SRAM is the last of the Big Three component manufacturers to enter the electronic shifting market, and they’ve been saving themselves for a big release: the game-changing RED® eTap.
Sausalito’s premier bicycle shop, Above Category, teamed up with a few of their custom frame suppliers to build three bikes specifically for the new wireless group — one of them being this quicksilver titanium frame by Australia’s own Baum Cycles.
Above Category contacted Orbea, Mosaic and Baum Cycles to produce three frames that highlight the wire-free aspects of the new eTap groupset, with natural prerequisites: no holes in the frame for internal cable routing, or guides, or allowances for interface boxes.
Early reviews of the eTap system are positive, and it certainly looks good on paper. With a lack of wires in-between shifters and derailleurs, aesthetically, bikes that incorporate SRAM’s group are tidier, the only cables necessary are those required by the brakes.
All three frames commissioned by Above Category are eTap-specific. There’s no way of routing either Campagnolo’s EPS or Shimano’s Di2 system through the frame. Upon close examination, the clean silhouette does takes some getting used to.
It’s refreshing to admire these bikes without the clumsy interface boxes that have been cluttering the cockpits of the high-end custom frames we like to admire, although the shifting mechanisms seem just as bulky as their competitors.
Baum’s frame is their titanium Coretto, the ultimate flagship of the Victorian brand. It’s the most visually subdued of the three bikes, painted with an Arctic Silver base coat that best complements both the titanium and components.
It’s going to be interesting to see how custom frame builders adapt their designs to SRAM’s RED® eTap system. Technically, it’s a game changer, and although SRAM were the last to the fray, they’re the first to remove the clunky wires.
Now, let’s see how Shimano and Campy retort.
See more on the Above Category journal.