Why you should be riding an electronic set-up in 2023
While most riders may have already converted to the new standard of a hydraulic brakes / electronic gears set-up. Some may still remain hesitant towards the change. To throw a proper spanner in the works, here’s one of our shop boy’s thoughts on the conversion to an all out electronic groupset.
My first thoughts:
After riding around on mechanical groupsets for years, I decided to bite the bullet and check out what all the hype was about with electric groupsets that have managed to consume the bike industry.
SRAM Rival Groupset
For some context, I’ve ridden the likes of mechanical Shimano 105 and SRAM Force on road bikes before and found them to work like a dream compared to the lower end groupsets.
I decided to put a SRAM Rival eTap groupset on my TREK Checkpoint AL 3. I opted for a 1x front chainring to see just how versatile the groupset can really be. So, here are my thoughts after riding 1,000 km later.
Trek Checkpoint AL 3 with the upgrades
Installation / Set-up:
While the set-up was far easier than that of a mechanical groupset thanks to no internal gear cables having to be routed. I still needed additional help from our head mechanic, Stephen, with the process.
I would advise any future electronic groupset owners to get the groupset fitted by a professional as it can become a severely expensive job if you don’t know what you are doing.
Some of the extremely cool features to instantly become aware of would be the customization through the SRAM App and connectivity to your smart-watch. Having a battery status ready to view on your smart watch or phone app eliminates the guessing game of whether the battery will die on your next outing.
Another funky feature to take advantage of and further your unique bike set-up is to assign your shifters to your ideal set-up. This is extremely ideal as you don’t have to go unwrapping bar-tape to change over your gear cables.
Even after kiting your biking out into some sort of inspector gadget machine. In my opinion, the biggest advantage that electronic groupsets hold over mechanical ones is their micro-adjustment of gears. While you can obviously still adjust your cables on a mechanical groupset while off the bike or through cable end adjusters.
Electronic groupsets definitely embellish the whole process. They help provide precise and consistent shifting that never seems to let you down. Their adjustment controls as your riding along is something to take into account as it is all very quick and easy to do. So you can say good-bye to gear skips during your next race or club spin.
As a final cherry on top, the whole groupset really reduced the weight of the bike compared to the mechanical groupset that was previously installed. So, how would it all work on the trails and roads?
Deciding to take the bike out for a spin along a mixture of terrain. The first thing I noticed was how smooth it all felt. Even after putting the gears under some immense challenges. There was no skipping or slipping from the gears as you made your way up a hill. I was glad to go with the 1x chainring option as there wasn’t that much of a difference in the standard choice of gear ratios riders would use.
Testing it on some gravel tracks which would naturally affect the groupset with various grit and mud getting in between the components. The gears still held up their end of the bargain and provided an effortless ride. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had on a bike to this point.
Going back between mechanical and electronic groupsets, I found that I had to make little tweaks to the mechanical groupset much more regularly than to the electronic groupset. The battery on the groupset also holds its charge for a long period of time only. After putting in so many kilometres in, I feel like it’ll be hard for me to go back to a mechanical groupset.
If you’re in the market for another bike or planning to upgrade your groupset, I would highly recommend looking into an electronic one. The shifting is quiet, slick and precise. The customizability is sort of endless allowing you to achieve your dream set-up. In addition to all the benefits, I found that the maintenance is a little bit more simplistic on an electronic groupset, especially on the 1x chainring option.