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Electric gear shifters

Discussion in 'Bicycle Mechanics and Repairs' started by Shaun, 20 Apr 2008.

  1. Shaun

    Shaun Founder Staff Member

    I've seen occasional articles in C+ about electric gear shift systems that are in development, but what would be the advantage?

    I don't exactly strain my wrists with my manual gear changes, so is it down to speed of gear change?
     
  2. Steve Austin

    Steve Austin The Marmalade Kid

    Location:
    Mlehworld
    no cable to get grimy, so shifting wouldn't be affected by mud slime grime etc

    also some of them index automatically, so no grinding gears.

    i suppose it could shift a a whole bunch of gears quicker too?
     
  3. The thing is that if they goes you need to see a electrician not a bike shop!
     
  4. hubgearfreak

    hubgearfreak Über Member

    on a hub gear or a dérailleur?
     
  5. I've only ever seen the Mavic system up close when I assembled a bike for a magazine road test C.1994. Wicked groupset but it was dogged with problems when used on the Tour because the mechanics thought it would be a good idea to take the back plates off the shifter switches to save weight which resulted in the switches shorting out on the bars. Mavic withdrew the system as a result. Shi**no have been experimenting with electronic shifting for several years, their automatic/ electronic city bike group was launched with great fanfare five or so years ago then sunk without trace, as did their 'Airlines', compressed-air powered system which didn't get much farther than than the prototype stage.
    I'd love to have a fettle of the new Dura-ace but don't hold out much hope that it'll find it's way to market.
     
  6. baggytrousers

    baggytrousers Well-Known Member

    Location:
    wirral
    I saw the Compag gear in a recent edition of C+ and it looks quite impressive but surely at the moment any advantage in smoother quicker shifting would be outweighed (no pun intended) by the heavy battery unit need to power it.
     
  7. fossyant

    fossyant Ride It Like You Stole It!

    Location:
    South Manchester
    It's OK for the pro's, but not much can go wrong with a manual system. What if you forget to charge the battery, and it dies 50 hilly miles from home.... Great idea, but I'd get the manual version - probably lighter.
     
  8. Smokin Joe

    Smokin Joe Legendary Member

    Both Campag and Shimano will probably have their electronic systems on the market for next year. The pros who have been testing it have all been complimentary about te speed of shift and the ease of use with the systems. Campag claim a battery will last half a Tour de France and both systems that were used in Paris - Roubaix came through unscathed.

    If it proves reliable enough for the pros to use en masse then within a few years you will be hard pushed to find anyone in a race above 3rd cat using cables. It won't replace cables to the extent that STI/Ergos have taken over from d/t shifters, but as it filters down the groupsets most serious riders will eventually have at least one bike with a battery attached.
     
  9. John the Monkey

    John the Monkey Frivolous Cyclist

    Location:
    Crewe
    I think the thing in STi/Ergo vs downtube shifters is that the benefit is a clear, easy to show one. I'm not sure you can say the same of electronic vs mechanical shifting (via STi/Ergo).

    I could be wrong, of course, and auto indexing/auto trimming is what the world's been waiting for, but I can't personally see the appeal, and can't imagine going out of my way to own an electronic system. Cables have a fair advantage and appeal for the amateur, I think, in a way that reducing the control of shifting to black boxery simply doesn't...
     
  10. John the Monkey

    John the Monkey Frivolous Cyclist

    Location:
    Crewe
    Coincidentally, I was reading the Keith Bontrager interview that's on BikeRadar today, he said something related to this (albeit slightly)

    (My emphasis)

    Full interview here.
     
  11. RedBike

    RedBike New Member

    Location:
    Beside the road
    If the gears auto indexed I would definately be intrested; Although I probably wouldn't buy until the technology had trickled down the groupsets a bit.

    I fell off the back of the race yesterday when my chain decided to start jumping around between sprockets. (thanks to new cables stretching). Presumably electronic gears would of kept me in the race, well until the next hill anyway.

    Don't think I will be putting them on my commuter in a hurry though. I can't remember to charge my lights up never mind my gears.
     
  12. Smokin Joe

    Smokin Joe Legendary Member

    All the arguments put forward against electronic shifting were used when clipless pedals, indexing, STI/Ergo, aluminium, carbon fibre and God knows what else came out.

    I gaurantee, if electronic systems pass the threshold of acceptable reliability they will become commonplace. As for repairability, very few cyclists repair anything these days. Most serious racing men don't keep equipment long enough to need it repairing anyway. Motorcycles are packed with electronics which are just as exposed to the elements as they would be on a bicycle and they run like clocks.
     
  13. Whilst the majority of joe public really don't need electronic gears, they don't really need 10 sprockets on the back.

    But here's the rub - the manufactures have almost made everyone (including me now !) go to 10 speed. It will be the same with electronic gears.

    25 years ago you could re-build a Campag record hub - even down to the inner (yes inner !) ball races which were replaceable. I'm not even sure you can do that now on a Record 10 speed hub (someone mite correct me here tho !).

    It's progress - but not as we know it ! (if you get my drift)
     
  14. Tim Bennet.

    Tim Bennet. Entirely Average Member

    Location:
    S of Kendal
    The Mavic electronic shifters did have one tangible advantage for some riders. You could have several of the rocker switches for the gear changes and position them where you like. This was particularly useful on time trial setups where the gear shifters could be positioned at your fingertips on the tribars, the tops and the drops.
     
  15. BJH

    BJH Über Member

    If you were buying now, is this time to go with electronic shifting or not? I feel wary that if I went electronic and it proves to be a fad, then the frame would be useless in the future, Alternative, go cables and electronic takes off then get left with guides on the frame.
    Recent articles seem to suggest that with UI2 it;s here to stay and that battery charging issues are none existent - what's everyone thinking on the future?