D1x Trail electronically shifts "old school" derailleurs
Electronically-shiftable bicycle drivetrains such as Di2 and eTap are becoming increasingly popular, but they're definitely pricey. Archer Components' D1x Trail offers a cheaper alternative, by adding electronic shifting to existing rear derailleurs.
Aimed mainly (but not exclusively) at mountain bikes, the Trail system consists of two parts: the handlebar-mounted Bluetooth remote control, and the chainstay-mounted shifter module itself. The latter contains a servo motor and a lithium-ion battery, and is linked to the bike's third-party rear derailleur via a short length of housed steel cable.
Upon being wirelessly activated by the Up or Down buttons on the remote, the shifter responds by pulling or releasing the cable. This moves the derailleur to one side or the other, shifting the chain between adjacent cogs on the cassette. As is the case with a conventional mechanical setup, riders simply keep pressing the buttons to move up or down through successive gears.
When the system is initially installed, buyers utilize an app to select the number of cogs (it can theoretically accommodate up to 20), and to then fine-tune the derailleur position for each gear. After that, the system remembers the settings, automatically going to them on demand.
That said, if things start to go subtly out of whack – due to the cable stretching over time, for instance – a Micro-Adjust switch on the remote can be used to tweak the derailleur position for individual gears, while riding. The newly-adjusted setting subsequently replaces the previous one, in the system's memory.
Archer co-founder Devin Carlson tells us that Trail is compatible with pretty much any derailleur and cassette, although it doesn't work with hub- or bottom bracket-integrated gearboxes. Additionally, if users upgrade to a cassette with more cogs (such as going from an 11- to a 12-speed), they just utilize the app to reprogram the shifter – they don't need to upgrade their derailleur.
The Trail hardware is water-resistant (but not submersible), and reportedly runs for 80 hours per charge of the battery. Should it run out of juice during a ride, the system's Get Me Home Gear feature will still allow it to be shifted into a preselected gear, to … well, to get the cyclist home.
It should also be noted that battery life can be extended considerably if Low Power Mode is selected. While the shifting performance remains the same, the shifter's LED operational indicator is shut off, and Get Me Home Gear is disabled.
Archer Components has actually had a product on the market since early 2018, although D1x Trail – with its longer battery life, faster shifting and better waterproofing – was introduced relatively recently. It's available now via the Source link below, for US$389.
And if you're thinking that Trail sounds kind of like the X-Shifter system … well yes, there definitely are some similarities. According to Carlson, though, his company's technology was already in the prototyping phase when that system was first announced.
Source: Archer Components