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View Poll Results: Would you use the Shimano Alfine Di2
Yes, I want it now 9 17.65%
Yes, if it worked with a dynamo and carbon belt drive 9 17.65%
Yes, I wouldnt mind trying the system out 22 43.14%
No, I hate electronics 15 29.41%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 51. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 03-01-12, 10:31 AM   #1
amckimmey
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Shimano Alfine Di2,

Would anyone here consider using a Shimano Alfine Di2, electronic shifting internal gear hub? What do you see as its drawbacks? or what impresses you? I'm really interested to know what other commuters think.

I think it is an interesting idea. The Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 was a lot bigger success then what I and a lot of other people though it would be. And I am sure the Ultegra Di2 will be even more popular. I would really like to try the system out, especially if it can work with a carbon drive belt, But I don't think I could ever use it as a daily commuter. It really needs a work with a dynamo hub for my to consider it more. And I would never have the money to spend on something like this I don't need at ALL.


Full article on my blog: Shimano Alfine Di2 Electronic System
Quote:
Everyone loves new electronic gadgets (except Luddites), what about when they are added to something as simple as bicycles? Shimano did that a couple years ago with the Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 system. It really interested me when it first was announced, and I have had a couple of chances to try it out on trainers at a couple different shows, never on the road. It truly is an amazing system, and if I was a pro-level racer I would really like to take advantage of the perfect and quick shifting. They are coming out with an Ultegra Di2 now, helping to lower the price and allowing for more people to take advantage of the electronic shifting system.
Who would have ever guessed Shimano's next step with the Di2 system would be to put it on an Alfine internal gear hub? The Shimano Alfine Di2. To me this system seems confusing, but at the same time it makes some sense. This could be a system that works with some commuters, but probably just those who are already riding carbon bikes to work.

The system is only a prototype right now; the finished product should be out in September of 2012 (no idea on price). It looks like there will be no big changes to the internal hub itself. Instead it will just have an electronic shifting mechanism on the outside (though I could be wrong). It will be offered in a 8 speed and 11 speed, and will offer 2 different brake/shifter lever set ups: road and flat bar. They will offer a road lever system, similar if not the same lever as the Ultegra Di2, allowing electronic shifting with the right lever, while the left will just be a brake. This will be Shimano's first road lever shifter for an internal hub. They will also have a flat bar system, with a Rapid Fire electronic shifter. The system will also have an electronic display screen to show the gear you are in and battery life. The Dura-Ace Di2 currently only has a small battery indicator. The system will use the same battery system as the other Di2 systems.


Photos from BikeRadar.com article (Here)
I hope Shimano realizes if they want this system to actually work for commuters and people who bike tour, they will need to do something better about the battery. The advantage of an internal gear hub is they are maintenance free. If you throw a battery in picture you are going backwards. It keeps the hub maintenance free even more so by removing the cables, but you have to make sure your battery is charged, and that you have enough power for long rides, and even short tours. The system would probably have a lot more battery life than the Dura-Ace and Ultegra Di2, because it only deals with shifting the hub, as opposed to two separate derailleurs. It would really boggle my mind and probably a lot of others if they don't make a way for the Alfine Di2 to be powered from a dynamo hub. I think that would be a necessity for this system, as it would keep it so much simple. If you can power your light, and electronic shifter, then I think the system would work well. If they only offer a battery set up, then there must be a way to lock the battery in place. On BicycleRetailer.com, they mention a battery placement of a "seatpost-mounted battery". I don't what that means, and I can't find anything else about it. I don't know if that means the battery could be mounted in the seat tube or just to the seat tube. If the battery could go in the seat tube you would keep it safer. If it's on a commuter then it should be locked down, no one want to deal with taking more stuff off their bike that could get stolen, so lock it down. The dynamo would be easier though.
Overall I think the Alfine Di2 will find its place, just like the Dura-Ace Di2 has. If the Alfine Di2 system can work with a Gates Carbon Belt Drive, it could make an amazing mix. I would really like to try the Alfine Di2 out for my self when it come out. Maybe then I will understand it more.
Sources:
BikeRadar.com - Shimano Alfine Di2 First pictures
Road.cc - Shimano to launch Alfine Di2
Singletrack Magazine - Shimano 2013 Alfine Di2 and other Shimano Tech
Bicycle Retailer - Shimano announces Di2 Alfine option, more
Full article on my blog: Shimano Alfine Di2 Electronic System
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Old 03-01-12, 10:45 AM   #2
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I like the look of it, not sure what the issues you have with the battery are, how else is an electronic device meant to work it if doesn't have a battery, Ultegra Di2 has a 3000km battery life, and if not shifting a front mech, this should be increased. for commuting, unless you have a dynamo light set up, then charging lights is somthing you do regularly, add the Di2 battery every few months to this shouldn't be an issue, same for touring, your going to get to somewhere you can charge with in 3000km, or carry a spare.
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Old 03-01-12, 10:53 AM   #3
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It would make the mounting of shifters on a drop bar a lot more simple!

I do think it's kind of over kill!

But then, I sort of like bike overkill.
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Old 03-01-12, 11:27 AM   #4
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I'm interested, if the price is reasonable.
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Old 03-01-12, 11:42 AM   #5
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No.
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Old 03-01-12, 11:44 AM   #6
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My first thought was: Why?

But it does potentially solve a few problems. I started using an IGH on my winter bike this year because in the past I've had issues with derailleurs getting gunked up with winter crud (snow, sand, ice, water, salt, etc).

This winter was so mild that I don't think the IGH got a real test. There's still the potential for the shift cable freezing though I don't know how often that would happen. Anyway, Di2 would eliminate that. It could also make rear wheel removal easier.
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Old 03-01-12, 11:46 AM   #7
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... why is the battery in the same exact place that the fender throws all of the water and road sludge? Oh, I guess they can move it.

Still not sure how I feel about a bicycle requiring batteries, though.
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Old 03-01-12, 12:11 PM   #8
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1) Shimano wants ALL your money..
2) the battery belongs in the seat tube,
or how about just a Capacitor, and charge the buffer capacitor at the same time
as the headlight/taillight set gets its power, from the hub dynamo.

And perhaps its easier to unplug the hub than deal with the rotary cable.

But, Rohloff solved that a decade back, the shifting is on the other side
2 cable External box, 1 thumbwheel and it comes off.

Schmidt designed a front dropout contact based electrical connection,
now you unplug the hub dynamo just by removing the wheel.
wonder how the shift motor disconnects?

Last edited by fietsbob; 03-01-12 at 02:49 PM.
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Old 03-01-12, 12:12 PM   #9
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the bike looks cool overall, but i too have some concerns about electrifying a bike. they've been fantastic 100% mechanical machines for generations now, and that holds appeal to me. does that make me a retro-grouch?

i'd give one a try just to know, but i think my inner bias would probably taint my impressions unless it was super-awesome, mind-blowing, revelatory experience, like "oh my god, this completely changes EVERYTHING we've known about cycling for the past 100 years!"
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Old 03-01-12, 12:13 PM   #10
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Shimano wants ALL your money..

What big bike co doesn't?
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Old 03-01-12, 12:24 PM   #11
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I also thought "why" but I guess I'm as likely to use this as I am to use Alfine without it (that is, not very likely).

I always think of something BikeSnobNYC said when the DuraAce Di2 system came out, "Electronic shifting will completely change the way you think about bicycles--assuming, of course, that you previously thought of them as being relatively inexpensive and easily serviceable." But I guess Alfine 11 users don't think of bikes as inexpensive and easily serviceable anyway, at least not the rear hub.
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Old 03-01-12, 12:28 PM   #12
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I can't vote in the poll; there's an option for "I'm a Luddite and hate electronics," but there isn't an option for "I have no use for an internally geared hub, even if it's a neat technology."

I'd be interested in Di2 or Ui2 if somebody wanted to give me a free groupset, though.
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Old 03-01-12, 12:28 PM   #13
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the why is the Engineer's Mortgage and Boat payments.
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Old 03-01-12, 01:10 PM   #14
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I like this somewhat, but the most attractive aspect of it is that there would be a Shimano brifter for Alfine rather than just Versas - which I have, and which work fine, but are just not as nice to use as Tiagra (for example.)

I can see a couple of reasons why this might not work with existing belt-drive frames. Looks like the "module" on the drive side moves the sprocket inboard (assuming spacing stays at 135mm, of course it's a problem if it doesn't, too.) which would mess up the chainline - and for a belt this needs to be straight within 1/8". It's also not clear if a Gates sprocket would fit in the space available either - it has an outside flange which doesn't interfere with the existing Alfine shift cable interface but really looks like it would cause problems here.
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Old 03-01-12, 01:14 PM   #15
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I think if they position the battery with a front dynamo-powered lamp on the fork crown, they could solve a lot of issues with cabling, dirt and power supply.
This might have application for a modern bike hire fleet, being able to disable bikes on the rack for maintenance.
It is also the basis of a fully automatic transmission, maybe linked to a cadence meter.
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Old 03-01-12, 01:19 PM   #16
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Next thing you know, they will have OnStar in the bike, and the police will be able to remotely shift your bike into neutral so you can't ride it. LOL


(tinfoil hats ahoy!)

Honestly, I just don't see the need. It's the answer to a question nobody asked. They would be better served making nice barend/brifter shifters for it instead. It would strictly be for "Hey, look at my Di2 hub!" and I get enough of that with the local group rides, thankyouverymuch.
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Old 03-01-12, 01:46 PM   #17
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not sure I want it w/ an IGH, but I do like the idea of electric shifting. I've had a hell of a time getting shifters to work properly on my folder, so I'll be on board once Tiagra Di comes out and I can stop worrying about cable pull.
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Old 03-01-12, 01:53 PM   #18
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I'm still using an 8 sp cassette and thumb shifter
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Old 03-01-12, 01:56 PM   #19
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I wrote up a quick little piece to explain that Alfine Di2 is an indication of the significance of electronic shifting to Shimano's long-term plans for ALL markets: http://goabloc.tumblr.com/post/15674222833/the-future.

The TL;DR: Shimano thinks that eliminating cabled shifting in all of their products as soon as they can is very important. They see it as every bit as big a deal as they saw indexed shifting in the early 80's. And indexed shifting is what established Shimano's complete dominance in bicycle components.
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Old 03-01-12, 01:56 PM   #20
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It's an interesting solution for having drop bars and an IGH, but I'd still prefer to have something mechanical (either bar end or STI-type shifter). Grant Petersen likes to say that Shimano only caters to fringe markets: extreme racing, extreme downhill, and extreme commuting (with IGHs). I don't completely agree with his statement, but I think he has a point. Why can't Shimano make decent mechanical shifters for their IGHs?
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Old 03-01-12, 03:17 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffpoulin View Post
Why can't Shimano make decent mechanical shifters for their IGHs?
They do. In both twist shift and RapidFire configurations. Just not integrated brake/shifter drop bar units or bar end shifters.

I think people also forget that they still make bar end and downtube shifters for their derailleur systems...

------------------

There was a thread here in Commuting not too long ago regarding Dura Ace and Ultegra Di2, and many were all, like, "Yawn, wake me when they get this going on with IGH." So they do, and now -- much to my amusement and some project manager at Shimano's chagrin -- it's all, "Meh--no need, too complicated, they shoulda powered it off a dyno hub, etc." Love it.

Battery is fine -- if it's anything like the Dura Ace battery, you probably wouldn't need to recharge it once, riding cross country (USA). And if you did, it's not like you will never, ever be near an outlet. And I can pretty much guarantee that weight of battery setup and charger is less than extra weight of a dyno hub. Battery charge is a near non issue on current Di2 setups.

And we're talking prototypes here, yes? So we don't know that final product won't take gates belt cog/drive, that there won't be some kind of dyno conversion, and since Shimano in other news is announcing a seatpost battery, that one won't be available for this system as well. All of which, if not right out the gate, might surely appear sometime in the perhaps near future. Gotta leave room for upgrades so that those who need the latest/greatest will part with more cash, eh?

On the plus side, no need to worry about a cable freezing up. Although adjusting the cable tension for Alfine/Nexus is not an issue, it will be even less with this. Mate it to a Ui2 or Di2 left shifter, existing tensioner, and appropriate crank/FD for double chainring setup... If this is anything like the other Di2 systems, then you will probably have a choice of auxillary shifter pods for extra shifting wherever you want/need it.

Don't really see a downside to this; thumbs up to Shimano for investing in commuter IGH stuff with a Di2 drivetrain. What does it say about their commuter philosophy that they are intro-ing this before even an electronic mtn setup...? Plus there's the whole (finally) integrated road disks they are coming out with...

Not that I'd get this system any time soon. And I'd be more excited to hear news about a Sturmey Archer S2D 2sp kickback hub with drum brake...
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Old 03-01-12, 03:31 PM   #22
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No. I don't want any more rechargeable batteries on my bike to worry about. Cable actuated gears work fine for me.
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Old 03-01-12, 06:45 PM   #23
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No,no,no never... I would never buy a bicycle with electronic shifting. What's the point ???
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Old 03-01-12, 07:06 PM   #24
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Lights cost me enough to run and keep track of. I wouldn't use this item. I do live in the south, so freezing cables is not all that much of a concern.

I can see myself getting one of their Nexus hubs one of these days. It would be nice to keep the clean lines and overall simplicity of the SS drivetrain, but have an IGH. I just can't bring myself to buy one yet. Maybe next year...if I don't purchase a "commuter" bike with one already in it.
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Old 03-01-12, 08:26 PM   #25
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I'll wait about ten years and then consider it.
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