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Archer Made a More Affordable Electronic Bike Shifter, And It'll Forever Change the Way You Ride

Archer D1x Trail Electronic Shifting System for Mountain and Road Bikes
Image: Corey Foster

I never knew I needed an electronic bike shifter, but surprise! Turns out I do. In such a hyper-specific product category, the Archer Components D1x Trail is easily the best value for your money in a durable, precision bike e-shifter that lives up to all the hype.

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A few years have passed since industry giants like Shimano and SRAM released serious electronic shifting systems for road and mountain bikes. Unfortunately, their $1000+ upgrade kit prices are prohibitive to regular non-competitive riders like myself who spent less than that sum on their entire bike frame. Archer’s D1x Trail e-shifter system gives enthusiast riders an upgrade path for just $359 that uses your existing components, without sacrificing precision or quality.

Archer D1x Trail Shifter Kit
Photo: Archer Components

So what massive feature did Archer cut in the D1x Trail when compared to other pricier e-shifter contenders? They simply don’t bother with the front chainring. While Shimano Di2 and SRAM eTap kits include electronic shifting for both the front and rear bike derailleurs, the Archer D1x electronically shifts only your rear gear cassette. For most of us, this is more than fine, because we shift our front gears far less than our rears, so front e-shifter benefits have less overall impact. I never shift the front gears riding around town on my lunch-getting budget hybrid bike, and my mountain frame’s front chainring includes just one gear and a bash-guard. In my road testing over the past month, I did force myself to manually shift my front gears while using the Archer D1x for the rears just to make sure interference wouldn’t be an issue. After just one ride and some on-demand tweaking with the Archer Components app, the D1x shifted and rode cleanly in all seven of my rear gears regardless of which front chainring I was using.

Precision Shift Point Adjustment in the Archer Components App
Image: Archer Components
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This control and customization alone is enough to sell me on an electronic bike shifter on any bike I regularly use going forward. The Archer D1x grants me super precise control over each and every gear position, and is compatible with any rear derailleur and rear cassettes up to 20 gears. (Cassettes with that many speeds don’t actually exist, but perhaps Archer is just that committed to future-proofing.) The Archer Components app is easy to use, and allows for meticulous adjustment of each gear’s actuation and ride point. It even has an option to overshift by a small measure to help get the chain onto finicky and worn gears.

No more missed shifts. No more clicking through random middle gears. No more chain rub.

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The real deal-sealer for me was how easy the D1x was to install with my existing rear derailleur. The last time I replaced a conventional thumb-shifter, my second-to-last step was swearing a lot, and my last step was taking the bike to a shop to have it properly tuned. Using Archer’s printed and video instructions, taking my time, and working with just a basic bike tool kit, my ride was satisfactorily adjusted, and I was riding in under an hour with the D1x Trail. I was even faster the second time I installed it on on my mountain bike, taking less than an hour total for both removal, re-installation, and reconfiguration.

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Riding with the D1x Trail as your rear shifter kit completely changed how I felt about riding. It shifts super fast and accurately every time. After one ride’s worth of precisely tuning each gear with the app, I never had to touch my settings again over six weeks of testing. Archer’s Amazon listing claims 80 hours of runtime using a full charge of the two included 3.7V li-ion batteries, but I rode well over 100 hours before the system detected low enough batteries to finally trigger a shift to the “Get Me Home Gear” I initially configured in the App. Several rides before that ultimate event, a solid red light on the shifter warned me that my charge was below 30%, and then a blinking red light warned me when I was under 15%.

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A good friend who is a competitive rider once told me that after trying electronic shifting on a few rides, I wouldn’t want to go back to manual shifters. At the time, I was not only shell-shocked by the price of upgrade options, I was skeptical because e-shifting didn’t seem to be much of an upgrade. But now that I’ve experienced the shift speed, accuracy, and control that was far beyond anything I’ve ever experienced with a conventional shifter, I’m sold. My time with the Archer D1x Trail has proven my buddy right - I won’t be going back to manual shifting.

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About the author

Corey Foster

Contributor and Researcher, Kinja Deals at the Inventory