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SRAM Red Etap front derailleur chain drop problem

ammapedalammapedal Posts: 11
edited September 2018 in Workshop
I'm posting this as I'm interested to hear from other Etap owners on their experiences.

It is not my intention to attack SRAM. Etap is a beautiful groupset with perfect rear shifting, and for most, great front shifting, and the intuitive shift method is simple but brilliant. I would have very much liked to keep it, but I need my bike to have reliable shifting.

I have spoken to bike mechanics in the "real" world, and read plenty online. I know that on most builds Etap works flawlessly, but there seems to be a problem lurking, that's only occurring on some builds.

I have had Etap on my bike for a few months now, and finally had enough. I sold all the Sram stuff and replaced it. I have discovered I don't much like Sram's brakes anyway, although they worked well.

If you search google for sram red etap chain drop, or something like that, you'll find a fair number of forums posts discussing the front derailleur being "difficult" and throwing the chain off the chainset. Mine was doing this, from first build up until I made the decision to get rid of it.

I'm an experienced bike mechanic, and been in trades for 30 years, so I'm not new to tools. I read the SRAM instructions, and watched the SRAM setup videos, and followed all the steps to the letter, multiple times over the months the groupset has been on my bike. I tried varying the limit screws this way and that by tiny amounts (and larger amounts). I tried thread locker on the limit screws (blue - not red) in case the screws were backing out ever so slightly. I tried tiny rotations and height adjustments of the FD. If you could do it, I tried it. I even replaced the brand new shiny chain - to no avail.

I took the bike to 2 different professional and experienced mechanics in case I'd missed something, but they were as frustrated as me.

There were no foreign components - nothing to throw a spanner in the works:

SRAM Red Exogram Chainset (11 Speed - GXP) Semi-compact
SRAM Red 22 XG1190 11 Speed Cassette (A2) Grey 11-28
SRAM Red 22 11 Speed Chain - 114 Links Silver 11 Speed, 114 Links
SRAM Ceramic GXP Bottom Bracket

Nothing could stop occassional and completely unpredictable chain drops.

There are many threads discussing the same problem online.

I can't help but wonder if there is some kind of variation in the angle at which various components are mounted on some frames, that gives the Etap FD problems. I cannot think of any other reason that would explain why so many people have great results with Etap, but some have insurmountable problems.

Any opinions / similar experiences?

Posts

  • beanstalkbeanstalk Posts: 143
    Sram claims that their components are precision components and require precision installation.
    I got the bad feeling that this is not just advertising but true with the Sram eTap (in that case feel free to attack Sram).
    Since we are riding bicycles of many different brands, materials and configurations in (mostly) all weathers, we have little use for shifting components that require precision or a tiny sweet spot to function.
  • Hey. Just adding to your conversation about etap problems. I have had my new Canyon Ultimate for six weeks. In that time the chain dropped off onto the crank arm a couple of times. I. Downloaded the Sram manual and watched the video before adjusting the high limit screw on the derailleur. All was well for a couple of weeks until while out on a ride I changed from big ring to small. Then BANG. the chain jammed and nearly ripped the derailleur from the frame. New bike. Six weeks old.
    Tried to claim a new frame from Canyon under warranty but they won’t budge. They claim that I caused the problem because I adjusted the limit screw. So back on the old bike until I can figure out my next move. The message to anyone contemplating buying a Canyon is to Google, ‘problems with Canyon bikes’ and also Sram etap. Be warned.
  • bobonesbobones Posts: 1,199
    I take it we're talking about dropping towards the frame when going from big to small ring? Did you try installing a chain catcher, e.g. a dog fang? That should physically prevent the chain from falling completely off the chainset. If the chain falls off the inner ring in front of the catcher you should be able to shift it back onto the ring quite easily.

    I've done around 3k miles on etap since installing it in May and not one chain drop. I used to have a dog fang on this bike but I removed it when I installed etap and it's now on my winter bike (5700 105) where I have had the occasional drop related to the FD snapping back sharply due to high cable tension. The front shifting action with etap always seems smooth and controlled by comparison.
  • SHHHSHHH Posts: 22
    Just another voice here with Etap FD problems. I'm not an expert, fulltime mechanic, but knowledgeable enough to recognise that it's not an installation issue. Sure, the components supposedly require "precision installation", but we're talking millimeters here, not microscopic, molecular precision. At the end of the day it's a FD. I have never been able to get the FD to shift well, unless there's virtually zero pressure on the pedals while riding. On a workstand, while rotating the cranks by hand, shifting is near perfect, but still the odd chain jump.

    The odd thing is that shifting is different with every shift. It feels like the FD moves different distances every time, but in no predictable way. Sometimes it's ok, sometimes not. Very strange. Sometimes absolutely fine, sometimes throws the chain off like crazy. (To me it almost feels like a software type problem and not mechanical, but I really don't know).

    Equipment is an Orbea Ordu TT, Vision 52T ring and 386EVO BB, converted to GXP cranks. I was hoping a Sram Red Exogram Chainring would solve this issue, but it doesn't sound like a fool proof solution.
  • bobonesbobones Posts: 1,199
    Have you got the correct size wedge installed to support the FD clamp?
  • SanjaySanjay Posts: 108
    I am also having similar issues with my new bike. I previously had Etap on a bike which had to be returned under warranty but never had any shifting issues with the front mech, it was near perfect. The replacement is not shifting particularly smoothly at the front and is dropping the chain off the big ring onto the crank arm from time to time.

    The shop I got it from did not fit the shim to brace it against the frame, which they have now sent me, so I will be putting that on tonight and will see if that makes a difference.
  • timhoodtimhood Posts: 1
    I have been having the same problem
    on the stand it works perfectly, but as soon as I go on the road and try to use it. either the chain drops off or will not travel up to the big ring. no matter how much adjusting I do it will not work. so if it works on the stand why not on the road
    the answer in the end was quite simple
    pressure
    you have got to use the fd. as a clutch system ,trying to select the big ring while under load will never work.
    a vey slight lift off the pedals and it works every time. my confidence has returned.
    some times under load you will be lucky and it will go in but 9 times out of 10 it wont.
    what happens is because the chain goes tight under pedal pressure it struggles to go up to the top ring, then you adjust it and bang it drops off
    so a nano lift of the pedals works every time.
    give it a try
  • sungodsungod Posts: 15,266
    i fitted etap, in march 2016, had no chain drop (had 2-3 with shimano 105 though on the commute bike)

    standard double, first with the old red non-yaw rings, then praxis rings, now red yaw rings, all shift fine, no drops, only difference is i feel the yaw rings run a bit quieter

    but some people seem to have the problem, sram publish frame fit specs, but checking a bike against them won't be easy, perhaps it's a combination of factors rather than any specific...

    fd adjustment
    frame geometry
    compact chainset - as far as i recollect reports of drops on compacts seem more common, but without knowing the population that could be a red herring
    fd mount position/flex
    bb/crankset flex

    compared to old red, i don't think the fd design is that good, to me the cage is too far back (when on an fd mount well within sram's frame fit spec.), and the inside 'lump' at the front of the cage is just annoying
    my bike - faster than god's and twice as shiny
  • Vino'sGhostVino'sGhost Posts: 4,129
    its all second rate compared to Di2 but theyre quite new at all this.

    On the plus side owners can be new and different.

    and there are no wires so easier to set up even if its not as good.
  • sungodsungod Posts: 15,266
    fanboy posts add nothing of value
    my bike - faster than god's and twice as shiny
  • izzaizza Posts: 1,561
    Contact Sram Tech - via your LBS. The issue is the limit screw is reverse threaded so if you try to get it in the perfect position it can hit the crank. Sram will send you FOC a set of shortened grub screws to solve the issue.
  • MiddleRingerMiddleRinger Posts: 678
    The whole "eTap is awesome! No wires! Just screw on your mechs and go!" thing is true to a point, but the initial setup of the front and rear mechs requires some patience.

    Follow the instructional video online and dial it in just right, take your time, then you shouldn't have any issues. The front derailleur tends to overshift slightly on upshifts and this can cause the chain to be thrown over the top of the big ring if it's not adjusted perfectly. Using the little wedge behind the FD usually sorts things out too as it stiffens up the mounting.

    The "eTap is awesome!" part is totally true though.

    sungod wrote:
    fd adjustment
    frame geometry
    compact chainset - as far as i recollect reports of drops on compacts seem more common, but without knowing the population that could be a red herring
    fd mount position/flex
    bb/crankset flex
  • I have a similar issue, but mine is definitely not the setup/installation. Etap worked perfectly for months, except that one time where I learned you can't shift from the small ring to the big ring under load; you have to back off for a couple seconds.

    After months of perfect operation, it has started dropping the chain at the front. The weirdest thing is, the front will drop to an easier position when shifting the rear derailleur to a harder position. It only happens occasionally but it is completely unexpected when it happens. If you're on the big ring, it will suddenly drop to the small ring. If you're on the small ring, the chain comes off. This is happening on the front derailleur when trying to shift the rear derailleur into a harder gear. It scares the daylights out of you when it happens because it is NOT a normal situation for the chain to drop.

    It definitely feels like a software issue, but I looked online for any available firmware upgrades and it doesn't appear there is anything. Any ideas on this?
  • step83step83 Posts: 4,170
    Don't forget the eTap front mech uses YAW technology so your setup is slightly different, and as sungod said its very fussy one frames and chainsets.
  • bobonesbobones Posts: 1,199
    hanksnl wrote:
    I have a similar issue, but mine is definitely not the setup/installation. Etap worked perfectly for months, except that one time where I learned you can't shift from the small ring to the big ring under load; you have to back off for a couple seconds.

    After months of perfect operation, it has started dropping the chain at the front. The weirdest thing is, the front will drop to an easier position when shifting the rear derailleur to a harder position. It only happens occasionally but it is completely unexpected when it happens. If you're on the big ring, it will suddenly drop to the small ring. If you're on the small ring, the chain comes off. This is happening on the front derailleur when trying to shift the rear derailleur into a harder gear. It scares the daylights out of you when it happens because it is NOT a normal situation for the chain to drop.

    It definitely feels like a software issue, but I looked online for any available firmware upgrades and it doesn't appear there is anything. Any ideas on this?
    I don't know why you would think this was a software issue when that is the one thing that has definitely not changed. It's far more likely to be wear related or perhaps you've unwittingly knocked your FD out of kilter. Evaluate wear to chain, chainrings or cassette and consider realigning your FD.
  • SJH76SJH76 Posts: 191
    From my experience the most likely issue for dropping the chain is the incorrect wedge or it not supporting the mech on the hanger enough. If it's not firmly supported it will flex slightly under load. I had this on my initial set up. I swapped it from.tbe small to the medium one and it's bee. Faultless since. Maybe worth asking the frame manufacturer their recommendations for the correct one. If they have an eTap model in their range they should know already.
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