Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9070 11-speed gear system  £1750.00

9/10

An expensive outlay, certainly, but accuracy, reliability, ease of use and many other benefits make this an excellent system.

Contact  www.madison.co.uk

by Mat Brett   July 24, 2013  

Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9070 offers swift, faultless shifting and a few extra features that make it an even better proposition than the initial version.

We ran a review earlier in the year of Shimano's top-level 9000 Series Dura-Ace mechanical components and since then we've been using the same 11-speed groupset but with 9070 Di2 electronic shifting swapped in to replace the mechanical options. In other words, we've been using the same chainset, chain, cassette, wheels, brakes, bottom bracket and pedals, but with Di2 shifters and derailleurs and, obviously, the addition of the required battery, wiring and so on.

We'll first go through the Di2 components individually.

Dual Control Lever ST-9070

£569.99
Weight 237g

Shimano say: State of the art Di2 electronic technology for instant, accurate shifts first time, every time, at the push of a button. Now 11-speed compatible, with enhanced feedback and improved ergonomics for easier access to the shift buttons from the top of the hoods. Cleaner wiring thanks to single-wire E-tube connection that also makes it easy to add satellite shifters for bar tops or in the drops.

  • 11-speed compatible
  • Improved ergonomics
  • Enhanced feedback

We say: The shifters are simple to use. Most of Shimano's mechanical systems use the brake lever as a shift lever, the lever that moves the mech in the opposite direction tucked in just behind it. Here the brake lever is used only for braking and you get two buttons just behind it, one for upshifts and one for downshifts.

It's not quite as easy to get the hang of the Shimano system as it is to get used to Campagnolo EPS where your thumb performs one operation and your index finger another, but you soon get the idea.

Even though the buttons are right next to one another, after a couple of rides you won't find yourself accidentally shifting in the wrong direction. The only time this could possibly happen is when you're wearing big gloves in the winter and your feel is compromised. It's easier to distinguish between the buttons than it was with first generation Di2, though.

Shifting is just a matter of pressing the relevant button so finger movement is limited to just a few millimeters. If you want to move two or more sprockets at a time, rather than swinging the lever further like you do with a mechanical system, you just keep the button pressed down (Campagnolo's EPS electronic shifting has a similar feature). This is an improvement over the previous generation Di2 where you had to press multiple times for multiple shifts.

You can personalise this multi-shift function, choosing the speed at which the system continues to shift from five different settings. You have to program this using PC software (it's not Mac-compatible, which is a pain for Mac users). You can also set the number of gears it will shift when you keep the button pressed. You can limit movement to two or three sprockets per press, or set it to 'unlimited' so that the chain will move right across the cassette.

While we're talking about customising the system, you can also alter the function of each shifter, so if you want to control rear mech shifting with your left hand for any reason, you can set it up that way.

Now, you might say that changing gear is easy enough with mechanical shifters and you'd be right, of course, but it's even simpler here. Whether your hands are on the hoods or on the drops, the buttons are easily accessible and you just tap the right one for an instant shift. No, it's not going to be the difference between winning and losing a race, it's just... better. Well, actually, I guess some people might still prefer the feel of mechanical shifting, but most riders we know who've tried Di2 would rather stick with it, all other things being equal.

Plus, with Dura-Ace Di2 you can add satellite shifters to give you multiple shift points. So, you can add another switch to the top of the bars for easier changes when your hands are resting up there when you're climbing (£89.99), or attach shifters to the drops for easier shifting when sprinting (£109.99). We used the sprinter shifters on a Bianchi Oltre XR2 recently. You perform upshifts with one thumb and downshifts with the other thumb. It takes just a few minutes to get used to it and after that it becomes second nature.

These have to be plugged into a handlebar junction box. These come in three or five port versions, two of those ports being taken up by wiring from the Dual Control Levers.

The lever bodies are really slim compared to Shimano's lower level mechanical shifters, as are those of Dura-Ace 9000 mechanical shifters, so it's easy to grip them firmly in your hands. The feeling is that you have just a bit more control over the front of your bike when your hands are on the hoods and you're riding out of the saddle. People with smaller hands will appreciate this even more. The new dual compound hoods offer really good grip in both wet and dry conditions too.

As a race-orientated groupset, Di2 only works with double chainsets, by the way. There is no triple version.

Rear derailleur RD-9070

£549.99
Weight 217g

Shimano say: Precise, lightning-fast shifts across an 11-speed cassette, whatever the conditions, with just a button click. The 9070 rear derailleur is now more compact and lighter, with E-tube connection to simplify installation. And automatic crash protection moves the cage out of harm's way.

  • 11-speed design
  • Automatic crash protection
  • Maximum sprocket 28T
  • Compact, lightweight body

We say: It works. The guys at the UK Shimano imporer Madison set up the system for us about three months ago and it has performed flawlessly since then. You can micro-adjust the shifting quite easily in order to get the chain position spot on but we haven't needed to do that.

Unlike a mechanical system where gear changes feel slightly different depending on the gear you're shifting to, with an electronic system the feel at the lever is consistent every time. Shifts are fast and accurate while the mech is smaller and lighter than before. It's now capable of working with a 28-tooth sprocket whereas the previous maximum was 27.

All in all, the rear mech does its job well and requires next to no attention. All good.

Front derailleur FD-9070

£369.99
114g

Shimano say: Precision actuators move the cage swiftly and smoothly for fast, silent, accurate front shifts every time. And with single-wire E-tube connection to the rest of the system, the front derailleur is able to automatically trim itself as you shift the rear derailleur, eliminating chain rub.

  • Fast, precise, smooth shifting
  • Automatic trimming

We say: Again, it works beautifully. You might not be enamoured by the looks of that bulbous motor housing up top, but it's difficult to fault the performance. It hits the spot every time.

A strong feature is shifting to the larger chainring when you're riding out of the saddle. With a mechanical system you sometimes have to take that tentatively. This Di2 system couldn't care less; it handles it without a worry.

As with the previous generation Di2, the front mech will auto-trim as you move the chain across the cassette. In other words, it'll reposition itself slightly to avoid the chain rubbing on the side plates as the chain angle alters. Of course, with a mechanical system you can do this yourself easily, but it's just something less to bother you. These things add up!

Battery

£59.99
Weight 68g

Shimano say: The lithium-ion battery is now available in two versions, suitable for both external and concealed internal mounting. A single-wire E-tube connection and new junction units for a cleaner look and easier installation.

  • Long battery life (up to 2000km when fully charged)
  • Available for external or concealed mounting
  • Electric wires (EW-SD50) available in a range of lengths from 150mm to 1400mm
  • 3 and 5 port junctions for cockpit area available. 5-port includes wireless unit
  • Special PC interface (SM-PCE1) for system diagnostics and customising the system

We say: We'll all doubtless look back in five years and wonder what the hell was going on with such a large battery, but it's small enough not to be in the way of anything. We've not used the internal battery (£129.99) yet, by the way, just the external version.

People always ask what happens if the battery runs out when you're in the middle of nowhere. Well, you'd have to be pretty inattentive to allow that to happen. The vast majority of people will only have to remember to top it up every few weeks (depending on how much you ride and how often you change gear, obviously). Even if it does run out of juice, you can position the mech so that the chain runs in the sprocket you want and ride home in a single gear. It's really not an issue.

You'll also need a battery charger (£64.99), the relevant wiring (£various), a handlebar junction box (£89.99-£109.99) and a bottom bracket junction box (£24.99). The handlebar junction box links the shifter cables to the rest of the system and it's now available with both three and five ports.

The wiring is different from before. It has gone from having four inner cores to two, so it's significantly narrower and the connectors are smaller so they require smaller holes in the frame for internal cabling.

Conclusion

Overall, 9070 Dura-Ace Di2 is an excellent system with significant changes from the first generation version. The slimmed down levers and the multi-shift function are both considerable improvements. Plus, of course, this is an 11-speed system rather than 10-speed as before.

The Di2 derailleurs are still a little heavier than the mechanical equivalents but the levers are lighter so there's very little difference in the overall system weights. Shimano reckon that a Di2 set-up with an internal battery is actually a touch lighter than a mechanical version, removing one argument against going electronic.

Should you switch to Di2? Well, it's certainly an expensive outlay compared to a mechanical system but all the little benefits - accuracy, reliability, ease of use, auto-trim, multi-shift performance, possibility for satellite shifters – add up.

If Di2 was the same price as Dura-Ace 9000 mechanical, I'd certainly go for Di2. The price issue complicates things, and only you can decide whether you're willing to pay the extra compared to mechanical set up. Personally, I'd say that Di2 9070 makes a compelling argument for switching to electronic. While it won't transform your riding experience, it's likely to enhance it.

Verdict

An expensive outlay, certainly, but accuracy, reliability, ease of use and many other benefits make this an excellent system.

road.cc test report

Make and model: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9070

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

It's a top-level, race-orientated system.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
8/10
Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
9/10
Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

This is a tricky one. Yes, it costs a lot of money compared to a mechanical groupset, but there are also benefits.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It works beautifully - especially when shifting under power.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The addition of multi-shifting is a great addition, as is the customisation of the shifting process. I also prefer the smaller diameter of the shifter bodies (which is something Shimano have incorporated into their 9000 mechanical shifters too).

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The battery is big - although, granted, you can now get an internal battery. Why not halve the battery life and reduce the size of the battery, though? Or at least have that as an option. Whether a battery needs to be recharged once a week or once every couple of months... who cares? We have to recharge lights' batteries every few days and most people seem to manage without any worries.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? I would.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 41  Height: 190cm  Weight: 75kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,

 

34 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

I will definitely get electronic shifting at some point - just not at this price!!

benb's picture

posted by benb [68 posts]
24th July 2013 - 12:44

13 Likes

mikeprytherch wrote:
The battery is 68g, how much are you going to save by halving it ?

Um, 34g I guess.

Ok. I had no idea they weighed so little already. Impressed.

Low Speed Wobble's picture

posted by Low Speed Wobble [147 posts]
24th July 2013 - 13:15

17 Likes

Just home after a 70 mile ride using my mechanical group set. I can't write anymore on this post due the mental fatigue of thinking about every single gear change lol.

posted by DeanF316 [129 posts]
24th July 2013 - 14:49

13 Likes

And you can't save all 34g, cause some portion of the weight is electronics, wires and contacts that will need to be there regardless of the size/number of cells. Wink

posted by Paul J [747 posts]
24th July 2013 - 18:51

17 Likes

Who can afford all this shit?
Ive got a Tiagra groupset,does the job,no problems
Id rather have the security of a mechanical set up when im out alone than risk this crap going wrong

posted by ScotchPoth [49 posts]
24th July 2013 - 20:21

15 Likes

Like ScotchPoth, i use Tiagra and i've never had a problem with it either in winter or summer.

The thought of splashing out nearly £1800 for something that does the same thing doesn't sit well with me. Alright you might get a smoother change but is that worth the money.

I would rather spend it on better wheels, handlebars , pedals etc.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

posted by stumps [3040 posts]
24th July 2013 - 20:35

13 Likes

My mechanical groupset shifts perfectly every time too.

I often ride with a flat Garmin battery.

I don't think that I fit in with the target demographic.

posted by Nick T [892 posts]
24th July 2013 - 22:04

15 Likes

don't forget that the reason most of us so much enjoy tiagra, 105, ultegra or whatever you're on is because of the trickle down effect of the top groupsets.

Reading the comments here you'd almost feel guilty about saving up for something you fancy!

posted by Metjas [335 posts]
24th July 2013 - 22:43

20 Likes

ScotchPoth wrote:
Who can afford all this shit?
Ive got a Tiagra groupset,does the job,no problems
Id rather have the security of a mechanical set up when im out alone than risk this crap going wrong

why d'you get tiagra? Sora does the job too. so does 2300/claris. so does a downshifter/fixed wheel, etc etc etc.

go to any big sportive and you'll see that the world isn't short of people who can afford 'all this shit'. everyone makes a judgement on how much they're prepared to spend for what kind of performance; for some people value is a smaller aspect of the overall judgement.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7715 posts]
25th July 2013 - 8:01

17 Likes

Seems that it is the usual "I can't afford this therefore it is shit and shouldn't exist" moaning. I can't afford it, but I'm happy for it to exist, and have no worries if people wish to spend vast amounts of money to be able to shift half a second quicker.

posted by Al__S [785 posts]
25th July 2013 - 8:44

15 Likes

There's also a huge element of perception. I found a big difference between frames, and have ended up buying a 4-series Trek Madone. That seems to offer a good balance of the attributes I was looking for, including cost. I also rode more expensive stuff, but couldn't discern the difference. However, you could equally argue that a £300 Btwin would do the job.

And as for "all this sh...", a number of us from the club rode the Great Manchester Cycle recently, which as its on closed roads just turns into an out-&-out race. We stood around in the starting area beforehand staring at the deep-section wheels, electronic shifting, you name it. Many people can clearly afford it. The often-shocking level of rider skill did appear, in some cases, to be inversely proportional to the cost.

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice...

posted by notfastenough [3613 posts]
25th July 2013 - 9:56

15 Likes

Reverse snobbery is the new big thing in cycling apparently. It's a shame, car forums and review sites don't seem to have as many people moaning that BMW offer 3 litre Straight Six engines alongside their 1.6 litre diesels or moan about who can afford all this Ferrari shit as we have to put up with here about group sets and Rapha.

An item's cost and an item's value are two different things, unfortunately too many people know the cost of everything but the value of nothing.

posted by Nick T [892 posts]
25th July 2013 - 10:19

15 Likes

Not sure what the point of the anti guys is here - we still have the choice of using mechanical shifting after all. I do have Ultegra Di2 and the only problem I've had is the battery getting stuck into it's dock by splashes of my energy drink, should clean it more often I suppose....

posted by mudshark [40 posts]
25th July 2013 - 12:01

15 Likes

I think it's more of an anti expensive components vibe rather than anti electronic.

I'm anti electronic, but that a personal choice and I can back up my choice with reasons that are relevant to me - others will disagree and will be both right and wrong about that. Mostly wrong though obviously.

As for cost, I don't see any relevant issue at all. Mat makes a good point that if the cost were equal he'd choose Di2. The cost of this is about on par with Super Record mechanical and i would choose to spend my money on that because that's what I like and it's my money.

Just don't tell my wife though, please.

posted by Nick T [892 posts]
25th July 2013 - 12:11

15 Likes

I think the reason that some people have a problem with electronic shifting is that there is a romantic element of the heritage of the bicycle that is based around it's simplicity as a machine - you only have to look at something like L’Eroica to see this in action. The beauty of the bicycle is in the idea that all it takes to power it is your legs and electronic shifting is a step away from that.

You can't however stop progress and I would very much like Di2 could I afford it, or actually feel I need it (my Tiagra/105 mix serves me fine). I would also like a classic Reynolds 953 frame with vintage super record and delta brakes but I don't need that either.

If you can afford Dura Ace Di2 and feel you can justify it then good for you. If you're likely to get dropped by me and my dodgy knee on a 5% incline then you might want to think twice or you'll probably look a bit foolish.

JaseCD

posted by jasecd [218 posts]
25th July 2013 - 17:24

14 Likes

It's not just bicycles. I prefer slow roasted to microwaved, letters to emails, hand sewn to machine stitched, bespoke to mass produced, manual to automatic, Heath Robinson to Isaac Asimov.

posted by Nick T [892 posts]
25th July 2013 - 18:44

16 Likes

jasecd wrote:
The beauty of the bicycle is in the idea that all it takes to power it is your legs and electronic shifting is a step away from that.

It's definitely the case for me, having to plug your bike (be it even twice per season) into the socket robs that feeling of freedom which i get from my bikes.

posted by mhtt [44 posts]
25th July 2013 - 20:47

10 Likes

but that's exactly the same thing I have to do with my garmin every 2 rides?

posted by mathewshotbolt [101 posts]
25th July 2013 - 21:22

21 Likes

jasecd wrote:
If you're likely to get dropped by me and my dodgy knee on a 5% incline then you might want to think twice or you'll probably look a bit foolish.

he's on a recovery ride no doubt Big Grin

posted by Metjas [335 posts]
25th July 2013 - 21:35

13 Likes

mathewshotbolt wrote:
but that's exactly the same thing I have to do with my garmin every 2 rides?

Ha well plenty of people hate those too! I guess I'm not romantic as love all this stuff - and I have no attraction to classic bike (or car) stuff either just because I want what works best. Do like steel frames though.

posted by mudshark [40 posts]
26th July 2013 - 11:50

11 Likes

I find these comments so disheartening, why such strong opinions against this stuff, can't we all exist, there are so many old bikes on the road and there will be forever, what's wrong with somebody wanting a 30 year old bike with downtube shifters, nowt, what's wrong with a £7,000 carbon with electronic everything, nowt, we are riders and we are riding bikes, stop being such twats because one person likes A and another B, surely there is nothing wrong with spending you hard earned cash on whatever hobby and kit you like, get off your high horses and just ride FFS.

posted by mikeprytherch [220 posts]
26th July 2013 - 17:47

16 Likes

Sora? Luxury!

Who needs more than three gears, anyway. Sturmey Archer is enough for anyone, one low gear, one direct drive, and one over drive.

Plain Face

drmatthewhardy's picture

posted by drmatthewhardy [530 posts]
26th July 2013 - 21:46

13 Likes

You're lucky to have three gears. I ride a bike made out of asbestos and nuclear waste, with no gears. Or wheels. Or frame. But it's a bike to me.

posted by Mat Brett [2068 posts]
26th July 2013 - 22:12

9 Likes

When Ah were a lad we used t'dream o' three gears...

John Stevenson's picture

posted by John Stevenson [1474 posts]
26th July 2013 - 22:38

10 Likes

Would I like this group. Yup Cool . One problem my wife has a very sharp rusty knife and she knows where my testicles are. Surprise

posted by sodit [79 posts]
27th July 2013 - 15:01

13 Likes

I'm no luddite - I work in IT for starters - and I do love shiny toys... but somehow I'm not sure about electronic shifting. I like fettling my bike, getting the gears right, changing the cables, etc. I'd lose that with this.

I suppose the ideal solution would be a retro styled Ti bike with normal Dura Ace, and a carbon race machine with Di2. Just need to start saving Smile

posted by mogrim [44 posts]
28th July 2013 - 8:37

17 Likes

What would put me off is the clutter... when its all tucked away inside (and I can afford it) then I'd have it. I'm happy with mechanical though.

posted by Cycle_Jim [282 posts]
28th July 2013 - 19:36

13 Likes

You didn't mention the as-tested-by-Wiggo feature of self-parking after breakdown.

Ghedebrav's picture

posted by Ghedebrav [1125 posts]
28th July 2013 - 22:37

8 Likes

I'd love it if someone could fill me in about the (Auto Crash Protection) as I aint got a clue what that's all about Surprise

Alex7

Baldy1alex's picture

posted by Baldy1alex [52 posts]
30th July 2013 - 14:37

9 Likes

How are companies STILL making software that isn't Mac compatible or doesn't have Mac compatible versions...?
Surprise

jackclark89's picture

posted by jackclark89 [9 posts]
6th August 2013 - 12:10

10 Likes

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