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New patent suggests Shimano 13-speed electronic groupsets are coming — here's what we know so far

The Japanese components giant looks to be adding yet another cog to its next top-end Di2 groupset, likely for road bikes, and it looks like it will be fully wireless

With a new top-end road groupset from SRAM very imminent according to recent leaks, a new patent filed by Shimano that appears to show a 13-speed, electronic and full wireless groupset for road and off-road riding may have just stolen its rival's thunder. 

Spotted by the Instagram account Better Shifting and first reported in the cycling press by BikeRadar, the patent is dated 7th May and includes details of a 'derailleur for [a] human-powered vehicle'. 

> Your complete guide to Shimano road bike groupsets

Shimano’s Di2 electronic shift systems were originally wired throughout, although the latest generation designs are semi-wireless. This means that the derailleurs are connected to a central battery by electric cables, although the shifters communicate wirelessly.

However, this patent suggests that a fully wireless 13-speed electronic groupset could be on the way. So, what do we know?

It's 13-speed 

2024 Shimano 13-speed patent

Figure 10 of the patent application shows a rear derailleur operating on a 13-speed cassette. Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo's top-tier electronic groupsets all currently top out at 12-speed, although there is currently a mechanical 13-speed groupset in the form of Campagnolo's Ekar, and Rotor's 1x13 groupset featuring hydraulic shifting. 

> Investigating Shimano's snapping cranksets

In keeping with convoluted patent documents, Shimano's latest one doesn't contain any pictures of the groupset on a bike, just vague diagrams and drawings, so it's unknown whether this will be for road or off-road use. However, looking at the design architecture, it's reminiscent of Shimano's latest road groupsets. 

Here's what we've dissected from the document so far... 

There's a battery on the derailleurs 

Last month, a patent hinted at Shimano releasing a fully wireless groupset, suggesting that both derailleurs will have their own batteries and that they will interact wirelessly. This concept is evident again here and according to the patent, each derailleur will house a battery. 

In the patent, Shimano says, "The power source receiving part includes a portion located in the second region and a portion located in the first region that is larger than the portion located in the second region."

The patent shows details of both a front and rear derailleur, suggesting that the new 13-speed groupset would be 2x compatible. Details of whether it can also work as a single chainring, 1x groupset are unknown, but we'd hazard a guess that this will be possible. 

Here’s a picture of the rear derailleur contained in Shimano’s latest patent, with 68A showing where the battery would be housed. 

2024 Shimano 13-speed patent

Fig.14 shows a charging port situated on the rear derailleur which is the same as Shimano's current 12-speed Di2 groupsets. The rear derailleur is rechargeable - you open up the charge port, connect the charging cable and plug it in. 

The batteries are removable

As well as each derailleur housing a battery, the patent suggests that the batteries are removable, with Fig. 35 and 36 showing the batteries detached from a housing unit, implying that they could then reattach. 

Shimano says, Fig. 35 "is a cross-sectional view of a first power source and part of a first component" and Fig. 36 "is a cross-sectional view of a second power source and part of a second component", describing both the front and rear derailleur batteries. 

2024 Shimano 13-speed patent

The mounting system looks to be the same design for both the front and rear derailleur despite the batteries being a different shape, suggesting that you can switch the front and rear derailleur batteries, much like with SRAM's AXS groupsets. 

Currently, Shimano Di2 groupsets have a wired connection from the derailleurs to the central battery, and this would eliminate the need for this, making the groupset fully wireless. There are certainly advantages to going wireless in terms of the set-up and minimising structurally weakening entry/exit ports that make it an attractive choice.

Key rivals are already there with fully wireless groupsets and as well as the likes of SRAM and Campagnolo, we’ve told you about wireless groupset components from Chinese brands WheelTop and L-Twoo. 

What are the chances we'll see this patent come to life soon, then? We'll be following with interest and asking Shimano for more details of course, and in any case, we'd bet on a 13-speed wireless groupset emerging before an electronic braking system and an app to tell you when your tyres and disc pads need replacing, as exciting as those technologies might be... 

Emily is our track and road racing specialist, having represented Great Britain at the World and European Track Championships. With a National Title up her sleeve, Emily has just completed her Master’s in Sports Psychology at Loughborough University where she raced for Elite Development Team, Loughborough Lightning.

Emily is our go-to for all things training and when not riding or racing bikes, you can find her online shopping or booking flights…the rest of the office is now considering painting their nails to see if that’s the secret to going fast…

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froze | 1 month ago

Shimano releasing something new just in time because sales are declining.

When more gears won't entice buyers, then maybe a lightweight automatic will, especially for the younger generations who don't like to think.  Later perhaps we all need anti-skid bike brakes, yeah like I need another hole in my head, but the marketing geniuses will push this stuff like crazy with false test reports to prove how well they work.

rdaddict replied to froze | 1 month ago

Tedious stuff - can't beĺieve so many bike manufacturers spec e mtb's with 12 speed groupsets resulting in broken chains galore, the answer is belt drive (and gearboxes) but still they push out the flimsy chain driven tec.

ritxis replied to froze | 1 month ago

Shimano has not launched anything...the next thing will be the GRX Di2 12....what is now just a patent as it publishes from time to time (just yesterday 3) this patent from the 7th over others already seen (1 in April and 2 in November 2023) similar only represent the cassette...which is not seen in the previous ones.... one of yesterday's patents is about wireless buttons for flat handlebars (MTB) and again I don't know things that don't have already been seen in other patents

ritxis | 2 months ago

Already in November 2023, 2 Shimano patents were published on the possibility of removable batteries and sometime there were others......
This last one from the 7th is where a cassette is already represented

NoOneSpecial | 2 months ago

Mavic Mektronic was the first wireless groupset. I tried it at a trade show and was not impressed as it was so slow in shifting. Shame as I really wanted it.

Ended up buying the Dura-Ace 7700 groupset, probably the last decent groupset that Shimano did.

Still have it, still works fine and it has done thousands of miles.

Ah, slight problem, it actually lasts and the cassette sprockets could be replaced in a cluster of three or each (depending on the size)'

Progress to more gears mean things wear out quicker, but then more money is to be made.

No one has mentioned the patent for 14 speed that Shimano took out in the mid 1990's.

Matthew Acton-Varian replied to NoOneSpecial | 1 month ago

Actually Zero Friction Cycling's independent test show that thanks to new technologies (metallurgy, coatings, manufacturing tolerances etc) that modern 12 speed chains are the longest lasting chains on the market. Sprocket thickness in and of itself hasn't actually changed since the invention of 9 speed (Campagnolo 13 speed aside) as the internal measurement of the inner links remains unchanged. It's only the external width that has changed, in order to compensate for the narrower spacings between the sprockets.

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