Worth upgrading to SRAM Rival eTap AXS XPLR?

Not that supply of SRAM Rival eTap AXS XPLR is readily available at the moment but is it worth upgrading to axs xplr from a 1x rival 11speed setup I currently have on my gravel bike?

Both the wireless shifting and 12 speed are appealing.

Does you current setup work fine?
XPLR also works fine.
It’s hard to say if it would be worth it for you, without knowing more about your specific needs etc.

I was deciding between Force XPLR or GX AXS (w shimano cassette for latter).
I chose the GX setup. I think I would have been happy with either.

Smells like upgrade-itus unless you know of limits in your current setup.

  1. Is mechanical shifting quality bad, overly fatiguing or otherwise problematic?

  2. Is your current gearing limited on range that has you too high and/or low cadence frequently at the extremes of the cassette? Or are you constantly in the “wrong gear” trying to find a cadence you’d prefer?


Oh it’s definitely upgrade-itus.

  1. My shifting is occasionally “clunky” but that’s likely due to me being lazy indexing gears and just settling for “good enough”.

  2. At times definitely yes. It’s a 1st world problem for sure. It’s not like it’s awful all the time but for sure my typical gravel routes lean towards lots of short and punchy climbs so I have to shift frequently to get where I need.

I just hear so many people rave about wireless shifting and that extra ring in the back would be nice. And that price for the price point is where is somewhat reasonable.


If it matters, I went from mechanical gx to gx axs on my mtb. Long story short, needed a new shifter, found a new, open box gx axs for about half off and said lets dance… It was a lateral move as far as im concerned. If I paid full price, id have buyers remorse.

I have di2 on my road bike and it seems like more of an upgrade on the road then mtb. Dont have a gravel bike so hard to give my thoughts on that. I honestly have no desire to ever buy another mechanical road bike, but its a total non-issue to me on the mtb.

99% of my riding for the last 2.5 years is on my gravel bike which is the same amount of time I’ve had my gravel bike. It’s hard for me to imagine that changing much as when I do go on road I’ve still be using my gravel bike. My road bike sits on the trainer and has been used outside maybe twice in the last couple years.

So I’m sort of focused on getting my gravel bike just exactly how I want it as I’ll likely keep the bike awhile. So the axs xplr or other wireless setup isn’t a must have but might be something I decide is worth it for longer term enjoyment.

It makes maintenance a breeze, I’ll give you that for sure. If it’s a bike you’re putting this much mileage on and you’re gonna get good use out of it, my vote is to spring for it if you want it. It’s really cool tech, just not a game changer is all I’m implying. I’m very guilty of upgrade-itis so no judging from me!

I have some time to ponder as groupsets aren’t exactly in a surplus currently.

I have 11-speed XTR 1x on my mountain bike and SRAM Force eTap on my road bike, set up as 1x as well. Electronic shifting is definitely a luxury, but what a luxury to have. Trimming my rear mech on the fly is especially awesome. As is shifting with minimal force in any condition.

I’d recommend you get a Red crank with your otherwise Rival eTap setup.

Why the red crank?

Two reasons:

  • It is significantly lighter.
  • You can fit a spindle-based Quarq power meter.

Upgrading the crank is the best bang for the buck IMHO. @WindWarrior went for that setup. When I ordered my road bike January last year, Rival eTap AXS hadn’t been released yet. And I didn’t get a Red crank, because I’d had to wait another two, three months (on top of the four months I had been waiting all along).

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Do you have a good set of wheels? Happy with touch points like bars/saddle?

If so, nothing wrong with upgrade-itis!! Rival XPLR looks awesome and it’s the best deal going for electronic shifting if you can find the parts. There’s nothing wrong with mechanical, but electronic shifting is awesome. Efficient, accurate, and relatively low maintenance.

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Yeah, that’s a very good point: I’d upgrade wheels, too, and make sure you are happy with the contact points. It might seem wasteful to replace a perfectly good set of handlebars for another, but this can really improve bike comfort by an order of magnitude.

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I’m happy with my wheels. Boyd cycling alloy wheel set. Durable and not crazy heavy. Saddle is a fabric scoop elite which I use on gravel and road bikes. Inexpensive saddle but fits me well. I’ve been testing different bars over the past year. I have a lauf true grit bike which came with their smoothie bar. It’s a good bar with the main downside is a larger drop than I’d prefer. Tried ritchey venture max which is nice with the exception of the bend in the drops which I didn’t care for.

I sure have upgrade- itus but also am likely to sell off a couple of bikes as I really only use the lauf currently so only with upgrade-itus it’s a matter of setting the bike exactly how I want.

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In that case go XPLR!! SRAM AXS stuff is super hard to find, but I had luck setting stock alerts on a bunch of sites and just looking every few days. I’d also keep an eye out for either Force or Rival shifters.

I’d been scouring sites looking for SRAM Force shifters and happened upon the 1x groupset at Mike’s Bikes a few weeks back. I ordered right away and checked back a few hours later and they were sold out. I emailed to make sure my order when thru and they told me they sold the 6 groupsets they got in about an hour!!

Yeah. I’m in no huge rush. Just sort of thinking through my options and what I actually feel like upgrading.

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A few reasons I went for swapping the Rival crank for Red: a) couldn’t get a Rival power meter, b) big weight drop going Red crank with integrated PM, and c) it looks better.

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Well at least for now I’ve gone another direction as Zwift had the Kickr bike on a big sale that I just couldn’t pass up.

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Late to the party here but I’d just thought I’d add to the conversation. I’ve just built up a Mason Bokeh as a double duty gravel and audax bike and put Rival XPLR on it. The crankset is a Rotor, 42t, but otherwise it’s as stock.

Some notes:

  1. basically it’s great. The shifting is (as expected) really good, and the gearing works very well for moderate off road and Z2 tarmac.
  2. Rotor suggest using an eagle chain with their standard 1x chainrings. I did this and the shifting was lazy going into the smallest 2 sprockets. I put on an AXS (Force, flattop) chain and it’s fine.
  3. I absolutely love being able to look at the map on the app and cross-reference that with gear use. That for me is a brilliant feature.
  4. Now we’re in winter, I’m remembering just how good AXS is with winter gloves.

In complete honesty, Di2 shifting is still a tiny bit snappier, but the difference isn’t meaningful to the ride experience, IMO. The new Di2 levers and GRX do have a bit more braking power from the hoods, mind you.

All in all I’m very impressed and would definitely recommend it.

I’m seriously contemplating a ‘pure’ road 1x XPLR project, though I’d really like a 10-40 or 10-42 cassette. In any case, there will have to be some sales first, and it’s not a good time to be trying to shift higher end bikes and components… One for the future, maybe!


It’s funny I had 2 riding friends today have electronic shifting trouble. One seemed user error. He said his battery had 50% last weekend. He showed up to ride this morning and completely dead. So he couldn’t ride. Who knows what happened. The other rider had shimano grx di2 but the front derailleur would not shift into the big chainring. He said he had it worked on not long ago and it had been fine for 10 rides until now. Lucky for him we were on a hilly ride today so small chain ring was what was needed most of the day.

But I know plenty of people who love their electronic shifting