New Product: Shimano launches XTR Di2 electronic mountain bike group

Hot on the heels of 11-speed, Shimano plugs in and goes electric

Components News
XTR Di2 rear e-railleur

Shimano says its first mountain bike-specific Di2 rear derailleur is also its most technologically
advanced. The RD-M9050 features Shadow RD + stabilization that couples chain control with shift performance that doesn’t degrade over time, according to the company. They also promise seamless, instantaneous gear changes, as well as compatibility with any of the 11-speed front chainwheel options—1x, 2x or 3x. The RD-M9050 features Shimano’s signature narrow Shadow “q-factor,” keeping the mech tucked out of the way of mayhem. It’s also available in GS and SGS cage options.

Shimano XTR Di2 RD

Despite being electronic, the new Di2 rear derailleur retains XTR’s jewelry-like finish and form factor.

XTR Di2 front e-railleur

‏The front shifting on Shimano’s road groups has a well-earned reputation for speed and precision—characteristics the company says carries over to the dirt side as well in the new FD-M9050 front derailleur. Like the rear mech, the front derailleur is compatible with Shimano Synchronized Shift, and uses computer controlled auto trim as the chain moves up and down the
‏cassette to keep the drivetrain running smoothly.

Shimano XTR Di2 FD

Other than a little extra volume for its motor, the Di2 version XTR front derailleur looks fairly standard. The modular shifter bolts to adapters for any configuration—high clamp, low clamp, e-type or direct.

Power plant

System batteries come with mounts designed to attach to water bottle bosses and nestle the battery next to a bottle cage. Like on the road side, we’re likely to see more integrated battery and wire accommodation inside frames and fork steerer tubes as manufacturers adjust frame designs to accept the system.

Shimano XTR Di2 Battery

The XTR Di2 battery attaches to water bottle mounts.

While riders are sure to question the system’s robustness, Shimano points out that the road version of Di2 has fared extremely well in the poor weather of cyclocross, the European spring classics and even the winter-like conditions of this year’s Giro d’Italia. We at MTBR have also seen hacked versions of Dura Ace Di2 systems on mountain bikes that have proven to be sturdy.

Shimano XTR FAQ

Shimano sent us a handy FAQ that answers some of the questions likely to arise about both the new mechanical and electronic XTR groups.

1: Why did Shimano choose a 11-40 cassette to work with a single chainring setup? The range is too small.
Shimano’s philosophy for single front chainrings is that it is developed for dedicated use on specific courses. It doesn’t matter if you race enduro or XC, even with a wider range cassette it doesn’t cover the range of 2x or 3x. For all-round purposes it is better to choose 2x or 3x. This also results in better durability because the cassette is used more efficiently. We also chose to have all the gear steps below 15-percent so cadence changes are more gradual. This allows the rider to have more control in technical sections.

2. Can I modify the Di2 settings myself or should I go to a dealer?
With your charger for the internal battery you can connect the system to your computer and can change all the settings for the shifter, Synchro modes and multi-shift. Only if diagnostics reveal an error do you need to go to the dealer.

3. What happens if I crash on my rear derailleur? Is there a saver mode?
The Di2 rear derailleur is equipped with a saver or recovery mode to get you home presuming the mechanism is rideable—or at least as rideable as a damaged mechanical derailleur. Just push the button on the system display for three seconds to reset into the recovery mode.

4. What’s the weight difference between electronic and mechanical XTR?
It depends on your exact setup. Exact weights for the most common components are:

  • Front derailleur (FD-M9070 D-type) : 115 grams
  • Rear derailleur (RD-M9050-GS) : 289 grams
  • System display (SC-M9050) : 30 grams
  • Shifter switch (SW-M9050) : 64 grams
  • Front derailleur M9050 Di2 is 5 grams lighter
  • Rear derailleur M9050 Di2 is 68 grams heavier
  • Shift levers M9050 Di2 is 36 grams lighter (if you just use 1 it is 136 grams lighter)
  • Battery is 51 grams (extra item)
  • System Display is 30 grams (extra item)

For the 2x setup with only a right hand shifter (Synchro mode) M9050 Di2 has the same total weight as M9000 mechanical (there is a 47 gram difference on components, but the wires are lighter then cables).

5. Is damaging the rear derailleur more likely with electronic?
‏Your chances of breaking an electronic rear derailleur are similar to mechanical. In case of a crash there is a saver mode that helps to protect the derailleur a bit.

6. Is the FOX iCD system fully integrated?
‏Yes, it’s even adjustable and compatible with the E-tube software.

7. Will Di2 XTR be super expensive?
‏It will be more expensive than XTR M9000 mechanical however it also adds a lot of features and advantages, and is easy to modify to your personal preferences. The price difference will be similar to the difference between mechanical Dura Ace and Di2 Dura Ace—about 40% more than mechanical for the full 2x setup.

8. When can we expect Di2 on XT?
‏So far we cannot say anything about that.

9. When is XTR Di2 available?
‏The fourth quarter of 2014.

10. What about wireless?
‏We present XTR Di2. What the future will bring regarding new products (even competitor) time will tell.

About the author: Don Palermini

Chicago-born Don Palermini became a cycling-based life-form in the sixth grade after completing a family road bike tour of his home state. Three years later he bought his first mountain bike to help mitigate the city's pothole-strewn streets, and began exploring the region's unpaved roads and trails. Those rides sparked a much larger journey which includes all manner of bike racing, commuting, on- and off-road bike advocacy, and a 20-plus-year marketing career in the cycling industry that landed him at his current gig with Santa Cruz bicycles. Now residing in the San Francisco Bay Area, his four favorite words in the English language are "breakfast served all day," together in that order.

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  • Joules says:

    cue the hate….

    interesting that the FD is a “conventional” swing, not the new side-swing motion.

  • Helmach says:

    Too bad they wasted their time developing a front derailleur

    • Mtbr says:

      Joules, Good eye. The primary reason for going with side swing on the new XTR mechanical was moving the mechanism from behind the seatpost to create more clearance back there. The mechanism and motor for the Di2 FD is already out of the way, so there was really no reason to make it side swing.

  • Preston says:

    Awesome ! I’m not a fan of putting electronics on my bike but I can compromise my principles for perfect shifting. Thank you Shimano for maintaining a true gear range, out here in Washington I have a name for people running 1* drivetrains,,,,, walkers !

  • Loll says:

    In the world of doping an cheating, what is preventing someone from hacking into another pro’s team bike while racing for their team’s gain?

    • Mtbr says:

      Your question makes little sense…it’s not as if bikes drivetrain controls are in the cloud or something. Di2 has no more or less opportunity for sabotage than any other bike part.

  • Alejandro Vigil says:

    Am I the only one who actually enjoys the feeling of mechanical shifting? …I guess will have a better oppinion after trying the stuff, but feels like part of the fun will be stripped out.
    Communication between components still remains to be seen, one unresponsive shift will be enough to want to throw the kit in the garbage can ….be sure to throw spare batteries (along with gopro and cell phone’s) in your cammelback!

  • Steve says:

    FAQ #1.
    Shimano, I waited patiently for your 11spd offering very much hoping that it would be competitive with SRAM. It’s not, the range IS too small. You guys don’t get it, it’s not about what you think is good for me but rather what I, the consumer, want to buy and I’m not the only one. The comments are particularly bothersome since you guys think 3×11 is a good idea?
    I like all my other Shimano parts!

  • MikeC says:

    Who exactly is asking for this?

    • Steve says:

      “Flagship mountain group revamped around 11-speed 11-40 cassette with 1x, 2x and 3x configurations”

      Probably no one, but they make it and therefore must think it’ll sell?

  • Fritz says:

    How many gears can you shift with one push of the lever? It looks like you can only change one gear at a time. Old XTR lets you do 4 in one direction and 2 in the other depending on how far you push the lever.

  • MrK says:

    Is wireless shifting going to be the next step?

  • Dylan says:

    Oh! I Know! Shimano should not only integrate automatic shifting, but also some type of motor to assist with steeper terrain. You know, so mtb is not so hard! Slap some power disc brakes on there while they’re at it.

    In all seriousness I love technology and advancement, however at what point do we stop calling these ‘things’ bicycles? I feel like the whole technology pursuit in mtb is trying to make it easier, which is counter productive as to why all of us probably enjoy it. Because if we didn’t enjoy it; we’d be riding say, a dirt bike.

  • Oliver says:

    Just curious, is this bluetooth or some other wireless and what’s the possibility of interference/hijacking…..

    Say, for instance, someone is using it to race and an opposing team wants an advantage……..

  • Jennifer says:

    Most car’s on the road today are DBW (drive by wire) throttle controlled..

    Most people can’t even tell and this was phased in under everybodies noses except the people working on them or till there is a problem..

    this is just a step in evolution and is just the natural course..

    Me I just stick to the old fashioned stuff but if I was given a setup for free I certainly would use it..

  • riderswiss says:

    Nice but the author doesn’t understand the difference between compliment and complement.

    • Mtbr says:

      On the contrary, he does indeed know the difference, but because it wasn’t flagged as a misspelling, it went unnoticed. Thankfully we have eagle-eyed readers like you. Thanks!

  • In the know says:

    Why is Shimano wasting their time and our time? Internal gearboxes are the future. Shimano; make a bold step and stop slowing down progress.

  • James says:

    I find the idea of a computer deciding which gear combination is best so hard to grasp, especially with mountain biking. When I’m standing up, grinding up a steep hill, and I want to shift up or down a couple of gears, I know not to touch the front derailleur since these notoriously do not shift well under high load. Can this system make that judgement call even if it is mechanically less efficient? I can already imagine the cursing that would follow the ‘grind, grind, grind” noise when the computer decides to try to shift chain rings for you at the most critical moment.

    • Mtbr says:

      James- The computer doesn’t decide the gear ratio, nor when to shift. It lets you pre-program sequences (ratios) of shifts that you activate using the shift buttons. It also allows you to opt out of the program mode (called Synchro Shift) and into manual, one-gear-at-a-time mode at any point.

      • Evil E says:

        Maybe people need more pictures because they seem to not be able to read and/or comprehend the articles. Make them like the safety diagrams on airplanes.

  • jpre says:

    I find this quite interesting. If all shifting can be linearly (or even non linearly) controlled by one shifter, and the derailleurs are always positioned perfectly over the cogs, this could have better performance than 1x SRAM mechanical.

  • bbbbbbb says:

    Guys. Before you get on the board with silly questions/objections how about reading about the product, like, at all?

    1. Battery life is 600-1500 miles (same as Dura Ace), and if it does somehow run out the mech stays where it was. You can manually move the mech to another gear as well. Charging once a week/month is more than enough for most riders.

    2. You can’t wirelessly ‘hack’ someone’s drivetrain. It’s not wireless.

    3. You can dump the entire cassette of gears (even with a 2×11) in one press of the lever, or leave it in single press mode.

    4. Julien Absalon took first at Ablstadt WC XCO with XTR Di2 in a 1×11 configuration. It has enough range, and if you don’t think it does, your fitness is likely the problem. If it’s not enough range for you, run a 2×11. The front shifting is bulletproof and faster than ever, though slightly less fashionable.

    The article on pinkbike

  • MJ says:

    Please don’t fear change. It looks fantastic but I’m sad it will take a while before it gets to a price point I can afford. Really glad Shimano is “charging” ahead. (pun intended)
    Bring on the change. My thumbs and index were getting tired of all that hard work.

  • Denis Nolan says:

    Running SRAM 1×11 and a Thomson dropper post, my bike has only two cables and they rarely cause a problem. Maybe that’s because I live in a bike-friendly environment (SE Queensland, Australia) and keep up my maintenance. It seems to me we replaced cables with electronics and electric motors in stuff like heater controls on cars a few years back, and that hasn’t really gone too well. Less reliability, massive increases in repair costs, etc. If it ain’t broke …….

  • bobke says:

    “Shimano says multi-shift can “dump” a whole cassette’s worth of gears faster than could be done with mechanical systems.” Looking forward to this statement being verified!

  • stampers says:

    The mtbr forums…ahhh…always good for a laugh for all the ignorant questions and dumb comments. Thank you.

  • ZombyWoof says:

    Looks like apretty fancy gadget to add more complexity and cost. But I like the way it works. It will probably be available on $6K bikes. I wonder what it would cost as an accessory.

  • Evil E says:

    I’m curious from the point of view of a bike shop mechanic. Does Shimano provide clinics or trainings if your shop specs bikes with the new technology? Is this a welcome development, etc?

    • blackohio says:

      Shimano does classes, online and event sessions. Shops serious about Di2 have a wealth of options available to them.

  • J-Flo says:

    All very interesting, but proof will be in the riding. As BBBBBBB (?) says above, Absalon rode XTR Di2 to victory at last weekend’s XCO World Cup race at Albstadt. In fact, there were three riders using the new drivetrain, and two of them were on the podium (Absalon and Giger). The third tester (McConnell) took 6th place. Not bad for the first use in a race!

    It is ridiculous how little attention these amazing XC races get in this country.

  • Jeff says:

    I think they have a name for this… isn’t this what you call a “game changer”

  • Harry says:

    I would get the 3×11 just to irritate my singlespeed friends.

  • Howie Choo says:

    This technology can help starting bikers to know how to shift properly without learning the basic of mechanical shifting the gears…

    But for advanced mountain bikers, they should already know the technique to shift their bikes and at which point they need to shift it….

    I had many friends do not understand how gearing works…This technology can help them in riding..But still, not in their knowledge.

  • Dave says:

    I ride my bike to escape the digital world.

  • Davel says:

    Will this system work with just a rear mech? My wife is arthritic and my find this system better. She doesn’t need a massive gear ration so a rear mech only may be the answer.

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