A year of Euro Enduro racing with electronic shifting.

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A year of Euro Enduro racing with electronic shifting.
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Posted: Oct 28, 2012 at 4:51 Quote
Hi there,

Almosta year ago I introduced here my last rig: http://https://www.pinkbike.com/forum/listcomments/?threadid=92871&pagenum=127

Some folks asked for detail but unfortunately I had no time at that moment. Better so, because now there's no need to speculate. After a year of Enduro training and racing we can get to some conclusions on electronic shifting for MTB among other issues.

Some background: I got into electronic shifting after developing this: https://www.pinkbike.com/forum/listcomments/?threadid=140181 It worked great (better than expected to be honest) but I was afraid of reliability issues if taken to racing, so I decided to KISS and stick to DuraAce Di2 for my next racing build. No suspension control but we'll see next year.

So... what's the point? Doesn't mechanical shifting work fine these days? Sure it does but here in the Atlantic face of Europe winter makes it messy with cables, and the CX guys prefer electronic just for that matter. Also, my own system showed easier to use than mechanical just because there is no lever to displace. Just click on a button and it's done, very handy through sweepy sections, rock gardens,all those places where you want to have a good grasp on the bars. Furthermore, I found electronic to be more consistent in shifting and keeping the gears on. Zero ghost shifts no matter how rough the thing gets.

I've been told many times it takes big balls to put such an expensive RD on such a bike. Probably the component that is more prone to failure and you put a 600€ thing? Well, I got a decent deal on the system, but yes, I knew I was taking a risk and was ready to take the hit. But it's also true that learned a couple of things about how the think worked while I got my own system ready so I was pretty confident It could have been repaired if needed be (and it was!)

First couple of months it faced Atlantic winter. Mud very much and why not some snow. If it has to fail better now than during a race.

Weight was a main concern when building the thing because Enduro involves a lot of climbing to the specials and even into them sometimes, but some stuff didn't took the abuse.

And off to the first race of the Spanish EpicEnduro Series.

By then it was clear the thing was working flawlessly. Shifts were crisp and always spot on. But best of all was the front derailleur. A mechanical one simply can't compare to this: click, whirrrrl, gear on. Never fails period. No matter how much you're mashing on the pedals. Click. Whirrrrl. Done. Problem is when you ride another bike. You forget to displace the lever and ease on the pedals, and all gets very, very messy with the chain.

Second race, Canyon Enduro Series. We had been checking the trails during Saturday, shuttling with the van, which involved taking off the front wheel.

At some point the chain guide hit something during shuttling and right after the start of the race, when climbing to first stage, shit happened: The chain guide broke and had to disassemble it, leaving the chain too slack. I knew sooner or later something was going to break but I decided to take the risk. Had some chain drops during the first three stages. The fourth had a fast singletrack section at the end. Was spinning as fast as a could and entered a rock garden when the chain went off the RD cage and in between the spokes and the big cog. At 35 km/h, four spokes were ripped off... and the rear derailleur simply dissapeared from the bike. It stripped off the dropout, unplugged from the wire and flew into the bushes. Took me a while to find it. I can't find the pics of the mess and repair, but yes, I repaired it and lasted the rest of the season! Will upload ASAP

Next race was L'Entregu, where I did quite well! Being able to shift effortlessly through the most technical stuff was giving me an edge, I think. Where others have to be in the right gear for the exit before entering, I just use the gear I feel comfortable with and shift when I feel I need it because it's just a subtle movement of the thumb and it always works.

Training in our local track means some abuse for the bikes, but no problem for the burly Nox and it's needle INA bearings in all the links. It's worth mentioning the tuned Lyrik and Evolver give butter performance all the time, and only the Manitou leaked through the schrader valve once. Apart from that an awesome couple.

I mean abuse.

Some training at night too. Hard work for the bike as they have to soak up unexpected stuff.

And season's end: Endur'Hautacam in France. 2 days, 1,5 hours of specials.

Again, no issues apart from a minor leak in the front brake lever master piston probably due to too much fluid with new pads and consequently the o-ring slightly out of the cylinder at rest. No issues for the bike, that's it. I had a crash training that week and I didn't felt very well during the weekend, couldn't sleep on friday... all in all didn't do too bad but I finished injuried and am waiting for surgery now.

Coclusions: The Nox 6.5FR made the season like a champ. Its handling is a bit special since it's quite short wheelbased but a loww BB compensates for that and allows for ease of slow turn maneouvring. It is extremelly stiff, pedals very well with granny on and has very little kickback during big chainring action so lets you mash even in the nastiest if you're willing/able to. Again, the Lyrik/Evolver combos has been a great decision since the level of midstroke control both them offer is close to coil without the weight. Both can be configured to be as sensitive to the small stuff as desired or stiffer for better body control, but the midstroke control is alway there making sure there is no excessive dive or squat when cornering no matter which setting you have chosen for a given race.

I forgot to mention the fron ZTR Crest has endured even having to give seat for a Minion 2.5 ST 2ply, but the rear one soon failed to do so and I prefered to go safe and lace a Flow to the rear BCB hub, wich at just 200g did the whole season without missing a beat.

As for the Dura Ace Di2, I think sooner or later we'll be on electronic gears. It simply works, it's bolt and forget and has some ergonomy and reliability pros. It's to expensive by now, but so where CD players in the early days. It can be made Tesco/Wallmart cheap if manufactured in large numbers.

You see, The Di2 hold up well. I did not.

Posted: Oct 28, 2012 at 5:31 Quote
Thankyou very informative

Posted: Oct 28, 2012 at 5:39 Quote
wow! dont understand how this isnt getting more coverage

i reckon in 10 or so years time, electronic shifting will be the standard in the mtb world

Posted: Oct 28, 2012 at 6:03 Quote
Nice thread cheers for taking the time to do it

Posted: Nov 8, 2012 at 8:06 Quote
Broken Shimano dura Ace Di2 RD 7970 derailleur during a race. It was successfully repaired.

As promised. This is the damage the derailleur suffered. It was successfully repaired and lasted the rest of the season. I have to say the thick frame dropout was ripped apart and had to be replaced.

The servo inside of the thing, (motor, electronics and gears that convert the high speed turn of the electric motor into slow high torque motion to move the derailleur), is extremely reliable and worked flawlessly even after this kind of damage.

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