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Mechanical or Di2?

Old 07-29-16, 12:54 AM
  #1  
Bluebatmobile
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Mechanical or Di2?

Advantages or disadvantages of Di2 vs Mechanical? My 2002 Kestrel 500 EMS is equipped with Ultegra 9 speed mechanical. I've been riding my Kestrel for 14 years now, and in recent years, never really thought of upgrading to a newer drivetrain. Now that I finally decided to get a new bike after all these years, I pondered the thought of electronic over mechanical. What advantages or disadvantages does Di2 have vs Mechanical?

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Old 07-29-16, 04:00 AM
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Just pondered this very question.

First thought is the frame is fairly old and is it worth hanging about $1500 worth of Ultegra Di2 components on it ?. You would need - shifters, derailers, brakes, cassette ad chain, crank and b-bracket, battery and assorted wires of correct lengths, plus probably a new rear wheel, maybe a matching front.

2nd thought is the existing frame is probably not designed for running electronic cables, which look best when doing the internal cable routing. They make runners that glue to the frame to hide the wires, especially from cockpit to bottom bracket and battery, plus b-bracket to R derailler, but not as nicely as internal. And you would need the external battery, that mounts on the downtube bottle cage. External Di2 can be done, you just need to think and research how to do it cleanly to make it look nice.

3rd issue is probably a new rear wheel, as you need a hub capable of handling 11 cogs. So need to check that, as it impacts the budget.

Then why ?. Di2 shifts better, is reliable and easy to use. The button pushing is flawless, though I've read of some folks having issues finding the buttons while wearing thick gloves. The battery goes a half year typically before needing charges, but is it enough better to plunk down a few hundred more as compared to Ultegra mechanical ?. And over a few years use you might need a new battery which isn't cheap but probably the same as changing out brake and derailer cables over the same time. One nifty thing on the Di2 system is the front derailer automatically trims depending on what rear cog you move to. Nifty trick. And you can get a wireless unit that interfaces with a GPS or other type of computer and that'll tell you your gearing as well as battery status.

Tough call. I opted for mechanical as I didn't desire to learn a new shifting system after 20 years on STI and can easily do a mechanical install and all maintenance. Then I looked hard at the difference between Ultegra 6800 and 105 5800 and read that there was very little functional difference, just weight, so saved a bundle going 105. I also went to a new frame that can do Di2 if desired in the future, so that's a factor for you, frame age.

Your call.
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Old 07-29-16, 05:56 AM
  #3  
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Mechanical for your bike. I would only use Di2 in frames designed for this style group.
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Old 07-29-16, 06:22 AM
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I would stay mechanical myself because I am comfortable with it... there is the confidence that I can work on it myself if there is an issue.
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Old 07-29-16, 07:49 AM
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+1) Repair and stick with Your 9 Speed stuff .. Lust for the latest race kit Buy a new bike.

Extra downside to Di2 is you will be flummoxed when it stops working.
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Old 07-29-16, 08:02 AM
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It's hard to argue against electronic shifting systems like Di2 on the basis of performance. But personally, I appreciate the elegant simplicity of a bicycle, including the fact it's an independent and completely self-contained system. I like knowing I can grab my bike and go for a ride without needing to check the charge of a battery.

But if I was racing, or if I wanted to be able to shift from multiple hand positions (e.g. aerobars and brifters), and if money is no object, electronic shifting has its benefits.
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Old 07-29-16, 08:44 AM
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Find a bikeshop that will let you test ride a bike with Di2 and figure it out for yourself. The shifting is superlative and electronics end up being unobtrusive in daily use. Recharging the battery is infrequent enough to be nearly a non-issue.

"If things go wrong..." is a flimsy argument against, because things rarely go wrong with Di2. However, I will add a data point here -- with first gen, early adopters of DA Di2, there were parts availability issues. Customer crashed and broke a shifter; replacement shift lever assembly took weeks to replace simply because Shimano USA was out of stock, awaiting arrival of shipment from overseas.

First Di2 bike I ever wired, it was like, "WTF am I doing, installing a wiring harness on a bike -- this is so wrong..." I'm a luddite when it comes to electronics, and my personal bike is mechanical shifting.

But I can see where many might prefer electronic shifting systems. To each their own. Potential buyers really should test ride a Di2-equipped bike to see if it's right for them, but one thing said of it is, "If you can't afford it, don't try it out..." because it is good enough that you will want it. Especially in the case of the OP, riding on a group a few generations from current...
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Old 07-29-16, 09:16 AM
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Mentioned above is your rear hub. Last year I had a custom frame built with DA 9000. Wheels were transferred from my old bike with SRAM Force 10. Chris King hubs that were manufactured just before 11 speed came out. Fortunately, King offers an insert that allowed me to go 11 speed, but it wasn't cheap. (Is anything from him cheap?) IIRC, it was either $125 or $175.
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Old 07-29-16, 09:20 AM
  #9  
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Do what I did a while back when bike shopping. Test ride a bike with Di2 and compare it to a similar bike with mechanical shifting. I didn't think much of the Di2. I still prefer shifting my own gears.
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Old 07-29-16, 10:09 AM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Just pondered this very question.

First thought is the frame is fairly old and is it worth hanging about $1500 worth of Ultegra Di2 components on it ?. You would need - shifters, derailers, brakes, cassette ad chain, crank and b-bracket, battery and assorted wires of correct lengths, plus probably a new rear wheel, maybe a matching front.

2nd thought is the existing frame is probably not designed for running electronic cables, which look best when doing the internal cable routing. They make runners that glue to the frame to hide the wires, especially from cockpit to bottom bracket and battery, plus b-bracket to R derailler, but not as nicely as internal. And you would need the external battery, that mounts on the downtube bottle cage. External Di2 can be done, you just need to think and research how to do it cleanly to make it look nice.

3rd issue is probably a new rear wheel, as you need a hub capable of handling 11 cogs. So need to check that, as it impacts the budget.

Then why ?. Di2 shifts better, is reliable and easy to use. The button pushing is flawless, though I've read of some folks having issues finding the buttons while wearing thick gloves. The battery goes a half year typically before needing charges, but is it enough better to plunk down a few hundred more as compared to Ultegra mechanical ?. And over a few years use you might need a new battery which isn't cheap but probably the same as changing out brake and derailer cables over the same time. One nifty thing on the Di2 system is the front derailer automatically trims depending on what rear cog you move to. Nifty trick. And you can get a wireless unit that interfaces with a GPS or other type of computer and that'll tell you your gearing as well as battery status.

Tough call. I opted for mechanical as I didn't desire to learn a new shifting system after 20 years on STI and can easily do a mechanical install and all maintenance. Then I looked hard at the difference between Ultegra 6800 and 105 5800 and read that there was very little functional difference, just weight, so saved a bundle going 105. I also went to a new frame that can do Di2 if desired in the future, so that's a factor for you, frame age.

Your call.

Some really good points


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Old 07-29-16, 02:55 PM
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Di2 is great, but mechanical still does the job.

IMO though, Di2 is totally worth it if you can swing it.
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Old 07-29-16, 03:21 PM
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I have 2 mechanical 6800 bikes and recently took out a friend's electronic 6870 bike and it was totally amazing. I had the option of going 6870 when I purchased my second 6800 bike, but had not yet rode a 6870 bike, and now I regret not doing so. I could upgrade, but it hardly seems worth the price at this point. That said, 6800 is a great system.

As @SpeshulEd said, if you can go Di2, go for it.
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Old 07-29-16, 04:33 PM
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Went through this mental exercise earlier this year when I bought a new bike. I "settled" for the 6800 mechanical system for practical immediate availability plus cost delta reasons.....with the idea/knowledge that I could upgrade later if I really wanted to. I've found no reason to do that so far. For my purpose and usage the mech 6800 system is more than just perfectly adequate. If I were a more hard core and long distance rider I think my conclusion would be different

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Old 07-29-16, 04:59 PM
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I have Di2 on my favorite road bike. I've used it for four years with zero issues. I recently bought a new endurance/gravel bike and debated mechanical vs Di2. I went with mechanical and regret it every ride.
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Old 07-30-16, 07:38 PM
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i just picked up a specialized roubouix ultegra Di2 on sale for $2499. Holy crap, i wish i could afford di2 on every single other bike. No adjustments, no cable stretch, just perfect shifts every single time, i love it.
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Old 07-30-16, 09:01 PM
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Your Kestrel is 14 years old, and is a carbon-based life form. What's the market value? $700, maybe less? The cost of a di2 upgrade groupset is about $1500. What kind of used di2 bike can you get for $2200 plus?

As much as you are attached to the Kestrel, it's continued integrity after 14 years is not certain. Plus, you can get a newer design used bike that is designed for di2 and has it built in. If I were truly jonesin' for di2, I'd buy a used bike with it. That said, I'm still enjoying brifters and indexed shifting after moving from my old non-indexed Paramount. Not sure I'll be able to afford the new bike I want with di2 anytime soon, so I'll be sticking with manual Dura-Ace.

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Old 07-31-16, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by blakcloud View Post
Mechanical for your bike. I would only use Di2 in frames designed for this style group.
This

I can't speak from personal experience, but over the last three or four months I researched every conceivable option on a buying a bike. New, used, every drive train, frame material, buying online vs. LBS, doing a build or partial build. It reached the point of absurdity.

However, this is pretty much it with Di2. It can be done with your frame but it'd never be a clean install. With etap and the batteries being on each derailleur and wireless, it might be an option. That's about the only thing I didn't read to much about.
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Old 07-31-16, 03:43 PM
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is mechanical good enough? yes. Do I love Di2 more? Yes. I will never buy anything else without electronic shifting that's how much I love it.
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Old 07-31-16, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by blakcloud View Post
Mechanical for your bike. I would only use Di2 in frames designed for this style group.
Sram eTap... it will work on any frame.
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Old 07-31-16, 03:52 PM
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Very Mechanical Rohloff 14 speed Internal gear hub is my favorite .

One cog , 1 chainring, both reversible, and the chain are the consumables ..
and an occasional Oil change.
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Old 08-01-16, 11:39 PM
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Originally Posted by spdracr39 View Post
is mechanical good enough? yes. Do I love Di2 more? Yes. I will never buy anything else without electronic shifting that's how much I love it.
People I've talked to who made the switch to Di2 say, they will never go back to mechanical.

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Old 08-02-16, 12:46 AM
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anti-virus, tracker, adware and firewall...

if you choose to go electronic don't forget to install antivirus, adware, anti-tracker, and you best have a h3ll of a firewall so the Kremlim doesn't hack you. Caveat emptor.
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Old 08-02-16, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Abu Mahendra View Post
if you choose to go electronic don't forget to install antivirus, adware, anti-tracker, and you best have a h3ll of a firewall so the Kremlim doesn't hack you. Caveat emptor.
I find it amusing that people believe those things will stop hackers...but that's a whole other conversation.
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Old 08-02-16, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Bluebatmobile View Post
Advantages or disadvantages of Di2 vs Mechanical?
If you shift frequently, rear shift cables can break strands and fail shortly afterwards in just 2000-2500 miles due to added fatigue cycles going around the tight 90 degree bend in contemporary shifter bodies for under-tape cable routing with hoods level with bar tops .

That's a 10 week replacement interval when you ride a reasonable amount.
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Old 08-02-16, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by WizardOfBoz View Post
Your Kestrel is 14 years old, and is a carbon-based life form. What's the market value? $700, maybe less? The cost of a di2 upgrade groupset is about $1500.
The cost of a di2 upgrade gearset is $770 from Ribble.

https://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/shiman...speed-gearset/

What kind of used di2 bike can you get for $2200 plus?
Can you get a di2 bike for under $1000?

As much as you are attached to the Kestrel, it's continued integrity after 14 years is not certain.
It should last indefinitely if not crashed.
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