Author Topic: Archer Components Electronic Shifting Conversion  (Read 5778 times)

Archer Components Electronic Shifting Conversion
« on: 26 January, 2021, 03:18:00 pm »
I stumbled across this gadget recently and it struck me that eliminating the long cable runs on a tandem would be an ideal application for this piece of kit.

https://archercomponents.com/products/d1x-trail

Although it is advertised as suitable primarily for  x 1 drivetrains, I queried this with the manufacturer and they confirmed there would be no issue using it with a 'conventional' 3 x 9 setup.  The only thing I think it is missing is a gear position indicator.  On a solo bike, it's easy to just glance down to check the current gear, but this is not quite so simple on a tandem.

It is not a cheap upgrade, but nonetheless I'm tempted to have a go with this on my Orbit tandem.   Do any other forum members have any experience of using this gadget?

The reviews I've read on the internet seem to be quite favourable, but 'real world' feedback is always helpful.

What does the panel think?

Re: Archer Components Electronic Shifting Conversion
« Reply #1 on: 26 January, 2021, 07:52:21 pm »
 I'm not sure that I understand how the thing works. Does it pull a specified length of steel cable when you push on a button? Can you actually specify what the correct length is, for dealing with various kinds of derailleurs?

and...
Quote
Up to 80 hours ride time
definitely needs to improves on this point if you want to ride PBP or LEL with this device, unless of course if you are very fast!

A

fuaran

  • rothair gasta
Re: Archer Components Electronic Shifting Conversion
« Reply #2 on: 26 January, 2021, 08:19:43 pm »
Also a thread over there. https://yacf.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=118199.0

Seems it can be configured for whatever number of gears and shift distance you like. And tweak the position for each gear. So should work with just about any sort of gears (except Rohloff).

You can buy a spare set of batteries. Or it can recharged from USB, so you could plug in a powerbank, or maybe dynamo for longer rides.

Re: Archer Components Electronic Shifting Conversion
« Reply #3 on: 26 January, 2021, 09:10:49 pm »
I'm not sure that I understand how the thing works. Does it pull a specified length of steel cable when you push on a button? Can you actually specify what the correct length is, for dealing with various kinds of derailleurs?

Looks like you fine tune each shift individually during set-up via the app. So you could use a 10 speed mech and set it to cope with an 11 speed cassette.

Another use for it could be if you had a frame with no derailleur cable stop.




Re: Archer Components Electronic Shifting Conversion
« Reply #4 on: 26 January, 2021, 09:28:41 pm »
You can buy a spare set of batteries.

The battery door is secured by a self-tapping screw with a 1.5mm hex. Ain't touching that outdoors.

Re: Archer Components Electronic Shifting Conversion
« Reply #5 on: 26 January, 2021, 10:52:11 pm »
Are the long cable runs on a tandem really a problem? We have a 3x10 Tiagra gear set up and it works well. I was getting some shifting problems as the cold weather and gritting came on (we commute on it in all weathers) but since cleaning and lightly greasing the final cable run to the rear mech shifting has remained precise.

Re: Archer Components Electronic Shifting Conversion
« Reply #6 on: 27 January, 2021, 05:04:43 am »
Are the long cable runs on a tandem really a problem? We have a 3x10 Tiagra gear set up and it works well. I was getting some shifting problems as the cold weather and gritting came on (we commute on it in all weathers) but since cleaning and lightly greasing the final cable run to the rear mech shifting has remained precise.

You answered your own question! Long cables are not a problem, as long as everything is kept spotlessly clean and properly lubricated, but real life sometimes has a different say, especially during multi-days rides  :)

A

Re: Archer Components Electronic Shifting Conversion
« Reply #7 on: 27 January, 2021, 07:57:16 am »
Are the long cable runs on a tandem really a problem? We have a 3x10 Tiagra gear set up and it works well. I was getting some shifting problems as the cold weather and gritting came on (we commute on it in all weathers) but since cleaning and lightly greasing the final cable run to the rear mech shifting has remained precise.

You answered your own question! Long cables are not a problem, as long as everything is kept spotlessly clean and properly lubricated, but real life sometimes has a different say, especially during multi-days rides  :)

A
My experience with our tandem but also with solos over more than 40 years of maintaining the family fleet and running a bike repair business is that the most vulnerable part of the rear derailleur system is the last run of cable to the rear mech. The Archer system doesn't eliminate this.  :-[
Of course there are other things that can go wrong, especially if cables are allowed to deteriorate and fray, but that should be dealt with easily enough by replacing the cable (I always carry a spare cables on the tandem although I've never needed to change one on the road). However I' sure the Archer system will present its own set of potential problems but how fixable they might be at the road side is another matter.  :)

Re: Archer Components Electronic Shifting Conversion
« Reply #8 on: 27 January, 2021, 08:43:54 am »
I agree with a lot of the points made above and would accept that the Archer system is in some ways a solution looking for a problem.  A well maintained conventional system (and mine is) works well.

That said, I do like gadgets and could yet be tempted - we'll see!   :thumbsup:

Re: Archer Components Electronic Shifting Conversion
« Reply #9 on: 27 January, 2021, 08:56:02 am »
Looks like the sort of interesting gadget for the curious that would have got my attention ten years ago.  Wonder if they might consider a Rohloff version ...

Re: Archer Components Electronic Shifting Conversion
« Reply #10 on: 27 January, 2021, 10:26:50 am »
Bosch make an electronic shift for Rohloff, but won't sell it as an OEM product, only using it on their own ebikes.

I have a Rohloff on my Moulton tandem conversion, using the external shift so it is readily attached/detached when splitting the bike for transport. An electronic shift would be particularly good for the solo configuration, as I  have to put a loop in the cables at the back to take up the excess length, and the friction then becomes significant. There was an Australian e-shift made a few years ago, but it looked rather crudely made and disappeared from the market.

I suggested to ARCC (makers of our e-assist system) that they consider making one, and I know they had a Bosch system in the workshop.

Re: Archer Components Electronic Shifting Conversion
« Reply #11 on: 27 January, 2021, 12:22:52 pm »
Hmmm.  I know a man who might just be interested in such a quirky project.  He certainly has all of the necessary skills. 

Might have to chat about it with him.

Re: Archer Components Electronic Shifting Conversion
« Reply #12 on: 09 May, 2023, 07:19:50 pm »
Thread resurrection time ....

My ageing wrists / thumbs are suffering from wear & tear and I decided to fit the latest version of the Archer D1x Trail electronic shifter to my Orbit tandem.  Many people will see this device as a solution looking for a problem, but if you suffer from hand pain or have restricted movement in your hands / thumbs, it’s well worth a look.

I’ve always liked using Shimano Rapidfire Plus shifters on flat bar bikes, but either arthritis or some other condition in my thumbs has made these very painful to use.  I tried converting some DuraAce bar end shifters to old style ‘thumbies’ and that worked ok for a while.  Similarly, I started to use a SRAM Gripshift which was also fine for a period, but I got to the point where even these were too uncomfortable for me to use easily and I had to cut short several rides before things became too painful.

I converted my tandem to an e-bike with a rear hub-motor some time ago.  That was / is an excellent upgrade, but the width of freehub body fitted to the hub-motor means that I am limited to 9 speed cassettes (10 speed at a push).  The newer SRAM / Shimano electronic systems only work with 11 speed or greater cassettes, otherwise I probably would have bitten the bullet and gone for one of these expensive systems.  They certainly aren’t cheap, but if it keeps you riding ….  Enter the ‘cheap’ Archer version of electronic shifting.

The Archer system can work with any speed cassette and any type of derailleur.  The latest Gen2 iteration of their system has been improved quite a bit compared to their earlier efforts.  Most notably, the speed of gear shifting is much faster and the electronic gear change trigger (what Archer call a remote) is now quite a neat paddle type rocker switch, similar to SRAM AXS.  Archer also plan to release a power cable to link into the main battery of e-bikes, so running out of power for gear-shifting is unlikely.

For those who wish to get more detailed information on this device, there are several reviews of the system on the internet and on YouTube.  Archer themselves provide many videos describing their product.  I won’t repeat comments that others have made as there are many reviews to read / watch which will highlight the features of the product.

My experience so far is almost entirely positive.  The version I fitted has a paddle type switch to change gear, but several other types are available.  The paddle switch can also be mounted above the handlebars in such a way (‘back-to-front’) that it would be possible to operate it by your finger pressure rather than thumb, but I’ve found that the much lighter pressure is a big improvement over mechanical shifters for my weakened thumb.

One of the Archer’s unique attributes is that it allows individual calibration of each gear on the cassette.  Adjustment can be made with as little as 0.25mm increments.  I can confirm that this does indeed provide very accurate adjustment of every single gear on the cassette.  Normal mechanical shifting does of course allow for ‘trimming’, but only across the whole cassette.  It is not unusual to encounter one or two slightly awkward gears when setting up a cable system regardless of how much you persevere.  The Archer system allows for pretty much perfect alignment of every single gear.  The difference over a well-adjusted and maintained mechanical system is small, but it is there and is noticeable.

I tend to ride at a cadence of between 80rpm to 90rpm and I find I constantly change gear to remain close to that figure.  For me, the Archer system is a real boon is on undulating terrain where the road conditions require frequent gear shifting.  The lack of effort to make shifts is really beneficial for preserving your thumb!

Changing up the cassette from small to larger cogs I think the Archer is as fast as a normal mechanical shifter, it is certainly easier as the required thumb pressure remains constant.  Going down the cassette, it is not as ‘snappy’ as a good mechanical setup.  If you are the type of rider who wants to go from first gear to ninth in a single twistgrip movement, mechanical is faster (but not by that much).

There is no visual indicator to tell you which gear is selected.  This was not a deal-breaker for me, but it  would be a nice-to-have.  On a tandem, you can’t just glance down to look at the cassette as it’s a long way behind you.  In practice, I’ve not really had any issues with this.

In my opinion, if you have mobility issues and/or painful joints, the Archer system is worthy of consideration.  If you are a techy geek, you’ll like it too!

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Archer Components Electronic Shifting Conversion
« Reply #13 on: 09 May, 2023, 09:09:03 pm »
I have spent a fair amount of time on a friend’s Catrike during a couple of holidays in Australia this year and last. It is a recumbent trike with a MountainDrive BB and Archer-controlled Shimano rear mech. Most of the riding was undemanding, but culminating in Oz’s first Traces National brevet with three riders on recumbent trikes with various gearing systems and the other on a lowracer bicycle, also with Schlumpf and Archer gears (I was riding his trike!). Possibly the Archer systems were not the latest version.

Archer systems work pretty well when they work and they solve some otherwise intractable problems. Shifting is a little slower than I am used to but it was fine once I got used to the delay between holding button down and the shift occurring. Tweaking the shift between each individual gear independently was usually done via a phone app.

Not everything is sweetness and light with the Archer shift system I used. The rechargeable batteries needed their own charger because of the unusual batteries. I didn’t use the system for long enough to get a good sense of battery life and ended up compulsively recharging to avoid running out of charge mid-ride, which meant finishing the ride with only two gears. I am not convinced that some shifting issues weren’t because the shifter and shift actuator sometimes spontaneously unpaired.

Both Archer systems stopped working before the 24hr brevet was up, despite no lack of charge/ swapping batteries/ complete resetting during the ride. That meant both of us powering over the steepest hills (all within the last 25km) with only two gears each. Not an ideal finish. When the system worked well, it was great, if a touch idiosyncratic. When it didn’t work, not so much. I want to say I loved it but...
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Re: Archer Components Electronic Shifting Conversion
« Reply #14 on: 12 May, 2023, 11:18:22 am »
I'm not yet sure of battery life with the Archer system, but will be keeping an eye on it.  The Archer app provides quite a lot of information such as voltage of the shifter battery and number of gear shifts made, so you can make a reasonable assessment as to the state of charge.  As a company, they do seem to respond to criticisms and are improving the device as time goes on.

The remote and shifter batteries are now recharged via a USB connector, so could be refreshed on the road via a powerbank.  When (if) they release a connector cable to power the shifter directly from an e-bike battery, that should remove any concerns about running out of juice.  Annoyingly, the USB connector for the remote and the USB connector for the shifter battery charger are different types!  The cartridge type battery fitted to the shifter on Gen2 models still needs a (small) dedicated charger.  A run time of 30 hours for this battery is claimed, but I haven't verified that.

The app has indicators for state of battery charge that are shown as 5 segments. So far, I seem to get around 400 to 500 gear shifts for each segment on the display.  For my pattern of use, that's fine but it may not be suitable for everyone - such as your brevet experience.  I don't intend to push the system to the point where it drops me into my chosen 'get-you-home' gear, although that feature doesn't seem to have worked for you on the brevet ride either :(

I've not yet experienced any loss of connectivity between the remote and the shifter or any other problems.  My main worry with the Archer system is that you could be left with no ability to shift and no easy way to 'bodge' things to get home as you could with a conventional derailleur.

It is very much a niche product, so not easy to gather feedback on reliability etc.  I'm content to persevere with it as it has made gear-shifting easier for me with my thumb / wrist discomfort.  If I do encounter any issues, I'll report back here.