Back on January 1st I posted an item on the Bulletin Board at our companion Website (pre-Blog) regarding Santana’s optional tandem-specific, Shimano-approved DuraAce Di2 shifting system. Santana had just recently debuted the Di2 system on it’s flagship composite & titanium “Beyond” tandem model at Eurobike then again at Interbike and there was a pretty good buzz going around afterwards.
OK, what the heck is Di2?
- You can find a review and pictures of the hardware at a review on BikeRadar.
- From their August 1, 2008 Press Release:
Shimano officially announced Dura-Ace Di2, a technologically advanced, electronic shifting option for the all new 7900 series Dura-Ace. Comprised of Dual Control type shift / brake levers, front derailleur, rear derailleur, and a battery pack, the new Dura-Ace Di2 7970 components provide precision electronic performance and integrate seamlessly with components from the 7900 series Dura-Ace group while adding only 68 grams to the entire group.
Electrically actuated shifting significantly eliminates issues associated with cable friction and contamination because the derailleurs respond to electrical impulses that are delivered in fractions of a second. The shifters are now merely switches which also allows for creative placement of optional remote shifters while also reducing the weight and profile of the main shift units. Derailleur movement is precisely controlled through computer automated movement and servo motors creating perfectly synchronized and calibrated shifts every time.
I migrated that item to my Blog which you can find here: Santana Offers Shimano Di2 Electronic Shifting. There are some links embedded in the article that will take you to some postings at the Tandem@Hobbes listserver by Bill McCready, President and Founder of Santana Cycles, Inc., as well as a first-hand dealer review by Jack Goertz of Tandems Limited, Inc., Birmingham, AL.
The subject of Di2 came up again today at the BikeForums.net’s Tandem Sub-Forum where I hang my hat and otherwise inspire fellow contributors to roll their eyes, log-off or pound out terse rebuttals; it’s an amusement to be sure. But I digress: as I said a contributor from Düsseldorf, Germany had come across an update regarding availability of Santana’ tandem-specific, Shimano-approved DuraAce wireless electronic shifting system perhaps on the web site of Santana’s European distributor, Wolfgang Haas. Regardless, our friend wanted to know if Santana had made Di2 available here in the states. After an initial misfire by one member who was apparently unaware it had been released, I decided to drop our friend Bill McCready a line to get an update on Di2. Given that some of the recent changes may be of interest to a broader audience I decided to share the substance of his note here tonight, even though it may be a bit of a repeat for the BF readers… paraphrased, as it were:
In fact, in checking with Bill McCready at Santana today just to be sure I had my facts straight, the optional “tandem-specific Shimano-approved” Di2 shifting has been available in the US since October ’09.
Moreover, Shimano has a Santana Beyond Di2 test mule in their possession that is being used for additional refinements. The most recent change in the Santana Di2 is a revised standard, wide range 11-32 cassette with the buyer’s choice of 50/34 compact rings, 53/39 pro rings, or a ‘switch hitter’ set-up (my term). The switch hitter set-up uses an extra self-extracting Octalink carbon drive-side crank and second (shorter) chain that will allow owners to switch between “compact/climbing” and “pro” gearing in what was described as ten minutes or less. Bill also noted that because the “pro” crankarm supports a granny ring, it should support a future upgrade to an expected triple Shimano Di2 (3?) system.
As you can imagine, everyone at Santana is pretty excited by the Di2 system and believe other component makers will eventually release similar push-button / paddle shifting systems in the not too distant future, following Shimano in much the same way when they led the way with integrated shifting many years back. (Disclaimer: I’m a Campy guy)
Bill also shared a little more with me that had a bit more of that ‘sales’ flavor that is so often a part of his writing. In fact, I sometimes look forward to seeing just how much of what’s been posted to Hobbes or covered in Email replies ends up as new copy in Santana’s annual catalog / magazine, Tandems & Tandeming.
Anyway, Bill reiterated Santana and Shimano began collaborating on a tandem-specific version of Di2 even before the first systems were introduced for single bicycles. He also noted that while many long-time Shimano STI equipped tandem owners were excited about the prospects of improved, 100% reliable front derailleur shifts, Santana believes many of it’s Di2 customers will become so comfortable with the Di2’s zero-effort REAR shifts (i.e., no need to reposition your hands) they may never be happy with any cabled shift from any manufacturer. Moreover, Bill noted the Di2 ergonomics provides a improvement in control: increased control adding safety while also providing a competitive advantage.
In an effort to draw a colorful and concrete analogy, Bill made a very good point about something that many Sports Car Club of America and motor racing enthusiasts sometimes take for granted: try to imagine Formula One auto racing without “paddle shifters” noting the last F1 car with a manual shift lever raced in 1995. Hmmmm? That is a rather poignant observation. Again, from Bill’s note, just as index shifting replaced friction, and downtube / barend levers gave way to integrated controls, Bill imagines a time when electric could replace manual, cable-operated shifting systems.
Time will tell, as will Campagnolo’s and SRAM’s reaction in the market place.