During Triathlon Magazine Canada’s long-term test of the Shimano Dura Ace Di2 gruppo I was asked almost the same questions by gear-hungry triathletes every time they saw the flashy components on my bike (or heard that oh-so-cool whirring of the derailleur during a ride). So, here are the questions, along with the answers I’ve been providing:
1) Aren’t you worried about the battery running out?
Not even in my worst nightmares. I did an entire trip to Malaysia and New Zealand and didn’t even take the charger with me. Shimano has been extremely conservative about how long the battery lasts – I literally went for months between charges with a fairly regular riding schedule. I never even saw the warning light come on, let alone have to worry about only having a few hundred miles of riding once I saw it.
2) What happens in the rain?
Ummm … nothing. The derailleurs shift as crisply as always. Di2 has been designed to withstand the force of a powerwasher that’s routinely used to clean the pro bikes at the Tour de France. My bike also sat on top of our van for our trip to Florida through some really heavy rain (and a bit of snow) and fared just fine.
3) Do you need to make any adjustments?
I did a couple of times – both after having unpacked my bike after travelling on a plane and, I guess, bumping the rear derailleur or moving things when I reattached it. Both times I was able to make the adjustments while I was riding the bike – you simply press a button on the controller to get into the adjust mode, then use the derailleur buttons to get the derailleur lined up again. It literally took a few seconds. I would guess that people who weren’t travelling with the bike wouldn’t have to deal with those issues.
4) What’s the biggest difference you’ve found between Di2 and regular Dura Ace?
The shifting is a bit more precise and it seems to be a bit quicker. For triathletes, though, the most popular feature will be the ability to change gears when you’re in an aero position or when you’re riding with your hands on the bars. If you’re riding in a group you’ll love the ability to change gears and have your hands close to the brakes.
5) Is there anything you don’t like about Di2?
The hardest thing about reviewing this gruppo is that it’s almost impossible to come up with any criticisms. Everything I’ve written seems to come off like an ad. Yes, it’s expensive, which will make it the exclusive domain for wealthy cyclists and triathletes for a while, but in terms of performance there’s almost nothing this gruppo doesn’t do.
Kevin Mackinnon is the editor of Triathlon Magazine Canada