There’s a massive sales on smart cycling trainers right now, plus plenty other sports tech. There’s 20% off the Wahoo KICKR, KICKR CORE, CLIMB, Headwind, 20% off the Tacx NEO 2T, Flux 2, and Flux S, 20% off Saris Hammer 3 trainer and Saris MP1 Motion Platform. Plus also 20% off the Elite Direto X and Suito too, even the new Sterzo. Plus even steeper deals including with the Kinetic trainers at 30% off. Note: Wahoo KICKR sales end Sunday Mar 29th at 11:59PM US Eastern Time.
At first glance, what you’re about to read may appear that SRAM is trying to replace Strava, TrainingPeaks, or some other platform you use today. But in reality, they’re trying to sit adjacent to it. Thus, in order to minimize confusion, I figured I’d start with what Jim Meyer, founder of Quarq and SRAM’s category manager for digital integration had to say on how it fits. It helps explain what this is, and isn’t. He gave the following comparisons at the start of a tech deep-dive on the platform, about how they (and most people) view the different platform goals:
Strava: This is about you and your friends TrainingPeaks: This is about you and your training, your training plan, or your coach/coaching SRAM AXS Web: This is about helping someone understand them and their bike
He went onto say that “We want to play as perfectly nicely with Strava as we can”, citing the same for TrainingPeaks. They don’t see this as overlap, but rather trying to fill a gap that exists for people to understand what their bike is doing on these rides – and what their bike needs.
So with that – what the heck is it?
SRAM AXS Web is essentially a platform that includes both a website and an app that gets data both directly and indirectly from SRAM, Quarq, and (eventually) ShockWiz components. That actually includes non-AXS things too. In fact, I own *no* AXS labeled hardware. I’ve got regular 1st gen SRAM eTAP with a regular Quarq DZero. Yet everything you see in this post works just fine with that.
That data includes everything from the number of shifts you take each ride to the optimal gearing, as well as reminders to charge your eTAP batteries. It even includes tire pressure data, all pulled together and cohesively overlaid.
The platform has been in beta since last fall, but as of today SRAM is removing the beta label, and discussing some of their plans for the future. Of note is that the company says some 50,000 people used it during the arc of the beta, with a few thousand uploading regularly.
How it all works:
The entire platform has essentially three pieces as part of it, you mostly only need to use two of them, and once you set up the activity sync, you’ll never see it again. These pieces are as follows:
1) The SRAM AXS Website: This is where you can dive into all the stats 2) The SRAM AXS App: You can double-check the same stats as online, but also update firmware on AXS/DZero/PowerTap gear 3) Garmin Connect Sync: This is just like Strava or TrainingPeaks sync, and sends your completed ride files to SRAM AXS
At this moment, many of you just yelled ‘What about Wahoo?!?’. Fear not, that’s coming. SRAM says Wahoo was in the middle of a backend connectivity/API conversion, and thus wanted to finish that before onboarding SRAM to the newer backend connectivity platform. Once it’s done though, everything you see here will work the same whether it’s from Garmin or Wahoo. The data that sits in the files is stored in the same manner, whether it be from a Garmin or Wahoo GPS device. See, the magic of companies supporting standards!
Ok, now it doesn’t really matter whether you start with the smartphone app or the website. First up will be creating a bike. Again, you can do this on the smartphone or website. The advantage to doing this initially on the smartphone though is that if you have AXS components, you’ve probably already done this. If not and have Quarq components (DZero or TyreWiz), then this too will also take care of it for you via simple Bluetooth Smart pairing:
In my case, I have a Quarq DZero power meter and TyreWiz on my bike that are both pairable. But I also have SRAM eTAP. However, mine is the original non-AXS variant, so you can’t pair that with Bluetooth Smart to my phone. As such, I can’t add it here. Fear not, we’ll still get data from it in a second. But first, it’s probably worthwhile to edit the bike a bit more on the drivetrain side. For example, over on the website I can do that:
It’s there that I can go into a giant list of chainrings and cassettes and define what’s configured on my bike:
And this also includes custom things too:
Once that’s done, we’ll want to hookup Garmin Connect. Again, down the road you’ll be able to hook-up Wahoo too, and maybe others (more on that in a moment).
The reason we *need* to hook-up Garmin Connect is that’s how the data gets to AXS. The app by itself doesn’t record any rides. Again, it’s not Strava or MapMyRide or something. Its only goal in life is analyzing data. Instead, it’s your existing Garmin (and eventually Wahoo) device that captures all that data and sends it to SRAM.
Once that’s done, you’ll get your rides sent over to SRAM AXS Web automatically, just like you do for Strava, TrainingPeaks, and countless other sites today. Now, when I first open up the website, you’ll see your feed, which is basically just your rides. However, they do have filtering at the top for other activities. Not because SRAM intends on going in that direction, but because this removes incorrectly recorded things or runs or such from your feed easily (or makes them findable easily too).
As you can see above, I’ve been doing a bunch of inside rides lately. So instead, I’ll filter to rides with some distance on it:
So, once we click on a ride in the feed we’ll get a huge long singular page with all sorts of stats. I’ll chunk it up to make it digestible.
The first part is some basics. The left side shows my start/stop times, but also each black line is when I stopped (in this case, to take photos for a product review). The right side is stats as you’d expect. Note this is all changeable from Metric/KM to Statute/Miles. There’s also a map too.
Next is where we get into the good stuff. It’s kinda like Di2Stats.com, except not quite as geeky. I can toggle between time or distance for the gear usage. Also, love the fact that I did this entire ride in the big ring. Welcome to the Netherlands!
I can then go to the right, and see another set of stats, this time power in gear, both as wattage (left) as well as energy (right). And then again to get a gear ratio chart. This, of course, is pulling in my power meter data.
Next, in my case is my tire pressure sensor data from TyreWiz. Now, you can see some of the data is a bit funky here. It’s a pattern I’ve seen on a bunch of rides recently. It doesn’t appear to have anything to do with SRAM AXS Web, but rather the Garmin Connect IQ data field that collects the data dropping out occasionally.
Finally, down below there’s a boatload of power, cadence, and heart rate data tabs for the entire ride. Elevation too. Basically, all the things you’d expect from any normal training platform.
Note that all of this stuff is accessible from the smartphone app too, it’s just faster for me to get more easily sized screenshots on the website from a desktop computer.
So at this point, you’re probably like: Fine, that’s fun geekery – but how’s it useful for most people day to day?
And that’s a variable answer. The most simplistic answer is probably just low-battery reminders. See when your GPS bike computer captures the workout/ride, it’s also capturing the battery level of your eTAP/AXS batteries. Sure, your Garmin/Wahoo/whatever undoubtedly reminded you mid-ride that your batteries were low. But if you’re like me, you forgot about that 7 seconds later.
It’s not till you start your next ride that you’re like: “Ahww fudge, I forgot to charge, next time!”. And then you repeat that process for another week or two until you can’t shift anymore mid-ride. I mean, just speaking on behalf of a fictitious friend of course.
So the SRAM AXS App arguably has one overt purpose in life right now (aside from firmware updates and settings tweaks), which is to remind you to charge your batteries. It does this by reading the file sent to it from Garmin, and then at the same time you get your Strava notification of an uploaded ride, you’ll get a SRAM AXS App notification of your battery level. This is useful because it’s generally after you’ve gotten off the bike, probably even home, where you can grab the batteries then and stick them on the charger:
Also, it’s got some neat little stats too about your ride. Sorta a quick summary for power meter geeks. But ultimately, they see the battery smartphone notification as a simple ‘Hey, we got your ride, and your bike’s all good!’.
Ok, but now what?
I know, I hear ya. Sure, that’s useful – but not life-changing. And SRAM largely seems to agree.
In talking with them, they see themselves as being on Step 2 of 10 in terms of where they want to take this platform. Their ideal roadmap is that they want to be that riding buddy that’s more skilled than you. In other words, that friendly dude or dudette you ride with that’s like “Hey buddy, you should be shifting more often for this ride, I’m seeing you in the wrong gear a lot.” or “Hey girl, that’s the wrong gearing for this type of terrain/ride, consider getting a different chainring/cassette setup”.
And that gets into the future of what they want. Right now, it’s largely just a pile of data. Their goal is to start trending the data and providing recommendations based on everything they know about shifting or tire pressure (and eventually with ShockWiz too). While certainly there’s probably an element that might drive people to purchase a different cassette or chainring from SRAM, it sounds their goals are largely centered around trying to help people optimize their rides.
Which gets to why they built this entire thing versus just using a platform like Strava or TrainingPeaks. They said that over time it was tough to convince those types of platforms to keep up and be on the bleeding edge of sensor tech like this, or to provide these sorts of recommendations. And certainly, that’s true. There’s no gear shifting data in Strava, despite your Garmin/Wahoo/etc device recording and sending it to them (and has been for years). Strava has all that data in those billions of activities, they’ve just never exposed it.
The same is true for TrainingPeaks and others. Those companies have other priorities that might not align with a SRAM product launch. If SRAM launches a new product and NEEDS it to support their sensors, they might not be able to accommodate that. In fact, SRAM says some 20-30 different product teams at SRAM are already using data from SRAM AXS Web to test upcoming products and theories. It allows product teams to gather data not just from themselves, but also beta testers and pro teams.
The company says they expect to see pro team integration increase, and right now are starting to work on the mountain bike side of the equation, primarily around course recons and gearing. But they could easily see demand from pro cycling to be able to quickly manage an entire team of bikes and ensure all the components are not only working correctly (e.g. batteries), but also look for ways to optimize gearing on individual riders within the team.
Now – the one piece missing here (beyond Wahoo) is ironically indoor providers. Many of us are spending more time than we’d like indoors riding our bikes right now. However, a lot of people don’t dual-record with their Garmin/Wahoo device. As such, it could be mid-Zwift race when their eTAP battery dies. The challenge is that none of the indoor training apps pair to the shifting systems of bikes (despite being an open standard). SRAM says they’d love to get to the point of having the Zwift/TrainerRoad/etc’s of the world pairing to the shifting system, if only to be able to send over the battery state/status.
That way you don’t get that surprise mid indoor race, or the day you take your bike outside and realize the batteries have been dead for weeks because you use the same gearing in ERG mode on TrainerRoad and never shift.
Finally, for lack of anywhere else to stick this tech tidbit – the platform is built wholly within SRAM, but rides atop much of the work that Quarq did for Qollector years ago around file ingest and data handling.
This is cool stuff, and it’s good to see companies both spending time and resources on not just the software platforms around their hardware – but also the beta testing process. This thing has been out there since last fall, complete with a site dedicated to the top feature requests, which SRAM has said is basically how they decide what to add next (save things they need for upcoming product launches/etc). And sure enough, I’ve seen some of those items checked off the list and marked as complete.
At this point, by SRAM’s own admission, they’ve only completed baby-steps in probably most consumers’ minds here. Behind the scenes, getting to this piece is pretty substantial, and lays the groundwork for where they envision the platform going in terms of being your trusted riding buddy that can give you life-lesson type recommendations on getting more from your bike hardware. But today, it’s not there yet. On the flip-side, the battery alerts by themselves are worth the price (free) of admission. Plus of course, once you’ve got the app you can update not just SRAM/Quarq products, but also now the PowerTap products too – which is pretty cool, especially for Android users (where there wasn’t a good option before the Quarq acquisition of PowerTap, which was almost exactly a year ago).
I’m looking forward to seeing where this tech ends up down the road. And perhaps we’ll start to see interest from other training platforms in this area as well. If SRAM and other companies can make better informed athletes without data overload, that’s a good thing. It’s threading the needle through that route that can sometimes be tricky.
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