Friday, January 8, 2010

Electronic Shifting Judged Tech Innovation of 2009

The 2009 reader poll for the "Best Tech Innovation" has electronic shifting voted as the number one innovation. As Campagnolo remains absent this leaves Shimano as synonymous with electronic shifting.

Before moving on to the poll we should revisit previous articles:
Electronic Shifting (February, 2009) which cited Campagnolo as having delayed bringing its version to market because of the economic downturn.
Electronic Shifting, Part II (June, 2009) which discussed the progress that Shimano was making on the development of Di2.

For the complete article visit ; below is the portion that pertains to electronic shifting and the ranking of other innovations.

"Your votes in the new 'Best Tech Innovation' category signal loud and clear that the future of bicycle technology lies not in improved structure but rather the increased use of advanced electronics. Whether designed to enhance functionality of mechanical function, optimize our training efforts, or simply provide more information to satiate our ever-increasing hunger for data, these systems have surged to become the technology du jour.

In first place is electronic shifting, which, for the time being, is also synonymous with Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 group (Campagnolo's system is still in development). Skeptics have loudly proclaimed the concept as a 'solution to a problem that didn't exist', yet interestingly enough, many of those voices have quieted down now that more people have had an opportunity to use it in person.

The benefits are subtle but substantial nonetheless: shifts are more precise and consistent over time, there is less maintenance required, less user effort is needed to initiate a shift (not an issue with the vast majority of us but notable for riders that spend as much time on a bike as we do behind a desk), and a generally more precise and accurate feeling across the board. Though not yet the case right now, electronic systems also have the potential to be lighter than mechanical ones, too.

To be fair, Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 system isn't quite perfect and is still incredibly expensive but all things considered, it's a major leap forward and a sign of things to come."

Reader poll results - Best tech innovation

Electronic shifting: 3517
Power meters: 1822
GPS-enabled computers: 1667
BB86/BB90/BB30 oversized bottom brackets: 1193
Aero road bikes: 1074
Carbon clincher road wheels: 1060
Ceramic bearings: 900
Tubeless clincher road tires: 839
Ergonomic saddles: 462
Heat-moldable footwear: 442
Sub-900g carbon fiber road frames: 425
Tapered steerer tubes: 296
Sub-200g helmets: 201
Boa lacing systems: 172

The poll for 2008 products, as a point of reference was:
1 SRAM Red 3676 votes, 31.97
2 Campagnolo Super Record 2375 votes, 20.66%
3 Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 1458 votes, 12.68%
4 Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 1221 votes, 10.62%
5 Road Tubeless 817 votes, 7.11%

Will Campagnolo unveil electronic shifting in 2010 or will it remain a segreto? With Italian bike manufacturers such as Wilier and Pinarello building Shimano Di2 specific bikes there must be some very serious discussions taking place in Vicenza.

Stories for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact me at There are more than 1,100 stories in this blog. The search feature to the right works best for finding subjects in the blog and there is also a translate button at the bottom so that you can translate each page.


  1. And we all know that Campy's system won't work properly and leave the rider stranded somewhere, stuck in the 12.

  2. I take issue with electronic shifting, no matter who makes it. Using energy stored in a battery to perform action normally done by a rider's own physical effort takes away from the "primacy of man over machine." I think the UCI should not allow use of battery power for anything other than providing information to the rider as in GPS or a power-meter. It's a slippery slope from here -- what's next, a tiny motor in the BB or rear hub that can provide that extra bit of drive at the end of Milano-San Remo? What makes bicycle racing interesting to us is the fact that ATHLETES win races, not the bicycles -- despite what the bike or component makers would like one to believe.