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Mark Greshon from Shimano shows us how you can program new Dura Ace Di2 from your laptop

We were up at Shimano distributor Madison's Milton Keynes HQ yesterday to take a look at what the big S will be bringing us in 2014. Was there lots of interesting stuff? Of course! Can we tell you about it? No. Not until, variously, March, May and July. Sorry.

So stay tuned for all that. There was stuff we saw that we can talk about though - notably a nice demonstration of how easy it is to program the new Dura Ace Di2 system. Mark from Madison was on hand to show us how configurable the system is...

The big gain for most riders will probably be multi-shift. Campag's EPS groupsets have it – press the button and the mech keeps shifting until you let go – and Shimano have followed suit. Predictably they've upped the ante a bit too: you can have either two or three changes and then it'll stop, or you can set it to run through the whole block. There's five speed levels too, all of which are apparently faster than clicking the button manually.

The configurable buttons might not seem like such a big draw. Obviously it means that you can configure extra shifters and sprint buttons to do whatever you want them to, which is good news for anyone that wants shifting options when they're not normally available. But we spoke to Chipps over at Singletrack who's changed his shifter set-up to a kind of paddle gearbox. "I never shift the wrong way on manual levers but I didn't find it so easy on electronic," he told us. "Anyway I've set up the levers so that the big paddles are the rear mech and the smaller buttons are the front. Harder gears on the right, easier on the left. And I've written 'Easy Tiger' on the bars on either side so I can remember which is which. Easy gears, and tiger gears! I find it works really well, although obviously I have to re-learn it all when I switch to a standard setup"

 

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.

12 comments

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CraigS [129 posts] 3 years ago
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So it won't be long before we all don't have to concern ourselves with the front/back rings, we'll just press a button to go up or down the available gear ratios!

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pedalpowerDC [323 posts] 3 years ago
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Isn't the "Big S" generally Specialized, considering that a large "S" is one of their trademarks, and Shimano has not in recent memory used an individual "S" as a mark? Yes, I know there are some who opt to use "Speshy", but that just sounds douchy.

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dave atkinson [6144 posts] 3 years ago
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CraigS wrote:

So it won't be long before we all don't have to concern ourselves with the front/back rings, we'll just press a button to go up or down the available gear ratios!

funnily enough we were talking at the thing about someone who hacked the current Di2 to do exactly that.

and i was recalling that many moons ago i had a twist shifter that did the same, controlled both mechs and shifted a 3x7 from bottom to top over 14 shifts.

it was crap, mind.

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dave atkinson [6144 posts] 3 years ago
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pedalpowerDC wrote:

Isn't the "Big S" generally Specialized, considering that a large "S" is one of their trademarks, and Shimano has not in recent memory used an individual "S" as a mark? Yes, I know there are some who opt to use "Speshy", but that just sounds douchy.

maybe they can be the big SH instead  39

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Tony Farrelly [2856 posts] 3 years ago
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Shimano are the Big S, the main reasons being that they are BIG, and their name starts with an 'S"

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ubercurmudgeon [169 posts] 3 years ago
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I've done my fair share of hacking, having first learnt to program in the 8-bit era. Developing code which elegantly solves a problem is still a genuine pleasure, sadly rarely afforded to me in my professional life. I'm always interested to read about the weird and wonderful things people do with truly disruptive technology like, say, the Raspberry Pi. But this leaves me completely cold. I get far more satisfaction from riding a perfectly set up mechanical bike which I built up myself, than I could ever get from electronic gearing, whether standard or customised. Knowing that, when I smoothly shift across the cassette, it is thanks to my mechanical aptitude, or when there is a minor deficiency that I will be able to figure it out, without having to take it in to a bike shop, or plug it in to a laptop, is something I value. I can see why professional teams would like the plug-and-play nature of electronic gearing. But, it is not an efficient solution for the amateur cyclist. It's a labour-saving device for people with too much money.

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GrimpeurChris [60 posts] 3 years ago
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Well said ubercurmudgeon!

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turnerc99 [69 posts] 3 years ago
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Whilst I don't disagree with you ubercurnudgeon, I think same sentiment was commonly felt about the introduction of STI shifters..."new fangled nonsense where a well-set up down tube shifter works just fine" etc. I think if the technology improves at the rate it's been doing it'll become pervasive and eventually commonplace. How long that'll take I don't know, but it'll happen quicker than we imagine. And when it does I'll be quite happy to have an up button and a down button...much like a sequential gearbox.

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dbb [34 posts] 3 years ago
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interestingly, i am of the opposite opinion and also the opposite background to ubercurmudgeon. i have a mechanical engineering background and been riding since the time when cassettes were screw on freewheels.

i love the idea of electronic shifting (and tubeless tyres and disc brakes and, and and). it won't be long before the technology trickles down to more affordable levels.

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mikeprytherch [223 posts] 3 years ago
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ubercurmudgeon - there speaks a person who has not spent any time with the new technology and in mind view narrow minded, however like arse holes we all have opinions and thankfully we live in a place whereby we can express them.

Electronic shifting is the future, don't care if people like it or not, it is, from my experience electronic shifting brilliant, especially the front, nothing compares to how good the front shift is, the rear on the other hand does not have any real advantage at this stage of its development over manual gears, perhaps the new 11 speed will bring an improvement.

I've never had a mis-shift, a partial shift, never have to trim, can change gear with ease whether seated or standing at full power, its not failed, set-up is fair easier than a manual (once you know how :)), and as the mass market takes hold of it, it will become lighter and cheaper.

Now, lets have internal batteries, smaller and lighter parts and it will be perfect  1

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robdaykin (not verified) [367 posts] 3 years ago
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experiences vary. I tried a Domane with Di2 on a winter's day and found the shifting fine, not exceptional, and just about impossible to do. Unfortunately with gloves on I could not find the button on the rear lever to change gear down... And I have slender ladylike fingers, the gloves being Sealskinz. Couldn't even find the shift area with gloves off because my hands went numb rather quickly. Maybe great for the summer bike, but totally useless in winter. I gather Campag solve this by making the shift levers behave like the mechanical levers, but i haven't tried their electronic system because I hate their mechanical shifters...

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dave atkinson [6144 posts] 2 years ago
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personally i think we're still in the early stages of the development of electronic shifting, and although it's not perfect it's definitely here to stay.

both shimano and campag are currently designing the levers to look and behave like their mechanical levers, up to a point. i'd agree with robdaykin above that the shimano ones aren't the best with bulky gloves - not impossible, mind - although if you hate campag mechanical shifters you still have to try EPS because the thumb lever placement is different which makes them much nicer to use. in my opinion.

i think the next step is for someone with no cycling background to have a look at the whole braking and shifting system from a purely ergonomic perspective. we're not bound by the mechanical constraints of the shifter cable and the need to pull it, so let's have some fun...