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A Year with AXS Red, Can It Be Improved?

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A Year with AXS Red, Can It Be Improved?

Old 04-04-20, 10:38 AM
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justonwo
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A Year with AXS Red, Can It Be Improved?

Last year I switched from my trusty 2014 Roubaix with Dura Ace Di2 to a 2020 Roubaix with AXS Red. In my view, Di2 is/was the gold standard for shift quality. I could shift under reasonable load and the derailleurs never missed a beat.

Iíve spent a reasonable amount of time dialing in the rear derailleur of my AXS setup, but I canít get the same quality. I get funky shifts 2-3 times per ride, but in general the shift quality is fine. Itís difficult to dial out that last bit of funkiness because it happens so rarely. Iím wondering if itís just that the derailleur is inherently limited? Shifting under load definitely isnít as reliable as Di2. If I try to shift under load, the result can range from acceptable to very disruptive. For those of you with experience riding Di2, do you have the same observations about AXS in comparison? I love the 12 speed range of AXS, but I think Di2 is a better product overall, particularly given the hoods are much more comfortable.
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Old 04-04-20, 02:37 PM
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Shifting under load can mean many things - a little extra load, or way too late I'm about to stop pedaling type of load. The later should never be expected to make for a smooth shift. I assume that your RD alignment has been checked. Even new frames can need the RD hanger aligned. I can tell you that the AXS chain works nicely with Campy 12 and Campy's 11-34 cassette sure has better spacing than the AXS 10-33. The sprocket spacing is very close to the same, with SRAM being a bit wider. I read one report of a user with a Campy electronic 12 drivetrain using a SRAM AXS cassette with no problem.

Shimano should have DA 12 speed out by this fall. If not, they're lagging more than usual. It will most likely require another new hub, just like SRAM 12. There will be legitimate comparisons when all three have 12 speed. For now, comparing 11 to 12 isn't meaningful, unless you really don't need 12 speed.

I have two bikes with Chorus 12 that I installed last July. No complaints so far.
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Old 04-05-20, 07:22 AM
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I don’t have any wild expectations for the derailleurs under load. I generally try to remove some load when shifting the rear on a steep hill unless I’m really going after it. I find that with Di2 I can downshift under load one gear (spinning, not standing and cranking) without any complaint from the RD and cassette. AXS can’t quite get there - at least not 100% of the time. I find myself having to unload the chain a bit more when shifting one to two gears going uphill. The handful of bad shifts I experience are a mystery.

The upside of SRAM’s system is that I get a greater range of gears, which was the primary motivation for the switch. I disagree that comparing the 11 to 12-speed performance isn’t meaningful, as the comparison reveals the pros and cons of the two systems. If Shimano can offer a 12 speed electronic drivetrain with the reliability and precision of the current 11-speed Di2, I think they would outclass AXS. That’s not to say AXS is bad. It’s fine, and even great under most circumstances, but it lacks that last 5% of polish that Di2 offers.

I hadn’t considered Campagnolo as a third alternative. For the most part the bikes I ride have Shimano or SRAM. My post isn’t meant to be critical but rather to elicit response from others that have made the comparison. Perhaps there is a way to dial in better performance? Or perhaps others don’t feel there’s a performance gap.
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Old 04-05-20, 07:45 AM
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Try the weight weenies forum. More folks there using high end drivetrains. I quickly found a you tube video that shows the adjustment procedure, by contender bicycles. Looked simple. The derailleur hanger alignment is still important. My last new frame needed a tweak.
https://weightweenies.starbike.com/f...p?f=3&t=156231

Just for kicks, you could try a Campy 12 chain. It's a bit wider, but should work. I always remove the thick grease applied at the factory and relube before using and use a sram eagle 12 quick link to join it. That avoids the need for a campy tool for the joining pin.

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Old 04-05-20, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by justonwo View Post
The upside of SRAMís system is that I get a greater range of gears, which was the primary motivation for the switch. I disagree that comparing the 11 to 12-speed performance isnít meaningful, as the comparison reveals the pros and cons of the two systems. If Shimano can offer a 12 speed electronic drivetrain with the reliability and precision of the current 11-speed Di2, I think they would outclass AXS. Thatís not to say AXS is bad. Itís fine, and even great under most circumstances, but it lacks that last 5% of polish that Di2 offers,
It's a safe bet the next generation Dura-Ace/Ultegra/105 will be 12-speed. XTR/XT/SLX mountain groupsets are already 12-speed.
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Old 04-05-20, 09:50 AM
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I just can't imagine giving up Di2 quality to go to SRAM to chase one extra cog.
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Old 04-05-20, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Bah Humbug View Post
I just can't imagine giving up Di2 quality to go to SRAM to chase one extra cog.
+1

I can't thing of any reason to use SRAM.
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Old 04-05-20, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
Try the weight weenies forum. More folks there using high end drivetrains. I quickly found a you tube video that shows the adjustment procedure, by contender bicycles. Looked simple. The derailleur hanger alignment is still important. My last new frame needed a tweak.
https://weightweenies.starbike.com/f...p?f=3&t=156231

Just for kicks, you could try a Campy 12 chain. It's a bit wider, but should work. I always remove the thick grease applied at the factory and relube before using and use a sram eagle 12 quick link to join it. That avoids the need for a campy tool for the joining pin.
There is no such thing as dialing in a manual group by anyone. By their nature you have the ability to jam it into another gear regardless of loads and conditions. This means that you can get your system working perfectly and three to four weeks later it is jumping gears because of wear in the shifting systems somewhere. My Campy drove me absolutely crazy until I changed over to Di2. I won't go back.
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Old 04-05-20, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by RiceAWay View Post
There is no such thing as dialing in a manual group by anyone. By their nature you have the ability to jam it into another gear regardless of loads and conditions. This means that you can get your system working perfectly and three to four weeks later it is jumping gears because of wear in the shifting systems somewhere. My Campy drove me absolutely crazy until I changed over to Di2. I won't go back.
Total nonsense. You can expect to turn the tension adjuster at least once after a new cable installation, but you should never have to make frequent adjustments. This is a typical complaint from the mechanically inept user - they can't figure out which way to turn the tension adjuster. If a couple of clicks every few weeks is more than you can handle, you probably should pay more for Di2 and keep using 11 speed. Even the electronic systems have the ability to tweak the derailleur movement.

I can't say enough good things about Campy 12 mechanical. I really like that my two chorus groups cost about the same as one force 12 group.

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Old 04-05-20, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Bah Humbug View Post
I just can't imagine giving up Di2 quality to go to SRAM to chase one extra cog.
Originally Posted by noodle soup View Post
+1

I can't thing of any reason to use SRAM.
I am considering SRAM because my bike is not set up for internal cables. Di2 routed externally can be done but the zip-tie aesthetic is fugly.

I am still hoping next version of Di2 is wireless but thatís not likely.
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Old 04-05-20, 06:12 PM
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Personally, I've moved a bike from Di2 to eTap Red (not AXS) and I like it a ton better.
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Old 04-05-20, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
Total nonsense. You can expect to turn the tension adjuster at least once after a new cable installation, but you should never have to make frequent adjustments. This is a typical complaint for the mechanically inept user - they can't figure out which way to turn the tension adjuster. If a couple of clicks every few weeks is more than you can handle, you probably should pay more for Di2 and keep using 11 speed. Even the electronic systems have the ability to tweak the derailleur movement.

I can't say enough good things about Campy 12 mechanical. I really like that my two chorus groups cost about the same as one force 12 group.
Frequency of needed adjustment has many factors like how much you ride, the terrain you ride in, the weather you ride in and the bike you ride on.
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Old 04-05-20, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post
I am considering SRAM because my bike is not set up for internal cables. Di2 routed externally can be done but the zip-tie aesthetic is fugly.

I am still hoping next version of Di2 is wireless but thatís not likely.
That's one of the few situations that would cause me to consider it.
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Old 04-05-20, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Bah Humbug View Post
That's one of the few situations that would cause me to consider it.
"Breakaway" or S&S coupled bikes are another situation where eTap is very useful.
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Old 04-05-20, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post
I am considering SRAM because my bike is not set up for internal cables. Di2 routed externally can be done but the zip-tie aesthetic is fugly.

I am still hoping next version of Di2 is wireless but thatís not likely.
you shouldn't buy a frame that doesn't work with your preferred components. Not real smart.
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Old 04-05-20, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by colnago62 View Post
Frequency of needed adjustment has many factors like how much you ride, the terrain you ride in, the weather you ride in and the bike you ride on.
What causations in those scenarios lead to the need for adjustment? I don't put as many miles on a bike as many here do and rarely ride in the rain but the 105 on my 2017 Roubaix SL4 bought NOS in 2019 has never needed an adjustment outside of the first adjustment a few hundred miles in.
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Old 04-05-20, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by MSchott View Post
What causations in those scenarios lead to the need for adjustment? I don't put as many miles on a bike as many here do and rarely ride in the rain but the 105 on my 2017 Roubaix SL4 bought NOS in 2019 has never needed an adjustment outside of the first adjustment a few hundred miles in.
I have a friend who rides 12,000 miles a year. He has his cables replaced two to three times a year. The more you ride, the more you shift. The more you ride in the rain, the more likely your cables will get water in them, which causes corrosion. One Di2 first came out, there was a video where team mechanics were asked about what they liked most about Di2 and it was that there was no need to do adjustments once the bike was setup.
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Old 04-05-20, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
you shouldn't buy a frame that doesn't work with your preferred components. Not real smart.
Maybe he already owns the frame and is looking to upgrade the existing group set? Or, maybe it's a new frame, and the group set doesn't matter to him as much as the frame?
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Old 04-06-20, 12:37 AM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post
I am considering SRAM because my bike is not set up for internal cables. Di2 routed externally can be done but the zip-tie aesthetic is fugly.

I am still hoping next version of Di2 is wireless but thatís not likely.
I wouldnít deter you. I still think AXS is great. Itís 95% of the way to Di2 in most regards. It beats current Di2 on gearing range, which is why I bought it. The hoods are a bit on the large side, which some like and others donít. Shimano will likely be releasing a 12 speed contender soon. My guess is it will be wireless.

My primary motivation in moving to AXS was to get the 33/33 combo for climbing. I got tired of mashing at low RPM on some of the steep climbs around here. Thatís a big advantage.

I guess the reason I started the thread was to see if others had 1-2 skipped shifts per ride and if they were able to eliminate it. Once an hour or so. Again, not a big deal. I canít imagine pros on the world tour dealing with that, so it must be possible to eliminate it. Eliminating that skip would make it a fantastic group set I think. My only other small change would be to shrink the hoods, but itís hard to make a groupset that works for everyone.
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Old 04-06-20, 12:42 AM
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Originally Posted by justonwo View Post
I can’t imagine pros on the world tour dealing with that, so it must be possible to eliminate it.
Of course they deal with it, it's SRAM.

And there's no need to imagine.

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Old 04-06-20, 03:32 AM
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Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
you shouldn't buy a frame that doesn't work with your preferred components. Not real smart.
Custom Ti frame bought in 2009. Current tech like hydraulic discs and electronic shifting were not really a consideration back then. Itís a great bike so moving over to electronic shifting is my goal, possibly.
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Old 04-06-20, 08:15 AM
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If I had a custom Ti frame, I'd ask the builder for advice on outfitting it for electronic shifting. The problem is that no one knows if Shimano intends to go wireless when they update to 12 speed. I've read of others considering adding rear disc mounts and a new fork for an older Ti frame.

You'll probably need new wheels to get an XDR or microspline hub.
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Old 04-06-20, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by colnago62 View Post
I have a friend who rides 12,000 miles a year. He has his cables replaced two to three times a year. The more you ride, the more you shift. The more you ride in the rain, the more likely your cables will get water in them, which causes corrosion. One Di2 first came out, there was a video where team mechanics were asked about what they liked most about Di2 and it was that there was no need to do adjustments once the bike was setup.
This is one of the main reasons I went with electronic on the new bike, went through four shift cables last year. I ride a lot of miles, with a lot of elevation, doesn't bode well for shift cables, especially the newer Shimano with the tight bend at the shifter end. No more worries now, 1,600 miles on the di2 and it is absolutely fantastic.

I wasn't keen on AXS for some of the reasons listed here, di2 shifting is smoother, hoods are smaller/more comfortable. Also, the three bikes I saw in person with AXS were all noisy, could have just been the setup, but it was just one more reason to for me to go di2. Wireless is the only real plus I can see, and only if you need it, like datlas trying to retrofit an older frame. Once it's built, wires aren't an issue for me.
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Old 04-06-20, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post
I am considering SRAM because my bike is not set up for internal cables. Di2 routed externally can be done but the zip-tie aesthetic is fugly.

I am still hoping next version of Di2 is wireless but that’s not likely.
I retrofitted a mechanical bike to eTap Red. Very easy and took me about an hour even though I'd never done it before. The resulting installation is very clean.

I also have a 5 year old bike that I built for Di2. After I upgraded my other mechanical bike to eTap to go electronic, I discovered I liked it so much that I replaced the Di2 drivetrain with eTap and sold the Di2 parts. Since then I've built a new bike also with eTap for travel and my wife's new bike was built up with an AXS eTap. What I like about eTap (besides that it works well) is that the installations are so clean, the single paddle shifters are easier to shift with heavy gloves on (we live in the north and ride a lot when it's cold). For travel, it's hard to beat eTap for disassembly to pack your bike.
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Old 04-06-20, 08:27 AM
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I also went electronic after destroying cables 2-3 times a year. Iíve never had any SRAM stuff before AXS so I canít comment on their previous group sets but so far Force AXS has been flawless in my limited experience.
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