If there was ever any doubt that electronic shifting would catch on then a walk around the many halls of Eurobike quickly dispels it – 2012 bikes are positively dripping with whizzing and whirring groupsets. Well, we say groupsets, but what we really mean is Shimano Ultegra Di2.
We took our first ride with the big S’s ‘entry-level’ electronic drivetrain last month following its launch at the start of the summer and it seems that pretty much every bike builder has decided that battery powered gear changing for half the price of Dura-Ace Di2 is too good an opportunity to miss and that 'the masses’ deserve the chance to make buzzing noises at every shift.
Obviously, while Ultegra Di2 comes at ‘only’ half the price of Dura-Ace Di2 it still ain’t that cheap. You’ll need just shy of three grand to get yourself a complete Ultegra Di2 machine, with Cube’s Agree GTC looking a likely benchmark for 'entry-level' Di2 machines at around £2700.
Cube’s Dan White reckons that even at that price there’ll be plenty of interest. “Ultegra Di2 is going to be really important in 2012,” he said. “I’ll admit that when Dura-Ace Di2 was launched I was sceptical, but after using it I was won over instantly. Opening electronic shifting up to more riders is a real no-brainer.”
Wilier’s Kevin Izzard is another fan of Ultegra Di2 – the brand will be offering it on their Gran Turismo model. “Everybody’s been talking about it and there’s definitely been more excitement about this than Dura Ace,” he said. “It could be the breakthrough that sees bikes with electronic shifting becoming far more common on the roads.”
Shimano are, of course, delighted, although not surprised, by the impact Ultegra Di2 has had. “We knew that Dura-Ace Di2 worked really well and that if we could bring out a system at half the price it’d be huge,” said Shimano Europe’s Harald Troost. “Of course, we don’t think it’s for everyone, and it'll sit easily next to its mechanical equivalent. We’re happy to give riders even more choice.”
For more on Ultegra Di2, including how it compares to Dura-Ace Di2, check out the video below, which also includes a look at Shimano's latest road shoes: