review: Ultegra Di2

uh. it’s brilliant.

thanks for reading.

oh you want more? well i guess i could try, but the conclusion will be the same…

it’s just so unfathomably sweet, so deliciously un-clunky, so finesse-esquely refined. people have been complaining a little about the clunk on the RD in comparison to the Dura Ace version. are you kidding me? you’ve been on manual shifters all your life and here you have the biggest technological jump in shifting since down-tube shifters went the way of the Dodo and you’re having a moan about a clunk that isn’t even a clunk, it’s more of a falafafahahum. my Sram Red clunks, slams into place like a shell being loaded into a 2nd World War mortar – or at least it felt like that after i got off the Di2 test bike and back onto my team-issue Cervelo.

at half the price of the Dura Ace version yet just 150g heavier, the Ultegra Di2 makes absolute sense. like windows in a house. or hot croissants with good salted butter. or steering wheels. it’s that obvious. your first shift makes your giggle. the second sends a buzz up your spine and the third has you laughing like the proverbial maniac. you’ll probably wear out your cassette in record time from changing gears unnecessarily, just cos it feels so good.

once set, the derailleurs are set forever. the derailleurs shiiiiiiiiffffffft into place with immaculate precision, there’s none of the slight grating of the chain (the FD automatically trims when the RD moves), no jumping from imprecise alignment.

truly revolutionary. all race-quality gruppos will go this way, they’ll have to (assuming they can make them as easy, or nearly as easy, to maintain as traditional gruppos), such are the advantages offered. shifting out of the saddle, whether climbing or sprinting, is immediate and smooth. nothing is lost. on very steep climbs, when pedaling at low cadence, again, shifting is immediate. i had the Di2 for three rides and they were a joy, and without meaning any disrespect to Sram, i felt like i’d stepped out of a clunker and climbed into a Bentley. i would love to try this in a race.

anything wrong with the Ultegra Di2? it’s not superlight, i guess, but it’s not going to turn your helium-filled beauty into a tank overnight, by any means. one other thing is that, unlike Sram’s, the Shimano levers are too straight. whereas Sram’s are angled to the outside of the bars, which makes reaching them easier, Shimano’s go perfectly vertical. it’s not a big grumble but i have fairly large hands and long fingers, so can only imagine it’s worse for the small handed.

i’m not going to go into technical detail here, that’s not really my cup of tea – you can find all that elsewhere. aesthetically though it looks OK. ultimately, it’s Shimano, they’re never going to wow you with their lines but they’ll never offend either. as for the feel though, as stated above, incredibly good. only beaten by – and there’s no more than a hair’s width in it – the DA version.

this, for sure, is the way forward.

Author: Lee Rodgers

Cycling coach, race organiser, former professional cyclist and the original CrankPunk.

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