What is Shimano Di2?

Here’s a 101 level explanation of this unique shifting system

Your gear should never be a limiter to where you ride your bike.

Your gear should never be a limiter to where you ride your bike.

E-Tube Project

Here is a look into the customization options of Di2. If you have an internal battery charger, you already have the tool that you need to customize the way your Di2 bike works. Plug one end into the port on the handlebar gear display, and the other end into a computer USB port. The E-Tube Project customization software is available at www.shimano.com.

E-Tube project software can let you control several aspects of how the bike functions like which shift button does what, how quickly the bike shifts across multiple gears when you hold a button down, it can even let you turn a left shifter into a Fox iRD suspension control unit. In the Synchro Shift customization part of the software, you can adjust the default gear maps and make them your own.

You can even reverse shift direction. Maybe you have an injured right hand, so you can use a left shifter and have it control the rear derailleur instead. The great thing about E-tube Project and Di2 is the options and customization is endless and you can try and test to find an option that you maybe never even thought of.

E-tube software allows the rider to create specific shifting sequences for unique riding situations.

E-tube software allows the rider to create specific shifting sequences for unique riding situations.

Most riders find that one of the two default maps are perfect without any changes. If that happens to be S2, you can move that map over to the S1 position and call it your normal Synchro Shift mode. Then S2 becomes available for you to create something special that you can easily switch to on the fly by double pressing that button on the gear display. Here are two examples for custom Synchro Shift maps:

Race Day:
The large chainring is a more efficient driving gear because of its larger diameter. The chain doesn’t have to deflect as much in order to wrap around a larger gear. It’s a small difference, but when seconds count, it can pay to maximize your driving efficiency.

A racing Synchro Shift map could have the bike shift back up to the big chainring as soon as possible after cresting a climb. That would mean that the bike would only use the two largest cogs on the cassette while riding on the small chainring. By the third shift, the bike would climb right back up to the more efficient chainring.

There are still 13 gear steps across the range, but now the most efficient gear combinations will take priority over a smooth shift up to the large ring. Just double press that button on the gear display on race day to switch over to race mode.

You might decide to avoid certain gear combinations when conditions are extreme.

You might decide to avoid certain gear combinations when conditions are extreme.

Mud Riding: The 2×11 mountain bike groups are designed to be ridden fully cross-chained in the large chain ring, large cog combination without any trouble. However, in especially muddy conditions, you may find that the drivetrain makes a bit more noise in this big-big gear combination. A rainy day custom Synchro Shift map might not let the bike ever shift into the big-big gear combination. It would still have 13 gear steps across the entire range, it would just drop to the smaller chainring one gear earlier.

If you find yourself out on the trail in the rain, simply double press the button on the gear display and keep on riding. Options are endless. You are in control. E-Tube Project is the software that lets you customize your Di2 to exactly how you want it.

The Perfect Fit

With Di2, shifting is electronic. With this, Di2’s shifters can be adjusted to a rider’s unique grip and shift direction preference. Di2 levers can be micro adjusted to any rider’s hand size. Custom ergonomics mean you can shift on the fly easier without having to adjust your grip on the handlebar. Additionally, through E-tube you can pre-program shift direction, speed and gear mapping. You decide as you have the ability to pre-program the shifter to do what you already do already. The decision and customization is completely up to you.

About the author: Mtbr

Mtbr.com is a site by mountain bikers for mountain bikers. We are the best online resource for information for mountain bikers of all abilities, ages and interests.

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  • tyrebyter says:

    Like paddle-shifter automatics in a car, this too is silly and lame. At least in a car, it makes sense for someone with disabilities.

    • GuyOnMTB says:

      “Automatic vehicle Paddle shifter” were designed by Ferrari for their F1 race carts. They eventually spilled over into production Ferrari models. Cadillac licensed the technology and put it in some models in the early 2000’s, but no longer use the tech.

      “Paddle shifters” were designed with one aspect in mind, make shifting easier and provide the drive more safety by keeping both hands on the wheel, never having to remove a hand from steering to shift.

      The Di2 shift system is similar, that it helps remove the brains focus on shifting so the (human)brain can focus more on the obstacles in the trail. It’s really more of a racers component than a component for casual riders; but make no mistake, there will be Stravars that pick up this system to improve their social KOM’s.

      The Di2 system “being silly” is rather an opinion from non-prfessional-racers. I’m not a pro-racer, so the Di2 system does not excite me, or have me saving to buy in. Though, my Enduro racer friends who have bought in swear that their segment times have increased.

  • Pennyfarthing says:

    I will never even ride a bike with cables and housing! Rod brakes and rod shifters are the proper way and what a bicycle should be. Electronics are magic made by the devil..


  • BlackBean says:

    Great. A small step overall but improving things. Not that I care for 2x drivetrains anymore. Syncro-shift is really the big deal here IMO. I have been riding 1x now for almost 2 years and I will NEVER go back to a FD.

    The biggest bane of cassettes and derailleurs though is that you can’t shift under load. Only internal gearboxes could solve that as far as I know, and that would be the ultimate end-goal of any bicycle with gears (as far as shifting or drivetrain goes). No-load shifting would really improve things a lot, not to mention less wear and tear and no more hangers or derailleurs to get bent or snapped off.

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