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School me on electronic shifters

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School me on electronic shifters

Old 11-08-23, 01:17 PM
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School me on electronic shifters

Im getting a new bike soon and debating on electronic or mechanical shifters. Staying with Shimano brand. Ive read some articles but would like to hear from ppl here. I ride for fun and exercise not competition
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Old 11-08-23, 02:51 PM
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Almost everybody else swears by them. I'm personally not a fan, both from a functional and a conceptual perspective.

Functional: Granted, I rode an earlier vision back in 2018, but there was very little differentiation in feel on the upshift and downshift buttons, and I found myself hitting the wrong button often enough that it annoyed me. I imagine it's something one would get used to with time, and experience, but I'm just more used to the 'click' from an upshift and a 'big push' for downshifting. I hear SRAM has a more intuitive system (right side for upshifting, left side for downshifting, and press both for switching between rings), but I've never had a chance to play with it.

Conceptual: I like thinking of my bike as a purely mechanical device - freedom from fuel, freedom from charging - with a pump, a multitool, a bottle of lube, and a tube of grease, I can keep it running for years.

If you have the option to borrow rent one for a ride, that could definitely help with your decision making.
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Old 11-08-23, 03:29 PM
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Fast shifts, precise shifts, constant micro trim of the FD, ability to assign functions to the buttons, gear info readout on the computer, what's not to like?

You do have to make sure you keep a charge, but that's not hard since you already have to do that with lights, computer, Varia, etc.

I love it and won't go back.
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Old 11-08-23, 03:38 PM
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As Mojo stated, plus has little to no maintenance. No changing shift cables when the mechanical shifting starts to suffer. Shifts as well 4 years down the road as day 1. Not cheap, if you can get a bike with it at a good price, it’s worth it. I have 2 Di2 systems and one SRAM AXS. On mt. bikes it’s arguably a better choice as I find I shift a lot more often then on my road bike and every shift is dead on perfect.
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Old 11-08-23, 03:47 PM
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It's been covered, but I'll chime in anyhow. Electronic shifting is mature technology that shifts better and more reliably than manual shifting. Other than charging, it requires less maintenance than manual shifting. In the decade I've been running Di2, I've never encountered anyone who used both manual and electronic that didn't prefer electronic.
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Old 11-08-23, 04:04 PM
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I'm using 12 sp Ultegra and pretty much agree with all the above. That said, 11 speed mechanical Ultegra is really really good and I'm just as happy with it's functionality as Di2. The Di2 has very cool integration with the bike computer but that's not a deal maker/breaker.
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Old 11-08-23, 04:07 PM
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I switched from Campy 12 speed mechanical to SRAM AXS over 3 years ago. I wouldn't trade my two lever shifters for any brand that needs 4 levers. In the winter, with heavy gloves on, you won't miss a shift, with only two levers. I also like the removable batteries and always carry a spare, but I've never needed it yet. I've got force axs on three bikes. I use Shimano grx 46/30 cranks to get 552% range and recently increased that to 675% with a 10-44 cassette. All I needed was a Wolf Tooth road link, along with the sequential mode to avoid the big/big. I also have an increased capacity RD cage from cycleschinook.com on two bikes that will shift to the big/big, with a 2 inch longer chain.

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Old 11-08-23, 04:42 PM
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I have 11sp Ultegra in a full synchro shift mode on my Bianchi. Shimano has two buttons on each lever, similar to mechanical shifters, so the right lever buttons control the rear derailleur, and the left buttons control the front. As many people on the internet mentioned, the button that shifts down is kinda small and sometimes hard to find with gloves on. Since mine in synchro shift mode, I reprogrammed the buttons to work in the way shifting works on Sram electronic shifters, e.g. any button on the left lever shifts to an easier gear and the right one shifts to a harder gear. Ultegra shifters also have two additional buttons on top of the hoods that I programmed to control the front derailleur, but in practice, I never use them other than for maintenance.
Electronic shifting is amazing.
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Old 11-08-23, 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by SpacyJa
I have 11sp Ultegra in a full synchro shift mode on my Bianchi. Shimano has two buttons on each lever, similar to mechanical shifters, so the right lever buttons control the rear derailleur, and the left buttons control the front. As many people on the internet mentioned, the button that shifts down is kinda small and sometimes hard to find with gloves on. Since mine in synchro shift mode, I reprogrammed the buttons to work in the way shifting works on Sram electronic shifters, e.g. any button on the left lever shifts to an easier gear and the right one shifts to a harder gear. Ultegra shifters also have two additional buttons on top of the hoods that I programmed to control the front derailleur, but in practice, I never use them other than for maintenance.
Electronic shifting is amazing.
Can you shift the front by pressing left & right levers simultaneously (like SRAM), or do you have to use the buttons on the top of the hoods?
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Old 11-08-23, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe
Can you shift the front by pressing left & right levers simultaneously (like SRAM), or do you have to use the buttons on the top of the hoods?
I don't think Shimano can shift like that (maybe the new 12-speed can? I'm not sure). With the current setup I can only shift the front with the top of the hoods.
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Old 11-08-23, 05:50 PM
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I've had bikes with 11-speed SRAM eTap, 10-speed Di2, 11-speed Di2, and 12-speed Di2. All have shifted beautifully, with Shimano the tech really has gotten better with each progression (ignoring if you "need" that extra gear or not). Think of it like buying a sports car and choosing between stick shift and paddle shift. Do you need paddles? No. Is it a sweet option to have? Yes.

On all of those electronic groupsets I can count the times I've had a problem, or had to make any adjustments at all, on one hand. They just work, and work damn well.

That said, I also have bikes with mechanical groupsets and they shift perfectly fine also. Do I need electronic shifting? Of course not. Is it super nice and a bit of a luxury that I enjoy? For sure.
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Old 11-08-23, 09:38 PM
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I have 12-speed Ultegra and love it. I did a gravel ride recently using my GRX mechanical for the first time in months. I ordered the GRX Di2 groupset for that bike the next week. I didn't noticed Di2 being so much better when I started using it. Rather I noticed how much "worse" mechanical was when I used it again. And of course, the mechanical wasn't really "worse" but you really notice how nice the Di2 is when you don't have it.

As for feel, again, I can only speak about the Ultegra 12-speed. There's no issue finding or feeling which button/lever to click. It has a click feel to it and there's no ambiguity to it. Though I do find the little auxiliary buttons on the tops of the hoods to be a bit small and hard to press. I use these to switch Gamin displays. But I noticed on the GRX shifters, the buttons on the hoods are completely different. So, clearly they vary how they work between groupsets. For example, if I were trying to choose 105 vs Ultegra Di2, and the only reason I was considering Ultegra was that 105 doesn't have buttons on the hoods, I would likely save the money and go with 105.

Charging is a non-issue. I can go about 6 weeks between charges. So, I just do a charge at the first of each month to keep an easy to remember schedule. Just like my weekly charging of lights and my Garmin. There's just no reason to intentionally run the battery to a low charge state.

It also charges pretty fast. I think probably from half to full charge in 2-3 hours. So, if you wake up one morning and remembered you forgot to charge it overnight, you could throw it on charge and get plenty back into it for a ride you might start in an hour or two.
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Old 11-09-23, 07:35 AM
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I read all the above posts, agreed with most, and was ready to add my comments - but Mtracer beat me to it. I had the exact same experience. I used to think electronic shifting a gimmick - and probably for guys who couldn't tune their mech detailers. Recent Ultegra mech systems (6800, 8000) shift like butter and are incredibly durable. But after getting used to 12 spd Di2 then spending a day on my gravel bike (GRX/Ultegra), I kinda laughed at myself. Yep, I'm spoiled. I absolutely love Shimano's Di2. Not going back.
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Old 11-09-23, 08:57 AM
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One is better than the other. One is more expensive than the other.

People trying to convince you that mechanical is better would probably also tell that a Porsche with a manual transmission is faster and better than a PDK one.
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Old 11-09-23, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe
Can you shift the front by pressing left & right levers simultaneously (like SRAM), or do you have to use the buttons on the top of the hoods?
You can configure the buttons to do whatever you want. including traditional paddles as well as the buttons on the top of the shifters. Note that the 105 12spd shifters do not have top buttons.
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Old 11-09-23, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve B.
You can configure the buttons to do whatever you want. including traditional paddles as well as the buttons on the top of the shifters. Note that the 105 12spd shifters do not have top buttons.
I was asking if the levers can be programmed to shift the front when they are pressed simultaneously, ala SRAM. Other sources seem to support SpicyJa's statement that this isn't currently possible.
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Old 11-09-23, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by eduskator
One is better than the other. One is more expensive than the other.

People trying to convince you that mechanical is better would probably also tell that a Porsche with a manual transmission is faster and better than a PDK one.
It's not, but people gonna believe what they wanna believe. Same with shifters.
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Old 11-09-23, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe
I was asking if the levers can be programmed to shift the front when they are pressed simultaneously, ala SRAM. Other sources seem to support SpicyJa's statement that this isn't currently possible.
Indeed, you can't combine two buttons to perform 1 task with Shimano; 1 button = 1 task.
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Old 11-09-23, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by eduskator
One is better than the other. One is more expensive than the other.

People trying to convince you that mechanical is better would probably also tell that a Porsche with a manual transmission is faster and better than a PDK one.
I''m not trying to convince anybody of anything - rather, I tried an earlier generation, didn't like it, and find no fault with my mechanical stuff. In fact, a friend of mine has a Fairlight with R8100 that somehow crunches when it shifts between the two largest cogs, and has relatively poor front shifting, as well, so it's not like Di2 is completely immune to some hack throwing the bike together without understanding how to tune it.

Personally, I understand there are advantages to Di2, but those are advantages that I've mitigated in my years' of experience. It's rare that my R8000 bike ever misses a shift, and I almost unconsciously blip the rear derailleur when I go from big ring to little ring (to minimize gaps between gears). Other than that, on either system I have to press a button to upshift and press a button to downshift, and I prefer the mechanical buttons to Shimano's electronic ones. FWIW, I'm also one of the people who absolutely hated Apple's butterfly keyboard, even before the reliability issues became apparent.

As for shifter cabling, I've changed the R8000 rear derailleur cable once (around 3500mi), and I've honestly never changed the shifter cables on the Ultegra 6500 bike (probably ~10k mi). I also never plan to ride in the rain, so that might be a big factor.

I think it makes sense for the OP (or anybody, for that matter) to try before buying - and that really goes for any big interface change, not just Di2. I'd love to give a Campagnolo equipped bike a try for the same reason - would rather spend a day and $100 on a rental than spend much more than that and come to regret it.

Oddly enough, I've owned a VW DSG, and would happily own a Porsche PDK. I've never gotten the romanticism of a clutch, least of all in-town or in traffic. Getting the option to pick the gear I want when I want to play, and the option to forget about it when I don't - works for me.
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Old 11-09-23, 10:21 AM
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If you get them, you might have moments of frustration with them when odd things happen. Mostly just things you think odd but aren't really. Or things that take some modification of what you are use to doing or not doing currently.

I got them back in 2020. I still think my cable pulled 105 5800 shifted better for times that the front and back needed to be shifted together than does my current Ultegra Di2. But the lack of maintenance in the last three years is a plus that still keeps me preferring Di2. Also setting it to fully synchronized shifting and to never be in the big/big or small/small combos seems to have helped with chain life, though I never thought my chains wore out too soon before. However now I've got a spare chain that I so far don't need at well over 5000 plus miles.
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Old 11-09-23, 10:45 AM
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I got my 6850 Di2 11 speed bike in Sept 2014. Approx 35,000 miles and 9 years later, it still works perfectly. I replaced the seatpost battery about 4 years ago when it started needing recharges once a week. I estimate I've done between 500,000 and 700,000 shifts on this bike. No maintenance other than lubing the pivots on the derailleurs occasionally. And a rear derailleur fine tuning maybe once a year -- the shifting is "slightly noisy" so I hold the junction box button for 5 seconds to get in micro adjust mode, click the up or down button once or twice to move the shift point slightly in that direction. Fast and easy.

I did replace the rear derailleur as a preventative maintenance thing, since I plan to ride this for many more years and worried about spare parts far in the future. The 8100 rear derailleur works with the rest of the 6850 components.
~~~
I can shift with my ring finger if needed. Shift the front without needing finger leverage to finish the shift. Shift for a few pedal strokes, then shift back, without really thinking about it. (I like having the "just right" cadence.)
The shift buttons even work fine with thick ski gloves in winter weather.
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Old 11-09-23, 11:52 AM
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I got mine in 2014 because I wanted Shimano road disc brakes, and this was when the only option was Di2, so I went for it rather than wait for the release of a mechanical version, which I think I would have bought were it available at the time.

However, I quickly came to appreciate having Di2 and find it difficult to go back. I do understand the ethos that a bicycle of all things shouldn't require batteries for any of the essential functions, but I also think it is a wee bit puritanical.

I got Di2 when I was recovering from a major orthopedic injury that damaged my self-confidence as much as the bones that had to be surgically repaired. Mis-shifts were actually preventing me from down-shifting when I needed to, and Di2 was the ideal psychological antidote. Most people don't have such an extreme case, but it does suggest that Di2 shifting can enhance the rider's experience and efficiency.

When my (adult) kid got a Di2 bike (Trek Emonda), he had some pretty bad luck with it failing just before racetime. I think it is working fine now, but it does very infrequently introduce a potential complication. Ironically, I helped him buy the bike by paying the cost difference between Di2 and mechanical, justifying it to myself that it would be virtually maintenance-free (as mine has been for 9 years now, including the original battery). His experience was highly atypical, but it might be worth keeping in mind when making the decision.
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Old 11-09-23, 01:20 PM
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Electronic drivetrains are better.
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Old 11-09-23, 01:59 PM
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The recurring theme of these threads is that people with cable actuated shifting argue that it works just fine, which it does. On the other hand, the electronic shifting is an advancement forward. There are pros and cons to each, but price aside I don't think anyone can reasonably say that the electronic shifters are not better. They actually do some things better than cable actuated shifters; whereas, the cable shifters do not really do anything better than the electronic shifters. Is it worth the extra money is an entirely different discussion for which there are no answers.
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Old 11-09-23, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by aliasfox

Oddly enough, I've owned a VW DSG, and would happily own a Porsche PDK. I've never gotten the romanticism of a clutch, least of all in-town or in traffic. Getting the option to pick the gear I want when I want to play, and the option to forget about it when I don't - works for me.
Totally unrelated to electronic shifting for bikes, I've owned several PDK equipped cars. Flipping the gears is fun around town and on country roads, but on the track, I can't think faster than the PDK. Every time I've tried, the PDK has been noticeably faster.
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