Electronic MTB Components - The Future? | SRAM AXS Review

SRAM X01 Eagle axs shifter with a rockshox reverb axs dropper post on a transition patrol

The cleanliness of AXS (don't mind the dirt)

An Intro To SRAM AXS

    Since 2008, you’ve been able to upgrade your bike to beeping and booping shifting. It wasn’t perfect back then but, electronic shifting has aged like fine wine. Is replacing cables for batteries just a marketing gimmick? I am starting to second guess myself...

    Earlier this year SRAM introduced GX AXS, which we reviewed this past Spring, bringing wireless electronic shifting to the masses with a lower entry price of $600. This groupset might not have all the bells and whistles of the nicer X01 or XX1, but it can be adapted to feel the exact same by upgrading the shifter paddle. Bringing the barrier to entry lower, along with it being much harder to find cable-actuated derailleurs, SRAM has had more people considering a swap to electronic shifting. After over 10 years, have the improvements made it worth the extra coin?

    When I was getting ready to build a new bike this year, I went back and forth quite a bit on which way to go - mechanical shifting or electronic shifting? After seeing how hard it would be to get any replacement parts for standard derailleurs and shifters, it pushed me over the edge and I went all-in on electronics. I ditched the cables and went for both the SRAM X01 Eagle AXS shifting and RockShox Reverb AXS dropper post.

    The last time I had electronic shifting was back in 2012 on a road bike. I thought it was absolutely wonderful back then, but I have since been worried about reliability on a mountain bike. I can now say I can provide a longer term review of SRAM and RockShox AXS components.

transition patrol hero shot with sram x01 eagle axs shifter and derailleur and rockshox reverb axs dropper post

Long Term Reliability Of AXS

    After the first few months on the bike, all of the reliability woes disappeared. I am yet to have a missed shift or have my dropper fail to function.

    It's been flawless all since I got it built up at the beginning of August, and even still feeling dialed after a Whistler trip! However, Fall and Winter in Bellingham means there is a lot more rainfall than the rest of the year. I'm not a big fan of washing bicycles, but it tends to happen more during the winter. Excessive washing can cause bearings and chains to wear out, along with wasting water. AXS wireless shifting has allowed me to be way lazier than one should be with their bike in the Winter.

    After showering my bike, I throw a few squirts of lube onto my chain and call it a day.

    I have no worries of cables starting to degrade or feeling that my derailleur or dropper post needs a little lube job. Since the motors that actuate the electronics are so strong they can push through little bits of resistance with ease.

Installation, Maintenance, and Cleanliness

Going full e-boi has had quite a few extra side effects that I’ve enjoyed.

    The first thing you’ll notice when you go to install a wireless electronic drivetrain is how easy it is. With more frames opting for internal routing, installs can be a pain. 3 bolts and 5 minutes later, my AXS drivetrain was on the bike and ready to be tuned - it can even be 2 bolts if you’re using a 22.2 clamp. The added benefit is that you won’t need to replace any cables or housing as they inevitably wear. Lots of bikes use great tube-in-tube designs but it’s still quite a bit more work than the 3 bolts you’ve already tightened.

    When it comes time to tune your shifting, it’s pretty straightforward. First, set the b-tension, then check your limit screws. Next, using the controller, you can micro-adjustment the derailleur position to get some deep-fried crispy shifting. I would also like to note that in the months since building my bike I have had to make ZERO adjustments to the shifting. No quarter-turn of the barrel adjuster for each ride needed here.

    Like most people, I can be picky, and my history with bikes has lots of single speeds and dirt jumpers. One of my favorite parts about these bikes is how clean they can look with one or two brake cables. When you look down, the cockpit isn’t cluttered, which looks much better in my opinion.

    Opting to go with AXS for shifting and my dropper post brought back fond memories. I chose to install my controllers with the SRAM MatchMaker system which removed even more nonsense from the bar. I was only left with brake levers, the controllers hidden underneath, and two brake hoses. It’s by far the cleanest setup I’ve had on a modern trail bike. A one-two punch that you get with removing extra cables with how clean it looks, is noise. Two cables that don’t touch, and no extra cables inside the frame, are a perfect recipe for a quiet bike.

transition patrol with sram x01 eagle axs and rockshox reverb axs

The Downsides

    Now after gushing about how much I love the choices I’ve made for my bike, it’s time for a hard truth - AXS isn’t perfect.

    I initially didn’t want to use AXS because of the price. It costs a lot more than cable shifting and dropper posts. Bikes aren’t cheap and adding extra boujee parts isn’t in everyone’s budget. That goes for not only getting an upgrade kit but also finding replacement parts you may need in the future. The rear derailleur has some cool features that can help limit derailleurs being damaged, but crashes happen and sometimes things break.

    It’s also going to add a bit of weight to your bike, even with removing all cables. Comparing each mechanical model to it's wireless counterpart, you’re looking at an extra 112 grams for GX, 68 grams for X01, and 70 grams for XX1.

    The one thing that did take me a little bit of time to get exactly how I wanted, was the position of everything. Since the controllers are slightly different shapes than the cable counterparts, they don’t sit in the exact same spot with the MatchMaker mounts. I ended up having to run the clamps on the opposite side as suggested by SRAM. This moved my controllers more inboard giving my hands some breathing room. The shifter also sits quite close to my grip. There is no contact, but if my grip was bigger it could have some issues with shifting.

    Speaking of shifting, it’s dead.

    I see this mostly as a positive as there’s no technique to shifting, but there is no sensation. Without any type of display with which gear you’re in you can’t press on your shifter to see if it’s at the easiest gear or not. It always feels the same. I often end up just pressing it or looking down between my legs. This isn’t a big deal, but it’s something new with changing to electronic shifting.

sram x01 eagle axs derailleur on a transition patrol

    Since it’s so dead with such light action, sometimes you shift when you’re not meaning to. I’ve never had it happen while riding, but when taking a break at the top of a hill your leg might hit something and start moving things. I know some people who have struggled with hitting their knee on the shifter while climbing, which could result in a little walking.

    One thing I was convinced was going to be the worst was the battery life and having to charge them. This has honestly been a nonissue for me. I have the convenience of having two batteries while riding so if for some reason my rear derailleur seems a bit slow, I can just swap it with my dropper post battery. Fortunately, I haven’t had to do that yet as the batteries last a long time and take so little time to charge. Yes, it’s something you need to be mindful of but it’s not as big of a deal as the internet has made it out to be.


    In a perfect world with all the bike parts available, would I still go with AXS components? Yes.

    After getting things how I like, it’s been flawless and my bank account has recovered. I don’t see myself going back to cable-actuated shifting or a dropper for a long time. Never having to worry about how my bike works has given me more time to ride and enjoy my rides. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but don’t shy away from some new technology once in a while - sometimes it’ll surprise you!

Featured Products

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RockShox Reverb AXS Dropper Seatpost - The Lost Co. - RockShox - 00.6818.040.000 - 710845824388 - 30.9 - 100mm
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Colin Blanchard



Bellingham, WA

Current Bikes: Transition Patrol Custom Build

Bike Size: Medium

Favorite Trails: Downieville DH, Downieville / World Cup, Santa Cruz / Space Wolf, Galbraith

About Me: Have you ever placed an order with us? Well chances are I was the one who packed and shipped it out. In addition to shipping a ton of packages out every week, I am the official good-times manager. Have an issue with your order? Got a warranty issue you need a helping hand with? Maybe just having a bad day and need someone to talk to? I am your man!