By Dave Rome
(CYCLINGTIPS) — Shimano’s mountain bike groupsets have lengthy provided teasers of rising ideas that finally discover their manner over to the dropbar world. And so whereas the corporate’s newest announcement of contemporary product is aimed on the e-bike market, the options teased might show to be way more broadly relevant.
Following scorching on the heels of 105 Di2, Shimano has now introduced two contemporary variations of XT Di2 for mountain bikes. Nonetheless, not like the unique 11-speed model of XT Di2, these new variations are designed particularly to be used within the booming e-MTB phase. And becoming a member of these new XT elements are some new Di2 groupsets geared toward commuter bikes, and a few new drive items, too.
All of those new elements are fairly fascinating should you’re available in the market for a brand new e-MTB or commuter, however the introduction of automated shift performance to a derailleur-based drivetrain is all of the extra intriguing.
Two new variations of XT Di2
Shimano might be providing two variations of the brand new e-MTB-specific Di2 shifting techniques, one being a extra inexpensive 1×11 pace model with claims of elevated sturdiness, and the opposite being a 1×12-speed model that successfully provides digital management to the pre-existing 1×12 XT M8100 mechanical group.
Each new drivetrains are designed to plug straight into the equally new EP600 and EP801 e-MTB drive items, with energy supplied by the e-bike’s important battery. And each share the identical XT-level Di2 shifter, one thing that can also be wired to the bike’s central battery.
Utilizing the M8150 rear derailleur and an 11-50T vary cassette, the 1×11 model employs Shimano’s not too long ago launched “LinkGlide” (LG) know-how. Sitting along with Shimano’s different drivetrain choices, LinkGlide is meant to offer a extra sturdy drivetrain through a cassette that options wider sprockets with taller enamel.
LinkGlide cassettes are designed to work with common chains and match HG freehub our bodies, however the thickened gearing spacing requires a selected shifter and rear derailleur.
Shimano has introduced a brand new CS-LG700 cassette that’s claimed to be 200 grams lighter than the earlier 780-gram boat anchor of an 11-speed LinkGlide cassette.
The subtly higher-end XT M8170 Di2 rear derailleur is designed to be used with Shimano’s pre-existing Hyperglide+ 1×12-speed elements and makes use of the identical 10-51T cassette and chain because the presently mechanical XT groupset.
Pricing, availability, and weight particulars have not been supplied. Anticipate these new drivetrains to function closely on full bikes, with restricted aftermarket availability because of them requiring the brand new EP600 or EP801 drive items for performance.
Cues is a contemporary model line for Shimano aimed on the life-style and commuter market. Shimano has kicked off the Cues title with two derailleur-based Di2 drivetrains, each of that are designed to plug into the brand new EP600 and EP801 drive items.
Not not like the brand new XT Di2, Cues might be provided in each 1×10 and 1×11 variants to hit completely different worth factors. Each variations are based mostly across the new LinkGlide cassette with improved sturdiness in thoughts. The 1×10-speed model affords a most low sprocket capability of 43T, whereas the higher-end 1×11 model can deal with as much as a 50T sprocket.
Like the brand new XT Di2, you’ll be able to anticipate these elements to be seen on 2023 full bikes which can be geared up with Shimano’s newest drive items.
Free Shift and Auto Shift defined
Maybe the most important information shared between the brand new XT Di2, Cues Dis, and drive items, is the point out of a brand new Auto Shift performance — the primary time Shimano has provided such a factor with a derailleur-based drivetrain. Shimano has dabbled with auto-shifting performance previously. Its hub-gear-based Coasting System from the mid-2000s was solely short-lived, whereas simply final yr we noticed a brand new automated shifting and e-bike-specific hub gear return to market.
At the moment solely obtainable on bikes with the above-mentioned drivetrains and motors, “Free Shift” is a brand new setting that permits the gears to shift with out you pedalling. Whilst you’re coasting, urgent the shift button prompts the motor to advance the chainring and permits for a easy shift below managed energy. Free Shift is more likely to provide actual profit when driving tight and technical trails and can absolutely go a protracted solution to decreasing panicked gear-crunching that’s solely made extra extreme by the facility of a motor.
Becoming a member of Free Shift is a brand new (and optionally available) automated shifting performance aptly named “Auto Shift with Handbook Override.” Because the title suggests, that is an automated mode that can make shifts based mostly in your pace and cadence, or it may be overridden by hitting the shift button. And with the help of Free Shift, this automated mode may even make predictive shifts whenever you’re coasting.
What might this imply for the way forward for Di2?
There’s little arguing that options equivalent to Free Shift and Auto-Shift will show an enormous hit within the e-bike area, and for very completely different functions. Free Shift is more likely to discover recognition among the many e-MTB crowd, whereas Auto Shift will in all probability turn into a robust upsell instrument for informal riders in search of a commuter.
That stated, the Free Shift perform is not going to seek out its manner onto manually powered bikes anytime quickly because it depends on having a motor connected to a chainring to energy the shift. And in addition to, there are already just a few corporations providing a crank-based freewheel and glued rear hub combo to permit for pedal-less shifting when gravity mountain biking.
As an alternative, it is the brand new Auto Shift performance that is the one to observe and on this sense, we could possibly be trying on the subsequent technology of Di2 SynchroShift for Shimano’s street groupsets. Whereas this can be over-simplifying issues, including a GPS system, cadence sensor, and/or energy meter into the combination might present the system with all the data required to enact automated shifts. And whereas the usage of pace and cadence is probably going to offer too easy a perform for a performance-orientated rider, the addition of energy might present precisely what numerous riders need.
Computerized shifting definitely will not be for all, and I would hazard a guess in saying most studying this text might be towards it. However there’s little denying that there is a large market of riders on the market who would slightly not have to consider their gear choice and would slightly simply pedal. And it is a function like this that might assist strengthen the case for mechanical drivetrains going the best way of the dodo (not that I really like this development).
I assume the most important query is just not if we’ll see automated shifting attain our electronic-enabled drivetrains, however slightly when and who will debut it first. SRAM is already deeply invested in its personal digital ecosystem of drivetrains, suspension, energy meters, information acquisition units, head items, and extra. And SRAM has already managed to trickle its energy meter know-how down to cost factors the place such automation might be most appreciated.
Both manner, it is now clear that Shimano is sort of far together with the concept, too.