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Archer Components D1X shifter review

Archer Components D1X shifter review

Archer Components D1X Shifter review

Quality: 9 out of 10
I was very impressed with the build quality! Mechanically everything worked perfectly. The user interfaces for setup in the app could be improved; I expect there will be an app update soon.
Install: 9 out of 10
Everything went well. Watching the install videos is helpful, and a great resource as well as the instruction manual they are working on. The only downside was that the Allen bolts holding the battery covers and mounting strap are small and somewhat difficult to work with.
Setup: 6 out of 10
Pairing your phone with the app is easy. Actually, I really like the Bluetooth search function. The unique and most powerful feature of these shifters is that each shift point, cog position, is individually set. It’s also the user interface that needs the most work. Setting up the sifter was confusing at first, and easy to get wrong. In fact, I thought I had it all setup, but then when I tested the shifting I had done something wrong. I had set up the derailleur positions for each cog. When went back to double-check several of the gears were set to the same cog. I am still not sure how I messed this up. I learned a lot from the first go at it. While I give the setup a 6 out of 10, knowing what I know now, it’s easy. Watch the videos. All of them!
Function: 9 out of 10
Wow, these really work great, I am super impressed–they really nailed this. It gets a 9 out of 10 because the shift buttons have no feedback–no click or beep. The feature Shimano Di2 of beeping when have shifted to the last cog is nice.
Overall: 8 out of 10
If you are looking to upgrade your shifters and are running a 1X setup, I would really consider the D1X. As they say, “Will this work on my… drivetrain?”  the answer is “yes.” It is really the ultimate in versatility.
I will follow up in a couple months with an update, I might have a new ECDM to install this on. 

Preamble:

It was a few months ago when I first heard about the Archer Components wireless shifter. There was not much information available, but what there was, sounded great. I reached out to them at that time, and they were in the middle of making production units. Last week I checked back with them, and they had some limited quantities available. I have one on the way to review. While I was waiting for it to arrive, I had been thinking about how I was going to test and review it. It is an ideal shifter to use on a 1X_ setup, which none of our tandems are. I considered converting our Ventana EL CONQUISTADOR DE MONTAÑAS to a 1X for testing. I would like to try 1X12 setup. What finally stopped me from doing this was our FOX shock has a Di2 controller and removing the rear derailleur would have disabled this. As a result of this, I have ordered a cable remote for our CaneCreek shock so I don’t have this dilemma in the future. This left me with installing the shifter on our gravel grinder tandem. This bike is a work in progress, which makes it a great bike to test the shifter on. I currently have a Di2 XTR/XT 42-53 X 11-42 setup, with a mechanical old school friction front shifter. I would like to set it up with a 1 X 10-42(or 50) 11- or 12-speed. I need a different rear wheel to do this. It will be nice not needing to worry about different shifters. In fact, this was the source of the first “ah-ha” moment. When you look at faq section of the website you see “Will this work on my … drivetrain?”  and the answer “yes”! My ah-ha was not only will a Shimano 11-speed XTR derailleur work with a Shimano or SRAM cassette, but I could even use a Shimano 11-speed XTR derailleur with a SRAM 10-50 12-speed cassette (assuming the chain length (wrap) is not a problem). Actually, this will turn any derailleur into a shifter for any speed. Here is a video of them setting it up on a 9 speed. This is really cool!

Review

Bike:
2017 Cannondale road tandem that has been modified to work as a gravel bike. It has flat bars, modified rear dropout to use a 148 axle rear wheel, and is currently setup with a 42-53 X 11-46 Di2 XTR/XT rear shifter with an old Shimano Deore XT friction shifter for the front, it kinda makes me laugh, the Deore XT is basically the vintage version of the D1X shifter, it will shift anything.

Unboxing:
Yes, I am really going to show you some unboxing photos. I guess Apple set the example years ago and now everyone needs to have their products boxed nicely. With a startup, I really like to see clean packaging. Archer Components had everything nicely packed, I got several stickers, and a couple Koozies.

Off with the old:
The pile of Di2 components I am replacing with the Archer Components D1X shifter. If you think it is a mess here it was a real mess with it all taped to the tubs, no internal routing on this bike.
On with the new:
Archer Components D1X pile of parts is smaller, 8 grams lighter and no wires.
Installing:
Start by downloading the app. Then watch the set video. Actually, watch all the videos they have on their YouTube channel before you begin. Setup is easy, but you will have questions. You get no documentation with the shifter except a link to a YouTube video. It’s a good video, but watch the others before you begin to install the shifters and also check out their faq page. update; They are working hard on documentation here is a draft, Archer Instructions Manual.

The App:
Went to the Apple App store and downloaded the Archer Components app. More about the app later.

Shift Buttons:
Mounting the shift buttons is simple and clean. Included is a SRAM mount, I looked for an adapter for my XTR brakes, but could not find one. On the test ride, I could not hear the sifting. It was windy, so that is part of it, but the buttons also do not click. There is no positive sound or feel that you have actually initiated a shift.

Shifter: I found an XTR 11speed mechanical derailleur lying around, I was thinking this was a great find but then I noticed it needed cleaning before I used it which caused resulted in a detour of my installation project.
With the derailleur nice and clean I got it mounted and then started on the D1X shifter. At first, you think, “This thing is huge, how will this fit and not cause problems?” In the end, it fits nicely. I mounted it on the seat stay, as the chainstay had the cable mount which was in the way. Their website does not list extra mounting straps as available–I would like to have an extra set. update: they will be adding these to the store soon.

Setup:
With everything installed, which was relatively straightforward it was time to configure the shifter. I had difficulty getting the unit to turn on. This is a known issue, see note below, in short, the fix is to add a little lube to the button and if you don’t feel a click, the button is not working. Once the shifter is on, the app will find it and you can connect. I choose the new configuration and was not really sure what to expect (I had not finished the video.)

Shifter setup screen

As is normal, you should set your derailleur stops, and have the cable tight before you begin. By doing this, setting the highest gear is basically done. I was confused when I tapped the gear selector and my small adjustment for the 11T cog went back to zero (the derailleur moved right) This really confused me until finally, I realized that the default position for each gear is at position zero. In other words, if you get the 37T gear setup (image above) with a position of 800 and you then go to the 42T the initial position will be zero, you will need to adjust it up to 800+ for the 42T position. This process could be significantly improved if the app assumed that the next gear was at least at the current position. However, the ability to set the derailleur position for each gear is the what makes this so awesome. I was not sure of the best alignment of the derailleur with the cog. Using the micro adjuster, I aligned the derailleur about 1-2 micro adjustments from touching the larger cog.There is a rapid shift feature, this tends to be a bad idea on tandems so I skipped this. After I was done, I tested the sifting on the stand and everything was great.  The bike was ready for a test ride.

Test Ride:
It was one of those crazy Colorado days, cold and really windy like steady 30mph with hard gusts. For the test run, what I really wanted to know was: Are the shifts quick? How does it shift under load? Can you make the shifter do bad things? I have to say, Wow! This works awesome, they really nailed the shifting. The shifts seem quick, were reliable and perfect each time. I had no problems shifting under load. I never did make it do anything bad. This was so good, I am thinking which other bikes I might want these shifters on.

Questions:
I had a few things I wanted to clarify and a few comments I had for Archer Components before I posted this review. They got back to me really quickly. Below are the questions
1- Do you need to turn it off or does it turn itself off automatically (after how long)?
In Normal Mode, the system will turn off automatically after a period of time in which the bike does not move. In Settings > auto shutdown you can set how long this will be for your system. This feature doesn’t work in Low Power Mode (because we turn off the external clocks and timers to save power). 
 
2- Does it need to be manually turned on after it is set up?
If the remote and shifter are off you need to press the button on each to turn them off. I suggest powering on the shifter and then the remote. Only reason is the remote will auto-shutdown if it doesn’t connect to the shifter after only 20 seconds whereas the shifter will stay on until the auto-shutdown timer expires. You can definitely turn on remote first then shifter without issue.

3- On your Faq page you talk about lower power mode but it is not really clear what this does.
Low power mode runs only the minimal amount of features for the system to work. You get normal single shifts and quick shifts but nothing else. LEDs are turned off, auto shutdown is inactive, and Get Me Home Gear is off too.

4- Can I order additional mounting straps?
Absolutely. I don’t have them as a product on the site currently because supply is somewhat limited (we’re working on manufacturing process).

2 Responses

  1. Johnny Ringo says:

    Great initial review. Can’t wait for a long term review. Thanks!!!

  2. Ed says:

    If successful, maybe they’ll come out with a variety of shifters. I imagine the current shifter buttons won’t work well with cold weather gloves or on drop bars-maybe I’m wrong.
    The short shifter cable (single-bike length) could be well oiled and sealed so it would last a long time.
    How about transmitting gear info to Garmin. Then I could ditch the FliteDeck and update some 3X drivetrains. That would also show me when I’m in the last gear.
    It’ll be interesting to see how eagleTap will compare.

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