In just over a decade since its release Di2 technology has risen to represent the pinnacle of groupset technology. It’s used by the very best bicycle racers in the world and has a long line of accolades and results to its name, but there’s no point in any of those if the technology isn’t backed up by reliability.
This is where GCN come in, or their video at least, by challenging the groupset with the kind of unthinkable ordeals you wouldn’t even wish on an enemy —from burying the groupset alive to submerging it in the sea. The outcome? You guessed it: Di2 is not only reliable, robust and durable, but almost unbreakable too.
Our reputation is founded on durability – it’s a value inherent in every one of our products – and this focus sits at the heart of Di2 products as well. Electronic groupsets revolutionised road bikes, replacing old-school gear cables with cutting-edge electronic shifting to provide instant, accurate and lightning-fast shifts at the press of a button, but importantly, it did so without compromising the durability and reliability that you’ve come to know.
As this GCN video shows (and legions of its fans will connect with), Di2 shifts in even the most extreme conditions without missing a beat. And they do mean any conditions; extreme heat or cold, dirt or wet, climbing or accelerating, Di2 takes it all in its stride. All you have to do is keep up with it.
While mechanical gear cables can clog with road grime, mud and dirt that cause a deterioration in shifting performance over time, Shimano Di2 has no exposed cables; instead it seals everything away from the elements. The result is smooth, reliable shifting under any load even in the worst grime or muddy conditions and, as GCN highlight, even submerged under water.
In another test —one that probably no sane rider will ever subject their bike to— GCN even buried their Di2 equipped bike. But despite being buried overnight under a heap of dirt so heavy it crushed the handlebars, the bike’s Di2 still emerged from its potential final resting place not only fighting, but winning too: even this muddy ordeal failed to affect shifting performance. Sure, it’s an extreme test that we hopefully will never see in daily life, but it highlights how tough Di2 really is.
Shifting under full power has always been a potential weakness in cabled gear systems, interfering with cadence and adding wear to components. By contrast Di2 can shift cleanly no matter how much load you’re putting on the drivetrain; there’s no need to ease off the power when you want to change gear, whether you’re climbing or sprinting. Coming into a steep hill and need to drop a load of gears? No problem either; Di2 not only has that covered, but also lets you customise just how many gears can be shifted through at once, from a single sprocket to multiple gears.
Crisp shifting is always a joy, but perhaps less well appreciated is how the instantaneous shifting of the Di2 groupset also improves the lifespan of your drivetrain. Friction causes wear on mechanical components but the immediacy and accuracy of Di2 improves the longevity of components, helped by its ability to automatically trim and adjust the front derailleur to ensure there is zero chain rub in any gear, further prolonging the life span of your drivetrain.
Perhaps understandably, the one durable property not tested in GCN’s film is Di2’s in-built crash protection. On impact, Di2’s automated crash protection disconnects the derailleur motor from the cage to allow it move out of harm’s way to minimise damage. Built into the rear derailleur, it’s a hidden feature that many forget about, or perhaps hope never to test. To snap Di2 out of this crash mode you merely need to press and hold the junction box button for five seconds.
Electronic shifting sceptics have long had battery life in their gunsights, but Di2 has made them eat their words. Di2’s internal lithium-ion battery runs for days before needing a recharge —something that’s been made a breeze with the option of charge ports in the frame, handlebar or seat post. And any worries over winter rides have been laid to rest with the Di2 battery having a working range down to -10°C (and up to 50°C, should you ever find yourself in such a place). GCN takes this cold weather resilience to the limit by storing Di2 in a freezer overnight. Despite being slammed by minus 15°C temperature and being coated in ice, it continues to work flawlessly.
GCN might have won a unique medal for bike-orientated sadism, but their series of arduous tests showcase Di2’s durability, reliability and toughness, and the fact that this groupset can excel in even the toughest conditions you’re ever likely to encounter.