Shimano is announcing the return of the Di2 electronic system to its mountain bike lineup. But this time, it is only associated with an electric motor. Except for e-MTBs, this group can change gears for you.
If customers have been waiting a long time for Shimano to move a little further to create the new “Di2” electronic series, they are satisfied this year. After the late 105 Di2 for the price of salt, the Japanese company is relaunching the Di2 in mountain biking, a sector in which the American SRAM and its AXS groupset have dominated. To find out, Shimano made an unusual choice: the Di2 cruisers intended for mountain bikes will be completely modified for… electricity. So it would be impossible to have Di2 on a regular mountain bike. And that’s for a very good reason: automatic gear shifting.
An E-MTB that changes gears for you
So that’s why the new Di2 MTB groupset is reserved for e-bikes. In fact, they are intelligently controlled by the electric motor and battery through a central processor that analyzes a large amount of data: the torque on the pedal, the speed of the bike, the speed of rotation of the pedals … all this is included in the brain. of VTTAE and replaced by an algorithm that manages gear changes instead of the driver.
In fact, the technology is divided into two parts: Free Shift and Auto Shift. The first is very interesting for a mountain bike as it allows you to change several gears without turning the pedals. Details. In front of you, a very steep slope followed by an ascent. For the second part, you have to “raise” the sprockets to enable pedaling, but the descent and ascent are instantaneous, the pilot does not have time to change gears as he has to rotate his legs to accelerate. . Thanks to Free Shift, you can change gears using the control on the handle without turning your feet. The system can play the derailleur without turning the crankset!
Auto Shift, automatic transmission
Auto Shift goes further as it is a type of automatic gear. In concrete terms, the values of torque, rotational speed and bike speed are analyzed in real time to adjust the relevant gear according to the location. Obviously it is practical on a mountain bike, but not only. Imagine arriving at a stop or a stop in a city: many inexperienced cyclists forget to change gears to start again, and find themselves in a very high gear when they start again. Auto Shift will have changed gears for you by then!
Also read: Electric bikes: no more gear changes?
In mountain biking, it is more interesting as the changes in speed (uphill, downhill, etc.) are frequent. Of course, the rider will always have the option to change gears in old-style manual mode with handlebar controls. The app also allows you to configure different modes. And another novelty: the arrival of the new engine EP6, more available (and heavier) than EP8, which will make it possible to reduce the prices of VAE a little, always higher. These are motors that will be linked to Di2 derailleurs and automatic gear changes. To make life easier for customers, it will even be possible to update the engine firmware remotely via the app.
Unfortunately, these Di2 MTB groupsets will not be sold separately.. They will be factory installed “OEM” on electric mountain bikes. Logical, since they are directly connected to the internal battery of the mountain bike and to the electric motor.