First impressions are excellent. The levers feel like typical road bike gear levers up until you press them at which point it just clicks and moves by a smaller amount. There is no need to push hard or far as is sometimes the case with mechanical shifters when changing down gears, especially more than one gear at a time.
When hard on the brakes, approaching a junction for example, I have found that I can shift down several gears with just my little finger. This allows for great control under braking while still ending up in a suitable gear for accelerating away again afterwards.
The multi-shift function is good too. Holding down the lever prompts the derailleur to shift multiple gears at once and enables you to shift across the entire cassette in one go. Although the app allows you to set a limit on this to 2 or 3 gears max if you prefer. Of course you can also tap the shift lever several times to achieve the same outcome. Rapid tapping of the lever results in equally rapid shifting with very little delay.
So far shifting has been crisp and clean with only a tiny bit of chain noise at the extremes of the cassette, which is the equivalent of cross chaining if this were a 2x system. It’s also worth noting that my frame is a size 51 and so rather on the small side and with longer chainstays on bigger frames the chain angle would be less extreme, leading to reduction of noise in these extremes of the cassette.
I have seen on some forums reports of the Force level cassette being really noisy and people being forced to upgrade to the Red cassette for sanity. It seems that this was an issue on early batches of cassettes which was corrected by placing vibration damping between the cogs. Fortunately my cassette is clearly from the later batches and doesn’t have this issue.
I have had some squealing from the brake pads early on, but that has now passed as the pads have had time to bed in. And I think that is to be expected with disc brakes. I have also had some noisiness under braking in the wet but again this is nothing specific to these brakes. Rim brakes on carbon wheels do the same, as do most disc brakes.
I think the biggest disappointment was finding out that my new Garmin Venu smartwatch isn’t as smart as I thought it was. There I was thinking ANT+ as a feature meant that I could connect to all ANT+ systems; speed sensors, cadence sensors, gear shifters, power meters, rear car radar and anything else that might come along. But, no. It seems that Garmin restrict their products by firmware/software as they please and so I cannot connect my watch to the SRAM AXS gearing system.
Fortunately I was able to use my favourite smartphone bike computer app “ipbike” on my really old Sony Xperia E3. And connect to the AXS system no problem. So now I have the ability to see what cog I’m in while riding but more importantly to see post-ride what my cog usage has been. This is nice as it reveals whether or not you spent most of your time in the gears in the middle of the cassette; i.e. do you have the ideal cassette for your types of rides and fitness. It seems that I do.
Unfortunately on the other hand. Strava doesn’t have the ability to import the data created, so you can’t see that in Strava, whether you subscribe or not it’s the same btw. So in order to get the nice graphs etc you need to upload the data to the SRAM website axs.sram.com which you can do automatically from a Garmin. Sorry, maybe I should correct that to ‘from a compatible Garmin’. Or like me you can upload the .fit file from any device that had the ability to record the gear shifting data into it’s file.
The battery takes only a few hours to charge and from it’s first charge I managed to get just over 40 hours of riding before it started warning me of low battery. The warning message said that I’d still get another 6 – 15 hours but I decided to err on the side of caution and charge it up immediately. My 40 hours of riding was across 45 days, so that’s plenty good enough for me. I don’t think I’ll be needing to take a spare battery around with me in my tool pack. Although if I did they’re not especially big so it wouldn’t be an issue.
Reliability has been spotless. I mean this is what you would expect of course, but it’s still worth saying. The components all connected as per the instructions when I set them up, the firmware updates that I’ve done through the phone app have all uploaded successfully and every click has resulted in the expected gearshift. This aspect has been utterly faultless.
So I will continue to ride my new AXS equipped Kinesis RTD and I will let you all know how it goes. Expect to see additional posts go up here as time goes on.