March 14th, 2013

The Electric Revolution, How Does Electric Shifting Benefit You?

Electric shifting has become more mainstream and adopted by many professional cycling teams and triathletes.  However, is it here to stay and is it for you?  The answer is yes, and maybe. Here’s what you need to know:

We often hear customers questioning the need for electric shifting and asking if it’s really a solution to a problem that does not exist.  Yes, mechanical systems work fine and for many it may be all they need, but electric shifting does have many benefits.  The first, and in our opinion the prime benefit of electric shifting, is the flawless shifting when set up properly. The motors in electric derailleurs are more powerful than the spring and cables used in a mechanical system. They are programed to move the chain the perfect distance when shifting each gear.  The front derailleur, often the weakest link in the chain, never misses a shift and trims itself automatically to virtually eliminate chain rub.

Another benefit of electric shift systems is multiple shift points.  For triathletes, this means you shift from both the end of the aerobar extensions and from the bullhorns on the base bar.  For those of you doing hilly races such as ironman Wisconsin, imagine the benefit of keeping your hands on the bullhorns to shift while going up the numerous steep hills.  On a road bike, you can add climbing shifters to the top of the bar or sprint shifters to the drops, making it easier to shift from wherever you find it most comfortable to ride.  Our personal favorite is for road riders who like to do the occasional triathlon.  You can now add clip-on aerobars to your road bike and run bar end shifters so you can shift while aero, without moving your hands.

We find the reliability of the electric shifting to be superb.  With no cables to wear, stretch, or get gunked up, shifting remains as perfect on your hundredth ride as it was on your first.  Battery life is impressively long and the system doesn’t just stop cold if you run the battery down.  First of all, there is an LED indicator light on a junction box near the front of the bike that tells you how much battery life you have left.  Secondly, if you do run down too far, the system will shut the front derailleur down, but will still allow you to use the rear derailleur to get home.

Is there a downside to Di2?  We can’t find any!  Since last years introduction of Shimano’s lower priced Ultegra Di2 and Campagnolo introduction of the Athena EPS system, the price has come down considerably in a short amount of time.  In the not so distant future, we may even see more trickle down to the Shimano 105 level and bikes in the $2,000 – $3,000 range with electric shifting.  Will mechanical systems go the way of the Dodo?  Probably not anytime soon, but your guess is as good as ours for what the future holds.

If you have more questions about electric shifting or bikes in general? Stop by Running Away Multisport and talk to our staff!

By: Brian Jacobson – Running Away Deerfield Bike Expert

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