CyclingTips is reporting
that Shimano has been granted two wireless communication applications that hint at cable-free transmission coming from the Japanese groupset giant sometime this year.
Shimano posted two applications late in January, WY7-3GK1
for a rear derailleur and WY7-927A
for a wireless module (shifter). Unfortunately, the juiciest parts of the applications, including pictures of the components being approved, are hidden behind a confidentiality agreement between FCC (Federal Communications Commission) and Shimano but there's still plenty we can glean from the news. What we already know
So far, Shimano has never released a wireless groupset for on or off-road uses. Shimano made mountain biking's first foray into electronic shifting with Di2, a wired system that was first released at XTR level in February 2015
with the XT version following up 22 months later in November 2016
. The system never massively took off and although it was being raced by XC World Cup riders
, you didn't often see it on many punters' bikes. This is backed up by the fact we're more than two years into the current XTR's lifespan
and it remains mechanical only.
The next big shakeup came in February 2019 when SRAM released its wireless AXS system
. SRAM had been supplying the wireless eTap drivetrain on road bikes for a number of years at this point but this was the first time fully wireless shifting had been brought to mountain bikes.
With SRAM way ahead on the cable-free front, it seems very likely that Shimano has been working on a project for a few years and we're becoming more and more convinced that Shimano is likely to drop some sort of wireless transmission this year. This is backed up by patents for both a wireless Dura Ace (road) groupset and an electronic dropper post filed by Shimano
in the past three months.What can we tell from the application?
As we said above, the confidentiality agreement between Shimano and the FCC prevents us from seeing exactly what's going on here, but there are still some clues scattered throughout. Firstly, the only things that are approved are a derailleur and a module. This crucially means no front derailleur and hints at the possibility this could be a wireless version of XTR and not a road groupet. Yes, some road bikes are now going down the 1x drivetrain route, but the pro riders have only dabbled with the setup and with limited success. We can't see Shimano launching what would be a top of the range product without racers showing it off at the highest level.
Other things to note are that both components work off the same frequency (2,478 Mhz) so are very likely part of the same product range. They also operate with both Bluetooth, which will most likely be used for software updates and setting control, and ANT+for communication between devices.When can we expect more news?
Well, the earliest we are guaranteed to know more is in 180 days from now (July 26), when the confidentiality agreement lifts between Shimano and the FCC. However, Cycling Tips are also speculating that something could come sooner. Shimano is celebrating its 100th anniversary in March 2021 and has been building up to it with a series of videos
and a mini-site, with a countdown
to... something. What better way to celebrate that anniversary with a product that takes it from a mechanical to wireless era?
Alternatively, if a new wireless XTR groupset is inbound, we've no doubt that Shimano supported racers will be testing it out between now and the race season. We'll be keeping a close eye on pro's bikes between now and the start of the season to see if we can spot anything out of the ordinary. We reached out to Shimano for more information but they told us that they, "keep tight-lipped on rumors and suggestions". We'll update you with more info as it comes in.