As a comment to yesterday’s post pointed out, I linked to pictures on Belgium Knee Warmers, but I did not specifically point out the shots of the electronic Dura-Ace shifting system that was seen on the bike of Gerolsteiner’s Fabian Wegmann. Shimano’s electronic Dura-Ace group has been in development for a while (check out this nearly 2 year old Cycling News tech article if you haven’t seen it). Still it is interesting to see the system being tested on a Pro bike in the Tour of California this year. From the looks of it, I would say that Shimano must be getting pretty close to releasing the group. If you are interested, you can read more about electronic Dura-Ace on a Cycling News tech post from yesterday.
Of course the bigger question this brings up is; do we really need electronic shifting? Mavic tried it a couple times in the 90’s, first with Zap and then with… whatever that other one was… yeah, Mektronic, that was it. Campy has been ahead of Shimano in their development of an electronic system as well (electronic Record has even showed up on bikes in the Tour de France a couple times), which probably explains why we are seeing such refined prototypes from Shimano at this point. I could go on and on with my thoughts on the benefits and disadvantages of electronic shifting, but I have the flu right now and I just don’t feel up to it. Instead, I’ll just get back to my coffee and cold medicine and leave the discussion up to you. What do you think? Are electronic shifting systems just an attempt to complicate a simple machine, or do they offer real advantages for racing bikes? What about beyond racing? Am I going to have to change the batteries on my commuter in a few years? Oh wait, it’s a single speed, probably not.
Photo credit: BKW