Electronic shifting vs mechanical vs hydraulic shifting Shimano vs Sram vs Campag rim vs disc brakes

what are the real differences between electronic shifting and mechanical shifting, and hydrolic shifting? what are the REAL differences between brands? what brands make drive trains? what kind of break is best? basically what Is the absolute best groupset for the road?

please use CLEAN LANGUAGE .

sorry in advance for opening up this huge “can of worms”

Well, hydraulic shifting is currently only available in single speed.


I’m not gonna touch rim vs disc brakes. There’s plus and minus for each system and one should choose based on priorities, convenience, price etc.


  • Cleaner setup (less cables)
  • Set it and forget it (no cable wear and adjustments over time)
  • Custom shifting options (assign whatever you want to the buttons. My shimano is right side: front upshift, rear upshift. Left side: front down shift, rear down shift.)
  • Smaller hoods


  • No battery to charge (though have to say you gotta REAAALLY f up to forget charging di2 or etap. just do it once a week or hell once in 2 weeks as habit and you’re golden)
  • Cheaper
  • When something goes wrong, you can jerry rig roadside?

Probably forgetting some stuff.

Oh and Shimano vs Sram vs Campy
Never been interested in Campy. Dunno why. They look hot AF imo but just not interested.

I went di2 9070 > etap > di2 9150 > etap disc > di2 9150 > di2 9170
Don’t ask me why. But I got a lot of miles with both systems.

I prefer etap rim brake levers. Hate disc levers. Bulky and ugly imo.
I prefer etap one button shifting.
I love wireless

I prefer overall aesthetics of shimano to sram.
I love how small 9170 disc levers are.
Most importantly: I absolutely 100% prefer shimano shifting performance by far

PS: Haven’t tried AXS at all so besides the same huge lever issue, I have no comments. I hear they improved a lot of stuff. I think at this point I’m pretty loyal to Shimano though.


I only have experience of shimano electric shifting via 10 speed ultegra and 11 speed dura ace. Both a dream to set up and once its done you can just forget about it. When I think of the hours I spent messing about with chewed up limit screws on my many mechanical groups it makes me weep. I had SRAM Red 22 mechanical which was very good and very light. I had an early 10 speed Red before which seemed to be made of soft cheese.
Best mechanical shifting I’ve had by far was dura ace. When it was adjusted properly it was buttery smooth.
I wouldn’t likely go back to mechanical now due to the ease of use with Di2. I would like to try axs but I’m not paying that kind of money for it when my dura ace works so flawlessly. Another bonus with electric shifting is the ability to have remote shitf buttons whether they be sprint shifters, climbing shifters or on the base bar of your TT bike.
I can’t speak about rim v disc brakes as I’m still a stone age rim brake user. I don’t have any major issues with Swiss stop yellow pads on carbon rims although I anticipate my next steed will be disc equipped because they all are now.
If you haven’t tried the battery powered options then beg, borrow or steal a bike for a while. I’d be very surprised if you didn’t love it.

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I used Ultegra mechanical and am now on Ultegra Di2 and would never willingly go back. The only advantages to mechanical I can think of are price, a slight weight savings, we’re talking 50-100g at best for similar group sets ie Ultegra vs Ultegra Di2 or DA vs DA Di2, and the ability to repair roadside if something goes wrong

On the flip side, di2 has a LOT of advantages. It’s maintenance free (saves money on cables and it’s convenient to not have to change them), perfect shifts every time, and added shift modes. Di2 is more reliable in bad weather due to not having cable housings that will get crammed with water and grime. I prefer the click shifting feel compared to the longer throws needed for mechanical, it’s very easy to double tap the downshift button and go down 2 gears compared to having to push the mechanical lever just the right amount to shift 2 gears but not 3 by accident. The battery charge lasts me 1,000+ miles so that’s not a concern either. Di2 also has a great track record as far as reliability, I only personally know one guy who had his FD go bad and it was replaced under warranty, but these aren’t components that frequently break, if ever.

I still have my old Ultegra 6800 mechanical groupset in a box for when I eventually build a beater bike, a trainer bike, or a “I don’t care if I crash this thing” race bike, but for buying bikes in the future I’ll do Di2 every time, unless it’s cheaper to buy the mechanical version and then do the Di2 upgrade

In today’s bike market, if you are buying a rim brake bike, you are buying obsolete technology that will rapidly drop in value. I am not commenting on which brake type is better, just stating the market realities. I don’t really subscribe to the “think about the resale value” line of thinking when it comes to buying a bike, but in this case, it is pretty foolish to buy a rim brake bike. The majority of bikes out there form the major suppliers are disc bikes and by next year, I’d be shocked to see bike over $1000 have rim brakes.

As for drivetrains, I personally prefer mechanical…but I am an old curmudgeon who likes the tactile feel of mechanical shifting. I have ridden Ultegra Di2 pretty extensively and purposely bought mechanical on my next bike. For a road bike, I don’t feel there is much advantage…however, for a tri bike, being able to shift from the base bar and aero bars is a welcome feature.

Final note - it is “Campag” but pronounced “Campy”. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: (see previous comment about being an old curmudgeon. :rofl:)

look at a pinarello dogma f12 rim break, you’ll be surprised by the cost

My new bike has force axs on it. It’s ok but I don’t understand the hype. It shifts just as well as mechanical gears but no better. The components are uglier, but it’s nice to have fewer cables.

di2 groups are lighter than their mechanical counterparts AFAIK

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Yes, the Di2 is a touch lighter in all forms when you compare same group and brake options.


I am never surprised by how ridiculously over-priced Pinarellos are. :wink:

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I absolutely thought this thread was started as a joke to just bait people into a crazy thread following off the latest rim vs. disc brake thread :rofl:

In which case I was going to say please also add which is best among 1x vs. 2x, compact, mid or full cranks, short/med cage RD, and best cassette range to the discussion, since they are also part of the groupset decision.

Have fun!

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Its because they are the best, thats what chris froome rides

That doesn’t make it the best. Chris Froome could probably slay on a $600 road bike if it had the appropriate gearing

Not exactly… Rotor’s Uno Groupset utilizes hydraulic shifting:


Well spotted…my sarcasm meter was clearly on the fritz and I fell for it.

but not as well as on his dogma f12

Sure but that doesn’t make it the best bike just because he rides one.

team ineos uses the marginal gains, why would they be riding a dogma f12 if they could go faster on say an orca aero

Neither. Real cyclists flip the rear wheel around to select an easier gear.

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