There’s a big difference between the press release in which it is stated how wonderful a new bike part is and the actual test of it. Actually, words have never been able to describe the exact feelings when it comes to a new bike part. You can always try hard to explain how it works, but how it feels, needs to be tested.
Recently, I had the chance to see the new Shimano XT Di2 M8050 electronic transmission, something I was looking forward to. Discussing with their R&D, I found out that it is slightly possible to see the new electronic system installed on Deore or SLX because it implies other costs so, we can talk about electronic shifters on Shimano XTR and XT. Or Acera?!
Bip. bip, bip…! I immediately tested the bike, with a slight disappointment that I could ride it only inside the exhibition. Actually, I was done a favour because usually bikes are tested on trainers. That bip is really brilliant giving you the impression that you have a high-tech system at your disposal. How did Shimano make the difference between XTR and XT? Simple: different materials, bigger weights, different ergonomics and other functionality. And because functionality is what interests us the most, I found out that you cannot push the shift pedal twice, but once and you get the same perfect chain movement each and every time.
The model tested had also a shifter for the chainrings (pentru schimbarea foilor), even though you normally use a single shifter, the right one, after making the right settings. That is, the settings that tell the front derailleur when to shift on the big chainring after the chain goes under cog 5. Actually, you can set this through the help of a phone app, without going to a dealer. The phone app is the second big thing that accompanies the new XT Di2 transmission with wireless connectivity.
The display is highly visible offering a lot of information such as current gear, battery life and shift mode. Very useful is the phosphorescent red tongue that indicates the curent cog The shifter offers great grip because of it’s pedals. The truth is that in the case of this system I don’t see the utility of a second shifter, that is the front derailleur.
Indeed the shifters seems bigger because of the integrated motor, twice as powerful, in order to easier face the difficult situations (for example, when pedaling through mud). The battery lasts for hundreds of kilometers, all depending on how often you shift, and to recharge it you need around 9 hours. In case you run down on battery, the shifters remain in the same position, so you’ll still have sufficient speed in order to get home.
I liked the new electronic XT for it’s speed and consistency, it is a few grams heavier than a mechanic system and it is much more expensive. But the feeling it gives you is hard to explain in words. I would like so much to test it outdoor, where it belongs, but I’ll have to wait for awhile. The only reason that keeps me from using it, is the price. But, as we well know, the price will drop in a few years.