows this. So does SRAM and campagnolo, for that matter).

Pete - 12/16/13 - 7:35pm

@All_the_naysayers

Steve Jobs said Apple will not do a phone and yet they came out with the highly successful iPhone… (http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/Steve_Jobs_No_Tablet_No_PDA_No_Cell_Phone_Lots_Of_iPods)

Then he said that you won’t be able to put native apps on the iPhone and now there’s over a million iOS apps available… (http://www.cultofmac.com/125180/steve-jobs-was-originally-dead-set-against-third-party-apps-for-the-iphone/)

You should see a pattern here… PR is PR. It’s all talk no walk.

Alex - 12/16/13 - 7:46pm

Of all the weaknesses in the bicycle drivetrain they chose to attack they opted for the cable??

Dave - 12/16/13 - 9:11pm

Sweet!! Sign me up for SRAM electronic and hydraulic and my bike will be… recalled. The best part is that I get to pay MORE for my bike to sit idle!! Innovation indeed!

bin judgin - 12/16/13 - 10:16pm

OMGFG BIKE COMPANY MADE SOMETHING LOLFOLROL!

god, almost every single person on a bike is so obnoxious. looking forward to this. new style red has been shifting MUCH better.

at the races - 12/16/13 - 11:45pm

a few things to point out here… there were two different SRAM employees on it at this race, which is why you see two different pedal systems.
yes, it is 11 (22) speed.
pieces of it may be “near” production, but i guess we’ll see when they actually release it.

it’s been said before- many of the employees there ride prototypes through many stages of development. well over a year ago they were on the hydro discs, 22, etc…. and i’ve seen a few variations of some of the CX1 bits since August at least.

so for you geniuses who think this is exactly how it’s going to look come production time, you’re probably pretty far off.

norm - 12/17/13 - 12:26am

As for the back pedaling, we must wonder which loyal SRAM employee it was who had the nerve to standup to management and point out that human physiology –and all the wondrous enjoyments that it affords– is rather precipitated upon electrical impulses… similar on fact to those impulses that make inane marketing decisions.

gravity - 12/17/13 - 1:54am

@at the races – How on earth could this be “22″ when there is only one ring up front?

Nippon cross - 12/17/13 - 4:26am

I think SRAM is one island south of a good drivetrain

lada - 12/17/13 - 6:35am

@ gravity, i count two rings….

gravity - 12/17/13 - 1:16pm

@lada – My confused brain through I was reading the other SRAM thread, about the CXX1.

gravity - 12/17/13 - 1:17pm

@lada & @at the races – Big derp on my part.

Charli - 12/17/13 - 6:58pm

You guys are living in the past. Electronic shifting is effortless, consistent, and prolongs the life of your drivetrain. It’s also expensive. You’ve got to recharge it. Boo hoo: Prices will come down. Battery tech, while slow to evolve (no Moore’s Law here) will improve. The future marches on.

Bill - 12/17/13 - 10:38pm

Why is everyone giving SRAM so much crap for having engineers (both of them racing this weekend are Chicago engineering staff) testing out ideas? They are both legit cat 1 cx racers and both former cat 1 cx state champions as well, so who better to play with stuff before decisions are made? All component manufacturers do things like this, and I can’t speak for the other guys but I for one always like the idea of product engineers also being seasoned, and still active racers with the products they’re designing.

chris - 12/23/13 - 3:14am

@Bill – I prefer Shimano’s approach that their engineers prove their worth in the end product, not how fast they can race. I’m not buying their product because I like that their engineer is a cat 1 cx state champ, I buy it because it’s designed, tested and built properly, and therefore a good investment of my hard earned dollars. Maybe a little more time in the office instead of training for state champs, and there’d be less time at the CPSC office?

tyla - 12/24/13 - 3:33pm

how long after it goes on sale to the public there will be a recall

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