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Di2 & Shimano Failures - CAUTION

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Di2 & Shimano Failures - CAUTION

Old 06-13-16, 05:23 PM
  #1  
smuseby
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Di2 & Shimano Failures - CAUTION

Last year, I purchased a Seven bike outfitted with the Ultegra 6870 Di2 kit. I've been riding and loving it since October, until a ride in May when the system failed. On the top of a mountain pass, I paused 15 minutes for lunch. When I returned to the bike, the Di2 was unresponsive - no shifting front or rear, and no LEDs when I pressed both buttons. Absolutely dead. I decided to coast down and call for help - when about 5 min later, I pressed a button, and the Di2 resumed full functionality for another 50km (with no indication of a low charge), and for the next 8 weeks. The second failure occurred after a bounce in the road - this time I had the Shimano connection tool with me, and I removed and reset all connections. Still dead. I called Uber for a $60 ride home; once home, the Di2 again "repaired itself". There was no indication of a low battery. After every ride, I check the charge - I have never seen the flashing green or red lights, indicating less than 50%(?) charge.
Last week, I returned the bike to the bike shop in SF where I purchased it.
After a week, I was told that the sophisticated Shimano test equipment determined that there is nothing wrong with the Di2, even though the unit died in the shop. The analysis is that my problem is due to a dead battery (and unstated, a dumb customer that is not capable of making a rational observation, not to mention keeping the battery charged).
This is an unsafe situation, and an unacceptable response. In my experience, there is no such thing as failure proof electronics. Software? - hopefully debugged by now; faulty component that fails intermittently or when jarred? Sending me home with the same equipment is asking for trouble - losing the ability to pedal at the wrong moment could be catastrophic.
Anyone have a similar experience? I can find nothing on the internet. Any suggestions?
And while I'm complaining, Shimano also needs to provide a useful user manual, explaining at the very least, the meaning of the LEDs, the low battery failure mode, operation of the E-Tube project, etc.
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Old 06-13-16, 05:39 PM
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The manuals are all available online anytime you need them. I have both Ultegra Di2 and DA Di2 - thousands of km's on both never an issue. Reading your troubles I could tell you it was either a bad battery or the battery connection causing trouble. If it does it again request or get a new battery and I'm sure that will fix it.
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Old 06-13-16, 05:45 PM
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I have a friend who had a similar situation with his Calfee but the diagnosis was an intermittent connection of the junction box inside the BB area. Not sure if this helps.
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Old 06-13-16, 05:50 PM
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It's likely an improper installation where connections aren't tight.

The reason you didn't find anything online is because the system is virtually trouble free.
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Old 06-13-16, 05:57 PM
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I've been riding the Ultegra 6770 for 3 years and have had two failures, both my fault. First was when I bought new bars and re-taped them I didn't leave enough slack where the e-tube wire goes into the right hand shifter causing it to work its way loose. I thought the world was over and I needed new everything until my friend at the bike shop looked and found my mistake quickly. Second was a decision to wash my bike while the battery was charging and water got into the external mount. I re-installed the battery and went for a ride with no shifting ability whatsoever. I remembered charging the battery and removed it only to find water inside causing a shorted connection thus making the system useless. Used compressed air to blow out the battery and holder, re-installed the battery and all has been fine since.

In your case, it doesn't sound like you have a definitive cause for the issue, rather you just say hey, don't use di2, it's bad! I'd bet you did something stupid like me???
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Old 06-13-16, 06:09 PM
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This is the reason why I will stick with mech shifting.
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Old 06-13-16, 06:16 PM
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Could also be heat. If you leave it in direct sunlight the battery could overheat and cease function until it cools off. Just a thought.

Originally Posted by mooder View Post
This is the reason why I will stick with mech shifting.
Those pesky mech shifters can fail too. I suggest walking to be safe (although I hear even those darn legs can give out every now-and-then).
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Old 06-13-16, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by mooder View Post
This is the reason why I will stick with mech shifting.
Agreed! I understand the advantage of electronic shifting. I feel this is a marginal gain. But to quote Jay Leno... "How lazy are we getting?"

And best of luck determining the gremlin in your Di2 system.
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Old 06-13-16, 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by mooder View Post
This is the reason why I will stick with mech shifting.
+2

I'm generally pretty good at fixing mechanical problems, i.e. those that do not involve electronic/software. It would be completely frustrating to have something like your Di2 fail on me because I wouldn't even know where to begin to diagnose the problem. Your LBS can't even figure it out. Typically when something like this happens you'd start replacing units to see if it solves the problem. That's an expensive way to 'fix' things.

Good luck with fixing it.
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Old 06-13-16, 07:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Maconi View Post
Could also be heat. If you leave it in direct sunlight the battery could overheat and cease function until it cools off. Just a thought.



Those pesky mech shifters can fail too. I suggest walking to be safe (although I hear even those darn legs can give out every now-and-then).
True, but at least you'd know where it failed. Still wouldn't help you in the middle of a ride, but you stand a better chance of fixing it at home, and peace of mind knowing that it's probably not going to happen again. Can't say the same for the OP's electronic problem.
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Old 06-13-16, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by smuseby View Post
Last week, I returned the bike to the bike shop in SF where I purchased it.
After a week, I was told that the sophisticated Shimano test equipment determined that there is nothing wrong with the Di2, even though the unit died in the shop. The analysis is that my problem is due to a dead battery (and unstated, a dumb customer that is not capable of making a rational observation, not to mention keeping the battery charged).
...
This is an unsafe situation ... - losing the ability to pedal at the wrong moment could be catastrophic.
I'm a bit puzzled. If the "unit died in the shop" then the mechanic there should know that the cause is something other than a dead battery since I presume they kept the battery at a reasonable charge. Sounds like a loose connection somewhere (connector, hairline crack on a circuit board, wire with a crack in it that only sometimes comes apart, etc.), but since it's so intermittent the exact cause and cure is hard to pin down. But if the LBS techs saw the unit 'die in the shop' they should be willing to vouch for the problem to Shimano and get the unit replaced. What explanation did they give for the unit dying when they had it in the shop?

OTOH, I don't really see this as something that could have 'catastrophic consequences.' You should still have the ability to pedal, just not be able to change gears so your bike is temporarily turned into a single speed. Really bad if you're in a tight battle to retain the yellow jersey and your team support vehicle isn't right at hand, but not all that horrible for the type of riding that most of us do.
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Old 06-13-16, 07:39 PM
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Di2 & Shimano Failures - CAUTION

You'd sag ( uber) home because the bike wouldn't shift?

Ever heard of a fixed gear?
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Old 06-13-16, 07:42 PM
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A friend of mine had the same problem and had it fixed by replacing the junction box.
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Old 06-13-16, 07:49 PM
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I have had no issues yet. One is an Ulterga 10-speed di2 with external battery (under BB) and the other a 11-speed DA di2 with seat post battery. The batteries last a ridiculous number of miles, and I have not had any problems...touch wood. I will admit to one thing (that I have not resorted to yet) I did as a backup. Since my 10-speed di2 is a bit old, I bought a spare battery for $35 on clearance. If I ever need to go on a long ride and have not charged it and am at close to 1,000 miles or an orange light, I'm taking the spare. It is pretty small.
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Old 06-13-16, 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
You'd sag ( uber) home because the bike wouldn't shift?

Ever heard of a fixed gear?
That would be a single speed, not a fixed gear.

Nothing fixed about it.
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Old 06-13-16, 09:18 PM
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The more complicated cars got with more and more electronics the more bugs cars got in those systems and the more difficulty in troubleshooting. The more complicated bikes become the more problems will be expected to happen. So the obvious answer was to say with mechanical groupset, sorry not something you want to hear that's for sure, but it's gremlins in car electronics that just drive me insane, I don't need to be insane while riding a bike.

Having made you mad at me for the rest of my life, have you or the shop mechanic took a look and the junction box to make sure it didn't get water inside? Take that junction box off and open it up and let dry for 24 hours and see if things improve. There has also been issues with the control box not lasting very long, and in it's dying thongs it will do what you are saying your bike is doing, the fix is to simply replace it. There has also been problems with the battery casing not being waterproof and water getting into the terminals which in turn can fry your electronics; as well as problems with the battery mount that would make the unit cut in and out.

IF that happens again take the bike to a different shop and see if they can figure it out. if the Di2 stuff is under warranty yet any bike shop with half a brain should be able to isolate the situation and send for a new part.
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Old 06-13-16, 09:32 PM
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I hit a very large rock with my front wheel once.. I almost bit the dust, I was going close to 30mph at the time and my front wheel went flat suddenly. I twisted my brake hoods inward as well. After that I did the rest of the ride stuck in my 50-14.. when I got home my cables from the brake levers had loosened even though they looked tight and felt tight as well. I pulled them all the way out and inserted them back in and was good to go.

I would also say it was a battery or loose connection somewhere in the system... otherwise it's been super solid for me.
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Old 06-13-16, 10:00 PM
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Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
I'm a bit puzzled. If the "unit died in the shop" then the mechanic there should know that the cause is something other than a dead battery since I presume they kept the battery at a reasonable charge. Sounds like a loose connection somewhere (connector, hairline crack on a circuit board, wire with a crack in it that only sometimes comes apart, etc.), but since it's so intermittent the exact cause and cure is hard to pin down. But if the LBS techs saw the unit 'die in the shop' they should be willing to vouch for the problem to Shimano and get the unit replaced. What explanation did they give for the unit dying when they had it in the shop?

OTOH, I don't really see this as something that could have 'catastrophic consequences.' You should still have the ability to pedal, just not be able to change gears so your bike is temporarily turned into a single speed. Really bad if you're in a tight battle to retain the yellow jersey and your team support vehicle isn't right at hand, but not all that horrible for the type of riding that most of us do.
Failure in the shop: used as 'evidence' that the battery was dead when it failed on me. Doing my best to stay calm...
and
Catastrophic failure - the first time the chain was between the two chain rings and pedaling made a lot of noise, nothing more; the second time it failed on the big ring and small end of cassette at the bottom of a big hill - there was nothing left in my legs at that point.
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Old 06-13-16, 10:06 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
You'd sag ( uber) home because the bike wouldn't shift?

Ever heard of a fixed gear?
Definitely heard of it. I'm in my 8th decade, and need my gears. Sad but true.
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Old 06-14-16, 06:10 AM
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The idea that the "new" cars and all of their elaborate electronics are difficult to fix is absurd. I'm an auto mechanic and I'll tell you that the newer the car, the easier it is to fix. They practically tell you what's wrong. Sure when computer controlled vehicles first came out we hated them and they were difficult to diagnose but that was only because it was something new, we simply had to adapt and learn the proper way to diagnose. For the typical end user or average driver on the road, everyone wanted to go back to a carburetor and plug wires because it was what they knew.

Same goes for all of the new options we have available today for our bikes. Everybody either loves or hates them and heaven forbid if something goes wrong like a battery getting wet or simply dying from its owner not charging it once every few months and oh my god, an electronic cable came unplugged because again someone doing the install or re-taping their bars did the installation incorrectly? I think the world just ended?

All of you di2 haters please tell me you've never had a component failure while riding a bike and I'll say your full of crap. Never missed a shift? Never had a cable stretched or out of adjustment? Never had anything broken? Yeah, right! Like I said earlier in the thread, the two failures I've had with my di2 were self inflicted so take those away and my setup has been flawless. My mistakes are part of the learning curve with new technology and I wouldn't trade my di2 for any mechanical groupset out there.

To the op, I only hope to be riding into my "8th decade" one day, that's awesome!
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Old 06-14-16, 06:24 AM
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Originally Posted by smuseby View Post
Definitely heard of it. I'm in my 8th decade, and need my gears. Sad but true.
8th decade? That alone is very very impressive. Nice. I hope by then, which is only 2 decades away, I hope that's all need is my gears and not my marbles!
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Old 06-14-16, 06:51 AM
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Originally Posted by smuseby View Post
Definitely heard of it. I'm in my 8th decade, and need my gears. Sad but true.
You couldn't have had a better response.

Welcome to BikeForums btw. I can't help you with your Di2 or much of anything Shimano (I ride with my Campy and my nose up in the air listening to Pavarotti) but it does look like you may have a few ideas here to follow up on. Good luck!
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Old 06-14-16, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by dvdslw View Post
The idea that the "new" cars and all of their elaborate electronics are difficult to fix is absurd. I'm an auto mechanic and I'll tell you that the newer the car, the easier it is to fix. They practically tell you what's wrong. Sure when computer controlled vehicles first came out we hated them and they were difficult to diagnose but that was only because it was something new, we simply had to adapt and learn the proper way to diagnose. For the typical end user or average driver on the road, everyone wanted to go back to a carburetor and plug wires because it was what they knew.

Same goes for all of the new options we have available today for our bikes. Everybody either loves or hates them and heaven forbid if something goes wrong like a battery getting wet or simply dying from its owner not charging it once every few months and oh my god, an electronic cable came unplugged because again someone doing the install or re-taping their bars did the installation incorrectly? I think the world just ended?

All of you di2 haters please tell me you've never had a component failure while riding a bike and I'll say your full of crap. Never missed a shift? Never had a cable stretched or out of adjustment? Never had anything broken? Yeah, right! Like I said earlier in the thread, the two failures I've had with my di2 were self inflicted so take those away and my setup has been flawless. My mistakes are part of the learning curve with new technology and I wouldn't trade my di2 for any mechanical groupset out there.

To the op, I only hope to be riding into my "8th decade" one day, that's awesome!
Ok, first off all the computer does is tell you what part needs to be replaced, which usually cost a lot more than a standard and simple repair which was usually just a simple adjustment in the mechanical days. And sometimes the computer says that a particular part is the problem when it isn't. I had a loose wire inside the intake manifold for the fuel injection system that caused a intermittent problem with a cylinder cutting in and out and a strange rattle sound, the fault code was a bad fuel injector so they replaced the injector but the problem was still there, which the computer still showed a bad injector but it moved it to a different injector so they replaced that one, but again the problem was still there, so the mechanic answer was to replace all the injectors, but I gotten to the point where I didn't think the injectors was having problems, but wasn't sure what the heck was going on, so I took it to a different mechanic, this one thought there was something stuck in the intake so upon removing it he discovered the loose wire. Modern mechanics are mostly parts replacement guys, most don't know how to diagnose a car because the computer does it all for them, the last mechanic was older and actually listened to the noise inside the intake with a stethoscope.

Tuning up an older car is extremely simple, you don't have to remove the fuel injection rail, or the lift the engine up just to get to the plugs and charge the customer $1,200. No fuel pumps located on the top of the fuel tank requiring a $600 or more bill to replace it, (in the case of German cars the pump alone could be $1,200. Haters of old mechanical technology have never worked on those cars, or weren't around and have no clue how to diagnose an issue because the computer isn't handing them the problem. Haters of the old technology say gee you have to replace the plugs every 12,000 miles and today you don't have to for 100,000 miles are ignorant to the fact that it was the lead in fuel back then that fouled the plugs, today without the lead I can easily go 75,000 miles on a set of plugs in all my pre 70's cars I have; or they complain the older cars always needed points, that was true but it was an easy fix that took maybe 15 minutes if you drank a beer half way through the repair! But there has been on the market for quite sometime, which I use in all my cars, a simple electronic point system from Pertronix that never needs to be adjusted or replaced. So the only thing I have to do to my cars is check the crankshaft pulley for proper timing and adjust the carb. It's much easier to maintain an older car than a new one, I have several of each. Don't even get me started on heater cores in today's newer cars, and the cost of repairing cars gets more expensive as each new year car comes on the market. And if an older car broke down on the side of the road chances were good you could fix it with simple hand tools, not so today. In addition to that the car industry keeps changing tools so every time any new car comes out the mechanic has to buy a new tool or two or more just to fix one particular model of car! not to mention new software upgrade so they can diagnose the car...It's a freaking joke. It's so expensive for tools and software upgrades the backyard mechanic is now mostly extinct. Did you know that Camaro ZL1 brakes will cost the owner $5,000 to replace when they wore out? And I thought BMW brakes were expensive! Obvious I could go on and on but you would never get it.

So yeah, I'm not real hip on using electronic systems on bikes that could lead you stranded on the side of the road, I know, we have cell phones so you all can call your mommies to come rescue you in that event. That's fine, while you're waiting for your mommies, I make a simple and quick fix to my mechanicals and continue my ride, just like I can do with older cars that you can't do with modern cars.

A stretched cable is just stupid, if you didn't know the cable was beginning to stretch at some point then you're not much of a mechanic and I will never take a bike or car to you for repair! Besides with mechanical derailleurs if the cable stretches you simply adjust the derailleur or cable tension to make up for it, BIG DEAL! By the way, I've NEVER had a mechanical break down on my bikes in 40 years that I couldn't permanently fix quickly and continue, yeah i know, I'm full of crap.
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Old 06-14-16, 07:23 AM
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So you were having problems, brought it back to the shop where you purchased the bike, the Di2 system did not work properly and they sent you on your way?

As someone who works at an LBS... that right there is the problem. I've got Di2 on three bikes, zero issues, many thousands of miles. I could +1 my like and appreciation for Di2 all day as well.

But I think one of the bigger issues here is the total lack of faith I'd have with the shop I just spent a lot of money on to get this bike. As others have stated it definitely sounds like it's exhibiting a loose cable somewhere but I'd expect the shop to go through it to determine that. If it's an internal battery it's a little trickier to check all the connections but I personally think (at a minimum) that's what should have been done by the shop, even if that meant you needed to leave it there for a little bit.

Lastly, if the bike didn't come with Di2 and it was "built up" the system doesn't come with a manual. Just like if you build up a bike with a mechanical groupset (there's no manual either). There's a wealth of documentation and information available via SHIMANO Dealer's Manual / User's Manual

Once again, I'd still point the figure here at the shop. Every bike that leaves our shop comes with a dealer manual (if supplied) or a sign off that you've waived the manual. If a dealer manual is not available, we'll walk you through everything and supply you with a link to the specific Shimano documentation you'd need.
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Old 06-14-16, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by smuseby View Post
[h=2]Di2 & Shimano Failures - CAUTION
[/h]Anyone should know the likelihood of failure of an electronic or electrical circuit is a possibility. Your failure may or may not be all too common but I'd like to see the number of Di2 users who have never had a problem opposed to those that have and how many who had problems that were caused by user error or neglect.
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