Shimano XT Di2 Drivetrain - First Ride

Nov 22, 2016
by Mike Kazimer  
Shimano XT Di2

Shimano released its electronic XTR Di2 drivetrain in May of 2014. While those who rode it universally returned from the experience with glowing reports, the $2,800 USD asking price (for the complete 2x11 group) led just about everyone else to shrug off dirt Di2 as something that couldn’t possibly be worth the financial fuss and bother. “I’ll give a damn,” a lot of people said, “when I can actually afford it.”

Which is where Shimano’s new XT Di2 group enters the picture. Released last spring, XT M8050 costs approximately $1,300, well below XTR’s initial asking price, yet brings several key improvements to the table. The biggest of which is this: You no longer have to connect the drivetrain to a PC computer in order to program it. XT Di2 features a Bluetooth-enabled processor that lets you wirelessly connect with Shimano’s E-TUBE program and tune shifting performance via an iPad app or (soon) either iPhone or Android-based smartphone apps. Thanks to a new battery, there’s now also the potential to control other components (dropper posts and suspension immediately come to mind) through the left-hand XT shifter.
Shimano Di2 Pricing

Shimano recently rolled into town with both 1x and 2x versions of their XT Di2 drivetrains. The plan went like this: Set up a Trek Slash 29er with the single-ring set up and graft the 2x system to a Pivot Switchblade. Head out for a ride or two or three or four and then roll out this First Look. Once we’ve laid down several months of proper riding and abuse on XT Di2, we’ll post our long-term review.

So, here they are: our first impressions of Shimano XT Di2.

Shimano XT Di2 Installation
Since Shimano's Joe Lawwill was unsure how much wiring was needed to bring e-shifting to the Pivot, we went long. Yes, there's a ton of wiring hanging from the belly of my bike. It ain't pretty. Amazingly, it all tucked away neatly inside the seat tube. Now, only a couple tidy lengths of wire sprout from the frame.

Installation

Installing the XT Di2 drivetrain firmly solidified our belief that a wireless version of this technology can't come soon enough. At first we'd imagined it would be a quick and easy procedure – after all, it's just a few wires and a battery, right? It turns out it's not as quite that simple, and it wasn't long before the workbench looked like a bomb had gone off, an explosion of tools and parts.

The cause of the extended installation time? Tucking everything away neatly inside the frame. Routing the whole system externally wouldn't have taken so long, but when you factor in the time it takes to figure out the correct wire length (which will vary from bike to bike), hide the battery in the top or down tube, and then running and connecting all that wiring, you're looking at a process that takes a good deal longer than setting up a “regular” drivetrain.

The good news is that there theoretically shouldn't be any need to replace the wiring any time soon, especially not at the frequency that you would have to change cables and housing. In any case, a round of meditation and deep breathing might be helpful before diving into an XT Di2 install on your own, or if you decide to have someone else tackle the task, be sure to to tip your mechanic very, very well.


XT Di2 install
There are a variety of ways to get the electronic deed done. For the Slash, we opted to store that battery inside the top tube. The Pivot, on the other hand, has a battery port integrated into the downtube.
XT Di2 install
Di2 battery en route to its final location in the Slash's top tube.

Once everything is in place, all that's left to do is set the derailleur's high and low limit screws and fine tune the derailleur's position. That fine tuning is done by holding down a button on the display unit to put it into 'Maintenance Mode', and then using the shift levers to move the derailleur in the desired direction until it's aligned properly without the chain rubbing on the next cog.

As we mentioned earlier, Shimano also has an app that can be connected wirelessly with an iPad (an iPhone version should be available in December), or via a USB cable to a laptop that allows riders to customize the drivetrain to their liking. The app makes it possible to speed up or slow down the shift speed, switch the function of the shift levers, including enabling Synchro Shifting, which makes it possible to use one shifter to control both the front and rear derailleur. We're testing both 1x and 2x configurations of the Di2 drivetrain, in order to experience and evaluate both options.






On the Trail with Mike Kazimer

Even though it's my job to geek out over the latest and greatest mountain bike technology, I still harbor some Luddite tendencies, likely due in part to the years I spent working as a bike mechanic. I'll admit that the idea of needing to remember to charge my bike in order for it to shift makes me uneasy, and I can't say that have any real beef with how the traditional cable and housing works. However, I do live in a part of the world where many of my rides take place in wet, grimy conditions, and not needing to deal with contaminated cables and the resulting sub-par shifting does sound appealing. There's also the fact that the XT battery should be able to go weeks, if not months, without a charge (and RC's experience with XTR Di2 supports that), so the whole remembering to charge my bike thing shouldn't be too much of an issue.

I'm a big fan of 1x drivetrains, and these days it's getting harder and harder to remember the last mountain bike I rode that had a front derailleur on it, so it seemed fitting to go with the single ring version of the XT Di2 drivetrain, with a 32 tooth chainring and an 11-46 tooth cassette. After some tinkering with Shimano's E-tube app to get the drivetrain set up to my liking – I set the shifting into the Fast mode, and set it so the front paddle shifter moved the derailleur up the cassette to an easier gear – it was time to start putting it to the test out on the trails.

That first ride had a number of extended logging road climbs, which gave my mind plenty of time to wander, and I started wondering why the shifter had to be so similar to a traditional layout. What if there was a toggle switch of some sort, maybe something with a shape similar to the remote for a KS Lever dropper post? Or even just two triangular buttons, one pointing up and one down? I'm sure there are reasons for this design, but it's entertaining to think of possibilities for the future.

As far as the shifting performance goes, so far, so good. Every click of the shift lever was met with a 'zzzt' noise that meant the derailleur was moving with robotic precision to the next gear. One of the benefits of an electronic drivetrain is that each shift is the same, and once the shift lever is pushed that derailleur is going to make its way up or down the cassette no matter what.

It didn't take long before I was accustomed to the slightly different ergonomics of the shifter, and the fact that you hold down the lever to shift multiple gears in a row. There's a smooth jump between gears, even when it's the massive, 9-tooth span up from the 37-tooth cog up to the easiest 46-tooth gear. Shifting through that jump wasn't an issue, but the change in cadence did feel a little strange - maybe I'll get used to it one I have more rides under my belt.


Pivot Switchblade

On the Trail with Vernon Felton

As a product tester, I’ve spent decades wrangling and wrenching on “the latest and greatest” products—and it’s an experience that’s left me with abiding distrust of the untested and novel. But there’s also a point when refusing to accept anything novel simply becomes an exercise in close mindedness. And, to be fair, Di2 is hardly new-and-untested. Shimano’s electronic drivetrains have been kicking around on consumers’ bikes since 2009 and were in development long before that. The question, for me, is this: Does going electric actually improve the ride?

Though I haven’t run a front derailleur on my personal bike in almost four years, I opted to build the Pivot Switchblade with the 2x version of Di2, knowing that some readers will gravitate towards the extra gear range this option can provide and because the Synchro-Shift function is intriguing. Shifting both the front and rear derailleur through just the right-hand shifter? It sounded cool. I was curious to see if it actually worked out on the trail.

The first ride, as Kaz mentioned, consisted of a decent chunk of fireroad climbing, followed by its polar opposite—a singletrack descent with its share of mud and roots. I followed that maiden voyage with another four or five rides. Almost all of it in the rain and goop. Though we’re months away from having enough ride time to give a thorough review of this group, we’ve had a healthy first introduction with it.

Pivot Switchblade
Pivot Switchblade

Shifting up the rear cassette, the jumps from cog to cog are clean and quick, even under heavy loads. Should I want to make those shifts happen even more quickly, I have that option. Or, rather, I will have that option shortly when the iOS app hits the market next month. At this early stage, I need an iPad or PC computer to get the E-TUBE deed done and I have neither device.

Shimano’s tech guys, however, did run me through the Bluetooth-enabled tuning process on their iPad and it was both surreal and kind of awesome. Though it sounds complicated, changing shift speed and shift maps (the particular points in the gear range at which the front derailleur automatically shifts from the large to the small chainring) seemed fairly straightforward. We also reversed the role each paddle played on the righthand shifter. It only took seconds to accomplish. I’m looking forward to the smartphone app. Shimano has been rightfully slagged, in the past, for limiting the degree to which riders can customize their drivetrains, but that’s far from the case here.

As it stands, the most crucial derailleur adjustments are easily accommodated with a couple button clicks of the handlebar-mounted visual display. That’s a good thing because, after a couple rides, I started dropping chains on Synchro shifts, from the large to small chainring. A bit of button pushing, however, seems to have put that to rest. We’ll see how it fares in the long run.

How will Di2 fare over the long run? That’s another big question. Fortunately for us, we’ve got several months of shitty winter weather in store for these bikes that will help add some wear and tear to the answer. Look for a long term review once we put in a whole bunch of muddy miles.

SHimano Xt


Must Read This Week

173 Comments

  • + 169
 Meh. Riding with battery powered drivetrain is about as fun as sex with a condom. Still good times- but you're missing out on something....
  • + 4
 this
  • - 3
 Oh, yeah!
  • + 18
 From a technician's point of view: Its very impressive functionally, its very robust (most errors are user caused i.e. mech or shifter crash damage, firmware mismatches on internet bought replacement parts, e-tube (cable) damage from crash/transit).

The diagnostics suite is fantastic and it still surprises customers seeing their bike being plugged into the workshop PC and the ghost experience of watching the bike automatically shifting as the application runs.

I've built and worked on 100's of Di2 bikes (mainly road), including all the add-ons like sprint shifters, climber buttons, time trial extension shifters, etc.


But I won't put it on my own bikes, I just don't like the lack of tactile feel on Di2.

I prefer the definite mechanical shift action of both Shimano STI-LVR and my XT 10 speed mechanical shifters, Campag's EPS has their great aluminium alloy "dome" under the switch to provide a tactile sprung feedback click which feels better than Di2.

Would not be hard for Shimano to improve the shift feel/provide customization of paddle surfaces for grip, ergonomic shape and shift action/feedback click

The buttons on the mouse on my gaming PC actually feels better!
  • + 5
 @hampsteadbandit: I just got xtr di2 and I love it. Certainly a solid click still when changing gears and it outperforms eagle massively
  • + 10
 Yup. I love when people learn and earn something, gear change on mtb is not just pushing the button and knowing it will happen it is a fine art process. It's like driving a manual car or doushe DSG one, yes I know electronics perform better than me now days but but i'm not competeting with anybody i do it for the feelings and great moments that i have when i'm doing it.
  • + 5
 @hampsteadbandit: Good point about the feel of the shift. My friend has SRAM 1x11 and the down shift on that was feather weight. I prefer my Shimano XT downshift, much more positive feel and the double downshift is fantastic as well.
  • + 5
 The burden of children?
  • + 2
 @burnskiez: DIRTYBIRD
  • + 6
 Missing out on chlamydia?
  • + 1
 My favorite part about this comment is after i read it, I realized your user name is twin tip...
  • + 2
 What are condoms?
  • + 9
 @nyhc00: something your dad forgot about
  • + 2
 @Axxe: not gonna lie, that was a good one. Well played.
  • + 2
 @nyhc00: electric condoms :v
  • + 1
 @JamieMcL: good mechanical/electronic switches on Di2 triggers or road STI would be a massive benefit.

If you ever look at PC gaming keyboards you can get various grades of mechanical switch with the top brands offering different levels (i.e. red) of resistance to key press.

Should not be hard to have a small module that plugs into the existing lever blade or base. the current switches are simple and are installed during assembly, so can be removed and something else installed. customisation is the key, both switch action and the actual shape/profile/material of the contact points.

To be able to get a nice punchy shift action at the trigger or road lever would be cool
  • + 2
 @b-wicked: Wait, a fine art process? The f*ck are you talking about?
  • + 1
 @rrsport: Why? Eagle not doing for ya?
  • + 1
 @NickB01: As you know I've always been a shimano fan. The super wide range eagle cassette is just unnecessary for my riding and the shifting feels pretty sloppy
  • + 1
 @rrsport: Fair enough, I don't feel the need for 12 speed either. But... mates rates? I'll give you $20 and 7 high fives.
  • + 1
 @benwaahh: hahah.....i appresiated for inovated of shimano. But i disagree feel mechanical can beat electronic so far. its all about taste of shifting dude. You can feel step by step with "clack-clack" in shift feel Smile
GOOD INOVATED SHIMANO
  • + 70
 To me, this electronic shifting thing is like a step in the wrong direction. They WILL eventually be replaced with gearboxes, so let's just get to work on making that happen and cut the crap.
  • + 6
 Don't just downvote. I want to know why you disagree. I'm willing to chance my mind.
  • + 41
 A +1 from me, @jwillsaylor, but I reckon gearboxes need electronic shifting more than derailleurs - instead of the pull-pull gripshifts
  • + 28
 I didn't down vote, but I don't think gearboxes are the next best thing. They aren't as efficient as chain drives and human legs are really good at noticing that sort of thing because we are all lazy at heart.
  • + 16
 Without gearbox, there is really no point in electronic shifting. The only real advantage is when you are using the front mech, which is about to extinct. Otherwise, you only complicate things. The RD is heavier and costs more giving you almost 0 benefit, maybe you do not need to replace cables, but for the price difference, you would probably get lifetime cable service in you local shop Smile
  • + 18
 Totally agree. Electric gears and 12 speed are just polishing the turd to an extreme degree. I realised why shimano and Sram haven't come out with a gearbox yet when I was riding my road bike the other day. A cassette and derailleur work just fine on a road bike. In 2 years of road riding ive never had a problem. But on my MTB I am constantly tuning, fixing broken cables, bending mech hangers and replacing chains. When you add mud, rocks and crashes to the mix the cassette and derailleur are a bit crap. MTB's make up a very small portion of their sales so they dont bother to invest heavily in technology that won't bring a return in the short term and will canabilse their existing sales as consumers wont need to be replacing parts all the time. My hope is that an innovative bike manafacturer like Canyon or YT purchases Pinion and starts developing gearboxes that work more effeciently, weigh less and are incorporated into the bike design.
  • + 15
 You've got a few chicken / egg problems with gearboxes. A gearbox manufacturer needs frames to fit, and frames need gearboxes to experiment with. Unless there is some form of collaboration like skill7 suggests, it'll won't happen quickly. But the bigger chicken / egg that no one has investigated is the different suspension designs that can bloom with a gearbox - there's no longer a need for a chain to travel directly from the back wheel to the chainring. A gearbox can output the drive to any pre-determined location, altering chainline and opening up suspension design. But designers need to be telling gearbox builders where they want the output, and gearbox designers need to know there'll be a market for them. I don't see this happening anytime soon. The holy grail is an output high up in the frame...
  • + 9
 @bluechair84: This!!!
That is exactly the reason gearbox bikes will never be a mainstream stable in our tiny mtb world. I do however love the continuing argument about them. One thread people bitch that we don't need new standards or "not in 26 not interested" then next thread "we need gearbox now". Almost as entertaining as the Kardouchians
  • - 2
 @sunringlerider:
Beacause there are meaningfull and not meaningfull innovations, that's why! 27.5 is a marginal improvement to us, but great improvement for bike manufacturers because they sell much more bikes. You literally have no choice but go 27.5. On the contrary, gearbox is something we could really benefit from, and, unlike new wheel size and new shock length, it does not make you 5-year old frame obsolete. Simple as that.
  • + 6
 @lkubica:
Wait. . .wut?
Ok so 27.5 is pointless because it makes and old frame obsolete but a gear box transmission that will not fit an old frame doesn't? makes perfect sense to me.
  • + 13
 When gearboxes magically get lighter, more efficient, and able to fit in standard frames? Derailleurs are a superior solution for most riders.
  • + 4
 Hate to break it to you all, but gearboxes are a long way away from mainstream. First off a standard would have to be agreed upon by everyone. Good Luck, if that doesn't happen first, there'd be no incentive for a frame manufacturer to spend all the RD to make their design work with the changes forced by a gearbox. That is if they can. Take a look at images of Nicolai bikes, you can see how high the lower pivot is and the angle of the chainstay from the pivot before it straightens out. Not promising for dual link bikes and short CS.
  • + 8
 @lkubica: LOL did you read what you wrote? You plan on fitting a new gearbox to your old frame. Well hell what are you waiting for, buy a pinion gearbox and have at it.
  • + 2
 F8ck the electronic stuff....give me that Slash!!!! (please)
  • + 2
 I'm with you on this. I'll be on mechanical derailleurs until gearboxes are mainstream. And yes, I don't get how long that takes.
  • + 5
 You guys do realize that a gearbox bike kind of looks like an e-bike? The untrained eye wouldn't spot the difference, so everyone thinks you're cheating while you are actually pedaling harder...
  • + 1
 ludditelivesmatter
  • + 3
 @skill7: my thoughts exactly! the big box companies aren't in a hurry to go gearbox because they will miss out on $$. I rode a gearbox years ago on a foes and thought it was awesome! Nicolai Bike's use gearboxes and look amazing and ride quite with no muck or breaking parts.

www.nicolai-bicycles.com/shop/index.php/gearbox-bikes.html
  • + 3
 @jarrod801: Yes, my next bike will be a Nicolai or the Zerode with the pinion Box. I'm done with derailleurs.

The only upside of E bikes is that l think it will accelerate the gearbox development as regular drivetrains can't handle the extra force.
  • + 5
 @skill7: Do it now, you won't regret it. I've just got myself a lovely Nicolai Mojo Geometron with Pinion gearbox and it's quite superb. The pros already outweigh the cons for me (I won't list them here, far too many pros!). We need to put our money where our mouth is and get investing the gearboxes! If we buy, sramano will get involved and develop it even further.
  • + 1
 I'm not voting, but I do have an opinion. A frame suitable for a gearbox is more complex and expensive than one made for a conventional drivetrain (including the electronic ones). I think both will continue to exist. Some (typically Zerode riders) love gearboxes while others (some PB editors) prefer the derailler setup. Yes I definitely would love to see more being invested in internal gearboxes but I don't mind continued development in derailler systems. Seem that's what we had with 26" wheels. These were great but most development in new geometry, suspension etc went in the bigger wheeled frames. Don't need to see that happen with drivetrains as well.
  • + 1
 @bluechair84: Bikes are very similar to boats in the way that you have this drive train or motor and put it in someone else's product IE; a bike frame or a boat hull. If bicycles became like the automotive industry, such as a Volkswagen body and a Volkswagen engine i think we would see great leaps in the introduction of gearboxes into bicycle frames. The only other solution would be to have another "industry standard" to mount said gearbox into and all of us know how well that would work.
  • + 1
 @lkubica: And the fact that it's hardwired leaves me asking what's the point. Still, I also prefer the tactile feel of plain, old mechanical shifters, as mentioned above. But I could likely get over that if it were wireless.
  • + 2
 @nparker94: Given that each manufacturer has their own take and patents for suspension design, no gearbox manufacturer could make a single unit that would perform to all frames needs, so in some ways an industry standard would be needed so that a gearbox can exist beyond a single model. But, that would homogenise suspension design in ways that frame manufacturers won't like. I think you're right that frame manufacturers need to be making their own transmission and then build their ranges around that gearbox, as car manufacturers do. But that would require a bigger market... and I kinda like my trails quiet. I'll take shit external gears over busy trails and gearboxes every weekend Wink
  • + 1
 @skill7: Not to mention the ability to run a carbon belt drive!
  • + 33
 Battery charger for $ 110... What? And battery for another 145.. are they made from iPhones?
  • + 22
 the Alivio version will take 3 AA batteries
  • + 27
 I am here to show aliens that humanity is worth saving.

Dear aliens: If you can read this I wish to congratulate you to be a K3+ civilization. We envy your ability to transcend the speed of light. Before killing us, please consider that not every human is such a blunt idiot to think that attaching a battery and motors to a bicycle is a great idea. Yes it is the same kind of mentality that lead 50 year old men from Germanic countries travel to Thailand to have sex with 12 year old boys, and some of us consider buying a Toyota Prius to be Polar Bear saving endeavour. Yes we did not kill Kanye yet and use mobile devices with access to all information in the world to watch Russian drunk drivers or cats chasing laser dot. Please, if only for me, spare us. I believe that electronic shifting for mountain bikes is idiotic.

Thank you.
  • + 22
 Dear human: we appreciate your admiration. However, as we contributed to the technology behind electronic bike drivetrains, and are big fans of them ourselves (we like to see you try sync shifting manually while trying to negotiate the upper slopes of Mt Vidlkwoi on Soros 5), we do not appreciate your hate and the likening of our creation to your sex offenders and liberals. Once we receive our final shipment of Di2 drivetrains and laser pointers, and rescue all your cats, you will be destroyed.

Have a nice day.
  • - 3
 @TheRaven: piss off Klingon
  • + 2
 @TheRaven: yeah,jabba.
  • + 30
 Wait a minute..... it's battery powered and can change speed. My Missus has got something like this in her top draw
  • + 5
 Wait till you see what I get her this year.
  • + 20
 I'm imagining a future where this shifting utilizes a sort of regenerative braking or permanent magnet generator on the steer tube. #geekmode
  • + 3
 Should be possible now, with a bit of tinkering. Shimano makes generator front hubs if you're willing to add marginal friction.
  • + 23
 We got to use the droppah!
  • + 2
 Why not some little solar panels on the frame? Just sit it near a window, or even artificial light should keep it topped up good to go
  • + 1
 @velociraptor-clintthrust: if youve got the $$$ for a Di2 system, you'll have a nice ride. Leaving it anywhere in plain sight behind glass long enough to charge the thing... not secure. But a solar element, to top the battery up when in the great outdoors is a neat idea.
  • + 2
 @nickkk: solar panel on a backpack facing upwards could work?
  • + 23
 @hampsteadbandit: just some unit transforming heat from the crotch into electricity... charger chamois. I also want something that can collct sweat from my forehead and from the top of my butt crack, desalinate it and pump it into camel back bladder.
  • + 7
 @WAKIdesigns: why are these ideas not on Kickstarter already? Especially the one with the sweat from your ass crack...that's a home run.
  • + 1
 with some nice app in your phone to give you a notify to charge up before the weekend ofc quick swap batteries would be nice too.
  • + 1
 @hampsteadbandit: indeed, things like this will be the future i'm sure. also not sure why the f*ck my comment was neg propped? people seem stoked on the idea of keeping expensive bikes infront of glass windows TO CHARGE THEM seemingly.I recognised the sensible suggestion to the solar charge idea, then proposed a pretty obvious security implication in a domestic setting. Guess these people haven't seen a bike shop window ram raided before.
  • + 2
 Honestly, guys talking of charging a Di2 battery in the field is either a great joke at the concept of electronic gears (considering one charge lasts for like 6 months...) or something sounding like a few guys living together and never getting laid so they start to get "ideas" on new ways to reach a more fulfilling masturbation. Vacuum cleaner, batman suit, tie and door handle, zip tying a hand until it goes numb, then after a few years they finally come up with a concept that they will watch porn together in a dark room and give hand jobs to each other. Fkng white people!
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns: gotta be honest here, I bought a new vac recently and the first thing I though of was when's the wife away..?
  • + 2
 Almost like the old lights with the wheel that rolls off the tire, except not shitty. I think it's totally a good idea and would pacify the people who are terrified of batteries.
  • + 1
 @nickkk: I hope you don't work at a dairy as a dude responsible for cleaning the milk pumps... careful, some of them suck real hard and automatic switch closes them after 5 litre tank is full.
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns: dude, i'm married. 5 litres? no sweat..
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: I guess if someone is so concerned about killing the battery on a ride, a small backup battery like you can get for a cell phone is only a few bucks... that and a couple of zip ties...

That being said, I only know one person who had a battery die while on a ride...
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: you forgot they need a spotter if trying autoerotic asphyxiation. dont need more aliens thinking we are unsafe when jerkin it while choking!
  • + 16
 www.pinkbike.com/news/sram-eagle-drivetrain-review-2016.html

So 500 grms heavier than X01 eagle and $100 more expensive. No thanks, I'll stick to cables.
  • + 16
 The solution to a problem that just does not exist.
  • + 3
 its true. its actually really nice, but you don't need it? I've never put it on my own bikes, and I work with Di2 pretty much every day

we get customers all the time asking about Di2 road bikes, if its on sale its worth a punt, but I'd never pay over the odds for electronic shifting when there are better areas on a road bike, and mountain bike, where the money spent would make a much bigger difference (i.e. wheels and suspension)
  • + 11
 The sad truth is, it'll all be integrated with the E-bike wave that will be a necessity since what...half the population of the US is overweight? All we need are some well-groomed paths to replace the trails, a Starbucks frappuccino vending machine at the top of the climb and some Apple Pay turnstiles for the trail fee access and we're in business.

That said, every time I'm in the shop I wander over to the $10k bikes and change the gears on the Di2 bikes because I'm really a 12 year old at heart and it's frickin' cool. I'd take that drivetrain in a second were it offered to me!
  • + 10
 I'm still wondering what the point of this is. It seems like there are still cables everywhere, it's super complicated, very expensive, you have to charge a battery, and all for what? Better shifting? Why do I need that?
  • + 2
 Exactly what I was thinking !
  • + 7
 I don't see the need or want for electronic anything on a bike … besides lights. I've never broken a shifter cable before, but if I do, I can rig the derailleur to any cog I want and pedal back in comfort.
  • - 1
 Any cog eh? Have fun with all the chain drops with your crazy misaligned single speed with improper chain tension. Hopefully the chain falls down and doesn't pop up.
  • + 2
 @yzedf: um, dude what are you smokin...?!? if you'd like, I can explain it for ya. in the meantime, the point is not how to field fix a broken shift cable (with a multi-tool of course), but rather that it's never happened to me in 20 years of geared mountain biking. plus I'm not talking about mashing it back to civilization, just cruising enough so I wouldn't have to walk if I'm in the middle of nowhere.
  • + 5
 The most exciting thing for me about XT DI2 is the potential to rig Ultegra shifters to an XT derailleur for a 'cross build. Since Dyna-sys 10sp, mixing road and mountain components hasn't been possible without some janky pulley system, and Shimano has been dragging their feet in releasing a clutch equipped road derailleur for guys that like it rough in the drops.
  • + 4
 e-tap. It's almost 2017. If I can pick up my phone and turn on the lights, turn on the coffee machine, check the charge on my car and adjust the climate control, start the shower, and see the Donald's latest twitter rant all from the comfort of my bed, I think we can get rid of the wires on a bicycle.
  • + 4
 Having set DI2 up on a TT bike, I think I'll stick to cable shifters at least until there's a wireless version like SRAM's eTap. Pain in the arse doesn't even begin to describe it.
  • + 48
 TT bike, there's your problem
  • + 1
 Wireless always require MUCH more power. Shimano did not make those cables for fun. Maybe in 10 years batteries will be so small and efficient, that it will do.
  • + 1
 @lkubica: but the battery is also much easier to access and charge
  • + 1
 @skeen95: I can't see it being much easier on most mtbs!
I guess we'll see when the same guy has us retrofit it to his anthem when it makes its way to Aus.
  • + 3
 There will be people who will complain about this for sure, electric stuff, something being missing nada nada. then again the same people also complain that the industry is not doing anything to advance the sport, no new technology, micro improvements on this and that nada nada nada. get over it people.
  • + 3
 Totally an unneeded luxury. If you have nothing else to upgrade on your bike and have some money to spend then this seems like the way to go, but otherwise why would anyone get this? This solves nothing because theres nothing at all wrong with mechanical shifting, its dead easy to do and works great.

Theres nothing wrong with luxury stuff but luxuries are at the bottom of my list for bike upgrades.
  • + 2
 A question about Di2 2X dropped chains:
In regular 2X, if the chain drops you just shift the front der. the other way (i.e., if it drops inside, you shift to the big ring; if it drops outside, you shift to the small ring), and the chain usually finds its way back on. Is there a way to do this with Syncro Shift?
  • + 2
 Working on a combination of internal routining with a tangle of wires?

I'd sooner shove a glass rod up my d!ck and whack it with a hammer.


Been a long time Shimano and a big 2x fan, but have moved on to 1x and am replacing Shimano parts with SRAM. Looking at the cassette tech alone has SRAM in the lead by a far margin. Let's not complicate stuff. Need a granny for the long climbs? Just run a 2x crank, no FD, and do a manual shift.
  • + 2
 My understanding is that you can use different cranks + cassette with this, e.g. RF Next SL cranks with an SRAM 11 speed cassette. Not officially supported, but there are youtube videos showing it working. So full set weight can even be lower, or price can be lower/higher when taking that into account.
  • + 2
 I'm not surprised to see a ton of negative feedback on this - resistance to change is human nature. But, come on. In my opinion, I do think that some engineering genius out there needs to innovated the drivetrain space and come up with something way better than derailleurs and cassettes, no question. I do think its dumb that we are running a stack of cogs that weight a good pound (in most cases) and even-worse, we are using a mechanical switch and cable to move them.

But I still think this is exciting. My XT8000 1x11 setup is good and gave me no issues this season, other than a lot of barrel-adjustments to fine-tune. If I can get responsive, abrupt and solid shifting, I am open-minded and into it. Adding up all the parts I need, is still pricey and a bit ridiculous - that's my downer, but it is never cheap enough.
  • + 1
 Wireless is the way to go (well gearboxes are) you have a moving wheel in the rear derailleur so that can be used to generate a charge, use capacitor for storage so no need to have wires for batteries. A watch battery will last 6 months in the shifter / transmitter unit, and it will all weigh a lot less than the existing system. Oh wait I have just described SRAMS prototype wireless road setup. Its coming to MTB soon(tm)
  • + 1
 I still have issues with this set up. 1st off the $145.00 battery and the $109.99 charger.
That is $256.00 plus tax.......$300.00
2nd thing is no mater what anyone here thinks......any electronic path adds latency to the circuit, a trade off for physical push/release. The game breaker for me is it is electronic and add mother nature and I feel a loss of confidence relying on a battery. I am a sound engineer 9 months a year and deal with hundreds of batteries a week, sometimes a day. I can say that I have had full lots of bad batteries and really anything can happen. We pre-check all batteries with a load checker and we still have failures as continuity for battery life and work length is incalculable.
So if the system fails you can't even MCGIver a set up to get home unless you like a granny ride.
The $300.00 I would spend on a battery and charger will go to a new chain, rings, detailers and tires.
  • + 5
 Another brick in the wall...
  • + 1
 The same kind of complaints were made when the first indexed shifters came out. "A solution for a problem that doesn't exist", "Nobody needs it", "My friction shifters work just fine", etc.
Fortunately, there are some people working on new ideas who aren't afraid of taking the occasional step backwards in the pursuit of making bikes better. The first indexed shifters were truly awful. I'm glad they kept developing them. Maybe di2 will eventually be a similarly excellent quality of life improvement for mtbs.
  • + 1
 XSHIFTER seems is a better solution if you want to go electronic, IMO. You can re-use your existing drivetrain and set it up for use with your dropper post. Cost effective and simple. In case you haven't seen this: www.kickstarter.com/projects/1598276649/xshifter-worlds-first-universal-wireless-smart-shi
  • + 1
 Synchro shifting was a very compelling feature until I thought it through. It is redundant as it makes a 2x function as a 1x without the benefits of either. 1x is good enough now that if you want it, you can have it and with good range. The advantage of 2x (and why I will continue to run it) is it gives you the ability to make a big jump up and then back down when there is a short descent in the middle of climb - or vice versa. Shifts I don’t bother making when on my bike with 1x.
  • + 2
 Online I can buy 2.5 cabled XT drive trains for this price. Why rely on batteries and electronics that are adverse to water and grim, which there is a lot of in mountain biking?
  • + 1
 I'm 46. Years of bmx, riding mtb's since the pink stumpy was released, snowboarding for 28yrs and the collective injuries-especially wrecked/sprained/fractured both thumbs many times, that come from these sports have left me with pretty much painful, stiff, thumbs that ache every time I spend the day on my bike shifting! It sucks. Dial 9-wha-wha. But, the thought of seeing a product like the di2 makes me think maybe this might be the solution for myself and many others likely to start to feel the long term effects of injuries from crashing on your hands too many times. It still seems like Shimano is a ways out from this becoming a system you see on many bikes. It is good to see the cost 'come down a bit', and that a extended ride in PNW conditions is being done. That will test the durability of electrical parts on muddy MTBs! And if you need help testing a di2 I'd be down @mikekazimer
  • + 3
 Not a bad price compared to the Eagle. Looks pretty awesome considering how much of a hack I am setting up shifter cables and setting rear derailers.
  • + 4
 Is it? Eagle's like $200 more, but with carbon cranks and over a pound lighter.
  • + 5
 @slumgullion: from a weight standpoint that is very true. From a strictly personal point I'd rather take that extra weight because it's most likely going to be stronger and more reliable.
  • - 9
flag WAKIdesigns (Nov 21, 2016 at 22:57) (Below Threshold)
 @JacobSpera: over the last 5 years I wrecked 4 Shimano derailleurs and only one SRAM. That Sram X9 survived incredible number of hits, while Shimanos get wrecked by a simple fall of the bike to the side (a fricking saint got bent after my 2,5 year old son tipped the bike standing leaned by the wall) As long as they will be using this stupid link connecting main derailleur body to the hanger it will be a mess. It is much harder to get spare ones and they cost as much as der hangers. "Shadow" technology - bollocks. I use Shimano mostly because of the price. When 10sp systems had comparable pricing I was optimg fir Sram
  • + 0
 @slumgullion: di2 is far superior to eagle. I hated my eagle groupset. Not smooth at all and the cassette is rediculous
  • + 5
 @WAKIdesigns: @WAKIdesigns: why they down voted you it's true being a mechanic for last decade i'm seing more shimanos died from bents than sram. When there is some imperfection in shimanos they wont work, but on the other side i see sram's that've been in spokes for multiple times and still doing their job. I have one XO rear mech fro 2003 he saw hell it has marks all over it a lot of spoke had died cause of him but still it works like a charm.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: oddly enough it's been the opposite for me. The mid line of SRAM derailers were great at the start. Over time the pulley wheels broke and for only 40 dollars I was able to replace them. (Yes there are cheaper ones but it's not recommended). After the clutch went out I got the cheapest 11spd derailer and it bent the first week, no marks on the thing. Hopefully it's just due to the cheapness...

Got an xtr on another bike and hot balls that thing shifts smooth. Still no issues. Going to convert the big bike to shimano as well. Can't argue with the reasonable pricing from shimano right now.

I've talked with multiple riders and so far SRAM and shimano are equal in performance leading me to believe that a lot of it is personal opinions.
  • + 0
 Totally interested in Di2, for the precise shifting. I do wonder about forgetting to "charge my bike" though. And the name Di2 doesn't say much about what it is. But Shimano XT is dialed, so I think it's safe to assume this set is too.
  • + 1
 @mikekazimer no way of strapping the battery along with the cables in the down tube control freak junction? Or just not worth it?

I'm just thinking the whole keeping weight as low as possible kind of thing.
  • + 1
 It would be really, really tricky to pull that off - the issue you run into is securing everything so you don't have a battery and junction box rattling around inside the frame, along with actually being able to retrieve the battery at some point if necessary.
  • + 1
 @mikekazimer:

Yeah I was wondering about the retrieval part mostly... I have the new fuel so I completely understand how hard it would be being as the control freak cable tie down is already a job that requires a flashlight in your mouth and two J hook spokes being used with surgical precision...

I'm kind of surprised the new line of treks don't have some kind of option for Di2... but it's still early maybe something is on the way. fingers crossed haha
  • + 1
 we will all be using it soon. I would assume Shimano wouldn't put it out there to buy if it was a fail. Im ready for anything that make my bike better and equals more saddle time the wrenching
  • + 3
 Is this product singlespeed? If it isn't I'm not interested. Pinkbike should do more singlespeed/OG reviews for sure.
  • + 1
 I thought all the steel frame single speeder retrogrouches hang out on MTBR
  • + 1
 @UtahBikeMike: I don't even own a Steel MTB frame you batty.
  • + 2
 Waiting for SRAM Etap Peregrine Falcon in Gripshift. C'mon @SramMedia let's do this!
  • + 0
 Looking at the display unit... why not make it bigger so that it can show your speed and distance if you add an extra sensor? Better than having two separate battery-powered devices.
  • + 0
 Etap or nothing. Having to find room for all the extra cabling and crap is ridiculous. And only ios compatible app? It's like they're trying to get the least amount of customers for this thing.
  • - 1
 Electronic shifting should be innovation of the year, century. There so much more R&D involved in Di2 than just 12funking gears! Shimano will probably someday come out with internal gears with electronic shifting since they have had the internal gear test sled in the past.
  • + 0
 As well executed as the concept can be, it is still too old. Front derailleur is dead. Period. I only buy Shimano stuff, but it seems they've been more into road innovation than mtb recently. Sad...
  • + 3
 This will look good on my E-bike!
  • + 2
 Come on Shimano, 'get to the droppah!' Once thats integrated you'll sell boat-loads.
  • + 3
 Brings us a gearbox with Di2 shifting
  • + 3
 Zerode Taniwha, end of story
  • + 3
 $110 for a battery charger? This is just ridiculous.
  • + 0
 @mike kazimer
There is a simple up/down button shifter as you spoke of available for road di2 that is compatible, I believe it is referred to as a remote climb switch although I'm not entirely sure.
  • - 1
 I rode my buddy's HD3 with XTR Di2 and I'm not impressed overall. I don't get the benefit at all. It shifted no better than my XX1 1x11. Add in the *potential* problems and it's not even worth considering to me. We were on a trip to Gooseberry Mesa in Southwest Utah and some friends with Di2 on their tandem smashed their rear derailleur on a rock. They were out of commission and had to walk 3 miles back to the car. even worse was the fact that no shop in the area carried Di2 in stock so their trip was done. If they would have had a standard drivetrain, they could, have been back on the trail the same day with a replacement derailleur.
  • + 24
 Sounds like they should have just bought a normal cable actuated derailleur and got back at it. Even better they could have just sold the Di2 and tandem and bought two sweet hardtails, some beer, and still had cash on the side.
  • + 2
 The Gooseberry Mesa... what an awesome place to ride .. I have Goose bumps thinking about the riding, the views.. everything about it..
Sorry what is everyone else talking about??
  • + 4
 Who the hell rides a tandem mtb on gooseberry, let alone with di2?
  • + 1
 @UtahBikeMike: They are hardcore tandem riders, both road and mountain. When I first started riding with them, I couldn't believe the stuff they were riding. We do a tour up in Oregon on the North Umpqua and even the tour company (Cog Wild) was a little leery about the plan. However, they rode the whole thing w/o any issues. They are actually pretty impressive.
  • + 1
 @taquitos: If you had any idea how much they spent on their tandems, you be floored. That being said, they ride tandems (both road & mountain) so that they can ride together as a couple. While they are both ultra-fit (I'd say in the top 5% for their age), he is a much stronger rider than she is and the fun factor would drop immensely for them. They are actually very impressive riders on that mountain tandem and shock people on every ride we do with their abilities. The only thing that slows them down is tight switchbacks.
  • + 1
 Why could they not just buy standard mech and shifter drivetrain from the local bike shop and install it for the rest of the trip?
  • + 1
 @tomerb: Didn't want to spend the money. I tried to convince them to at least rent some demo bikes for a day but they just left for home a day early.
  • + 1
 waiting for the aerobar style shifting buttons from TT bikes on the pro road teams
  • + 2
 I stopped reading at ''bluetooth''
  • + 2
 I hope we haven't reached the pinnacle of cable driven shifting?
  • + 1
 So, in 2018 we're going to see this on SLX probably. I can imagine most wouldn't mind waiting for that.
  • + 1
 Yep, I'm gonna laugh my a** off when you're in the middle of nowhere and your batteries die.
  • + 2
 Waki only commented 6 times!
  • + 5
 Oh I'm sure he's not done yet
  • + 2
 I wonder when someone will hack a PS4-controller to shift the gears?
  • + 0
 im not totally against it by any means, but my xx1 at roughly 1400 grams and a third of the cost (bought second hand new in boxes) shifts pretty damn good.
  • + 1
 Uhm, maybe servo-moter powered electric disc brake calipers? Should be awesome :>
  • + 1
 Shit ain't even wireless? Just fvck off $hitmano. :/
  • + 2
 Last photo = awesome!
  • + 1
 XT=Yes!, but still expensive.
  • + 1
 What does the 'C' in PC stand for...?
  • + 2
 cunts
  • + 1
 correctness
  • + 2
 Nope, not convinced me.
  • + 1
 Who needs all this shit? Altus for life
  • + 0
 I'm curious about chain retention and slap with the double.
  • + 0
 Chain slap & noisy is a Shimano unique style. Boooo....
  • - 1
 Hey Vernon, can you shift multiple gears at once like SRAM X1, where you can grab a bunch of lower gears in one shift?
  • + 7
 Reading: u should try it sometime
  • + 1
 I like
  • + 0
 No Anti Lock Brakes?
  • + 4
 Avid has the market cornered on those.
  • + 1
 @sd351: don't you mean anti-stop brakes?
  • + 1
 @jimo746: They won't lock up, either!
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