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TECH NEWS

“Same performance as SRAM AXS at half the price”: the new budget electronic groupsets aiming to take on the big brands + an e-bike caravan, OTT off-the-bike shoes + loads more tech news

We're also bringing you news of Rapha’s latest glasses, the wheels with scales to make you faster, and more new tech from SRAM, Attaquer and Madison

We have a bumper crop of top tech news to tell you about, including Scope’s wheels that are  (literally) scaled for speed, new eyewear from Rapha, an e-bike caravan, and some, erm highly unusual shoes from Attaquer and Merrell... but, we’re kicking off with two new electronic groupsets from the Far East that aim to disrupt the road cycling market.

Check out the new budget electronic groupsets with their sights set on the big brands

WheelTop says that its new EDS-TX electronic groupset for road bikes offers “the same performance as SRAM AXS at half the price”, while fellow Chinese brand L-Twoo reckons the updated version of its semi-wireless eRX groupset is both lighter and better-performing than previously, so is it about time that we started taking these alternatives to the best -known brands seriously?

Wheeltop (1)

We told you about WheelTop’s EDS-OX budget electronic shift system for mountain bikes last year and said that a design for road bikes was on the way. Now it has arrived in the shape of the EDS-TX, available with hydraulic disc brakes and also for use with cable-operated brakes.

WheelTop says that, like its mountain bike system, EDS-TX is compatible with cassettes ranging from 7-speed right up to 13-speed.

2024 WheelTop EDS-TX shifters - 1

You move up and down the cassette using two buttons that sit behind the brake lever on the righthand shifter, so it’s fairly similar to Shimano’s road bike Di2 systems in that respect. The left shifter has just one button which moves the chain from one chainring to the other.

The shifters are each powered by a replaceable CR2032 cell (which is what SRAM shifters use) and communicate wirelessly with rechargeable derailleurs. You can calibrate and fine-tune shifting via the WheelTop app.

2024 WheelTop EDS-TX rear derailleur - 1

WheelTop says the rear derailleur will work with cassettes with a minimum sprocket size of 10T and a maximum of 36T. The front derailleur is designed for chainsets with a range (the difference in size of the chainrings) of up to 16T and chainrings up to 53T – which covers most road setups.

2024 WheelTop EDS-TX front derailleur - 1

The EDS-TX system has an IP67 rating, meaning that it's dust-tight and can be immersed in a metre of water for 30 minutes, so it should stand up to rain just fine.

WheelTop claims these weights for the EDS-TX hydraulic disc brake groupset:

Shifter (left) 209g
Shifter (right) 213g
Rear derailleur 320g
Front derailleur 187g
Hydraulic disc brake (single) 133g
Total (including two brakes) 1,195g

For comparison, SRAM claims a total weight for Force AXS shifters, brakes, and both derailleurs of 1,274g (although comparing official weights across different brands is a dangerous game; you’re never certain of accuracy or that you’re comparing like with like).

> Check out our review of the SRAM Force AXS groupset

In terms of price, that little lot, plus the USB-C recharging cable, is currently €739. That converts to £632. WheelTop ships from its European warehouse in Germany (and shipping is free) to most of Europe, but not to the UK.

> Read our review of SRAM's Rival eTap AXS groupset

We’ve asked whether that situation is likely to change. In the meantime, you can buy from other sources, such as AliExpress, where the WheelTop EDS-TX groupset is priced at £437.18. You’ll need to factor in VAT and import duty, so wherever you buy from, check what is and what isn’t included.

2024 WheelTop EDS-TX brake callipers - 1

It’s all very well looking at weights and prices but it’s the performance that counts and we can’t yet tell you how WheelTop EDS-TX does out on the road. We have a groupset on the way for review here at road.cc, though, so we’ll keep you posted.

We’ve also just heard that L-Twoo, another Chinese company, is updating the semi-wireless eRX electronic groupset that we first told you about last year. It’ll be available in the second half of 2024.

2024 L-Twoo eRX Blue Edition front derailleur - 1

All L-Twoo eRX pics: Panda Podium

Panda Podium, which retails L-Twoo products, says that bugs and shortcomings in the previous version of eRX have been addressed, and that includes a change to the shape of the front derailleur cage for better shifting.

2024 L-Twoo eRX Blue Edition shifter - 1

Shifter buttons are now larger than before, the idea being to improve ergonomics, while the ‘click’ point on those buttons has been lowered. It used to require a very shallow press; now it's more in line with Shimano in that it needs to be pressed a few millimetres before you hit the click.

2024 L-Twoo eRX Blue Edition brake calliper - 1

The brake callipers are now a monoblock design. They still use L-Twoo’s proprietary mounting standard, meaning you need to use their bulky adaptors, but the new design drops 54g in weight from the old version across the two callipers.

L-Twoo says it has shaved off a few grams elsewhere too, with the combined weight of the updated eRX shifters, derailleurs, brakes and hoses coming in at 1,169g, compared with 1,236g previously. The official weight of an eRX battery – which sits centrally and operates both derailleurs – is 62g, although we’ve not weighed any of these components ourselves.

2024 L-Twoo eRX Blue Edition groupset - 1

The new components have a blueish finish in place of the old black version, and you get holographic logos rather than the previous gold decals

The price of the current L-Twoo eRX package (shifters, derailleurs, brakes, battery) is $720 (which converts to £572) and that’s likely to remain the same for the updated version.

Panda Podium offers free worldwide shipping on all orders over $20 and tells us that it already has hundreds of UK customers. It pre-pays customs and duties for customers in the UK, EU and USA, so there are no additional charges.

One minor caveat is that the mineral oil usually included with the groupset gets taken out before shipping because that much liquid isn’t allowed in the air freight that Panda Podium uses, but the groupset is compatible with any mineral oil from brands like Shimano.

Find out more on L-Twoo here 

Find out more on WheelTop here 

Safety glasses or performance cycling eyewear? Rapha's new collection definitely stands out

RAPHA dalton glasses

Cycling glasses can be quite out there with their designs, but seeing Rapha's newest eyewear collection – consisting of three all-new models –  has left a few of us scratching our heads.. or highly impressed,  depending on how you perceive the new shades. They're certainly not trying to appeal to the "bigger is better" crowd! 

Named after iconic cycling destinations, the Reis, Letras, and Dalton models are, according to Rapha, engineered to enhance performance – not just make you look cool. They come with proprietary contrast-enhancing lens technology, anti-fog, anti-scratch and hydrophobic lens finishes, and you also get Megol (thermoplastic elastomers) nose and arm grippers for increased stability, and the frames boast 62% “bio-based content”. 

Rapha Reis glasses

Each style is available in four lens tint options, each optimised for different light conditions.

"From the grey low light of pre-dawn to the dazzling noon in the high mountains, cyclists can choose the perfect lens tint to enhance their riding experience," Rapha says. 

> Are these VERY cheap bike upgrades and accessories too good to be true?

The Reis (£160 - pictured above) has a half-framed design, whereas Dalton (£140 - at the top) goes full frame and also features a removable and adjustable neck strap. No more dropping glasses to the tarmac when bending over! 

Rapha Letras glasses

All of the new glasses have eye protection in mind, obviously, but it's the last pair, the Letras, that have an uncanny resemblance to orange safety glasses, which retail for much less than the Letras' £160 RRP.  Admittedly, the plasticky ones you could get from the local B&Q probably won't have a lens with "strategically placed ventilation" or a hydrophobic lens coating.

Which one of the three would you pick? 

Find out more here

Ride Your Bed - this e-bike caravan aims to revolutionise cycling travel

RyB bike trailer

This e-bike caravan, named 'RyB' (which stands for "Ride Your Bed"), promises to redefine the way cyclists experience their journeys and eradicate the stress of finding a place to sleep. The brainchild of Canadian-born entrepreneur Martin Pinsonnault, the caravan is currently aiming to gather together £144,437 on a crowdfunding platform Indiegogo.

The RyB consists of two parts: a top sleeping quarters and a bottom trailer for cargo. You have the option to detach the upper "cabin" part and continue with just the lower "box" part, as well. In terms of space, the top section expands to give you a 208cm x 87cm x 120cm platform which, Pinsonnault says, is ample for one person's needs. 

> This guy's built a wooden caravan to tow with his e-bike

RyB bike camper

The whole package weighs 48kg, and RyB claims to be the lightest and most compact caravan for e-bikes on the market (which is quite a small market). It's also designed to be dismountable and weatherproof.

The RyB will sell for between €4,000-5,000 (£3,400-4,300) depending on the spec (it can be spruced up with solar panels, a shower, or a spare wheel). Pinsonnault also says the trailer will be made out of 85% European parts.

The crowdfunding campaign aims to gather funds to purchase parts, participate in trade shows and cycling events, and launch a marketing campaign for the caravan, but last time we checked, no one had pledged to the cause 😢.

There's a surprising amount of stuff already out there that's designed to be towed around behind an e-bike. Our sister site ebiketips ran a story on the Scout e-bike camper trailer, for example. And then – any excuse to mention it again – there was the slightly bonkers three-in-one electric trike, boat and mini camper. Sorry, did we say 'slightly bonkers'? Correction: it's totally nuts.

Find out more here

SRAM Blips no longer require shifters to work

Sram Blip tri cockpit

SRAM has updated its wireless Blip controllers so that they can now be used to control the wireless AXS derailleurs without a "primary controller", AKA a shifter or a BlipBox, in the system. Now, the app recognises Blip buttons independently, allowing you to really go crazy in customising your shifting setup. 

>  SRAM releases new wireless eTap AXS Blips for shifting anywhere on your bars

You can pair a maximum of eight blips around their cockpit, and though the benefits of this are most tangible for triathletes and TT riders, Blips can be handy for flat-bar riders as well. The system does not support Reverb AXS seatposts or the multi-shift feature. 

Blips retail for £90 a pair and have a battery life of up to two years, according to SRAM. 

Find out more here

These scaly wheels are "the fastest and most side-wind stable", says Scope

Scope_Artech_AEA_rim fishy

Dutch brand Scope Cycling has unveiled the Artech wheel range, with a focus on – you guessed it — aerodynamics and efficiency. Instead of creating and launching entirely different wheelsets for each discipline, Scope has made the Artech range quite simple; there's a set for road, all-road, gravel and triathlon, and all of them feature the same technical features but optimised for the discipline. They also all cost the same. 

> Best road bike wheels 2024 — transform your road bike with some shiny new hoops

There's something a little fishy going on with these wheels – their striking feature being the 'Aeroscales' texture that Scope has implemented on the rims. This fish-scale-inspired pattern is designed to "generate air streaks travelling at different speeds over the rim surface", which is intended to keep you more stable and reduce drag. 

Scope_Artech_wheelset Lifestyle_01

Using textured rim surfaces isn't a novelty, of course. Zipp, for example, has been using a dimpled treatment on some of its wheels for years.

The fancy tech doesn't stop with the fish scales. The rims are laced to hubs that have shells made "using topology optimisation". 3D-printed, Scope claims the hubset weighs only 199g and is the lightest out there. For comparison, Tactic Racing's TR01 has a claimed weight of 215g. 

Scope_Artech_3D printed_rear_hub

The Artech range covers everything from road cycling to mountain biking, which means there's a host of rim profiles available. For road, depth options are 22mm, 45mm and 65mm (with 21 and 23mm internal width) and there's also an 'all-road' option, which has a wider 25mm internal width and max depth option of 57mm. 

> Are expensive carbon wheels worth it? Testing deep carbon rims vs classic aluminium

The rims are hooked, have a max pressure of 120PSI, and there is no weight limit. 

The 22mm deep Artech 2 road wheelset has an astonishingly low claimed weight of 965g. Prices for all of the different Artech configurations (rim depth/discipline) stand at £3,998.

Find out more here

Jeepers creepers! What do you think of these shoes?

Did you see the off-the-bike shoes that Aussie cycle clothing brand Attaquer released this week with Merrell? If you did, there’s a chance that you’ve not slept since.

2024 Attaquer Merrell shoes - 2

Attaquer says the release is “pushing at the boundaries of cycling fashion once again”. They’re certainly pushing at the boundaries of something.

But what do we know? We’re unsure how many pairs were available, but the Hydro Moc AT Cage shoes, priced at £124.95 a pair (no, really), sold out almost immediately.

> Read our review of the Attaquer All Day Bib Shorts 

2024 Attaquer Merrell shoes - 1

Why tell you about them, then? Sharing’s caring. Plus, Attaquer says it'll have a giveaway of a few pairs as part of an upcoming competition, so you might want to keep an eye out for that. Or you might not.

Find out more here 

Madison unveils spring/summer clothing collection

Madison-Clothing-S24-Flux women's jersey riding

Madison has revealed its spring/summer clothes, with the Flux and Roam lines taking the brand's focus onto drop-bar riding. The Flux range consists of a summer jersey and a waterproof gilet and is more geared towards performance-oriented riding. 

The Roam, on the other hand, is a more adventure-ready range and includes a Primaloft-equipped gilet and a packable jacket for added protection against the elements.

Madison-Clothing-S24-Roam thermal gilet (1)

Madison has implemented a zero-to-landfill policy, meaning that every piece of kit that goes back to the brand is either repaired and returned to the customer or "sent to its partner company and turned into new items like bar bags, hats or even dog beds so that nothing goes to waste". 90% of the new range is already made from recycled materials, and Madison says it has made an effort to switch to recyclable packaging materials. 

> Cycling and sustainability: What the bike industry is doing, and what you can do to further reduce your carbon footprint as a cyclist

The SS24 collection is available now on Freewheel and through local bike shops.

Find out more here

In case you missed them, here are our other tech news stories and features from earlier this week: 

Suvi joined F-At in 2022, first writing for off-road.cc. She's since joined the tech hub, and contributes to all of the sites covering tech news, features, reviews and women's cycling content. Lover of long-distance cycling, Suvi is easily convinced to join any rides and events that cover over 100km, and ideally, plenty of cake and coffee stops. 

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28 comments

Avatar
Miller | 2 months ago
0 likes

Got to admit I am tempted to try out one of those Chinese electronic groupsets.

Avatar
Simon E replied to Miller | 2 months ago
1 like

Miller wrote:

Got to admit I am tempted to try out one of those Chinese electronic groupsets.

I suspect that, like L-Twoo, they would be very happy to have more beta testers to iron out the issues.

Avatar
Smoggysteve replied to Simon E | 2 months ago
4 likes

Let's be honest. Electronic group sets are hardly cutting edge tech in this day and age. They have been around well over a decade and the biggest challenge is making them as light as possible for the price. They have barely changed in the last 4 or 5 years in functionality so anyone who feels it's worth copying the tech and can sell it cheaper is welcome to the market. I'm not sure I would buy one, but if their presence in the competitive market brings the cost of the established brands down it's only good for consumers 

Avatar
open_roads replied to Smoggysteve | 2 months ago
1 like

Electronic bike components have been around even longer than that - Suntour marketed the Browning / BEAST electronic shifting chainset 34 years ago and Mavic had an electronic rear mech - "zap" - 31 years ago.

 

Avatar
Smoggysteve replied to open_roads | 2 months ago
1 like

Good point. It's easy to forget that. So maybe the big 3 need a bit of competition you bring them down to earth, 

Avatar
marmotte27 replied to Smoggysteve | 1 month ago
1 like

"if their presence in the competitive market brings the cost of the established brands down it's only good for consumers"...

... of electronic groupsets. For those who (for a host of reasons) prefer mechanical (and not only in the cheapest/shoddiest/ugliest iteration) chances are they'll push them out of the market even faster.

Avatar
levestane replied to marmotte27 | 1 month ago
0 likes

Some context on 'consumer'

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/o3NXCkDOGTI

 

Avatar
Miller replied to Simon E | 2 months ago
0 likes

Simon E wrote:

Miller wrote:

Got to admit I am tempted to try out one of those Chinese electronic groupsets.

I suspect that, like L-Twoo, they would be very happy to have more beta testers to iron out the issues.

I like a challenge.

Avatar
john_smith replied to Miller | 2 months ago
3 likes

But don't complain in 20 years when Chinese gear is all you can get. 

Avatar
Boopop replied to john_smith | 2 months ago
2 likes

john_smith wrote:

But don't complain in 20 years when Chinese gear is all you can get. 

Somehow I doubt if we get to a stage where "Chinese gear" is all you can get, there would be much scope for complaints. If that ended up being the situation it would have to mean that the Chinese brands were such good value and offered adequate reliability to run the existing companies out of business.

The market wouldn't tolerate the only groupset options being unreliable and of poor quality.

Avatar
john_smith replied to Boopop | 1 month ago
3 likes

That would be the case if Chinese companies were operating under the same constraints as European, Japanese etc. ones. There are reasons why Chinese stuff is cheap, and they're not all good.

Avatar
evilcherry replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
0 likes

john_smith wrote:

That would be the case if Chinese companies were operating under the same constraints as European, Japanese etc. ones. There are reasons why Chinese stuff is cheap, and they're not all good.

Your Sram and Shimano groupsets are made in China, lets be honest.

Your Campys aren't and that's why they will be history soon.

Avatar
Simon E replied to Boopop | 1 month ago
0 likes

Boopop wrote:

The market wouldn't tolerate the only groupset options being unreliable and of poor quality.

Yeah, sure. As if a few whining cyclists on social media will have any effect.

What would 'the market' do to change things? Threaten to go round to their head office with a baseball bat? Don't make me laugh.

Avatar
Rich_cb replied to Simon E | 1 month ago
0 likes

Other cyclists may well listen to the whiners and choose to buy a different brand.

Repeat that a few times and your unreliable and poor quality groupsets start losing market share to higher quality groupsets that are more reliable.

That's how a market works.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Rich_cb | 1 month ago
0 likes

As a non-economist, if for example, some goods can be produced more cheaply (because e.g. lower workers' standards in some place) OR sold more cheaply* is that also "how a market works"?  Or an unfortunate side-effect?

China is interesting in that it's a mixed economy.  In fact I think there are few that approach theoretical "free market" conditions, but China's is more to the "controlled" end e.g. sometimes the "private sector" effectively being an extension of the state.  Apparently that's nothing new under the sun there.

* Thinking loss leader / the "spend money to undercut the competition and drive 'em out of business, then whack up prices / cut service levels" of e.g. certain UK bus companies apparently.

Avatar
Rich_cb replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago
0 likes

In a free market the consumers will make their decisions based on their own needs.

Cost is one of the most important so loss leaders and lower labour standards can have a big influence.

Cost is not the only consideration though so the idea that all products will become cheap and unreliable is flawed.

Avatar
john_smith replied to Rich_cb | 1 month ago
2 likes

Wouldn't that depend on how mich cheaper your unreliable, poor-quality, patent-infringing, slave-labour-manufactured environmentally dodgy cheapo stuff is than what t competition is offering?

Avatar
Rich_cb replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
0 likes

To a point.

If all else is equal then a cheaper product should eventually win out.

If an inferior product is cheaper it will win some market share but many customers will opt for a more expensive option that is better quality.

Avatar
Miller replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
1 like

john_smith wrote:

But don't complain in 20 years when Chinese gear is all you can get. 

Are we far away from that now? I visit Felixstowe sometimes and see the 400 metre long container ships docked there. Where is Sram gear made? Where is Shimano gear made?

For sure if China decides to go for broke and invade Taiwan then we'll feel massive impacts.

Notwithstanding all the above, I have made a few purchases of Chinese carbon and they have all been pleasant transactions which delivered excellent products to me.

 

Avatar
john_smith replied to Miller | 1 month ago
1 like

That's how many people thought about doing business with Russia until not that long ago.

Anyway I think the more immediate question is whether these deals look so attractive when you take into account the fact that you are supporting the economy of a hostile, totalitarian nation rather than your own or that of a country that has similar values and ideals to ours.

Avatar
evilcherry replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
0 likes

john_smith wrote:

That's how many people thought about doing business with Russia until not that long ago.

Anyway I think the more immediate question is whether these deals look so attractive when you take into account the fact that you are supporting the economy of a hostile, totalitarian nation rather than your own or that of a country that has similar values and ideals to ours.

Have you ditched your Shimano/Sram for Campy?

Wait they are also made in China too, they just add an Italian premium on them besides the bicycling tax...

Avatar
john_smith replied to evilcherry | 1 month ago
1 like

Campagnolo has got factories in Italy and Romania. All the parts I've bought said "Made in Italy" on the packaging. What do they make in China? And what is "bicycling tax"?

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
1 like

john_smith wrote:

And what is "bicycling tax"?

I saw one of those delivery vans parked slap bang in the middle of the cycling lane / a car in an ASL / some people standing around blocking a bus lane bypass / a driver set off as soon as the green "cycling early release" light came on - and they don't even pay bicycling tax!

Avatar
john_smith replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago
0 likes

Ha ha. Must remember to try that one next time. "You lot don't even pay bicycling tax!"

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Secret_squirrel replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
0 likes

john_smith wrote:

account the fact that you are supporting the economy of a hostile, totalitarian nation 

Thats never stopped us buying American.

Avatar
john_smith replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 month ago
1 like

Crikey. And Putin and Xi are the good guys, right?

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john_smith | 2 months ago
0 likes

Those shoes look a bit like Lore Ones. Hard to say which are uglier.

Avatar
fukawitribe replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
0 likes

Look like they have a couple of nice features, interested what the (few) owners have to say about them.

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