SRAM RED eTap: The Art of the Install
In many respects, bike mechanics are artists. The way they route brake cables, tape handlebars, and choose component colors is an expression of themselves and the riders they support.
At the p’Art exhibit at the SRAM Social Club in Richmond, Virginia three such artistic expressions were on display - time trial bikes from Olympic Gold Medalist and Team TWENTY16 p/b SHO-AIR rider Kristin Armstrong, 2015 TTT World Champion and Velocio-SRAM rider Barbara “Baby G” Guarischi, and 2015 TTT World Championship Silver Medalist and Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team rider Ellen Van Dijk.
All three ride SRAM RED eTap and each has a different installation that is customized for their body position on the bike and hand positions on the base bar and aero extensions. While such custom installations may seem daunting, they are easier to accomplish than they might appear, given the myriad of options available for installation of the SRAM RED eTap BlipBox (wireless shifter sending unit) and Blips (remote shift buttons).
Let’s start by taking a look at the most straightforward installation of the three, Baby G’s Cervelo P5. But just because it is straightforward doesn’t mean that her mechanic, Sebastian Nittke, didn’t sweat the details. Rather than using handlebar tape, Nittke chose lower profile grip tape. Nittke carefully feathered the edge of the grip tape by sanding it down along the trailing edge before applying it to the similarly textured handlebar for a perfect blend. On the aero extensions the transition to the edge of the Blips is smoothed using black 100% silicone caulk. Barbara prefers to execute shifts using her index finger, so the Blips are mounted on the underside of the base bar and aero extensions.
Utilizing the standard quarter-turn computer mount popularized by Garmin, the BlipBox on Barbara’s bike is tucked out of the wind using an adjustable steerer tube mounted K-Edge computer mount rotated 180-degrees aft and mounted upside down.
Ellen Van Dijk’s bike uses a similar installation to Baby G’s, except she prefers to execute shifts with her thumbs, so she places her base bar buttons on the inboard side of her S-Works Shiv TT’s integrated bullhorns and on the top edge of her Zipp Vuka Alumina aero extensions.
Slicing off the upper corner of the aluminum extensions, Van Dijk’s mechanic, Richard Steege, created a perch for the Blips that allow Ellen to execute shifts without ever moving her hands. Like Baby G’s setup, the Blips on Ellen’s extensions are fastened in place using black silicone caulk.
Also opting for low profile grip tape rather than handlebar tape, Ellen runs the tape on her base bar all the way to the transition between the edge of the brake lever mount/hand grip portion of the bar and the main base bar structure. Not only does this create a very clean aesthetic, it offers a bit more security for those moments when she is physically at the limit and needs to rapidly scrub speed heading into a tight corner.
Ellen’s BlipBox is mounted upside down to the underside of the armrests using double stick tape for a very clean and aerodynamic setup that disappears visually.
At the extreme end of the custom eTap install spectrum is Kristin Armstrong’s Felt. Her mechanic and husband, Joe Savola, used a 3D printer to build a custom perch for the Blips mounted at the ends of the aero extensions. This piece joins the Zipp Vuka Aero extensions and provides a bar for Armstrong to wrap her thumbs over. The bar has scallops cut into it to perfectly fit the Blips for access with her index fingers.
In contrast to her aero extension setup, the Blips on Kristin’s base bar are installed in the simplest way possible, with double stick tape and no additional handlebar or grip tape. Instead, Kristin relies on the standard texturing of the Vuka Aero base bars to keep her hands secure.
Armstrong’s Blip Box placement is simple and aerodynamic. Mounted backwards with double stick tape on top of the bayonet-style fork, the BlipBox turns with the handlebars. This enables a very tidy wiring setup that can be a short as possible. The BlipBox is also aerodynamically shrouded by her computer, which is mounted between the aero extensions via a K-Edge TT mount.
Regardless of the rider and their personal preferences, the adaptability of SRAM RED eTap Blips offers mechanics endless options to set up TT and Tri bike shifting in ways never imagined before. What art will you make with your SRAM RED eTap installation?