Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I've Seen The Future:: Shimano's Dura-Ace Electronic Di2 Groupset

I stopped by the local bike shop this afternoon, to replace a lost spoke wrench of all things, and I find the shop's mechanics drooling over a Fuji outfitted with Shimano’s new Dura-Ace Di2 electronically-controlled shifting system. I've read about this groupset in all the bike magazines, and though I consider myself somewhat of a Luddite when it comes to new bike technology, I was still excited to see how it worked in person. New bike shit is still cool. The sales rep offered to let me take it for a spin so I jumped at the chance. I'm not going to offer a full on review, I was only on the bike for 2-3 minutes, but the first thing I noticed is how quiet the whole system was. The shifting really is seamless, no chain rub, over-shifts, or other typical derailleur issues that you would expect with a mechanical system. The front derailleur is only slightly larger than a traditional one, and the rear looks the same. The shift levers are mere switches, hidden behind the brake levers, and shifting is as easy as clicking the button. The feeling is like clicking a mouse on your laptop, it's that easy. The lithium-ion battery mounts on the frame below the water bottle cages, and I was told it is rated at 600 to 700 charges, and should hold a charge for up to 1500 miles. Now, like I said earlier, I've been accused of being a retro-grouch when it comes to bikes. Both of my road bikes are steel, and I've ridden a fully rigid mountain bike up until last Fall. I don't see myself switching over to electronic shifting anytime soon, especially once the rep told me the groupset would be selling for $4500! Come on now, if I have that much cash to blow on a bike (which I don't!), I'm getting a new Ti Moots with Campy Super Record. It was still very cool to test out something so new, and it will be interesting to see the trickle-down technology over the next few years.

Listening to: Led Zeppelin- "BBC Sessions"


Rambling Canuck said...

Was down at the local bike shop this weekend, and the electronic shifters came up in discussion. Same as you, no one was willing to pay that much for it - though they all thought it was mighty cool.

JMH said...

As cool as it is, I don't think I could get behind it, even if the price dropped significantly. I like that bikes are fairly simple machines, and this seems to take away from some of that. What's next, automatic shifting?