Is Electronic Shifting Worth The Extra Money

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Electronic drivetrains come up pretty frequently when I talk with my athletes and I recently was asked if Di2 was worth the upgrade over an equivalent mechanical shifting groupset.

Fair warning my experience with all things groups is very strong when it comes to Shimano. I have ridden on SRAM road groups and have a Mountain Bike with an SRAM Mechanical group set. I have never had the pleasure of riding on any other current or past electronic shifting systems. Many of my sponsors, athletes, and teammates have. I will share my experiences, anecdotal accounts and industry information that will be useful when it comes time for you to make that all-important buying decision.

But before we go much further I have a few notes

 

Note: Before you get out pencil and paper for the show I want to let everyone know that that this show will have extensive show notes. To find the show notes simply go to PositivePerformanceCoaching.com/blog/ or search for the show title on our website.

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Remember to go to the deals page to get your Irish and Carolina discount codes!

 

OK let’s get back to the topic at hand.

Let’s talk a bit about the history of Electronic Groups first.

The very first single pulley derailleur was invented in 1928, however, the parallelogram rear derailleur we are all accustom to was introduced by Campagnolo in 1950 as the Campagnolo Grand Sports derailleur. Campagnolo’s original design has become the basis of a long string of evolutionary changes that have ended up what we have today.

It isn’t known for sure when the first front derailleur was invented but even before 1937 touring cyclist would manually shift front chainrings. It is believed that the first commercially available front derailleur was created by Simplex in 1949 by introducing the Simplex Competition front derailleur.

 

Fast forward 50 years!

1990 SunTour introduced the Browning Electronic AccuShift Transmission

1992 Mavic introduced Zap

1994 Sachs introduced the Speedtronic.

1999 Mavic introduced the Mektronic

2001 Shimano introduced a set of trekking components called Di2, which included electronic shifting and automatic adaption of a front and rear suspension to riding speed.

2000s both Shimano and Campagnolo provide prototype electronic shifting in professional road races to various world tour teams.

2009 Shimano sells the first commercially successful electronic gear shifting system for road bikes called di2.

A wireless system was announced by Tiso in 2012.

2013 Baron Biosystems introduces BioShift an automatic electronic shifting transmission.

2014 Baron Biosystems BioShift becomes ProShift

In 2015 SRAM announced its wireless electronic group set called, SRAM RED eTap. The group was released in Spring of 2016

2015 FSA displayed a working prototype of a wireless gear shifting system.

2016 FSA trials the new (hybrid) wireless shifting at the Tour de France in stage 17, and then at Euro bike in the same year FSA introduces the final form of the WE (Wireless Electron) group set.

2016 Paul Gallagher (inventor) displayed a working prototype of his XSHIFTER universal wireless gear shifting system. It is a patent-pending device that is claimed to convert any bike with mechanical derailleurs to wireless smart shifting in a few minutes.

Let’s talk about the typical questions.

How much more is electronic shifting over mechanical shifting.

The first generation of Shimano’s di2 was almost 3 times the price of mechanical Dura Ace but today’s electronic group sets can cost 90% or more than their mechanical equivalent. Of course, there are always exceptions and better deals to be had. Especially if you by the previous generation or purchase a bike that already has an electronic drivetrain.

So what make’s electronic shifting so great?

Performance

Improved or more reliable shifting

Quicker Shifting

Customized Shifting

No Chain Rub

Multiple Shift Positions

Time Trialer and Triathlete dream set up

Maintenance

No more cable stretch

Occasional adjustments or customizations

Battery recharge

Firmware updates

 

Reliability

No more fine tuning barrel adjusters

No more concerns about replacing cables

No more concerns about pre-stretching and returning after new cables are installed

 

What’s bad about electronic shifting

Cost

Installation

Firmware updates

Recharging

Final thoughts and experiences with electronic shifting

 

Other Resources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_gear-shifting_system

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derailleur_gears

http://road.cc/content/feature/170093-why-you-should-switch-electronic-shifting

The drivetrain wars: A history of shifting

Shimano Di2 and SRAM eTap: Six things that only people with electronic groupsets will understand

Which Shifting Is Better – Electrical or Mechanical?

https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2014/10/bioshifts-automated-shifting.html

 

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