Riding New Shimano Di2

Many of you have heard reports about new 2013 Shimano Dura Ace Di2. The Japanese manufacturer’s electronic groupset now “goes to eleven”, offers a slew of new features, and has incurred a price increase.

Shimano recently held their official US press launch for the new 9070 Dura Ace Di2, to which Slowtwitch was invited. We had a chance to ride the complete groupset, along with the entire line of 2013 Shimano carbon wheels, pedals, and PRO line of accessories. This gallery is a brief recap of the event.

Is new Di2 worth the money? While budget is always a limiting factor, I can honestly say that it is very compelling, having spent a lot of time on the previous generation 7970 10-speed Di2. Is the new Dura Ace actually better than the old stuff? In a word – yes.

There are several key features that are unique to new 9070 Di2:

1. A multitude of auxiliary shift options – a ‘climbing’ switch, a ‘sprint’ switch, a new-style bar-end shifter, along with the standard brake lever shifters. With the new junction box, you can have as many of these extra shifters as you want. Want an ITU-style bike with shifters all over the place? Go for it.

2. New software that allows you to plug your bike in to a desktop computer, to program the functionality of all of the shifters and update the firmware of each component. As an example, you can now program the shifters to “multi shift” (if you continue to hold a shift button, it will shift again and again – so you don’t have to continue clicking the button with your hand).

3. Revised button size and feel.

4. New internal battery option that goes inside your frame – and can be charged without being removed (via a plug at the junction box).

5. Lighter weight. With the internal battery, it is even slightly lighter than than the 9000 mechanical system (!).

6. No more heat-shrink tubing to assemble the wiring harness; Dura Ace 9070 received the new wiring that originally debuted on Ultegra Di2.

7. Yes, an extra cog in the cassette.

We will offer a more in-depth review of new 9070 Di2 and 9000 mechanical as we log more miles. For now, enjoy this gallery of the official media launch.

Images 1 – 7, 9, 12, © Jake Orness

Shimano held the event in San Diego, near the home of their US distributor in Irvine, CA.

Shimano employees load up a van full of bikes for our first ride.

There are now two different bar-end shifter options – the current style with two buttons per shifter, and this new one-button style. The new shifters ONLY shift the rear derailleur; the front must be shifted via the 2-button brake lever shifters. Shimano says this option may be preferred by TT-specialists, but they suspect that triathletes will stick with the 2-button style.

The new junction box has enough open plugs to use as many shifters as you want.

Long-time Shimano athlete, Tim DeBoom, attended the product launch as a special guest. Tim recently retired from triathlon competition, but still participates in many endurance cycling and running events.

Our peloton of journalists rides through beautiful California countryside.

Our ride included a brutal 11-mile ascent up Palomar Mountain. The lead group included former professional road rider Neil Shirley (left), Tim DeBoom (right), Ben Delaney of Bike Radar, and yours truly in the orange Mavic jersey. To put it lightly, Ben and I were in the 'pain cave'.

The convenient climber’s switch can be placed on the front or back of the handlebar – to be accessed by either your thumb or forefinger.

Sometimes tired legs need a rest.

This was the reward for all of our hard work climbing up Palomar Mountain.

The new 9070 brakes offer fantastic power, feel, and modulation…

…which I learned to appreciate on the VERY long descent down Palomar. The rear light is my 80 lumen Exposure Blaze, which we recently reviewed.

The new Dura Ace crank is offered in a single bolt pattern that handles all chainring sizes from 50/34 to 55/42.

The new Dura Ace Di2 rear derailleur handles up to a 28 tooth big cog.

The new front derailleur plugs in on the rear, rather than the front.

This is the sprint switch. One goes on each side of the bar, and changes only the rear derailleur. To access it, simply cut a small hole in your handlebar tape.

Our second day of riding included ‘hot laps’ at Fiesta Island with different sets of Shimano carbon wheels.

This was my loaner bike for the event – not a bad way to get around for a few days.

Tim DeBoom stops for a quick photo on Fiesta Island.

Shimano’s PRO accessory line includes this handy stem strap to hold the new Di2 junction box.