Disconnecting with a SRAM AXS Equipped Moots Baxter

Let’s rewind a bit, back to the Steamboat Ramble Ride, where I rode this very frame, fully loaded from Steamboat Springs to Fort Collins along with a whole crew of people from all over the country. The whole time I was on the ride, I kept thinking about how much I love drop bar 29ers for tours like that. It’s the best of both worlds – drops for different riding positions and MTB gearing for slogging a loaded bike up mountain passes. In the back of my mind, I began playing out how I could use a bike like this for some of my more ambitious rides in the Death Valley or Inyo Mountains area. Then SRAM contacted me about working on a project with their new AXS components. Initially, their thoughts were to build a custom bike around the interchangeability of the eTap AXS road with the new Eagle AXS system and do a project with this new bike. The subject matter was entirely up to me. Meanwhile, my mind was still on the Moots Baxter and how it would be perfect for this loop I had scouted a year or so ago…

The Cerro Gordo Loop

Yesterday we looked at a ride in the Inyo Mountains and Death Valley National Park. It has it all: a steep climb up, barely a “road” going down – in reality, it’s more like singletrack, a long false flat climb, ripping gravel roads and a long paved road descent back to home base. The terrain called for a mountain bike but the roads beckoned for drop bars. It’s the perfect ride for a bike that utilizes the new wireless components from SRAM, dubbed AXS. An Eagle cassette and Eagle AXS rear derailler offering 10-50t range with eTap AXS road shifters, allowing you to link it all together, and then for added measure, you can even link a RockShox Reverb AXS wireless dropper post to it all! It’s like a trifecta of practicality.

Moots Baxter

The Moots Baxter is a do it all, lightweight bikepacking rig. It has clearance for 2.3″ XC 29er tires, boost spacing, provisions for a third bottle cage, good standover, with the option to run an 80mm travel front fork or a rigid fork like the Salsa Cutthroat Carbon. Its intended use is for drop bars and even a dropper post, making it an odd bird in the Moots lineup. Maybe that’s why I fell in love with this bike? It’s a Moots so you know it’s made by some of the best titanium welders around but it’s not a classic Moots, according to my opinion. It’s like the rough and tumble bad boy in the Moots lineup and it felt like the perfect bike for such a rough and tumble ride!

About AXS

In a nutshell, AXS opens up interconnectivity between SRAM’s all-new wireless shifters and derailleurs. You can connect a road shifter to a mountain derailleur, or vice versa if you’re into weird stuff like that. Then, if you really want to up the ante, you can connect a dropper post to actuate from your road shifters. All this wizardry is handled by a battery pack. There are no cables, no wires, it’s all SRAM’s proprietary wireless networking. Simply attach your derailleur, set your limit screws and viola. The battery’s life runs about 20 hours, depending on your shifting habits, so on a ride like this, I packed an extra. If you’re in a pinch, you can always grab the battery from the dropper and plug it into the rear derailleur. While this might seem like a hassle, I got in the habit of pulling the battery after a ride and charging it, along with my cycling computer. The AXS group really made this bike an even more capable vehicle for a ride like this.

Why a Framebag?

On rides like this, where you have to prepare for temperature fluctuations, or inclement weather, as well as pack enough food and water for a good 8-10 hours on a bike, my question is, why wouldn’t you use a frame bag? My backpack already has camera equipment in it, which is already a lot of weight to carry, so it’s nice getting everything else off my back and down low on the bike. There are no racks to rattle loose and if it rains, everything will be dry inside. What good is a down jacket if it’s soaking wet when you go to put it on? I use this very Porcelain Rocket frame bag a lot for rides like this but I do have to be mindful of what I pack. Just because you have space doesn’t mean you should fill it all, so I ask myself a simple question when I’m about to put something into a framebag. “Does this balaclava bring me joy? Hell yes it does when the wind picks up and the temperatures drop!” Pack smart, pack light and leave room for snacks. Oh, and I put two photos up of the bike without the bag for you minimalists. ;-)

In terms of necessities for this ride, in particular, the keyword is preparation. Make sure you’re prepared for weather with warm clothes, for mechanicals, and that includes extra warm weather once you’re in Death Valley. Water is non-existent on the route, so carry all you need. Bring some kind of tire plug because the rocks are sharp. I always carry a Garmin InReach or similar device in case of emergency. Also, bring a friend, or two! Or three! The ride is not crazy hard, it’s just very remote so be safe and roll in prepared.

What is This Wizardry?

SRAM made some magic happen with AXS. It’s what I’ve been wanting for a long time. Having drops, with road shifters, and the gear range of Eagle for a build like this ticks all the boxes for me. Yet, leading up to this project, the technology made me nervous. If my camera batteries and phone die unexpectedly due to the cold at higher elevations in the desert, what would happen if the bike’s batteries died? Are batteries really the answer?

Yet, after using the AXS system, I kinda let go of my ego for what it could be and really embraced the technology. The shifting is crisp, clean, and activates instantaneously, without hesitation. I let go of my preconceived notions of what should or shouldn’t be on a bike and really enjoyed the experience of riding something new and different. I’ve been riding the Baxter on my local LA rides and found the battery life to last about a week’s worth of riding. SRAM’s numbers say 20-25 hours per charge.

You can always carry spare batteries, or swap out the Reverb AXS’ battery, and even charge up with a USB battery pack. That said, I’d still be nervous taking an AXS-equipped bike on a long distance tour but as with all new technology, I’m sure that will change with use. What I will say is I’m not normally someone to geek out on tech like this but it has been a real treat to ride this bike with the AXS system.

This project was created with support from SRAM. Thanks to James Adamson of Drop Media for the video work and Brent Underwood from Cerro Gordo for the help!

In terms of availability, AXS is available now, so head to your local dealer. Pricing is also available at SRAM for XX1 Eagle AXS, X01 Eagle AXSRED ETAP AXS, and Reverb AXS.

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Follow SRAM on Instagram, follow James on Instagram, and follow Moots on Instagram.

  • Silver

    Thanks for posting this info. Excuse my ignorance, but for a 1x setup with no dropper post, is the only battery pack on the rear derailleur? Is there any type of battery power required at the shift levers? I have never considered Di2 or Etap in the past, but this is really peaking my curiosity now.

    • Yep. Just at the derailleur. No shifter power (unless I missed something).

      • CTDSAC

        I thought the shifter uses a CR2032 battery?

        • I honestly have no idea. haha.

        • Dustytires

          You are correct, the shifters use the 2032 battery, same as original RED eTap. Available almost everywhere and as Speedvagen points out, it just sends a tiny impulse to the derailluers/dropper and whatever else they come up with. All the SRAM electric derailleurs and now dropper post use the same snap on battery which weighs less than an ounce and is less than $50 for those going way way out there and want a wee bit of insurance.

          • Silver

            Thanks for clarifying!

      • Old etap shifters ran off button cell batteries (cr2032s) in the levers. Im not sure about AXS but I would bet its the same, which means you should always carry a spare if you are going real remote. With that said, the those button cells only really power a signal to the derailleur and should last around 2 years.

        • Ah that makes sense.

          • Damien Milazzo

            While I’m still using Di2, a friend has been using eTap for two years now. He has not replaced his shifter batteries in that time (Coin Cell). We have also done sub-freezing rides (14F) in the Valle Caldera near Los Alamos New Mexico, and neither of us have had any issues with battery failure.

            And yes @disqus_Md4zc8ZfrO:disqus, you would only have the one battery, and that would be on the rear derailleur. The shifters are coin cell.

      • Jacob Winick

        I believe you need coin cell batteries in the eTap shifters and they last for several years, like a calculator or watch.

        • You’re right, I guess I thought he was asking about the AXS battery.

  • spencer harding

    after many years of fussing with my cable actuated dropper, almost driving me to just get an old school crotch grab dropper, this new wireless tech seems like an absolute dream. gotta start savin’ my pennies.

  • Daniel Smith

    I have a feeling you’re going to have a hard time giving this bike back…

    • It’s going to be displayed at NAHBS. I have no idea what it’s going to do after. I don’t need more bikes but would love to make room for this one. haha

  • Joseph Diaz

    Is it just the photo angle or is that 32t chainring damn near touching the chainstay?

    • it’s the lens I used – 400mm – it compresses / flattens space. There is a good amount of clearance there.

  • Brendan VDB

    Do you know what the biggest size chain ring you can use with Eagle? Hoping at least a 48t

    • Not sure, but I think you can run the Red AXS crank / 1x ring with the Eagle AXS derailleur.

    • Dustytires

      Yes you can use the RED or Force 1X crankset and any of their chainrings with Eagle AXS, just use the correct length chain. The Eagle chain (not the flat top!) must be used on the Eagle cassettes and rear mech. The ‘flat top’; chain must be used with the RED / Force 12spd cassettes and derailleurs. It is narrower than the Eagle 12spd chain.

  • BurnDawg

    LOL “Does this balaclava bring me joy?” Marie Kondo would be so proud.

    • Glad someone liked that!

    • W. Bradford Williams

      My thoughts exactly.

  • Matt O’Donnell

    Why is the AXS battery life around a third of eTap I wonder?

    • shafty

      I’ll wager a guess it’s the motor acceleration required for the faster reaction speed compared to v1 Etap. If it were possible, I’d prefer the shifter batteries to last half as long, if it meant the wake function on the derailleurs wasn’t so power hungry. All just guesses though….

  • adventureroadbiker

    Someone needs to make a dynamo rear hub that can charge it on the go!

    • DaymanDaryl

      Or a way to siphon off enough power from a dynamo lighting system. It won’t take that much juice. Chapman Cycles did a gorgeous Di2 rando bike that was powered by the dynamo (front) hub.

      • sehrsehr

        Chapman used (uses) a „b+m e-werk“ to charge the Di2 battery. So the generator hub does not power the Di2 directly.

        • Or you can use a Sinewave beacon to charge a USB battery pack and charge the battery that way.

          • Damien Milazzo

            Man, that just seems incredibly over-complicated and unnecessary. I rode more than 5000 miles last year, commuting to work up and down hills in Los Alamos, riding up and down through the nearby mountains and Valle, rides through Colorado, two trips to Colombia with 500 miles of riding through the mountains there, and I only just charged the battery. All of that additional weight and gear to solve a problem that doesn’t seem to exist seems kinda silly.

      • You need to use an inverter first. Then you charge a USB battery pack to then charge the Di2 pack.

    • mikec

      Integrated solar charging as next step for wireless groupsets?

  • Terry Dean

    i have always thought that taking one of humankind’s most beautifully simple, efficient machines and making it rely on batteries is pretty dang silly.
    that said, i would ride the crap out of this bike until the reavers shoot me down with an emp cannon

    • shafty

      I’m right there with ya. I want to like these SRAM groups but the short battery life puts me off. At least with Di2, the battery life is ample. The bike still has hoses or brake housing, so why this extreme aversion to wires?

      • Forrest Cobb

        Even with small diameter wires such as Di2 connectors, the frame has to have holes. Holes must be reinforced (especially on carbon frames) which (paradoxically) adds more weight than the absence of a hole. An argument for eTap is that you can eliminate these holes and reinforcements. On the other hand, this makes a frame eTap-specific which may not be desirable for a lot of riders.

        • shafty

          That’s splitting a rather fine hair. The holes, and their minimal reinforcement, are typically placed in areas where the laminate is comprised of many layers. Many frames that are currently compatible with di2 do so through a modular port, often routing a brake line through the same location, or at least use a multi-function port for shift. So, excluding Di2 or Etap specific frames, there’s not much weight difference to squawk about.

          I think if you want to show the strongest argument for either electronic system, you have to ignore the wired/wireless debate, as neither truly impacts performance or the user experienice. The number of Etap specific frames made at any scale outside of custom, will likely continue to be vanishingly small. It just doesn’t make sense for many manufacturers to bother.

  • Pelex

    Now waiting for the other shoe to drop…12 spd AXS-enabled Force 1 group?
    Something geared around a new 10-42ish cassette…

  • Forrest Cobb

    What is the “shift logic” for actuating the dropper when using drop-bar shifters? Does this action simply replace the tap-both logic normally used for shifting the front derailleur on 2x Etap?

  • Froste

    “You can connect a road shifter to a mountain derailleur, or vice versa if you’re into weird stuff like that.”
    How about making the regular old cable actuated mechs interchangeable between road and mountain? Now that would be some ground breaking stuff!

    • Thad Hoffman

      That exists currently. Just need to match the Exact Actuation levers and RD’s and the X-ACTUATION levers and RD’s. I am running an X9 clutched mid-cage MTB RD with my Rival 10 speed shifters on my canti cross brake (have for years) and now run a road lever w/ mtb rear on my dropbar mtb from sram. No issues with either.

    • Brian Richard Walbergh

      11sp SRAM road shifters will shift most 10sp SRAM mountain rear derailleur through all 11 gears, (you might have to use an 11 speed road cassette). Cable pull is the same, SRAM just likes to bury that fact in marketing terms (Exact Actuation). Though I would love to see a cable actuated 12 speed wide range road set up, might finally be able to get rid of my 2x.

    • Erik Hedlund Tynell

      Agree!

    • Yeah, that would be nice!

  • sehrsehr

    the chain needs to be shortened by at least an inch.

    • So a link? Hmm. The guy that built it up at Moots is a pro and the guy that built it back up after it was shipped is also a pro. In the 50t it was good to go. Thanks.

      • sehrsehr

        maybe the size of the front ring was reduced after the chain length had been determined. the non-drive side shot at the end of the text shows a derailleur cage that gets a lot of chain rub in the biggest gear.

        • We didn’t swap the ring at all. I’m not sure how you can see that in the photo but it doesn’t rub while in the biggest gear. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

          • sehrsehr

            Maybe it’s caused by the washboard, maybe it caught my eye and I couldn’t resist to just comment something. Anyways, this is a very tempting kind of bicycle.

    • Boulder Bicycle Works

      I have to agree with this. It looks like the chain is one link too
      long. When in the 10T cog, the der looks to be folded over so much that
      the chain is nearly touching.?? Or it could be the photo? But it sure
      looks too long. If it is too long and you can take a link out the
      shifting will be much improved after you re-adjust the “B” tension
      screw.

  • Gene Selkov

    The new oil-slick Eagle is so ridiculously awesome!

    Naming the system “AXS of Eagle” was a missed opportunity, according to my coworker. Is that a little too on the nose?

  • Pi-stache-io

    Does the dropper post get used much on bikes like this, or is it more of a novelty? I’ve found it hard to understand but am seeing them more and more on bikes like this so figure there has to be something to it.

    • Personally, on this particular bike I have found it very useful on Singletrack descents and the initial descent from the top of the mine is a Jeep trail that’s more like a rock garden, so yes, I did use it. All dropper posts are novelties.

      • Pi-stache-io

        True, sure. But then you could argue that all bikes are novelties when it comes down to it.

  • Damien Milazzo

    Hey John, can you please tell your SRAM contacts that advertising a system like this, and then not offering it for sale seems pretty stupid. I was set to order it myself, until I learned that I would have to buy two whole groupos (Road and MTN) to build it.

    Now I’ve been told it will be 6 months to a year. Kinda lame.

    • Ah that sucks. I’m sorry dude. :-( I’ll let them know. xo

      • Golden Unicorn Milazzo

        Thanks man. And as always, beautiful photos and a great write up.

    • xstevenx

      You’ll be able to do a build like this in May. As of right now SRAM is just selling complete kits for either road or mountain for the first batch. After that when they get a restock in May you’ll be able to purchase parts a-la-carte.

      • Golden Unicorn Milazzo

        Yeah, I had talked to SRAM. May is a really big maybe. My rep and other SRAM folk have stated end of summer is much more likely. So I’ll hope for May, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Thanks for the info, and Happy Trails!

  • Dirk-Jan Scheffers

    What a beautiful bike! Love the little Moots details on seat clamb and derailleur hanger. Must be a great ride.

  • John Solomito

    I love[d] Moots. I’ve had three. the first, A YBB IN 1995. The Baxter is a cool long haul rig, BUT, combining it with a hideously expensive and limited group set is just a thinly veiled marketing ploy, appealing to those with more money than sense. A cable actuated11 speed double will have a greater gear inch spread, won’t need recharging, have a more durable chain, and cost a third of that SRAM group.

    • Sure, but is an 11-speed double really more range? You can’t run the 10-42t cassette on a double crank, FWIW. It’s also hard to really document or express just how steep these roads are in the Inyo Mountains. They were built as efficiently as possible and not really considering travel by anyone else other than miners. A road double would be too hard of a gear for me to climb this. Even a 11 speed 10-42t with a 28t front would be too much honestly. Most the dirt I ride is very steep and I like my knees and lower back. 5,000′ in 8 miles is no joke and many of these roads are even steeper than that.

    • Chris

      Of course it’s possible to hack together something with more gear range, generally at the expense of premature part wear and lackluster shifting performance. But SRAM’s 1X 23″ low / 116″ high is damn good on a gravel bike.. Besides, the point is more how eTap AXS feels… it feels great. It’s silky-smooth, instant and pleasure to shift. The 2X version has automatic front der shifting like Shimano Synchro… and it is fun! Worth every penny.. and in my mind, not marketing-based but made to advance the pleasure and efficiency of cycling.