Can I/Should I install SRAM ETap AXS on my own?

tl;dr: With the right tools (and access to YouTube, and plenty of patience), can a relative beginner replace a SRAM mechanical gruppo with wireless 12-speed ETap?

I’m having a bit of a renaissance riding my 2013 Pinarello Rokh, a bike that I’d been using mostly on the trainer the last few years. I’ve never been happy with the shifting (and want to give it different gearing), so I thought this might be a cool opportunity to move into the brave new world of electronic shifting.

I recall a forum thread on bike-building last year where (expert) folks were very encouraging to (non-expert-y) types (like me) about fearlessly-but-thoughtfully, tackling such projects and I’m inclined to give it a go. (The BB is Italian threaded which I’m cautiously optimistic I can handle? For the derailleurs, I feel like the wireless element gives me more of a fighting chance?)

The counter-impulse is to pay a mechanic to really do the job ship shape; I’d hate to buy expensive components and then make some dumb mistake on the installation–or just not get everything aligned cleanly and properly. The most important thing would be for the finished bike to be right. (Less important is to take pride in having done it myself; that’s cool, and I’m sure I’d learn a lot and gain confidence in working on my bikes, but none of that takes precedent over the work being done well.)

What do you all think? I’d really like to give it a go, but is this something an amateur can or should tackle? Or will it just be a frustrating process that ends with me taking it to the LBS anyway?

How about you install it yourself, then pay the shop to look over your work? Best of both worlds as far as I can tell


bikes are simple machines and anyone with basic mechanical skills should be able to do something like this. With youtube and forums like this, it’s not hard.

The only thing that might get a little tricky is the new cassette and compatibility with your rear hub. If you are using a SRAM axs road cassette, it requires an XDR freehub. Your current hub might have a XDR option you can buy, or it might not. If not, you are either looking to lace in a new hub (not a beginner job, but not rocket science) or you can use it as an excuse to buy a new set of wheels that include an XDR freehub in the rear.

SRAM manuals are available online and I haven’t had any issues using them to set up in the past.

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I’d argue you might be going down the wrong path if you are looking for “ship shape”. No offense to any mechanics out there, but many of them are in a hurry and are constantly dealing with distractions. There are some really good ones, but even the good ones can miss something. You are putting your life in the hands of a mechanic when you let them work on your bike (depending on what they are working on). I’ve known a couple mechanics that I trust enough to work on my bike, but there is no way I’d drop my bike off at an LBS and take my chances with someone I don’t know. This is one of the big reasons I do all my own wrenching except some proprietary suspension stuff.

I’m not an expert mechanic by any means and I did exactly this earlier in the year (installing AXS and building a bike from the frame up).

It isn’t particularly hard, but you will make some mistakes, even allowing for the fact that SRAM’s videos are pretty good.

One thing about Etap is the FD is fiddly to get right, and the YouTube video references the Red FD which is actually a slightly different shape to the Force.

As was noted above, check then double check compatibility and that you’re getting exactly the right parts.

Good luck, and enjoy!

@grwoolf, thank you very much for the heads-up on the XDR hub! I am also nosing around at new wheels, and while I think I’ve got a good handle on most of this project’s compatibility questions, that’s something I hadn’t noted. Really glad you mentioned it!

On the subject of the fastidiousness (or otherwise) of mechanics, I hear you. A big part of why I want to get more comfortable wrenching is so that I can know a job has been done just as I want it, because I did it myself. The flip side being that I really do respect the skill, training and experience of people who do great work–of any kind–and that good mechanics will have seen every wrinkle countless times, and have the problem-solving skills to figure out new wrinkles as well. Always a balance, I guess.

As it happens, there is an independent mechanic in my area I’ve had really good experiences with (assuming he’s still at it), and I also have a friend who worked for years in shops and would probably be helpful in a pinch (tough for him to make time, but it can happen). So I have some options, if I hit snags.

@RecoveryRide, thank you! Sounds like you were in a similar bag to me, so it’s very encouraging to hear that it worked out. I’ll certainly follow your recommendations, cheers.

No problem. Double check whether you need a GXP spindle for an Italian bb thread - I suspect you do. There might be DUB adaptors too but that is getting outside my experience.

About to try and undertake this exact job myself with Force! The main ‘expensive’ piece of kit I’m missing is a torque wrench suitable for the cranks, is this a big deal? Or is tightening them up until there’s no play left sufficient?