I’m trying to decide on if I should upgrade to electronic shifting and I see and understand the benefits.
but I feel like I’d miss out on the charm of doing it myself. almost like the charm of a bicycle is propelling yourself with your own power. (I do have lights, a head unit, and will have power soon…so it’s somewhat hypocritical to say I don’t want gadgets…but none of those functions can be performed without electric)
I love the satisfying sound of a perfectly timed shift.
Putting price aside, would anyone actually prefer mechanical shifting? just wondering if i’m being too stubborn / nostalgic to enjoy a clearly better system.
Nope, I love that it shifts correctly every time and I am not dealing with stretching cables.
I have bikes with both - and they have their pluses and minuses. I wouldn’t “upgrade” a perfectly good mechanical group to electronic. If it is worn out, yes. If buying a new bike, yes. But if you have a decently good mechanical group that works fine, save your money.
I have a Force eTap AXS (1st gen) on my road bike and XTR M9000 mechanical on my mountain bike.
From the post, you seem concerned about what I’d call cycling nostalgia. I am not a nostalgic person. I don’t clamor for friction shifters nor do I think quill stems are pretty. An old bike does not appeal to me in the slightest, unless the design is timeless and it looks kinda modern.
That being said, here is my experience with electronic shifting:
- Electronic shifting is really nice to have in most situations, but not necessary.
- Shifts happen, period. No matter what electronic groupset you go for, all are great. You push a button, it shifts. Period. Every. Single. Time. No ifs, no buts. You don’t have to nurse shifts.
- I can shift with my pinky or ring finger while braking (I’m on eTap), which is a huge advantage. My brake lever no longer swivels, which has been a huge dislike for me (coming from Shimano mechanical). Huge plus for me.
- This is doubly true for front shifts. Those require some skills on a mechanical groupset, especially shifting up. An electronic groupset takes the guesswork out of it, and IMHO that’s a good thing.
- On eTap trimming the rear mech while riding is a godsend. I love, love, love this feature.
To me the question would be: would I want to upgrade from a mechanical to an electronic groupset (as opposed to getting an electronic groupset with a new bike)? No. Especially if the mechanical groupset is in good nick and there is no reason to upgrade. Would I think about an electronic groupset when it is time to buy a new bike? Yes!
No preference for mechanical shifting. New bike is Di2…never realized how easy it was to shift so effortlessly. It has been the best change ever for me.
The only time I want mechanical shifting is when I can’t feel my fingers to differentiate the buttons on di2. That’s happened once.
I’m in the electronic group. I never liked the 2 shift levers on the down tube.
I think electronic shifting beats out mechanical.
Di2 is just flawless performance. Etap is stupid easy to set up and the large buttons are nice (no comment on front derailleurs).
But having put thousands of miles on both those systems, all my bikes at this time (and maybe all my future bikes) are mechanical.
I like the feel of shifting, the clunk on downshifts, I even find the setup cathartic.
Yes, but this is on Shimano. Despite coming from Shimano mechanical at the time, even after over 2 weeks, I’d still misshift regularly on an Ultegra Di2-equipped loaner. I solved the problem by switching to SRAM eTap AXS. Zero misshifts.
You could reprogram the buttons to work like sram with synchro. I was 3 miles from my destination after 8 hours on the bike when it started snowing. Have 25k-ish mostly adjustment free miles and extremely happy with di2.
Yes, I know, but the loaner was on the previous generation of Di2 and did not sport the Bluetooth connection box. Nor did the bike shop give me the USB cable. I would have really like to try out the different shift modes. (The lack of Bluetooth support was another of Shimano’s faults IMHO, Bluethooth should simply be standard in the early 2020s.)
In the end, I would still say Shimano simply got the (default) Di2 button layout and UI wrong. Shimano’s choice to emulate its mechanical levers badly was really just, hmmm, bad. SRAM did it right, they started with a new electronic UI paradigm from scratch.
However, if you can deal with the buttons, from all I know Di2 is rock solid once it has been set up correctly. (The loaner was not, it was susceptible to chain suck on the rear when I switched to the smallest gear. But I don’t blame Shimano for that, that’s just a badly set up loaner bike.)
I still prefer mechanical, even though my primary road sled is 12spd Di2 Ultegra.
My travel bike (105) and gravel bike (GRX) and trainer bike (Campag) are all mechanical.
My previous bike was 11 speed Ultegra mechanical and my current bike is 12 speed Sram Red Etap. I’m not sure I’d ever want to go back. To me the biggest advantage to electric shifting is you don’t have to deal with stretched cables. Also once you set it up each gear is perfectly selected without any minor trimming issues.
There’s something to be said for a perfectly indexed mechanical drivetrain. There’s also something to be said for having that perfect shift every single time, never faffing with barrel adjusters.
I swore I was gonna keep mechanical grx on my cx bike, and then I got a deal to convert to di2 for like $300 all in and it was an absolute no brainer. If I were buying a bike that only came in mechanical, it’s certainly not a deal breaker, but if there’s an electronic option, I’m going that way 100% of the time
I went back to mechanical after 7 years of electronic.
I started cycling on 105 mechanical. Very shortly after I was on dura ace di2 9000 group. I’ve had every electronic group under the sun (sram, campy, shim) until 2020 then I stuck with di2 from then on
Just recently switched to mechanical 9100 dura ace and I’m never going back.
My situation is a little unique where I have 2 bikes in 2 countries and it’s hard to keep track of batteries and charges. I’ve ran out of batteries enough times (not many but 1 is too many especially if it’s a 6-7k ft climb day lol) to be fed up with it.
Although my reason is not about function, I must say, I fell in love with mechanical dura ace 9100 once I tried it this year. Shifting is amazing and there’s something about mechanical that I just love. Shifting is so much more satisfying if that makes sense. Parts are way cheaper too since everyone’s trying to get rid of them. Di2 is still amazing but mine are now sitting in a drawer and I’ll probably sell them soon.
Btw about stretching cables and maintenance…
Like… how often do you find that they stretch? I go months not touching any of the adjustments.
Once they stretch a bit and not shift right, it’s literally 5 seconds tightening 2 shift cables.
Anyway. Sometimes I feel people make up reasons to justify their purchases. Ride what you like but don’t repeat what GCN said about mechanical groups please.
I remember a video where they literally said “rim brake cables might break so they are dangerous.” as a list of cons of rim brake
I do like that with mechanical shifting, you can fix things. It might have more issues, but you can do something about it. Find the bend/frayed cable etc.
With electronic shifting, if it doesn’t shift, you can check the battery and see if its connected, but if its not those things, you’re basically stuck and can only buy a new one.
I’d definitively go mechanical for any ultra-long distance rides, or travel to remote places.
It also seems to me that electronic groupsets are much less prevalent than it seems on this forum. Over 90% of people that I ride with have mechanical groupsets.
I recently built a new bike as I had some stuff laying around from an older broken frame.
It’s my absolute dream bike, rides and looks amazing, stupidly light with mechanical Red 22 rim brake setup. As much as I don’t mind the rim brakes vs disc, installing the mechanical shifting on an integrated aero frame was an absolute pain, can’t stress enough how long it took me to get it right.
Installation aside, shifting works but does require a touch more attention - you kinda get used to that but electronic shifting is 100% accurate every single time. To the point I’m considering an upgrade in the future.
I have both. Electronical shifting is nice to have, not necessary in any way.
One big Con of electronical shifting: You have to charge it. Not often, but that may be the problem, because one can forget it. If the battery is empty the bike is usually unrideable (except on Etap with two batteries where you can convert to a 1x).
I have Etap - no front derailleur problems in the last 4000km. So far once a battery went dead on me (I am a dutiful battery charger, it reported a full battery the evening before).
After building, riding, and maintaining 3-4 bikes at a time with Shimano 11sp mechanical for the last few years I just built up my first R8100 di2 bike at the start of this year.
While I think I will ultimately prefer di2, I haven’t found it nearly as revolutionary a transition as I expected. I think these are the reasons:
- I’m a micro-adjuster rather than a macro-absorber (as described by my bike fitter) - this means that whether I decide to fix the issue or not I’m acutely aware of small changes in feeling/response long before they become an actual problem.
- I think I’m a ‘finesse shifter’ - potentially connected to the above, the quirks of mechanical shifting just seem to come naturally to me. It’s perfectly instinctive to back off the power ever so slightly at just the right time to allow the chain to move up from the small ring to the big one, to move up and down the cassette, etc. I’m also really comfortable pushing a shifter just that tiny bit beyond my intended gear click but not so far that it clicks into the next one so I can ‘overshift’ and move the chain a tiny bit faster. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I miss these things on di2, but it is odd not to have conscious control of them in the same way.
- EDIT TO ADD: I’m a relatively small rider and a spin-to-win guy rather than a masher, so I’m usually putting less torque through my drivetrain than some.
- I build and maintain my own bikes and I’m pretty good to them too, so shifting never really has a chance to get ‘bad’.
Where I vastly prefer di2 already is when it comes to being my own mechanic. I don’t mind indexing etc. on mechanical, but I find it a pain that once you’ve torqued down a cable clamp bolt the cable ends up crimped in such a way that you can never remove it and re-use it. I find myself going out of my way to make sure I don’t have to disconnect any shift cables until they’re due for replacement anyway, etc., even if it might be easier to remove a rear mech for a deep clean or for travel or for some kind of adjustment or whatever. With di2 it’s amazing to be able to just disconnect and reconnect stuff without even considering the impact on settings or the cost of consumables. Much much cleaner and simpler to work with from a maintenance point of view.
So I think it really matters quite a lot what kind of rider/shifter/maintainer you are. With that in mind it makes perfect sense to me that I have a totally different experience than a clubmate who shifts in such a way that it sounds like parts are going to start falling off of the bike any moment and who probably couldn’t even find a barrel adjuster, let alone know what to do with it. (Doesn’t make said hypothetical clubmate wrong either - I love that the sport offers different things to different people and doesn’t need to be a tinkering hobby for everyone! Someone has to keep the bike shops in business!)