Shimano’s new Ultegra 6870 Di2 groupset
Shimano’s New Ultegra 6870 Di2 Groupset
The big news for triathletes is that for the first time, Shimano is offering a complete Di2 TT/Tri group at the Ultegra level, making electronic shifting more accessible than ever. Until now Di2 appeared only in their most expensive Dura Ace groupset. Now top of the line features are appearing on Shimano’s second from the top options. The entire group has gone on a diet, the front and rear derailleur in particular are much smaller compared to previous generations and look nearly identical to the Dura Ace version save for the finish. It retainins the fast yet accurate shift that Di2 offers in all conditions. The brakes, too, are near copies of their Dura Ace siblings, and enhance both power and modulation.
Consumers can choose the new Ultegra Di2 brake levers to complete a tri groupset. By substituting an aluminum brake lever instead of carbon, Shimano was able to cut cost at the expense of a small increase in weight, offering riders the option to shift when out of aero without having to spring for Dura Ace parts. With a strong return spring, braking feel is also identical to the Dura Ace levers, offering riders a distinct advantage when climbing, descending and cornering. Even on f lat courses, shifting at the brake levers is useful at turn around points, as well entering and exiting transition.
The second generation of Di2 offers a host of customization possibilities. By plugging in a diagnostic unit from your computer and connecting it to the junction box of your bike you can rearrange the function of various buttons (to specify up or down shifts) or program shift speed (a choice of four) from your computer to suit your preferences.
Along with an increase to 11 speed, Shimano’s new Ultegra groupset offers much wider range gearing than before. The new four arm crank allows athletes to swap from a standard (52/38, 53/39 or 55/42) to a compact set up (50/34 and 52/36) without buying new cranks. A new mid-cage rear derailleur can handle bigger cogs than Dura Ace – up to a 32 teeth. Whether you’re tackling the f lat Ironman Florida or the uphill Alp D’Huez Tri, the new Ultegra groupset allows you to pace properly to ensure fresh legs for a strong finish.
Since its launch five years ago, Shimano’s electronic groupset has proven to be a step forward in function and performance. By trading mechanical cables for electronic wires, it offers the side benefit of almost eliminating periodic maintenance. Simply lube your chain regularly and charge the battery a few times a year.
Any skepticism about the performance of Di2 has been dispelled since the arrival of Shimano’s electronic groupset five years ago. It set the standard for bicycle components. Triathletes have the most to gain from this innovative system thanks to the bar end and brake hood shifting, but will also benefit from the improved shift speed and reliability. Though not cheap by any means at $2,095, Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 groupset offers much of the Dura Ace benefits at about half the cost, making it one of the best bargains around.