Innovation comes around all the time in cycling and none more so than in the groupsets, which get lighter, bigger, with more teeth every year. But there's still one discussion point which continues to be discussed even though we have had the technology for many years. To go with electronic shifting or mechanical.
We are real advocates of electronic shifting, don't get us wrong, we love mechanical and won't hear a nasty word said against it, but electronic takes your ride to another seamless gear shifting level. Yes, it may be slightly more expensive to buy. Yes, you may need to remember to charge it up every once in a while otherwise you're stuck on a road with 2 gears and yes, you need to complete firmware updates every year, but these are a small price to pay for what is an outstanding innovation in cycling, which now offers optimum performance. For those of you old enough to remember, Electronic shifting was first seen in 1992. With the Mavic Zap, but things have moved a long way since then...Thank goodness!
Electronic groupsets are now pretty much ubiquitous in the professional peloton. Shimano Dura-Ace Di2, Campagnolo Super Record EPS, and SRAM Red eTap sit at the top of the electronic tree of which most the peloton use, but there is a growing array of cheaper electronic groupsets out there for you to choose from such as Shimano's Ultegra Di2 and the SRAM Force eTap series. Nows never a cheaper or better time to make the shift. Why should you think about electronic?
1. The Shifting is unparalleled
The principal thing we all look for from our groupset no matter which brand or manufacturing process is that it is sharp and precise, and electronic gives preciseness in abundance!
If you're currently riding a top of the range mechanical groupset - Dura Ace, Red 22 or Super Record or Chorus, they are brilliant and have gone through many iterations to be evolutionise to their current level of performance. In fact, ask most people (especially Mick and Simon) and today's Shimano 105, is the Dura Ace set from as little as 5 years ago. These mechanical sets are optimised for smooth shifting, but electronic groupsets have taken things to the next level.
With a motor in the front derailleur, it provides more power to the shift, making it click rather than shove chain, thus meaning it can shift better under heavy load by only needing a press of a switch, rather than the shove of a lever. The difference isn’t as big with the rear derailleur, but this is still quick and very precise.
2. Customisation & Protection
Shimano Di2 can be fully customised. The shifting speed and the number of gears the system will shift when you press and hold the lever. You can also swap the functions of the up shift lever and the downshift lever, and even the functions of the left lever and the right lever. It's so customisable that you can make it fit to how you want to ride. Set up correctly, with Synchro enabled, it will even skip down into the lower ring, when you are running close to cross chaining, meaning you will never overwork your chain. In fact, the customisable piece that was brought to us by Shimano Di2, was so well received that SRAM, whose first Red eTap system didn't have this ability has now been upgraded as the two new AXS 12-speed groups can be customised via a smartphone app.
Once you have fully set up the system correctly, no matter what sprocket you are in you never need to adjust the position of the front mech to prevent the chain rubbing because its completed automatically.
3. Add ons
If you’ve got gadgets on your bike, then you might as well have them all talking to each, and an electronic groupset is no different. You can connect it to your Garmin. You can see lots of different pages on the screen, from what gear you’re in and how much battery life you’ve got left. You can even set up the 'top of the hood' buttons to either change gear, or scroll through your screen, to see all your stats through the ride.
4. Shift anywhere, anytime with extra buttons
With mechanical groupsets you can only have one set of shifters placed in the normal position, but with electronic groupsets you can have lots more shifters to allow you to change gear easily wherever your hands are on the handlebars.
Shimano Di2 brilliant for this, it allows you to put up to three sets of shifters on your bike. this means as well the standard shifters you can have sprint shifters on the inside of the drops so you can change up and down with the rear derailleur when riding with your hands low in the drops, and climbing shifters on the back of the bars by the stem so you can shift when climbing with your hands on the tops.
5. The battery
Forget to charge your phone most nights? Worried the electronic system will run out as your riding?
Well, think again. Di2 for example will give you between 2000 and 5000 kilometers per charge! it's quite a big range as it depends on how often you shift and also your shifting style. The front derailleur has to work harder than the rear derailleur, and therefore it consumes more energy.
Ready to shift? We will help you choose!
What's not to love? Easier, more precise, multiple changing locations, works with your cycling computer and fully customisable...all you have to do now is choose which set your going to go with. Come on in and speak to Mick or Ellie, who will talk you through your options and which is the right brand and choice of set up for you and your budget. To see the brands we work with, see here