The Alfine Di2 shares the same frame design – blending off-road capability with brilliant on-road manners for a bike that’s pure and simple fun to ride – but the steel is uprated to air-hardened Reynolds 853 (it gains strength post-welding when left to cool naturally). The strong material means tubes can be made with much thinner walls, giving the frame a bit more life; when riding over rough surfaces you can feel the spring underneath you. It’s plenty stiff enough, but the ‘life’ in the frame makes for a very comfortable ride.
The bike is finished with a full complement of Genesis aluminium parts, all very well finished, although we’d prefer a bit more shaping to the bar to make the slender round tops a little more comfortable. The slim, narrow but curvy Madison Prime saddle is very well designed though.
The modified Alfine hub is top quality but adds to the overall weight
The big story is the drivetrain. Di2 is making waves for serious road racers, but for Shimano to apply that tech to what is essentially an urban ’cross machine in commuter territory is surprising. The Di2 application here drives a modified Alfine eight-speed hub gear. Combined with the 42-tooth chainset, it offers a gear range that approximates a 12-38 cassette – that’s plenty for most climbs, especially on an urban commute. The functionality of Di2 with the eight-speed hub is hugely impressive: it instantaneously snicks between gears on the flat, and is far superior to a standard cable system, lacking that telltale lag you sometimes find with an internal system. In high torque situations the hub can offer a short grumble when switching, but it doesn’t disengage and pedalling is not affected so it never hinders progress.
What does is the weight: at 12.74kg, this is a heavy bike. Lighter components could help, but at 1.5kg the Alfine hub is the weightiest contributor, and there isn’t anything you can do about that. On the flat or at speed the weight isn’t an issue – in fact, the sensation of mass at the rear makes the Day One feel super stable through downhill corners and a whole chunk of fun, but on big climbs it can get wearing. Braking is handled by Hayes CX Experts, offering decent feel and enough power.
Hayes CX Expert disc brakes are smart stoppers
The Day One Di2 is a bit of an anomaly. It’ll be too pricey for many commuters but offers great handling and a superior drivetrain. What it does do is show how good a hub-geared commuter can be.