New SRAM Red eTap AXS Max rear derailleur goes bigger on range

by James Huang

photography by SRAM


Following in the footsteps of the Force eTap AXS Wide drivetrain that was introduced in May, SRAM has now added a similar ultra-wide-range gearing option for the flagship Red eTap AXS groupset.

The key addition is a new Red eTap AXS Max rear derailleur, which doesn’t actually use a longer pulley cage like you’d expect. Instead, it features a modified upper knuckle that drops the whole derailleur slightly downward for a more appropriate chain gap and chain wrap with larger cassettes than is available with the standard version. Everything else is carried over, including the pulley cage, the parallelogram, the Orbit fluid clutch, the battery, and so on.

The only change between the standard and Max versions of the SRAM Red eTap AXS rear derailleur is the upper knuckle.

This change allows the Red eTap AXS Max rear derailleur to now handle a 36-tooth cassette sprocket, whereas the standard one tops out at 33T. SRAM also says the rear derailleur shouldn’t be used with a large cassette sprocket smaller than 28T, but that’s unlikely to ruffle many feathers.

Naturally, SRAM’s official position is that the current Red eTap AXS rear derailleur can’t be modified to work with the 10-36T, either. That said, the modifications made to the Red eTap AXS Max rear derailleur sound an awful lot like what you’d get by adding something like a Wolf Tooth RoadLink adapter plate.

The rest of the rear derailleur is otherwise unchanged.

Either way, the chainring options with Red eTap AXS are unchanged — and there’s no corresponding “Wide” crankset with a wider Q-factor like with Force — so the lowest possible climbing gear you can get with Red is 33-36T instead of 30-36T. But that still affords you a sub-1:1 climbing gear while also providing a generous 46-10T top end (the equivalent of a 50-11T). 

Of course, you can always opt for one of the bigger chainring combinations if you want, and there’s still the freedom of going with a 1x or 2x setup as well.

As for cassettes, SRAM unfortunately hasn’t added a Red-level 10-36T cassette to match; the only option is the XG-1270 model from the Force family, with its heavier PinDome construction instead of the Red cassette’s lighter (and more expensive) fully machined design. SRAM has at least given the XG-1270 a new nickel-chrome finish for a more upscale appearance. 

“SRAM is always working on new product designs,” reads the company’s official statement on the topic, “but does not comment on any potential future product developments.”

There’s unfortunately no Red version of the 10-36T cassette, but the Force-level XG-1270 cassette at least now gets a more premium-looking nickel-chrome finish.

And speaking of Force, the 10-26T XG-1270 cassette has been discontinued completely, likely due to a low adoption rate (which isn’t surprising).

Retail price for the new Red eTap AXS Max rear derailleur is US$710 / AU$TBC / £610 / €685 — and the battery isn’t included. The updated nickel-finish XG-1270 cassette costs US$185 / AU$TBC / £170 / €190. Both should be available for purchase immediately.

More information can be found at www.sram.com.

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