eTap Goes Gravel

When John Loudon McAdam pioneered the development of modern gravel roads in Scotland around 1820, he had no idea how much joy he would bring to riders like us. While gravel road technology is old, and people have been riding chain-driven bikes on it since the 1880’s, we thought it was time to more fully enjoy riding McAdam’s creation. So we developed SRAM eTap AXS. 

Engineering a groupset that excels on gravel isn’t easy. Gravel riding requires some unique demands from drivetrains—demands that are often mutually exclusive of one another. They have to deliver exceptionally wide gear ranges, but also have small steps between the gears. Chains have to smoothly transition from one chainring to another, but never fall off. Optimizing for one meant sacrificing the other. That’s why we started with a blank slate when we designed eTap AXS—doing it any other way would mean compromise, and when you set out to develop the best gravel riding groupset in the world, compromise isn’t an option.

So we designed a cassette with a 10-tooth start and 12 cogs to get the wide gearing range and smooth progression riders demanded. Then designed a new wireless electronic derailleur built around a fluid damper for the pulley cage. This damper made it possible to keep the chain on over the rough stuff without over-tensioning it during shifting. Not content to only smooth out the gearing progression at the cassette, we developed new 2x chainrings built around a 13-tooth difference between them, rather than the 16-tooth difference traditional 2x drivetrains had. Put simply, it’s the wide range, close-ratio, 2x drivetrain with chain security that serious gravel riders have been dreaming about.

But we know there’s always that person that wants to get a little more rad, pushing lightweight drop bar bikes to the absolute limit. For those folks, we offer our XC Mountain Bike World Championship winning XX1 Eagle AXS rear derailleur, Eagle chain, and 500% range 10-50t XG-1299 cassette. Pair the wireless electronic mountain rear derailleur with AXS drop bar levers, drive the chain and cassette with either an Eagle or road AXS 1x crankset, and yeah… go get as rad as you want. 

If you yearn for the crackle of gravel beneath your tires, we’ve got you covered with AXS.