SRAM Electronic system ... Wireless?
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  1. #1
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    SRAM Electronic system ... Wireless?

    So ... Pictures have surfaced of SRAM's new electronic group at the Amgen Tour of California. According to Bikeradar it appears the new group may be the first "Wireless" system to hit the market and be lighter than current electronic systems at the same time.

    If this is true ... I'm really looking forward to seeing how well it works.

    Something like this would make bike set up super easy, make TT bikes all that much faster with no wires and building a bike super simple.

    I can't wait to see the production product as the current incarnation still looks a little rough
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    Interesting stuff. I wonder if you will have to plug the bike in to charge the shifters, or if their batteries come out easily to charge on the charger with the derailleur batteries.

    Although, I'd rather see a Rival-level electronic group than wireless, just for the pricepoint.

    The shifting of the front derailleur sounds a little wonky. How would you run a triple? (Granted, Shimano's doesn't currently work with a triple as far as I'm aware, but would be a very easy thing to do). Also, it would make it tricky for those quick down-front-up-two-rear shifts, that I often make at the same time whether on mechanical or electronic.

    Anyway, guess we'll see all the details when it's launched.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jwiffle View Post
    Interesting stuff. I wonder if you will have to plug the bike in to charge the shifters, or if their batteries come out easily to charge on the charger with the derailleur batteries.
    I'm guessing the batteries will be removable as you stated ... makes the most sense, at least with the derailleurs. The front shifters may be something as simple as a replaceable battery (Energizer 357) like in a Powertap. They could get away with this due to the fact that they wouldn't use much power since there is no servo to operate. Change them out every 6 months or so???

    Although, I'd rather see a Rival-level electronic group than wireless, just for the pricepoint.

    The shifting of the front derailleur sounds a little wonky. How would you run a triple? (Granted, Shimano's doesn't currently work with a triple as far as I'm aware, but would be a very easy thing to do). Also, it would make it tricky for those quick down-front-up-two-rear shifts, that I often make at the same time whether on mechanical or electronic.
    It sounded "Odd" to me at first, but when I think about it ... it would be simple to learn. The front derailleur would just sense whether it's in the small or large ring and make the shift one way or the other. Given you don't jump around on the front chainrings like you do on the cassette, I'm guessing it wouldn't be that big of a deal.

    For rear shifting, I'm guessing "One Tap" on either side equals one shift ... Hold it down and it keeps shifting through the cassette until you stop or it reaches the end for fast up or down shifts.

    Anyway, guess we'll see all the details when it's launched.
    Yea ... it should be interesting. If it is wireless and is pretty refined, it will jump SRAM back to the top of the shifting wars ... assuming no recall issues like they have had to deal with recently.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wookiebiker View Post
    So ... Pictures have surfaced of SRAM's new electronic group at the Amgen Tour of California. According to Bikeradar it appears the new group may be the first "Wireless" system to hit the market and be lighter than current electronic systems at the same time.
    Not the first. Mavic Mektronic was wireless back in the 90s. Not counting the front deraileur.
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    Look at the patent diagrams.

    The levers have a box marked "RADIO". The derailleur junction box has a box marked "RADIO". My guess is wireless levers and wires from lower junction box to derailleurs.

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    So how long until a pimply faced teenager figures out how to hack the wireless signal. Then sits on the Alpe d'Huez and signals every bike in the race to shift to large chain ring / small cog.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    So how long until a pimply faced teenager figures out how to hack the wireless signal. Then sits on the Alpe d'Huez and signals every bike in the race to shift to large chain ring / small cog.
    ^^^This^^^ Or, the shifters connect to another bike that is close by and suddenly you are pedaling that riders gear shifts...wireless is a funny thing since it is controlled by the FCC here in the US and there are only small and finite frequency bands available that even at low transmit power are in unlicensed space. Basically the frequencies are quite limited and also used by other wireless devices as well.

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    This will be interesting to watch, that's for sure. In the back of my mind, I see 105 Di2, which I think will be a slam-dunk.

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    Quote Originally Posted by davcruz View Post
    ^^^This^^^ Or, the shifters connect to another bike that is close by and suddenly you are pedaling that riders gear shifts...wireless is a funny thing since it is controlled by the FCC here in the US and there are only small and finite frequency bands available that even at low transmit power are in unlicensed space. Basically the frequencies are quite limited and also used by other wireless devices as well.
    They can use ANT+. hmm wait, don't want the shifters to start detecting my heartrate monitor.

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    Well, if they use something like digital spread spectrum that modern RC sets use, it suspect it could work fine...
    ... 'cuz that's how I roll.

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    I thought it was bluetooth? Pictures were posted back during the Tour down Under and I thought someone said it was bluetooth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by looigi View Post
    Well, if they use something like digital spread spectrum that modern RC sets use, it suspect it could work fine...
    While I am no expert, I do work with DSS communications gear in a limited fashion for work and have used them for RC as well. They do work well in limited numbers but there is still the issue of a limited frequency spectrum to deal with and they could be a real concern in a TdF size peloton.

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    Quote Originally Posted by davcruz View Post
    ^^^This^^^ Or, the shifters connect to another bike that is close by and suddenly you are pedaling that riders gear shifts...wireless is a funny thing since it is controlled by the FCC here in the US and there are only small and finite frequency bands available that even at low transmit power are in unlicensed space. Basically the frequencies are quite limited and also used by other wireless devices as well.
    A digitally coded signal per group, per bike will eliminate that.
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    IMO, DSS can work reliably and well enough for this application within presently available spectrum. In the event of severe interference or too many signals the only thing that happens is latency goes up. There is no crosstalk or erroneous commands.
    ... 'cuz that's how I roll.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    So how long until a pimply faced teenager figures out how to hack the wireless signal. Then sits on the Alpe d'Huez and signals every bike in the race to shift to large chain ring / small cog.
    More like some gofer level team mech hiding in the crowd at sprint checkpoints, shifts competitors into small/big just at the right time so their rider/s take the sprint.
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    They should call it SRAM FaREDay.
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  17. #17
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    It is wireless. I spoke with a shop owner in Napa a couple of weeks ago. He said Christian Vande Velde was at the shop a few days prior and had it installed on his bike.

    I'm hoping it works as well as EPS or Di2 but I'm skeptical. SRAM is basically responding to Shimano's and Campagnolo's electronic groups. Campy took years (or is it decades?) to develop EPS.
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  18. #18
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    Looking at the patent, it's using DSS frequency hopping. And it uses the 802.15.4 protcol which does allow encryption for authentication and message intregrity. They even list an Atmel chip whicy they may use. It has hardware encryption support.

    I work in the cryptography and security field. A quick scan of the 802.15.4 spec and Atmel chip docs indicate that they could make it secure enough for this application, depending on the protocol options they choose. It could still be subject to jamming from a large enough transmitter but 802.15.4 does have some features to cope with a noisy environment which may make that attack more difficult.

    I think that a wireless system could be lighter than wired. Each derailleur would get half the battery of a one battery system, and the shifters don't need much (the patent diagram appears to show coin cells in the shifter bodies). The battery housings on the derailleurs and the shifter batteries should weigh less than the wires of a wired system.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    So how long until a pimply faced teenager figures out how to hack the wireless signal. Then sits on the Alpe d'Huez and signals every bike in the race to shift to large chain ring / small cog.
    Great use of stereotypes there, especially from someone that rides around in tight spandex all day.


    I wonder if they have tested this with 200 people all riding at the same time. Granted they are probably using really low power devices so the range wouldn't be far but any given set of frequencies has a maximum bandwidth it can support. Another issue would be noise from radio towers, etc.

    Also the people who complain about charging a Di2 battery are gonna hate this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by deviousalex View Post
    Also the people who complain about charging a Di2 battery are gonna hate this.
    It looks like the batteries for the FD and RD are identical and maybe click into place easily. It is conceivable these would be not much different from spare battery packs for a digital camera. Have a few spares on the charger at home and swap them when you need.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nhluhr View Post
    It looks like the batteries for the FD and RD are identical and maybe click into place easily. It is conceivable these would be not much different from spare battery packs for a digital camera. Have a few spares on the charger at home and swap them when you need.
    Because we know the bike industry is going to charge a reasonable price for a proprietary battery so we can all have a few spares at home right ;)

    Di2 and EPS have 1 battery each. This one has 4 and according to the rumors the shifters will use standard coin cell batteries. How will you be able to tell when they are running low? With Di2 and EPS it's as simple as clicking one button. Coin cells don't have technology nearly as accurate. Batteries that are used in things like Di2/EPS/your laptop/your phone, etc are not just batteries. They have a power controller in them that accurately measures usage, etc.

    What the difference is that you have to look at the failure modes. Even if the shifters are easy to replace the batteries is it something you're going to stop and do in the middle of a race? I doubt it.

  23. #23
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    So SRAM is going wireless.

    Perhaps someday we will hear of a the diabolical plot of an evil team DS that decides to hire someone to stand near the finish line at a flat stage of a grand tour. The evil doer will have a transmitter that sends a nefarious signal causing a rival with a wireless shifting group to experience the front derailleur unexpectedly drop the chain to the small ring at the climax of the sprint…and thus loses the race.

    Forget doping to seek an advantage, electronic warfare in the peloton is the new battleground

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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    Forget doping to seek an advantage, electronic warfare in the peloton is the new battleground
    WiFi is the new EPO. You can quote me on that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by deviousalex View Post
    WiFi is the new EPO. You can quote me on that.
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