Patent Patrol: Is SRAM eTap wired on the horizon?


As Shimano flirts with its personal wi-fi drivetrain, SRAM seems to be heading in the wrong way. In as we speak’s Patent Patrol, SRAM has filed a patent so as to add wires to its eTap elements. That’s proper, eTap Wired could possibly be within the works.

Why would SRAM wish to do this? It’s all concerning the dimension of your battery, associates.

SRAM’s eTap Wired wi-fi

eTap definitely staked its declare as a high contender amongst street drivetrains. And for good motive: eTap makes it straightforward to arrange your drivetrain out of the field. And recharging the batteries is straightforward. Simply pop them off the derailleurs (or different elements powered by the nifty little batteries) and throw them on a charger. No must run a charging cable from a wall outlet to the bike itself.

These figures present how SRAM’s present eTap derailleurs settle for particular person batteries. The eTap Wired system will use the prevailing mount, however as a substitute of a battery, a wired system will connect to the derailleurs on the identical mounting factors.

The disadvantage, nonetheless, is that SRAM’s eTap battery life doesn’t appear to be as constantly lengthy as its rivals.

By attaching wires to the prevailing derailleur battery ports, it seems SRAM is making an attempt to deal with that concern. However eTap Wired (my identify, not SRAM’s!) is primarily an adaptation that takes benefit of e-bike batteries.

E-bike alternatives

E-bikes clearly have huge batteries already constructed into the bike. In such a case, eTap’s batteries appear superfluous. With the invention outlined on this patent, SRAM seems to be profiting from the huge energy supply already built-in into an e-bike to be able to energy the drivetrain elements.

Merely come out the prevailing batteries and alternate them for the eTap Wired adapter. It pops proper into the prevailing ports on the derailleur and snaps into place the identical method you’d snap your battery into place.

From there, the system faucets into the e-bike’s battery to energy the derailleurs. On high of the huge energy potential, it additionally appears SRAM is permitting e-bike producers to combine the shifting data into head models. Which means maybe you’ll be capable of monitor battery life and see what gear you’re in, amongst different nifty data.

SRAM’s eTap Wired integration motivation

eTap wired adapter
These illustrations present the wired adapter that mounts into the identical mounting positions as eTap wi-fi batteries.

With so many e-bikes hitting the market, and the gross sales potential for them exploding, it shouldn’t appear shocking that such integrations have gotten extra important. E-bike riders will see new applied sciences combine into their rides in coming years. And this eTap Wired system seems like instance from SRAM.

Permitting integration into an e-bikes present laptop could enable e-bike producers to combine the shifting into the bike itself, for instance. In different phrases, the bike could possibly do the shifting for the rider, because the eTap elements will faucet into the bike’s battery and laptop.

If eTap wi-fi techniques had been built-in into the identical e-bike, it seems from the patent that SRAM has considerations the wi-fi communication could be troublesome to encrypt for privateness and security. That’s as a result of it might turn out to be essential to individually encrypt every system — for each e-bike producer that needed to make use of eTap on its bikes.

SRAM solved the encryption downside on its eTap system by creating its personal wi-fi protocol, Airea. However that’s one protocol for each eTap drivetrain. As a way to translate eTap’s wi-fi system to particular person computer systems, SRAM must give you encryptions for every one. That’s an enormous endeavor that’s probably not possible for SRAM or e-bike producers.

Choices are king

Based mostly on different patents, it appears Shimano can be taking part in the variation recreation. A wired system that has the potential to go wi-fi seems to be within the works — or at the least Shimano has filed patents to that impact.

It’s potential then that Shimano has recognized the identical problem that SRAM has. SRAM’s eTap wired resolution, outlined on this patent, permits a person to configure eTap as both a semi-wired system or a wi-fi system because it exists now.

That’s to the huge advantage of riders going ahead as e-bikes turn out to be extra frequent. But such choices additionally open up different design prospects, even for non-e-bike riders.

wired block diagram
FIG.12 is a block diagram illustrating how the whole wired system will talk data from the rider to the derailleurs.

Take into consideration that multi-day journey, or the all-day gravel race. SRAM’s eTap system most likely has sufficient juice to get you thru these. However for peace of thoughts, wouldn’t it’s good to have a bigger battery that you just know will likely be sufficient to get you thru? Enter eTap Wired.

In fact, it certain could be good to ditch the added weight and complexity of a wired system in your one-day race or your day by day coaching rides. And boy, it certain is sweet to swap batteries from the entrance to the rear derailleur ought to one die on a journey. By no means worry, eTap wi-fi to the rescue, all on the identical system as your eTap Wired system!

In fact, that is all conjecture. For now it appears SRAM’s patent outlines an eTap Wired system meant to take full benefit of huge e-bike batteries. However there are oh so many prospects for purposes exterior of e-bikes. Both method, thrilling issues appear to be on the horizon for drivetrains.


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