Getting your bike serviced isn’t as simple as it used to be, and costs more!
The introduction of electronic gears onto the cycling scene came around in 2009, and like all things gadgetry & eletronic there are now software updates available which will improve the performance of your fancy high tech gears. The only thing is a lot of people are not getting the most from their investments as they don’t realise these updates for their electronic gears exist, unless they put their bike into an independent dealer.
Race season is only around the corner so thought I’d best get my bike checked out by my local bike shop. I normally do all my own servicing and bike builds but to be honest as I use the Di2 electronic gear system from Shimano I thought I better leave it to the experts.
I know electronic gears such as the Di2 aren’t new technology, but they are evolving. It is still not commonly known that you are able tweak your electronic gears through software. I myself knew you could change the settings, but how to go about it I simply didn’t have a clue, so I went off to my local cycle retailer. I was nicely surprised when I got there as I was advised that it normally costs around £10 to £15 (fees depends on the dealer) for these updates, something that's not going to break the bank.
Plugging your bike into a laptop.
For some it might seem a bit daunting plugging your bike into a laptop, but the end result with Electronic Gear shifting is simplicity, with changing gear at the press of a button, they are definitely a luxury worth having for serious cyclists.
So how does this fancy electronic gear changing and related software work? Firstly let's talk about the PC Software. Shimano use a system called E tube project (e-tubeproject.simano.com) which connects from your shifters to a computer via a diagnostic tool. It might be worth looking at their website to give you an idea of how it works before venturing to your favourite bike shop, this will give you an idea of how you want things to be for when they ask if you want any changes to your gears.
In the case of the Di2 it comes via the PC Interface device which can be found for around £100 online. This then works with the aforementioned Shimano’s E-tube project software which can run problem diagnosis, firmware updates and customisation, it’s this device and software that dealers have and will charge you for updates and tweaks to your gears. E-tube provides you with step by step instructions and it is easy to use, pretty amazing stuff really!
If you have a bike stand, as mentioned a few blogs back, then it’s easy to run through the gears.
The beauty of having your own Diagnostic tool is you can do the changes without going to the shop again and it costing money.
To make it simple
The cables on the Di2 system sends a signal to the components, which puts the power to the rear and front mech, these are both fitted with chips to receive the signal which in turn create the movement. A battery mounted in or on the frame is the powerhouse of the operation.
So why make tweaks to your gears performance?
Having changes made to your gear performance can really help improve your set-up. Gear shifting can be made quicker which is ideal for sprinters. There are different speed settings. The option of multi shifting so you can jump several sprockets at a time. You can also shift the whole length of the cassette with a press of a button.
Just as we are getting used to the idea of Di2, here is an alternative which you might prefer.
Sram Red eTap is a recent release and the first wireless system on the market, batteries are integrated into both the mechs, so no battery to try and hide on your frame!
The Sram red eTap is easier to fit than Dura Ace Di2 and to be quite honest it makes shimano seem old school. So if you have spent around £3000 on the Dura Ace Di2 thinking you have the best set up, well you might be wrong!
- Sram Red eTap quick details:
- Diagnostic tool is via a Wireless dongle simply plug into USB port (no cable)
- The batteries are interchangeable (for both rear and front mech) these batteries are rechargeable lithium 1000k (60 hours).
- The Shifters themselves take standard cr2032 batteries.
- There are also rather cool buttons called blips (pictured - with red background) which you can place anywhere on the bike to change gear, perfect for descending on your drops or tt bike.
The Sram Red eTap groupset retails for £2060 and the Dura Ace Di2 though retails for £3000, can be found online for as cheap as £1619.99
You would expect normally when a more advanced product comes out it is more expensive, however, not this time. The Sram is really an impressive bit of kit, make sure to check out full reviews, as they are all very favourable and definitely worth contemplating if you are looking at getting an electronic groupset.
You would think that with a massive rival now on the scene with the Sram that Shimano will be working on bringing out a wireless system as well. Possibly with Shimano’s wired systems becoming much cheaper, they are putting things in place for a new wireless system to enter the market and compete with the Sram, we will simply just have to wait and see.
The views shared are that of the author and are not necessarily that of Lexham Insurance Consultants Ltd.