I schwung by my favorite local bike schop today to schee schome new schwag. What did they have?
Ultegra Di2 (Electronic Derailleurs):
This was the first time that I, a mere mortal, have had the opportunity to
fondle see Di2 in person, on a nice Trek Madone that’s being built up at the shop.
Note…some negative comments follow. Notwithstanding those negative comments, it’s super cool to see that my local bike shop is on the cutting edge with new technology. If I hadn’t seen it in person, I wouldn’t have any basis to have an opinion.
From some angles, it looks relatively normal:
And from other angles, it looks decidedly not normal:
Those are both shots of the rear derailleur which, as you can see, is significantly larger than a ‘standard’ Ultegra derailleur (like I have on the Ridley).
The front derailleur is even beefier.
What was cool about it? It’s like, electronic and stuff. Seriously, though–the auto trim feature was very cool, as was the authority with which it shifted between gears–no hesitation, no delay, just complete precision.
What is to like and not like about it? Well, for starters, the aesthetics of it do nothing for me. In fact, I find it rather garish. I also found the noise it made to be rather un-bike-like. I haven’t seen Campy’s EPS system in person, but I find the aesthetics of it (in pictures) to be more pleasing, and I’ve heard
good better things about the noise it makes.
What else looked kinda hinky? Well, on this bike, the recommended battery mount location was below the bottom bracket:
It’s relatively hidden and out of the way, and it is ‘protected’ by the chainring. But it looks weird, once you see it…and the connections are right in front, where they’ll get hammered by water should you ever find yourself in a rainstorm. I don’t know…it might grow on me, but I didn’t like it thus far. (Obviously, concealed in the frame/seatpost is the best option, followed by some unobtrusive bottle cage mounting, perhaps).
But the biggest concern I have about it is the placement of the shift levers:
The smooth part at the back (the normal shift tab on Shimano) shifts one way. The bumpy-textured part closer to the brake lever shifts back the other way. Another view:
There, you can more clearly see how the shift buttons are built into the brake lever. From a very brief “grab it and shift” perspective, the buttons felt too close together. I can see a lot of accidental shift activations. Perhaps more importantly, for someone that rides in a location that has weather that drops below 50 degrees from time to time, it looks un-rideable with gloves. There is no way that you could reasonably be expected to distinguish between the two buttons and engage just a single button to effect a shift with gloves on. No way. Plan on a lot of fumbling and some cursing in order to shift with gloves on. That one issue, by itself, is a deal killer for me. I’ll look on with interest at the Campy and SRAM options, and wait to see if Shimano comes out with something more reasonable…it would take a lot to convince me that this setup makes sense outside of extremely warm climates (unless you hang the bike up when it gets cold out). Based on how it shifted on the stand, I do bet that it shifts like butter when you’re out riding.
And for a bike gear nerd like me, it was a moment of bliss to see it up close and in person. On to item no. 2:
But nonetheless, it was cool to see.