USCR's Tom Baker At Unveiling of New Gear at Interbike

-Text and Photos Tom Baker

One of the highlights of Interbike is Shimano's new version of their Di2 electronic shifters.  The Shimano people in the U.S. have only had four prototype systems in hand for a week and we checked them out.  Here's what we learned:  


Shimano Ultegra crank - Interbike 2012
Shimano derailleur



While these were prototypes, they expect to have components ready for sale in February.  With the new Dura-Ace and Ultegra Shimano joins the 11 speed club and switches all their electronic shifters to what they call the e-tube project.

E-tube greatly simplifies the wiring, making it match the system itself in Ultegra.  E-tube is essentially a modular wiring system where different shifting options can simply be plugged in.  Everything going forward will be e-tube, making the wiring simpler and much less expensive.  


Shimano eTube shifting



Here are some key changes to the Dura-Ace 9070:

  • wider shifter paddles, so shifting with winter gloves is easier.
  • each component has its own processor, instead of only the front derailleur having the processor, which makes the wiring simpler.
  • the system can be programmed anyway you want.  A light touch on the shifter might be a one cog shift and a longer touch might be programmed for a 3 cog shift.
  • the shifters have 3the wire connectors so additional shifters can be added to the system.
  • a sprinter's shifter can be added so shifts can be made while on the drops.
  • a climber's shifter can be added to the top of the bars do shifting can be done without reaching for the levers.
  • TT shifters only shift the rear derailleur.
  • Flight Deck has been canceled, as has ANT+ compatibility.
  • Ultegra Di2 10 speed can be upgraded to 11 speed without changing shift levers.
  • The mechanical Dura-Ace has been upgraded.  A new process used to make the cables produces ridged that run the length of the wire which reduces surface contact area which reduces friction.  Shimano says the pros really like the improvement.
Shimano also received prototype Alpine 11 speed internal hub Di2 systems.  These make for a very nice commuter bike setup.  It also has a digital display on the bars showing the gear.  Shimano is also working with Fox on a Di2 controlled rear suspension for mountain bikes.

Campagnolo also showed their EPS electronic shifter systems.  Perhaps the most interesting being the Athena group.  No Chorus group is being made.  Campy listened to OEMs who wanted to spec electronic shifters at a reasonable cost.  Athena with aluminum instead of carbon fiber is Campy's answer.  According to Campy, Athena shifts identical to Super Record.

Campy also showed a video shot inside their factory.  It looks like Valentino is finally allowing the cover to be pulled back so we can peek inside. The quality control in the factory is amazing!  The EPS parts get over 100 tests done on them.  The cranksets are hand spun with a dial indicator used to check the run out on the chain rings.  Everyone wears a blue Campy smock and it looks like the Ferrari factory.

As electronic shifters become more common what's SRAM's plan?  No news at Interbike.

The big star signing today was Big Mig, Miguel Indurain looking as fit as ever!  


Big Mig at Interbike 2012