Worth upgrading to SRAM Rival eTap AXS XPLR?

Nothing is error free. A team mate of mine had charged his Di2 battery before a race and when he arrived at the venue, it was empty. He scrambled and found someone with a cable.

Rotor makes a 10-39 13-speed cassette that is exactly what I’d ideally want on a road bike. Gearing-wise, it is a 10–33 SRAM cassette with an additional 39-tooth cog. I’m on 10–36 now, and it works well 95 % of the time, but especially during endurance rides, things get a bit tricky.

If at the time I ordered my bike, I could have gotten an XPLR rear derailleur, I would have gone for that, no question.

I check the battery status before every ride. I missed that once last summer and noticed the empty rear derailleur battery only after riding for some kms. Stopped the bike, reached for the spare battery from my jersey pocket and replaced it. So easy with AXS.


Unfortunately for this guy this was a new bike and he was waiting on a spare battery. I wasn’t clear what happened with the existing battery. He obviously thought it was charged before he arrived. Too bad for him as it was like an hour drive to meet us. And the route ended up being great although super hilly

Yeah, but I think it is quite normal for any battery-powered device that you should charge it first before using it. Still, it sucks: you have the new shiny toy you want to play with, and you need to wait. Fortunately, SRAM batteries charge very quickly (<= 1 hour, never timed it, but feels super quick).

What chainring size? For 1x road I really won’t be happy with anything easier than 44x10 top end, and I want a 1:1 climbing gear. So for me the 10-44 cassette is ideal (although I hate the flat top chain so Shimano 10-45 gets the nod personally).

I could see 10-39 being perfect in a flatter area for sure.

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I have a 42-tooth chainring coupled to a 10–36 cassette. I have a Force WIDE rear derailleur, which officially is not compatible with the 10–44 cassette.

42:10 is fine, I spin out at 63–65 km/h, which is fast enough for me outside of races. On (false) flats at speed when the wind is right and/or there is lots of traffic that provides a draft, I can do about 50 km/h. But then I am not in my top gear at my self-selected cadence. A climbing gear of 42:36 = 1.17 is enough for most of the climbing, save for very long, sustained alpine climbs or if I want to stay in Z2 while climbing.

But I’m not gonna lie, I wouldn’t mind an additional gear. Still, it works really, really well for 95 % of my riding.

If I lived closer to long, sustained, steep climbs (currently a 30–50 km ride), I probably would have gone for a smaller chainring or for a 10–44 cassette.

For flatter areas, 10–39 is complete overkill. I live close to the Japanese coast, so I can do anything from pancake flat rides along the coast to proper alpine climbs with 500–1,000 m elevation gain in one go. If I lived on flatter terrain, even a 10–33 would be plenty, and I reckon I could get away with a 46-tooth chainring, too.

For shorter climbs, 10–36 is still plenty, unless you are encountering a very steep climb.

PS Obviously, this is just my experience and YMMV.

Yeah “flat” is all relative. I guess I should say I want 1:1 climbing gear for mountainous areas and 10-39 would be good for hilly terrain. True flats, I could almost be happy with single speed!

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Yeah, and I should keep in mind that I am above average when it comes to W and W/kg. I think 10–44 is definitely a viable solution in my book. I’d always err on the side of having more climbing gears than gears at the top end.

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I could have used something like a 10-52 cassette on ride the other day. But in general I’m happy with my 1:1 ratio for most stuff that I ride

The best part of AXS is options. Even in derailleurs. It’s an easy swap.

I have 42, 44, and 46 chainrings with an Eagle derailleur and 10-50 or Force derailleur and 10-36.

Horses for courses.

Most of my riding at home is with the 46 10-50. All the top end and a few bailout gears. The gaps don’t bother me much.


Yup. Although I would have preferred that

  1. SRAM skipped on the normal rear derailleur (whose only advantage was that it could officially handle the 10–26 cassette, a cassette option that is rarer than a rainbow-striped unicorn),
  2. Offered WIDE = standard and XPLR = WIDE immediately.

This way, I would have opted for the XPLR rear derailleur, which hadn’t been announced at the time. But yeah, SRAM’s modularity and cross-compatibility is a big appeal for me, too.

If I ever get back into racing, I’ll definitely get a second chainring. Right now, I think I am fine with the limited top speed and 46:36 = 1.27 = 36:28ish would be too stiff for the terrain here, unless I am going at race pace and the climbs are relatively short.

For certain hillclimb TTs, I might even get a third, a 38-tooth chainring.

+1 on the AXS compatibility across road and MTB. I’ll go between 2x, 1x road, and 1x eagle on my gravel bike. I’m leaning toward 1x 42 w/ eagle 10-52 for racing unbound next year, so I’ve been running that setup for all my road riding lately. There are some situations where you can get in trouble spinning out (tailwind slight downhills), but those don’t typically last long. You don’t really start spinning until 32-33mph and there just aren’t that many places you are doing that for an extended period (particularly on gravel). I could go 44 or 46 up front, but I haven’t found the 42 to be a problem. I used to race at the pointy end with my MTB in gravel races with a 38 - 10 and that could be pretty quick spinning at times, but I still don’t think I ever got dropped because of gearing.

I used to be a bit of a 1x hater for road/gravel and didn’t like the gaps, but I barely notice the gaps any more and I think it’s made me a better rider. I’m not ready to give up my 2x for pure road riding/racing, but I can see why some folks are so big on 1x. Range is critical for any setup, but I’m starting to question whether the gaps really matter from a performance standpoint.


I used my 44 10-50 at Unbound. It was perfect. Worked so well I literally never even thought of it all day except once… And that was on one of the steeper climbs where I just slammed it to the 50 and climbed with ease without overdoing it.

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Yeah, I’d probably roll a 44 or 46 chainring instead of the 42, but I share eagle chains with my MTB. The max is a 42 w 10-50 unless I go with longer chain than what I run on the MTB.

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Yeah, perhaps it is because I come from mountain biking, but I am less bothered by gaps. I currently ride a 11-46 cassette, and really like the idea of a bailout gear.

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With eTap AXS Explorer what cassette are you all using on the trainer? I have a Kickr Core and I’d like to start using my gravel bike on it. It’s currently set up for my MTB Eagle AXS.

Same. I wouldn’t replace my 2x on my road any time soon but my gravel bike was the first 1x bike and I was surprised by how much I wasn’t bothered by the gaps. You just get used to it. I also figure with a track background that I’m used to a pretty wide rpm range with one gear.