Is Electronic Shifting The Future Of MTB? Neil Checks Out Shimano Di2

Is Electronic Shifting The Future Of MTB? Neil Checks Out Shimano Di2


Innovation has been constant in the relatively short
history of mountain biking. In the last few years, we’ve seen the emergence of electronic gears. But let’s take a look at the Shimano Di2 to see what it’s all about. (fast-paced electronic music) So what are the main differences between your average mechanical gears and these electronic gears? Well, coming to the rear
mech from the bottom up it looks quite normal. You’ve
got jockey wheels in the cage, you’ve got that shadow chain tensioner with the switch on and off there. Spring tension the rear mech is. But the biggest difference
here is the motor on the back of the mech. So this is normally where
your gear cable will come in. You’ve got a motor here
and that wire coming out. Same on the front mech. Looks
kind of normal, the cage, but you’ve got that motor sat on top. So each wire from the mechs,
the front and rear mechs, runs into a junction box
that’s inside my frame. One cable length comes up and goes to this LCD display up on my handlebars. This gives me a bit of
information about my gears, what gear I’m in, what shift mode I’m in, more about that later, and actually how much
battery I’ve got left. Because of course, you need
a battery to run these gears. There’s a few different solutions for where to mount your battery. It can go externally, on
things like the bottle cage. I’ve got a really neat
solution on this bike, it’s sat internally inside my forks tube, just under this plastic cap. So this is the small lithium-ion battery that is actually really
surprisingly light. Obviously, one of the disadvantages of running electronic gears is you have to remember to charge your battery. However, they do give up to
1000 miles of battery life, so you shouldn’t have to
worry about that too much. The way you charge that, you don’t have to whip it out actually, you just plug it in to
the side of that display. So, pretty simple when
you do need to do the job. (fast-paced electronic music) another neat little
touch is I’m using these Pro handlebars and stem which
is a subsidiary of Shimano, and the wires run internally. So they pop out in front of the stem, and they run internally up
the final piece of the jigsaw, which is this shifter up on the bars. So the shifter is really customizable. You’ve got small allen keys on the back to move these paddles around, but also if you plug
your PC into the system you can choose what the shifter does, so how fast you want the shifts, I got it set up really fast. However that does mean
you could miss shifts if you maybe hold your thumb on too long, but I do like that fast shifting. Also, you can set what paddle does what. For the moment, I’ve got the lower paddle changing to the higher gears, and then the top one going to lower gears. You can swap that around if you wish. And also you can change how many gears that paddle shifts at a time. You may have noticed that I’ve got a front mech and a rear mech, but only one shifter on the bar. That’s because I’m taking advantage of something called synchro-shift. You can run another shifter if you wish, but I think the synchro-shift
is a really clever system. So what that does, is you just use your right thumb to do everything. And this system will find
the next gear for you. So that might not be
just a shift on the rear, it might actually be a
shift on the front as well. So it takes the brain work out of it, and it’ll just find that next ratio. That’s pre-programmed in, there’s a couple of different programmes in there
already that you can choose, but also that is fully customizable again by plugging in your PC. This Shimano Di2 system is available for one-by, two-by, and three-by
systems at the moment. You can see, I’ve got
two chain links up front. Right, that’s enough about the tech, let’s take it for a spin. (fast-paced electronic music) You often have to shift
under quite heavy loads when you’re mountain biking so putting a lot of power through the pedals. That’s one thing I’ve definitely noticed with the electronic
gears, they shift so quick that you don’t have to
ease off quite so much. Another nice little touch is the display gives me a little beep to tell me if the next shift is going
to move on the front mech. And that’s when you
probably do need to ease off a little bit more. So what are the advantages
over the mechanical shifting? Well, the gear shifts are really fast and really accurate. I guess the biggest
advantage is the gear cable is never going to wear out, so if you often have to
change your gear cables, because you get friction in them, that does not happen with this. I guess the payoff is, you have to charge the battery occasionally. It’s quite a luxury having
this display as well. I do like having that beep,
when the front mech is shifting, but also, there’s another
beep that tells me when I’m in the extreme of the gears, so the highest gear or the lowest gear. It’s a bit like, carbon
fibre mountain bikes, you don’t need one, but it’s actually a very nice thing to have. If you want to see more videos like this, click on the logo to subscribe, it’s free. Click down there for how
to change your gear cable, over there, for one of my best two-by, thumbs up for showing this video interest.