Archer Components’ D1x Trail Shifting System: At The Finish – by Guitar Ted
In my “Checkpoint” entry of this three-part review, (seen here), I left you readers off with the promise that I would swap the Archer Components D1X system over to another drive train to further test the versatility and adaptability of this component. My choice was purposefully chosen to pit this D1X against something not perfectly suited to typical mechanical drive trains.
My choice for a new platform had to be a flat bar bike, obviously, since the drop bar version of D1X is not available just yet. (We hear it will soon be available though) So, keep in mind that we are really looking at how the system performs in terms of set up and in terms of riding. This new configuration was chosen to challenge the D1X’s shifting and tuning capabilities.
The fat bike shown here is a 1x 9 speed set up using an “extender cog”, (remember those?) which were notorious for not shifting well since the cogs were not native to the cassette they were introduced to. I had an old One-Up 42T cog and I used this behind the already used up 9 speed cassette by removing the smallest cog. (I used a different, larger lock ring to fix the cassette on the hub body) This, in turn, was purposely mismatched with a 10 speed X9 rear derailleur. A set up that shouldn’t work in the typical sense.
Going back into the Archer Components app on my Apple iPhone I attempted to reconfigure the D1X set up from the previous 10 speed cassette to this modified 9 speed one. Unfortunately, the gremlin I mentioned in the first post about this system (seen here) cropped up again where the app freezes part way into the set up. This happened three times before I was able to complete the set up. Archer Components is aware of this freeze-up issue and has said that they are working on a solution.
Once that hurdle had been cleared (again) I was able to shift through the set up cleanly with no hiccups at all, despite the mismatch in derailleur to cassette and despite the odd-ball extender cog. This is because the D1X is adjustable for each shift, and furthermore, I could adjust this while riding if need be. That’s pretty cool. Of course, being able to perfectly dial in shifting performance like that on this challenging, (you might even say ‘janky’) set up was impressive.
At The Finish: So, is electronic shifting for your bike a thing you would even want to pursue? I think the answer to that is a qualified ‘yes‘. It will depend upon whether or not you want to, or even are able to, afford one of the major manufacturers systems. Components designed together as a system which has the electronic bits integrated and is either discreetly wired (D12) or is wireless (SRAM) is great, as long as you don’t plan on switching to another bike because then it becomes a big project to move everything over to a different bike. So, cost and options to use electronic shifting on different bicycles you may own is problematic. this is where the Archer Components D1X has a distinct advantage.
Obviously, D1X is a lot less money up front, so Archer Components has that has covered. The system is highly configurable from 7 speed all the way to 12 speed. The D1X is very adaptable and tunable. You won’t need any dongles or dealer-only apps to make changes in the way the D1X shifts. In the field shifting is crisp and precise even on mismatched components or worn cogs and chains. Plus, you can micro-adjust each shift while you ride. (Please be careful though!)
Yes, there are limitations. You have a shifter box hanging on your chain or seat stay. The D1X works with a 1X system and no front shifter is available, although I bet one could be adapted by using the D1X as a front shifter in certain applications. The app is a bit clunky on iOS, but that looks to be getting addressed. Once we have a drop bar version, it will be interesting to see how that integrates with a drop bar, so the jury is still out there. Finally, the batteries have to be removed from the shifter box and the remote to be charged. It would be a lot less trouble for the end user to simply be able to connect to a charger via a USB cord.
The final verdict is that there is promise here. I really was impressed by how the D1X system functioned and was easy to use, once set up was overcome. If the drop bar version comes through and works cleanly with any drop bar bike, this has the potential to be a game changer in the gravel/back road marketplace. With some more development, I feel this can be achieved by Archer Components. As the system stands for the flat bar user, I think it presents a good value when you stack it against what is available for flat bar electronic shifting. The drop bar market will be another level altogether. Let’s see what happens, but this bears watching. If Archer Components can pull something off with a little more of a clean look and better user interface, I think they will have a winner for off-road drop bar use.
For more on the Archer Components D1x and other Archer Components products, see their site here: https://archercomponents.com/
NOTE: Archer Components sent over the D1X shifting system to Riding Gravel for test and review at no charge. We are not being paid, nor bribed for this review and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and views throughout.