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Video - Switching to electronic shifting - 7 reasons for and 7 reasons against

Are you all for going electric, or happy to stick to mechanical?

Electronic shifting is seen as the top-end of gearing and while it is mightily impressive, there are some drawbacks. Here are seven reasons why you should get electronic shifting and seven reasons why you might want to think twice. 

The three main component manufacturers all have electronic groupsets. Shimano has Di2, an 11-speed system that is the longest-running of the big three and Shimano has the lion's share of the pro peloton. We're expecting to see an updated Shimano Dura-Ace groupset at some point this year and we've covered what we'd like to see.

The groupset is widely rumored to be 12-speed and wireless - patents filed by Shimano have shown both features - so Shimano might be about to catch up with SRAM and Campagnolo.

SRAM's eTap AXS is the brand's latest electronic offering. Unlike Shimano which offers electronics on just its top two groupset lines, SRAM offers wireless tech on three groupset levels with the latest being the Rival eTap AXS. There is also Force and Red level eTap AXS groupsets available.

> 8 reasons why you should try the new SRAM Rival eTap AXS groupset

Campagnolo also opts for a 12-speed system and the EPS groupsets that the classic Italian company produces retain many of the features that we love from mechanical Campagnolo groupsets.

> First ride: Campagnolo Super Record EPS 12 Speed groupset

All of the electronic systems offer a high degree of customisation, but they aren't without their faults. We've come up with seven reasons for and against switching to electronic shifting. Do you agree with our points? Watch the video and then let us know in the comments below.

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hawkinspeter | 3 years ago

Personally, I'd much rather read a transcript than watch a video so any chance of including one though I appreciate that's more work for you?

matthewn5 replied to hawkinspeter | 3 years ago

Hear, hear! Can't abide video reviews.

Ihatecheese replied to hawkinspeter | 3 years ago

I agree. I can quickly read an article vs a video. But I think the younger crew are all about the video shorts. 

Electric shifting for me is great. I have easy access to charging with the bike at home and shifting is superior.  However it cost multiples sometimes of a mechanical bomb proof setup.
Sram wireless is very easy to set up. But the shifting isn't as crisp as Shimano for me. Especially the front mech. 

Pilot Pete replied to Ihatecheese | 3 years ago
1 like

Ihatecheese wrote:

However it cost multiples sometimes of a mechanical bomb proof setup.

That's an interesting take - I've never come across a bomb proof mechanical shift setup. I have owned numerous cable operated groupsets from all of the big three manufacturers. Each has needed constant care and attention, including tweaking of indexing to remain functional. All have suffered from some sort of failure to operate accurately, from flawed design (Campag ratchet spool not holding the cable nipple securely causing fouling/ wear and inaccurate shifting), through to gummed up cable outers and kinks, frays or snaps to strands of cable inners. The list is endless and just last week I was helping a couple of friends whose shifting was off - two iterations of Ultegra, one requiring new cables and the other suffering from gummed up shifter internals and a cracked ratchet.

On the other hand I have two bikes equipped with Di2. One 9070 the other 9170 Dura Ace. Both have literally been fit and forget. To me they really are bombproof. I built the older one in 2016 and the newer in 2018. I have never had any component fail on either. I have never had to re-index them to keep crisp shifting other than after crashes when the hanger has got slightly bent. The rear derailleurs both have scratches from said accidents but still work perfectly. The front derailleurs have never missed a beat. The shifters similarly could be mistaken for new if I put new rubber hoods on them. They have been faultless.

I know some people have suffered battery failures, but mine have once again been spot on. I have three batteries - I upgraded the battery on the older system to get the wireless functionality, so have the old battery as a spare. And the best thing about the wireless functionality? Not only the hidden buttons on the newer system allowing you to shift through pages on your Garmin, which really is fantastic, but the fact you can display your Di2 battery charge level on your head unit - there really is no reason to EVER flatten your battery whilst out on a ride. When it gets down to 30% I simply charge it up again.

So if you ask me, Di2 is the more bombproof system. Yes it costs significantly more, which for many will put it out of reach, but of those who have tried it, VERY few would ever go back based on functionality, operational or reliability reasons.

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