Di2 Electronic Shifting: What You Need to Know

February 9, 2016

Hey, did you charge your bike?

If Shimano — and now Campagnolo — have their way, this might become a more common question with the introduction of electronic shifting.

With battery life extending several months, charging will be a very infrequent occurrence.

For folding and travel bikes this actually makes a lot of sense — electric wires don’t care about tricky routing and potentially getting kinked during packing.

We have installed Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 on several Bike Fridays and it works very well. It even plays nice with the Capreo cassette.

We have done builds with a 56T chainring for a tall 56×9 top gear, and also with a compact 34/50 crankset for more mountain friendly gearing.

The frame does require a few special modifications.

First, we add braze-on mounts for the battery on the back of the seat tube. The battery then sits neatly tucked out of the way between the seat tube and rear wheel.

Added braze-on mounts for the battery.

There is a mount for the junction box on the front of the seat tube.

The front derailleur requires additional bracing for the motor to push against, so we add some reinforcement to the hanger.

Reinforcement to the hanger for the front derailleur.

And finally we can leave off the gear cable loops on the mainframe, as there is only the rear brake cable to run.

Once it is all setup, shifting is perfect; the front derailleur even trims itself as the chain moves up and down the cassette.

But does anyone need electric shifting? Yes, electric shifting has a very low impact on the joints in the hand and wrist, ideal for those suffering from arthritis. So if you’re experiencing pain or fatigue from shifting, you should consider the Di2 to¬† greatly extend the time you spend riding.

Hands down, our most popular bikes to convert to electric shifting are the Pocket Rocket Pro & Super Pro. Whether its for health, sport, or pure joy the Di2 will surprise and impress you. Check in with your local Bike Friday dealer to see if they have a Di2 to test ride.

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17 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kevin Thomson  |  July 22, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    So, Two questions. What is the weight difference between what is removed and what is added? What is the cost? Glad to see you did it with Ultegra. DuraAce would add too much cost without any perceived shifting advantages?

  • 2. Kevin Thomson  |  July 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    One other thing….It appears that the battery box and wire junction could be retro-mounted on some clamps that have nuts or bolts attached, but that won’t beef-up the front Derailleur hangar.

  • 3. Bob Folline  |  July 22, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Will this be offered as a retrofit?
    Any guess on pricing for a NWT with current internal gear hub?
    – I know the trade in option but wonder the update price.

    Thank you,


  • 4. Geoff Bray  |  July 22, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    What do mean we probably don’t need the electronic shifters? Of course we do!
    I have to declare an interest. I suspect the bike in the photos is mine – same colour, wheels, and tyres. I received it about 3 weeks ago and it’s everything I hoped it would be. Acceleration is staggering (front wheel is only 800g all up), stability is perfect (but I’ve only had it up to 80km/hour so far so haven’t done a full test), and the electronic shifters are precise and fast (gets rid of the problem of the double 90 degree bend in the rear cable).
    Am I happy? Too right.
    Aussie Geoff (alias Jif the Brave)

  • 5. Will Cronyn  |  July 22, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    With electronic shifting of front and rear it should be “only” a minor chore to have the shifting under control of a very simple controller so that there is only one pair of shifter buttons – one for up, other for down, with the controller deciding how to allocate shifting between front & rear derailleurs. Furthermore, this would enable far better control of shifting because if you work through the entire range of shifting for all front and rear combionations, it turns up some require up-shifting the front, then down-shifting, then up shifting again. In fact, this would enable shifting somewhat competitive with Rohloff because the rider only has to upshift or downshift, not upshift on front & rear or down shift on front and rear.
    So go for it!

    • 6. Ted  |  February 18, 2016 at 9:33 am

      Shimano only has this for their Mountain Di2 group – the road group still has separate shifting for front and rear.

  • 7. Rob English  |  July 23, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Thanks for all the comments!

    Kevin – weight is a wash on the frame, so no change from a regular PRP. An Ultegra Di2 PRP runs $5565 and our database lists the weight at 18.4lbs (no saddle/pedals). An Ultegra Di2 SuperPro is $7200 and 17.4lbs.

    Bob – it can’t easily be done as a retrofit owing to the reinforcement needed for the front derailleur hanger, so a trade-in would be your best bet.

    Geoff – thanks for the ride report, great to hear how much you are enjoying the bike!

    Will – hopefully Shimano will address this soon. There have been some hacks to achieve single-shifter functionality, but nothing commercial yet. There is now a Di2 option for the Alfine 8spd and 11spd hubs. And in other electronic news, Nuvinci just announced an autoshift feature for their IGH – just set your desired cadence and ride!


  • 8. Joe Wein  |  July 23, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    My son test-rode a 700C Di2 bike a few months ago and loved it! I am glad to see Di2 to Bike Friday.

    If I had the money to spend I would be tempted too, but for the fact that Di2 does not yet support triples. I love my 50/39/30 and would find settling for a 50/34 hard on some steep climbs I’ve done recently.

    This limitation will make the Alfine 11 Di2 an interesting alternative for mountain goats, as it’s gearing range is 1:4.09 vs. 1:3.74 on a 50/34-11/28 setup. Also, it offers its 11 gears in a linear sequence via a single STI shifter, unlike the FD/RD setup of Ultegra Di2.

  • 9. Steve Jones  |  July 25, 2012 at 5:16 am

    Have to say that one of the things I totally love about bikes id that they DON’T require batteries, re-charging or electronics so it’s not for me. Not that I’m against anyone who likes or wants it.
    But seriously…no, we don’t need it and no it DOESN’T look neat. Look at the mess of cables in the photo near the bottom bracket.
    That is a mess! and of course this adds to the cost.
    Makes a bicycle more complex than it needs to be.
    Interesting but a big no thanks here.And all of this JUST for shifting? Not even for power?

    • 10. SteveSgt  |  February 18, 2016 at 9:13 am

      I have to agree completely with this Steve Jones.

      Perhaps, when the Di2 system comes out of the lab and off the (well-supported) racetrack and is actually mature enough for multi-week or -month tours, or daily trouble-free commuting, the batteries will be charged by some kind of dynamo, and like a decent dynamo lighting system, you won’t have to worry about whether your batteries are going to die.

      In the mean time, it’s an interesting future technology to watch.

  • 11. Ron Neher  |  July 30, 2012 at 8:46 am

    I replaced my 2003 PRP 62×9 (over 70,000 miles) with a Ultegra Di2 SuperPro 56×9 in April. A DuraAce 56T is as large as they can go now with Di2. At first I missed the 62T when motor pacing and in sprints but have been able to now generate higher RPMs to get back into the low 50 MPH range. I am getting around 1,000 miles on a charge so gets me around 4 week charge interval. The battery is rated at 300 charge cycles so I have a few years in theory before I have to replace (like 23 years).

    If you are in the Austin, TX area and want to demo / test out the bike then contact Bike Friday to schedule a time with me.

  • 12. Paul D  |  August 16, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Oh goody; I can’t wait to see how those fancy electronics work on my Pocket Llama after several days of touring on wet, muddy roads and dirty, salty water gets into the housing.

    Is there a manual over-ride for when the electronics crap out, or are you left with seized-up derailleurs and 1-speed operation?

    • 13. Raz  |  August 16, 2012 at 4:26 pm

      I think if the pros ride electronic shifting in the Spring Classics, you’ll be fine.

  • 14. oliver  |  September 1, 2012 at 1:30 am

    do you really think that electric/electronic shiffting is sustainable?

    • 15. peter  |  January 2, 2014 at 2:29 am

      Not only sustainable but also inevitable, as electronic shifting makes the option of automatic shifting a possibility.
      With a speed sensor available you could match wheel speed to pedal cadence for the best or most efficient gear. Combined with the Shimano Alfine D12 and a small micro controller that would be a neat setup for a city commuter or even a touring bike. Low maintenance and automatic gears.


  • 16. Ted  |  February 18, 2016 at 9:36 am

    What would be even more interesting (I’m not volunteering) is the new SRAM electronic shifting system that is WIRELESS between the shifter and the remainder of the mech – no wire routing to worry about at all, except the brakes.

  • 17. Isaac  |  February 18, 2016 at 10:05 am

    Don’t be lazy. Shift it with your fingers)


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