Archer Components D1x Trail Shifter Review

Affordable electronic shifting for any analog 1-by drivetrain.

Archer with der
The D1x Trail Shifter retails for $389 and has a one-year warranty.Val Vanderpool

The Archer Components D1x Trail Shifter transforms nearly any mechanical 1-by drivetrain into an electronic one, giving riders the ability to customize shifting, reduce cable and housing, and mix and match components from different manufacturers. It’s compatible with any derailleur on the market, so at $389, the D1x Trail is an affordable way to make the switch to electronic shifting using an existing drivetrain. It weighs 235 grams and has a one-year warranty.

Archer Components co-founders and college best buddies Devin Carlson and Brandon Rogers debuted the D1x in 2018, and a second version with improved battery life and weatherproofing followed in 2019. Carlson builds each unit by hand in the company’s headquarters in Scotts Valley, California.

Archer Components
The system’s remote gets about 80 hours of battery life via a rechargeable lithium-ion battery.Archer Components

The D1x consists of a shifter that mounts underneath the drive-side chainstay with two plastic straps and is controlled by a Bluetooth remote at the handlebar. A short piece of cable and housing runs from the shifter to the derailleur, and pressing the inboard button on the remote moves the derailleur up the cassette and the outboard button shifts it down the cogs into the highest gear.

The shifter runs on two rechargeable 14500 lithium-ion batteries that are the same size as AA alkaline batteries (note that these are not interchangeable because the voltage is different and the system will not function properly), and the remote uses one rechargeable 10440 lithium-ion battery. According to Archer, the battery life of the shifter and remote is about 80 hours in regular mode and up to 150 in low-power mode. Battery levels are easily monitored in the Archer phone app, and Archer provides the batteries and a charger with purchase.

Archer home screen
The shifter is set up via Archer’s app.Val Vanderpool

Installation

Most home mechanics will have little trouble installing the D1x Trail, and for those who are not as comfortable with a wrench, Archer provides informative videos on its YouTube channel.

Once the batteries are installed, the shifter and remote are mounted, and the cable and housing are attached to the derailleur, setup continues in the Archer app. After the shifter and phone are paired via Bluetooth, a home screen displays shifter and remote battery life and options to set up the system for the first time or tweak the existing configuration.

Archer app gears
The app allows for the indexing of each individual gear.Val Vanderpool

Because the D1x Trail is not preloaded with shift points or gear ratios, this initial tuning is required, but Archer’s YouTube videos walk the user through the process of indexing individual gears using arrows to fine-tune until shifting is smooth. Shifting rate can also be adjusted from faster to slower in the app, and the number of gears that can be changed when holding the shift button down are customizable up to five per shift. And riders can choose a “get me home” gear that the system will automatically shift into in the event of batteries dying while on the trail.

Archer D1X mounted
The D1x Trail set up and ready to ride.Val Vanderpool

On the Trail

After shifting is tuned, the shifter and remote are paired in the app and the D1x Trail is ready to ride. Should the rider have to make any small adjustments, the remote has a micro-adjust feature that is activated by pressing the power button for three seconds until the indicator light flashes orange. The shift buttons can then be used to fine-tune the derailleur position on the fly.

Archer went to great lengths to ensure the connection between the remote and shifter is strong enough that the app isn’t able to interrupt it. If the rider wants to make a change using the app while the shifter and remote are paired, as I did on one of my test rides, the shifter must be powered off for 30 seconds. The remote will then shut down automatically, and the shifter can be powered on and paired with the app.

Once the D1x is tuned properly, shifting is precise and smooth, though it feels a bit slower than mechanical shifting. There is also a learning curve for pressing buttons to change gears after years of using traditional shift levers, and it took some extra thought at first to keep the buttons straight. Having to turn on a shifter before riding also takes some getting used to, and while initially there were some frustrations pairing the app to the shifter, once I understood the order of things, it was pretty straightforward.

Archer battery access
Battery access on the shifter is less than ideal.Val Vanderpool

But taking the shifter batteries out to charge them is no easy task. They’re accessed by unscrewing a slotted cap with a quarter or screwdriver, but it’s awkward to reach it when the shifter is mounted. Once the cap is off, the only way to remove the batteries is to pick the bike up and shake it until they fall out.

Overall, Archer’s D1x Trail is a relatively easy and affordable way to make the switch to electronic shifting, particularly for riders who want flexibility in combining components or those who appreciate the ability to tune individual gears, as well as anyone with an injury looking to reduce hand/wrist fatigue. And because of its compatibility with most drivetrain components on the market, the D1x Trail is also a viable option for riders with disabilities who may need to customize their shifting without breaking the bank.

The D1x Trail is available on Archer’s website for $389, and is also sold through some specialty bike retailers.