The moment we’ve been long waiting for has finally come: testing the Ultegra Di2 electronic derailleurs. So I invite you to seat yourself comfortably in your chair and consider the first impressions about the next step towards bicycle technology.
First, what are the advantages of an electronic system? Although not abundant, they are quite important. The first is shifting speed. Yes, that’s exactly as described in the presentation brochure – the derailleur moves up and down in a rhythm that you have not met before. Then is accuracy, there’s no such thing as chain suck (chain gets sucked up between sprockets or between chainrings). Without exaggerating, shift precision could make a Swiss watch burst with envy. And last but not least, is a system that does not disarrange itself, that is no cable and no screw will loosen. The only way you can influence its operation is to take a screwdriver and begin to disarrange it yourself. Besides, the entire electronic system is perfectly insulated, so that not even rain or mud can spoil your day.
How does an electronic system work? The mechanism is most simple. Shift levers are basically two pads behind the brake lever, being responsible for driving the derailleurs. Each derailleur has a little electric engine that receives orders from these pads, components being connected to a lithium battery. However, if you happen to need additional adjustments, just use the little device placed under the handlebars (see photo left).
Since I’m not at my first meeting with an electronic system, I had a term of comparison for Ultegra Di2,that is its “superior”, Dura Ace Di2. Well, I didn’t notice significant differences. Derailleurs work just as fine, only front derailleur shifting into high gear is somewhat slower as compared to the Dura Ace set. The other differences are the usual ones between Ultegra and Dura Ace: weight and price.
Speaking of weight, derailleurs, levers, cables and Ultegra Di2 battery have a total weight of 816 grams. The same parts belonging to the Ultegra mechanical system weigh 750 grams. Of the whole set, Di2 levers weigh less than the mechanical ones. The explanation is that the reduction of shift lever mechanism resulted in a loss of 135 grams. However, Ultegra Di2 is 141 grams heavier than Dura Ace Di2 (top of range). Regarding the battery, you must know that it has a range of about 2,000 kilometers, recharges in 90 minutes and bears about 500 charge and discharge cycles.
As far as price is concerned, cutting-edge technology has never been very accessible, yet Ultegra Di2 components are cheaper than the mechanical version of Dura Ace set. For approximately 1.100 euro, you will receive rear and front derailleurs, levers, cables, a charger and of course, the battery.
In case you think Di2 system is just a whim, you can call always opt for the mechanical system. It is cheaper and about 66 grams lighter.
If you are not yet convinced, we have good news for you all. Shimano has equipped about 1,000 bikes with electronic sets and has distributed them to their dealers all over the world. So, just call on your nearest Shimano dealer and ask when you can take a ride with this high-end technology model, called Di2!
Weight: 816 grams