The Archer D1x is an electronic shifting retrofit kit that will work with any derailleur. The D1x is made up of two primary components: a thumb-activated remote, and a “shifter” (which is the chain-stay mounted device that moves the derailleur via the included cable). The D1x is also a smart device that connects to your phone via app (IOS, Android) and offers a multitude of functionality.
Installing the kit
I must admit that even as a “reasonably” skilled amateur bike mechanic, I was intimidated by the installation of the D1x. This was for no good reason- as it turns out the install is simple. The first step is to install the app – available for free from your app store – just search Archer Components. While the app is downloading, removing the existing shifter and cable is the next step- just a few turns of a couple of bolts- total time about 5 minutes. From there you install the shifter, which is the confusingly named driver that actually moves the derailleur and is mounted on the chain-stay. There is a minor learning curve involved in learning how to assemble the mounting hardware and where, exactly, to place the device. Watching the online videos available through the app makes it easier. Once the shifter is installed, and the cable is routed through the provided housing and secured to the derailleur (same as the former cable installation) you are nearly done. Installing the remote, which is the thumb actuated device replacing your shifter, is akin to adding a bell or light. For my install, it fit right into the existing mount on the brake that remained from my old shifter.
Adjusting the kit
This was the fun part. The app is positively intuitive and it allows you to set up the shift distance the derailleur travels for each individual cog on the cassette. It also enables you to precisely dial your shifts with macro and micro-adjustments. Doing this on a proper bike stand where you can freely pedal and adjust via your phone makes this process easier. While in the app, you can make a wide array of operational decisions to dial the D1x to your specific liking. For example, how it operates under low power, and when and if it turns off automatically when not in use. This part of the process is very impressive and fun.
The D1x also provides for adjusting your shifting on the fly using the remote, which is helpful if you need to make a quick adjustment mid-ride. Because you adjust the shifting based on the individual cogs on the cassette, this makes for precision dialing of the shifting. This is helpful if you have minor spacing discrepancies that a traditional set-up can’t quite overcome.
Using the kit
I removed an SRAM XX shifter to replace it with the D1x. The results were immediate and outstanding. Shifting is crisp and predictable. The thumb action required is insubstantial, and immediately adopted into the riding style. I experienced minimal lag-time, and responsive action, even on burly terrain. The minor pressure required to activate the shift will be greatly appreciated by anyone with wrist/thumb injuries or fatigue. If you are accustomed to dumping the cassette quickly that will require a bit more attention; however, that behavior modification is a small price to pay for the otherwise outstanding experience.
I had an opportunity to ride the D1x in sub-freezing temps in dumping snow and observed no difference in quality, and shifting with heavy gloves was a breeze versus attempting the full-hand shift often required when wearing gloves on a standard shifter set-up.
I’m not techy in everyday life and I’m a purist when it comes to mechanics. I don’t want to see or use electronics when I feel human power can do it better or more accurately. When I first learned about the D1x, my concerns turned to functionality on the trail. The last thing I want mid-ride is to be searching for a WiFi signal or digging in my jersey for spare batteries. But the Dx1 sold me on the concept. The functionality and convenience, not to mention the superior riding experience, outweighed the risks of introducing technology to the analog cycling experience. Overall I preferred the D1x versus my SRAM XX shifter. It’s operationally simpler, more dialed, and more precise. $389. Buy now.