Because electronic—as opposed to traditional mechanical—shifting systems make gear changes faster and virtually eliminate missed shifts, which can interrupt your pedaling rhythm or, worse, cause your chain to fall off, electronic shifting has long been the holy grail of ultimate design within the bike industry. Two years ago, Shimano finally delivered on the promise with Dura Ace 7970 Di2, which has been considered the most efficient and accurate road groupo on the market since it was introduced. The only catch: with it’s ultrasteep price—$10,000 and up for a complete electronic-equipped bike—few riders could afford the benefits. With the introduction of the second-tier Ultegra Di2, Shimano is now sharing around the privilege. While the Ultegra components are slightly bigger and chunkier than their top-shelf counterparts and the complete set is nominally heavier (approximately 9 ounces), the performance is said to be virtually identical. More importantly, Ultegra Di2 retails for a little over half the cost of Dura Ace Di2, and numerous manufacturers are bringing out bikes built around the new components for as little as $4,000 for complete bikes. That’s still not exactly cheap, but it’s accessible to a lot more consumers, and we love the trickle of technology paired with the plunge in pricing.
Shimano Ultegra Di2 6770 was one of our editor’s five picks for Gear of the Show at the 2011 Interbike show. Click here to see the rest.