Review: SRAM Eagle AXS Rocker Paddle upgrade installed… worth it?
The new SRAM Eagle AXS Rocker Paddle is an optional replacement for your wireless mountain bike shifter, but is it worth making the switch? Well, yes, probably, but it’s not that straightforward.
Honestly, I never loved the ergonomics of the original AXS paddle shifter. The upper half sits considerably higher than any mechanical shifter lever, and the whole things sits a bit farther behind the bar, too. Meaning, thumb movements are exaggerated and require more effort.
And, no matter which way I made it work through the AXS app, I couldn’t consistently remember which way shifted up or down. Because it’s hard overcoming 15+ years of muscle memory, amiright?
So, I was really excited to see this new trigger-style rocker paddle option. But, after installing it, it’s not as simple as just swapping the paddles. Here’s what you need to know before making the switch…
Video Comparison of SRAM Eagle AXS Shifters
In this video, I’ll show you exactly how the different paddles affect your brake and grip layout. Or, rather, how your brakes and grips affect the placement of the shifter paddle. You will have to make some adjustments. Below, are pics showing closer detail and some measurements.
Visual Comparison of SRAM Eagle & AXS Shifters
This is the SRAM Eagle 12-speed mechanical shifter, which is what most of us (SRAM riders anyway) are used to.
I’m showing this first for a visual comparison of where the thumb paddles are for both downshift paddle (bigger lever, pulls cable into easier gear) and upshift trigger (smaller, releases cable into harder gear)…and to clarify those two terms going forward.
For my personal setup, I move the downshift paddle closer to the upshift trigger so that I can minimize thumb movement as much as possible. This is usually about as close as I can get it without interfering with trigger access.
And this is where my hand and thumb end up on them. Note how low the paddle is compared to what’s coming up. Depending on the situation, I may have to actually move my thumb down and under the paddle to get to the trigger.
OK, here’s how the new AXS Rocker compares:
This is the new SRAM Eagle AXS Rocker paddle, which moves the thumb pads to more closely mimic the position and feel of their mechanical shifters.
Watch the video see the concessions and changes necessary to fit this new rocker. The biggest thing most riders will likely have to do is slide the brake lever inboard…IF you’re running SRAM’s fully integrated, fully adjustable Matchmaker X clamp for both brakes and shifter.
The photo above shows how far inboard the clamp needs to go with the shifter mounted using it’s left-side hole, which sets it further inboard.
For the paddle to clear my lock-on grips, which are admittedly among the thinner ones out there, the clamp had to be about 30mm inboard of the grip.
I also had to rotate the shifter a few degrees rearward/upward to be able to full depress the “trigger” and initiate a shift. Admittedly, I run my brakes angled downward slightly more than most people I know, so you may not have this issue.
This is the original paddle that comes stock on SRAM Eagle AXS shifters (unless you order it with the new rocker). Note that the concave rocker on the back of the shifter sits considerably higher than the new one. And, the “paddle” sits much farther inboard.
The shape required my thumb to move further back and up to shift in either direction, which took fractions of a second more. By moving my thumb farther off the grip, and for slightly longer, it also reduced my overall grip for the milliseconds it took to shift.
It’s worth noting that I could nudge the paddle’s front section, or the backside of the stock paddle, to initiate a shift…but it wasn’t always intuitive, especially in the heat of a frantic shifting situation. Basically, every shift with this paddle sucked a little more mental energy out of me, and that crap adds up over a long ride. Maybe it’s just me, but we humans only have so much decision making energy, and I’d rather use mine for handling. Or which taco shop to hit after the ride.
The upside is that the original can be positioned much closer to the grip. So, if you prefer your brakes or levers sitting farther outboard, this might be the better option for you. And, you can rotate the shifter farther down/forward.
Hand position comparisons between SRAM Eagle AXS shifters
Lastly, here are my hand positions on the new Rocker (top) and original (bottom). Note how much higher my thumb is on the original versus the new one.
Overall, I’m much happier with the new Rocker. Even compared to the mechanical shifters, it requires far less thumb movement to hit the “trigger”, because there’s more open access to it.
The downshift “paddle” click seems less satisfying than before, which I can’t explain, but the “trigger” click is more so. Neither feels like the mechanical shifters, which have a very gratifying tactile “click”, but the shifting performance of AXS is top shelf.
Final thought: If you like the new Rocker but want to run it farther outboard (closer to the grip), you could also file down the “paddle’s” wing…which I’m seriously considering doing.
What do you think? Have you tried the new Rocker? Like it? Leave a comment and help others decide which version is right for them.