Channeling a bit of last spring’s Force Wide, now SRAM Red eTap AXS gets wider gearing capability thanks to a new Max 36T cog-capable rear derailleur. The details are simple, a new medium cage option for Red AXS means you can now get lower than 1:1 gearing for the lung-busting climbs on your road and all-road bikes.
SRAM Red eTap AXS Max 36T medium cage rear derailleur
SRAM’s website refers to the new Max 36T derailleur as a ‘Medium’ cage vs. the original Max 33T ‘Short’ cage, but it’s more than just lengthening the cage, like derailleurs of old. Instead, the difference is in the geometry of the B-knuckle (the upper body where the derailleur attaches to your bike’s hanger), which allows the greater max gear size while retaining the close tracking of derailleur-to-cassette for perfect shifting.
All the other derailleur tech is unchanged from the original AXS road debut – just all new derailleurs will say Max 33T or Max 36T next to the B-tension screw. (Any derailleur without a marking is Max 33T.)
That revised Wide derailleur geometry does mean that you shouldn’t just use the new Red AXS Max 36T with the tighter-spaced cassettes. SRAM doesn’t recommend pairing the new Max 36T with the 10-26T option for the best shift performance. But you can use it with either 1x or 2x drivetrains, meaning it will give you similar 360% gearing spread like an old 11-40T cassette would have… cyclocross, maybe? Or pair it with the 46/33T cranks for 502% gear range.
What cassettes are compatible?
Interestingly SRAM doesn’t offer a Red 10-36T cassette (it still comes in 10-26T, 10-28T & 10-33T variants), so you’ll want to pair it with the wider Force XG-1270 10-36T.
SRAM has also changed the look of that Force cassette, going to a shiny new nickel-chrome finish with a dark alloy backplate/big cog, replacing the old all-black cassettes. SRAM says the new shinier version looks better as it wears. The new color move also is part of a phase-out of the Force 10-26T option. Once the current black stock is gone, you’ll need to go Red for the tighter road gearing.
SRAM Red eTap AXS Max 36T – Pricing, options & availability
The new SRAM Red eTap AXS Max 36T medium cage rear derailleur is available now for the same $710 / 685€. And the original Max 33T sort cage derailleur carries over for those looking for the more tightly-spaced gearing option. The new dark gray Force cassette sells for $185 / 190€, and comes in 10-28T, 10-33T & 10-36T options.