News: Shimano Announces XTR Di2 Electronic Shifting

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IT HAS ARRIVED!  Road riders have, for the last five years, reaped the benefits of perfectly-timed shifts, and now mountain bikers bikers can finally benefit from electronic shifting too. I was so at odds with myself when writing about the new XTR 9000 release a few weeks back, knowing I couldn’t release the juicy info on the Di2. Anyhow, we can now finally release the great news about this long-anticipated XTR group.

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The new XTR 9050 Di2 (its formal designation) is designed to work perfectly with all of the XTR 9000 mechanical components. As with the 9000, you can tune it to your ride. It doesn’t matter if you’re a “trail rider” or “racer.”

Shimano logged over 20,000 km of testing to work out the bugs in this system, so you know you’re getting a well-refined, precise electronic shifting system that will work with 1x, 2x, or 3x drivetrains. The new Di2 will provide seamless, instantaneous shifting which can be custom-tailored to any rider, allowing the rider’s full attention to be on the trail ahead. Best of all: it’s done with a push of a button.

XTR 9050 Di2 represents Shimano’s most advanced system to date. Fully programmable, upgradeable, and expandable, this system now debuts Shimano’s intuitive shifting control. Using Shimano E-tube wiring, the Di2 shifting system, and a computer, you can program your own custom shifting pattern. This allows you, the rider, to program in single or multi-shift modes, how quickly these shifts happen, and even control which buttons do the shifts. You can even use a single shifter to control both front and rear shifts.

Shimano Synchronized Shift

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Taking notes from riders, Shimano decided the single most important thing riders need is to focus on the trail ahead, rather than focusing on shifting. The programmable option of the XTR 9050 Di2 will allow front and rear shifting through a single Firebolt shifter.

(Watch the video here.)

According to Shimano, this provides:

  • Improved efficiency. The derailleurs communicate gear position and execute both front and rear shifts when selecting a larger or smaller gear.
  • Personalized shift mapping. You can program when front shifts (2x / 3x) occur through two customizable shift maps based on terrain and/or personal choices. Shimano adds an alarm when you come close to a front ring shift. That gives you the choice to remain in a given gear.
  • Total control. With both controls, a rider can shift at any time. Best of all, all this is just a touch away.

The New Firebolt Shifter

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The new Firebolt shifter can now be placed exactly where it needs to be for total ergonomic comfort. Without the need for mechanical shifts and levers, the new shifter can be exactly where the thumbs naturally rest on the bar.

Features:

  • Newer ergonomic rotary shift controller that matches hand movements with independent lever position adjustments.
  • Short stroke with a positive click, providing quicker, less-strained shifts.
  • Decreased shift effort. (You’re no longer overcoming cable and spring resistance.)
  • Programmable multi-shift and Synchronized functions, as well as Fox suspension control.

Weight: 64 grams.

XTR RD-9050 Rear Derailleur

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This is the first electronic mountain bike-specific rear derailleur ever! This is also Shimano’s most advanced derailleur to date. Also, using Shimano RD+ Shadow stabilization in a Di2 derailleur is a first.

(Watch the video here.)

This allows for all present shifting platforms out there. 1x/2x/3x can now all be handled with this one derailleur. Using E-tube, the 9050 rear derailleur will provide you with seamless, instantaneous gear changes. Since it communicates with the front derailleur, it guarantees superior performance.

Weight: 289 grams.

XTR FD-9050 Front Derailleur

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Compact in design but over 25% more powerful than the mechanical 9000 version, this front derailleur can easily be called the best in the business. With a light touch on the shifter, you now get a powerful, reliable gear change, even under load. The cool thing here (if you’re a 2x or 3x rider) is the auto trimming front shifter.

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As you go across the rear cassette, the front derailleur trims itself so that the chain doesn’t rub on the front cage. Various mounting kits allow for full integration to various frame designs found today.

Weight: 115 grams.

SC-M9050 Display

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Installing the new Di2 now allows the rider a handlebar-mounted display unit, which posts important data like battery life, shifter positions, and shift mode. This unit also provides the tuner a convenient place to plug in and charge. Because E-tube tech is expandable, you can connect to other E-tube devices as well. Presently, the new iCD will communicate and allow for position shift for suspension (Climb, Descend).

Presently, you can:

  • Display battery level
  • Gear position
  • Shift Mode
  • Fox iCD control
  • Change between S1, S2, and manual shifts
  • Hear a synchronization notification tone
  • Easily access adjustment modes
  • Charge the Battery
  • Connect up to 3 E-tube ports.

Weight: 30 grams.

All prices are still TBD, but it’s a safe bet that this will be one of the most expensive (if not THE most expensive) drivetrains of all time. Approximate pricing puts this at about 40% more than the latest XTR mechanical version.

Availability: fourth quarter of 2014.

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