I feel a bit like him at the moment – i need to make more time to get out.
After using my XTR spds for quite some time the spindle sheared and there was no way to repair it.
But it was a known issue and Shimano through the distributor and the LBS have replaced it free of charge with a new set. Now that is how companies should operate – I always get XTR as they are normally low maintenance …… and now I am a lifelong buyer …..
Bringing XC & Trail riders together in one fun flowing trail. No matter who you are, or what you ride, XTR is engineered for the way you ride.
So this is making me think about the weight penalty of my Rohloff more than I should for something that has been trouble free for 5 years
As of… now! we’re allowed to officially tell you what many of you already suspected – that there was going to be a further reveal to the Shimano XTR 11speed story. Already well established in the pro peloton and also used successfully for the last couple of years on the cyclocross circuit, Shimano’s Di2 electric shifting system has been incorporated into Shimano’s flagship groupset. With development taking place over the last three years as part of Shimano’s 20,000km pre-launch testing of XTR, we’re expecting nothing short of a spectacular groupset, and initial impressions are very favourable.
Here’s the zoom-splash video!
Shimano’s confidence in the group is impressive – as it has equipped some of its top racers (like Julien Absalon and Dan McConnell) with the new groupset and, with less than a week of testing it on their bikes they’re all set to race this Sunday’s UCI World Cup on it.
Di2 is already in its second incarnation on Shimano’s Dura Ace groupset, having been slimmed down a lot so that the motors are a lot less noticeable than before. This continues over to XTR, where only a couple of bulges on the front and rear mech suggest the electric nature of the gearing. Shifting is controlled by wires (in case you were expecting something wireless like SRAM’s recent road groupset has in development) and there are a pair of neat shifters on the handlebars, along with a digital screen that indicates the gear selected, the battery level and which mode the system is in. There’s also scope to integrate Fox’s iCD remote shock lockout system too (it’s not the first time the two companies have worked together, Shimano helped develop the 15mm thru-axle used in Fox’ forks and provides batteries and other tech for Fox’ electric lockout systems)
In its simplest mode, there’s a pair of up/down buttons under each thumb, with the left side doing front shifting and the right pair doing rear shifting (assuming you’re running two or three rings up front. Running 1×11 will only need a single shifter pod). Being an electric system, though, the buttons are just switches and can be re-programmed to suit – so if you wanted a more ‘paddle shift’ approach to gears, that can easily be done by the (PC only) control box that hopefully your local shop will buy. This box of tricks can also do a lot more, setting up the special modes…
Things get more interesting though when you go into one of two special modes. Here, you can get the gears to shift sequentially front and rear – which needs only a single shift unit, even if you’re running 3×11. The sequential gears can be run as a true sequential gear system, shifting at the front and back to choose the smoothest way through the gears, or it can additionally be set up with two different profiles (that you can select while riding). You could, for example, have a profile that keeps you in the big ring for the whole of the rear block, keeping the chain tight and only bailing out into the inner ring when you’ve used all those gears up. Or you could have a ‘first lap of the race’ setting where it only keeps you in the big ring, then you select regular mode for the rest of the race. It all has great potential.
In terms of reliability, we’ve seen road Di2 used extensively in the worst conditions in cyclocross racing for a couple of years. Shimano have then done years of additional testing to make sure it withstands the rigours of off-road bumping around and filthy conditions. There are still some potential vulnerabilities in the flexible wires used to connect the shifters and mechs. While Shimano expects that all OEM speccing of the system will be on bikes with neat, internal routing, the aftermarket is a different matter and we think we’ll still see a few bikes with external cables taped on to the outside of frame tubes. There’s also the possibility for a wire to get hooked on a branch, or sliced by a suspension pivot – or for a mech to get smashed by a rock (the motor safely disengages from the mech if, say, a stick gets caught in the wheel) – but these are dangers with any system – although the price of failure is higher with a £400 rear mech. It’ll be interesting to see where manufacturers hide the battery, as the internal battery will only fit inside the seatpost (as it does on road bikes) if you’re not running a dropper post. Inside the fork steerer tube is one suggestion we might see, otherwise an external bottle boss, chainstay or BB mount will work.
Overall, though, it looks like Shimano has put a lot of work into making sure that XTR is as durable and reliable as possible. The shifting motors are reasonably unobtrusive and the ‘Firebolt’ shift buttons are small and neat. The shift action has more throw than a road Di2 switch (though way less than a mechanical shifter) and a more positive click to make it discernible over the bumping around off road. There are two clicks in either direction, to allow for quick rear shifts, plus a ‘push and hold’ option. The front mech will auto-trim (and comes in either a double or triple setup) and the motor is said to be 50% stronger than Dura Ace.
Chipps is in Albstadt, Germany right now at the World Cup XC race, where it’ll be campaigned in anger this weekend by Shimano’s top sponsored riders – and he’ll also be getting an exclusive ride on the new XTR Di2 groupset, so stay tuned for his first impressions. We expect to see production samples start to come through around New Year 2015.
Rear Mech: £429.99
Front Mech: £269.99
Left and right shifters £149.99 each
Batteries: Internal £99.99. External £49.99
PCE1 (optional cable/programming interface): £179.99
Junction boxes and cables will be another £100 (approx) a bike.
Front derailleur (FD-M9070 D-type) | 115 grams
Rear derailleur (RD-M9050-GS) | 289 grams
System display (SC-M9050) | 30 grams
Shift switch (SW-M9050) | 64 grams
In case that’s not enough enthusiasm, here’s the official press release.
SHIMANO ELECTRIFIES XTR
Shimano is pleased to announce the launch of the first electronic groupset for mountain biking, XTR Di2 (M9050). This development is the result of a very extensive testing program and is the moment many mountain bikers have long been waiting for. XTR Di2 comes in addition to the previously announced XTR M9000 mechanical groupset. The Di2 platform offers a number of advantages over a regular mechanical system including faster, more accurate and more powerful shifting which remains consistent in all riding conditions. Shifting requires minimal effort with a simple press of a button. XTR Di2 also brings a new programmable shifting layout called Synchro Shift. XTR Di2 offers a clean appearance on the bike and low maintenance thanks to the use of electrical wires.
Electronic shifting is not controlled by a regular mechanical shifter; it is controlled by a new electronic switch. Working with Shimano’s test riders and professional racers, Shimano engineers designed and tested many varieties of switches before the perfect solution was found. The result is Firebolt; an electronic shift switch that provides a natural feel, feedback and ergonomics. XTR’s easy to reach, compact shift switches offer a short stroke with tactile feedback.
One of the main advantages of electronic shifting is the programmability of the system. With new XTR Di2 it is possible to have the best shifting setup for every individual riding style. XTR Di2 works on the same E-tube platform as Shimano’s current road Di2 groupsets. The E-tube platform offers full programmability of the groupset and transmits interactive signals and power supply to each individual part by ‘plug & play’ connection. E-tube makes it possible to customise your shifting system by changing the function of the shift buttons. For example, it is possible to change the control of the front derailleur to the right switch and/or the control of your rear derailleur to the left switch. Multi shifting is also possible with XTR Di2 and is fully programmable. Multi shift can be engaged by pressing and holding the shift switch. Not only is the speed of the shift customisable but also the number of shifts, whether you want to shift up to a maximum of two sprockets with a single hold, or all the way through the cassette. Working with E-Tube electric wires also means no rust and no cable stretch while ensuring low maintenance and consistent shifting compared to a traditional mechanical cable-operated system.
One of the most unique features of XTR Di2 is the new Synchro Shift option. XTR Di2 has undergone over 20,000 test kilometers. This extensive test period allowed Shimano engineers to closely analyse the most used gears to be effective. With Synchro Shift enabled, it is possible to control both derailleurs with just one shifter. The front derailleur reads the position of the rear derailleur and automatically operates the front shift to position the gears in the most efficient gear and best chain line so the rider never has to worry about front shifting and correction shifts again. Synchro Shift is best explained in this video and improves efficiency of shifting and riding.
Shimano have used all the data from test riding to produce two pre-set shifting maps. E-tube allows the rider to change these pre-sets and create their own preferred shifting map. While riding it is possible to change between the programmed shifting maps or change back to manual mode. XTR Di2 provides fast and accurate shifting with less effort compared to mechanical systems.
Responsible for these shifts are the XTR Di2 derailleurs. These derailleurs deliver powerful, accurate and consistent shifting. The Di2 front derailleur is twice as powerful as the current M980 front derailleur and provides reliable, fast and smooth gear changes, even under heavy load. Shifting becomes effortless regardless of the terrain with a simple the push of a button. The rear derailleur is upgraded with new Shadow RD+ technology for Di2. Besides the regular on and off switch it is now also possible to externally adjust the spring tension of the rear derailleur with an Allen key (see video). The derailleurs react instantly to rider input and take up an accurate position in every gear combination using the front derailleur auto-trimming function. The electric wires guarantee stable and consistent performance.
Clean appearance and system expansion
The ‘brain’ of the XTR Di2 system is the digital display. This display indicates the battery level, gear position, shift mode (manual or Synchro) and the suspension mode. Using a button on the display it is also possible to change the shift mode to either manual or choose one of the two Synchro Shift maps, even while riding. The display also functions as a charging port, connection to the E-tube software (for personal settings) and includes 3 E-tube ports. Thanks to the E-tube platform, mountain bikes get a cleaner appearance. Electronic wires are easy to hide inside the frame and it is possible to integrate the Fox suspension system which minimises the visible cables on the bike and handlebars.
XTR Di2 M9050 uses the same batteries as its road equivalent. The external SM-BTR1 battery and the internal SM-BTR2 battery.
from road.cc – this is my next purchase – I have old Ultegra on the Lynskey and was waiting for it to wear out but 3800km later it is still as sweet as …. well soon then – interesting point about potentially needing new wheels.
Hot Damn. Shimano’s 11-speed Ultegra 6800 groupset is really, really, really good. That’s this review in a nutshell, but in the spirit of drawing things out I’ll write a few more words on the matter. There’s lots to say. But the bottom line is: for the serious fitness rider or privateer racer, as a package, this is as good as a mechanical groupset has ever been.
It was last May when Ultegra 6800 was unveiled (http://road.cc/content/news/82237-updated-prices-shimano-unveil-ultegra-…) and now you can get a huge range of bikes sporting the gun-metal grey componentry. Ultegra always follows the lead of Shimano’s flagship Dura-Ace gear and this incarnation is no exception. It’s eleven speed, it uses the new four-arm crankset and the redesigned symmetrical dual pivot brakes, the STI levers are redesigned and so are the derailleurs, especially the front one. It’s quite an overhaul. There are even some new wheels to cope with the ever-so-slightly wider cassette. But we’ll deal with them in a separate review. Let’s take the parts one by one.
Shimano have been doing a lot of work on the shift feel, and Ultegra 6800 takes on board what they’ve achieved with Dura-Ace. The shift mechanism has been redesigned so that, in theory, the shift from 24 to 28 at one end of the cassette feels exactly like the one from 11-12 at the other. Shimano call it Vivid Shifting (everything has to have a special name) and it’s quite noticeable that the lever resistance doesn’t ramp up anywhere near as much, although you do need a bit of extra push for the big cogs.
The action is lighter, too. That’s especially true of the front shift thanks in the main to the redesigned derailleur but both shifts are easier, and the throw of the lever is reduced, which is good news for smaller-handed riders and for when you’re shifting from the drops.
Shifting is precise and sensitive. Although it’s light you still get reassuring feedback from the lever. It’s still possible to miss a downshift if you accidentally catch the main lever as the mechanism doesn’t engage, which has been an issue for a number of incarnations of Shimano’s STI system. It’d be nice to see it fixed although it’s not a major problem.
Shifting under load is really, really good: so good that it’s almost better putting the power down when you’re shifting – especially down the block – than easing off slightly like you would with a lower-end groupset. Certainly it’s very hard to make an upshift fail even under heavy load, and it’s nigh-on impossible with a downshift.
The lever hood is slimmer, like the Dura Ace one which in turn borrowed its curves from Di2. That should make it easier to grip for smaller hands; mine are like shovels but I still prefer the new shape, which you can wrap your hands round a bit more, than the old.
Front derailleur 10/10
Shimano have done a lot of work on the front derailleur and it shows. The mech now has a much longer activation arm to reduce the shift effort, and it features a support bolt, like the Di2 unit, that comes into contact with the frame to stiffen up the structure. If you have a carbon frame you’ll want to cover the contact point with the stick-on alloy plate to avoid damage. All that work means much lighter front shifts, with an excellent pick-up from the chain and the chainring ramps on the upshift.
Rear derailleur 9/10
The rear dreailleur comes in short- and mid-cage incarnations, the latter able to handle up to a 32T sprocket for the really steep stuff. The spring rate has been tweaked to give a more linear feel to the shifting. Both mechs have been designed to work best with Shimano’s new polymer-coated cables, which reduce friction in the system. We’ve been to the launch and done the pull-this-one-then-pull-that-one test to feel the difference; in real world conditions it’s hard to say how much the reduced friction makes but it can’t be a bad thing, and the rear shifts are excellent.
Another area to get a complete overhaul is the brakes, and the braking is perhaps the most noticeable improvement in the whole groupset.
The brakes are dual pivot, as before, but instead of using the brake bolt as a pivot the Ultegra units have two symmetrical pivots that are attached to a carrier, that then mounts to the normal point. At least that’s one option: Shimano are heavily touting direct mount as The Next Big Thing, where the two pivots mount directly to the frame. That’s been more widely adopted for brakes with chainstay-mounted rear brakes than it has at the front, or on the seatstays, but those bikes are appearing.
On top of all that there’s a new brake shoe compound, and Shimano’s new polymer-coated cables too. Shimano claim that all those improvements add up to a 10% increase in braking power. I didn’t crack out the accelerometer and the calculator, but these brakes really are excellent. The braking effort to stop you is reduced, and that means less arm fatigue on long rides. Haul them on and they’re both powerful and controllable. The improvement over the previous Ultegra callipers is especially noticeable in the wet, which is possibly down to the new brake compound rather than the redesigned body, but everything works very well together here.
Brake shoe wear is decent; they’re not the hardest pads but it’s always a trade-off between pad life and stopping power, and the Ultegra pads are in the happy middle ground of great performance and acceptable wear.
It’s fair to say that Shimano’s new four-arm design divides opinion as far as looks are concerned. Personally, I think it looks smart, but what’s not in doubt is that it’s a very stiff, configurable, and light unit.
The idea behind the unequal spacing on the four-arm chainset is that the arms are placed to deal with the stresses that a chainset endures from your pedalling. You don’t apply equal pressure all the way round the pedal stroke, so by moving the arms and reducing their number by one, you get the same stiffness but for a lower weight.
That big gap between arms two and three wouldn’t really work with a standard single-piece alloy chainring, as the gap is too big and the ring would flex. But the outer chainring on the Ultegra 6800 groupset is two alloy plates sandwiched together, with a hollow centre. As such it’s much stiffer, and able to bridge the gap effectively.
The other thing that’s changed significantly is that the same spider can cope with all the combinations of chainrings that Shimano offer: that’s Rider Tuned, naming-things fans. There’s a 50/34 compact, a 53/39 standard and a 52/36 that we don’t really have a name for. Semi-compact? Faux-pro? Anyway, there’s that. And a 46/36 cyclocross one as well. All use the same bolt spacing, so switching from Standard to Compact is just a case of swapping the rings and nudging your mech. I’ve swapped between a compact and standard set of rings with no issues and minimal faff.
In use the chainset is very stiff, and the shifting at the front is excellent. You can choose 170mm, 172.5mm or 175mm cranks. A chainset is the kind of component you only really notice when it’s doing something bad. This one was stiff, silent and stealthy throughout testing. Examination of the chainrings after a couple of thousand miles shows minimal wear. I’ve used it with press-fit bearings and a standard Hollowtech II external bottom bracket with no issues at all.
You can have your Ultegra cassette in one of five flavours: 11-23T, 11-25T, 12-25T, 11-28T or 11-32T. It’s ever so slightly wider than a 10-speed one which means that you need an 11spd compatible wheelset. Mavic wheels since 2001 should be fine, just lose the spacer. Other wheel manufacturers may be able to supply you with a different freehub for your existing wheels, some (Zipp for example) will want you to send them back for re-dishing, too. You might have to bite the bullet and get some new ones.
Is it possible to just bolt the 11-speed cassette on to a 10-speed freehub anyway? Well, as the new cassette is 1.8mm wider the issues are getting the splines on the smallest cog, and the threads of the locknut, to engage. And after that you might have an issue with your chain rubbing on the frame in the 11T as it’s closer to the dropout. In short: probably not. There’s no official upgrade path for Shimano’s own wheels, either.
Anyway, assuming you have the right wheels to fit it to, the cassette works splendidly well and you can bask in your extra ratio, which in all cases is an 18T cog between the 17T and 19T. Does it make much difference? Not noticeably in everyday use. If you do a lot of time trialling you might be glad of an extra straight-through jump but for most mortals that extra sprocket isn’t that significant a leap. The other changes to the groupset are much more worthy of note. Still though, incremental gains and that.
Shimano teased us with directional chains for a couple of years, which I always fitted the wrong way round, and now we’re back to symmetrical ones that any ham-fisted home technician can get right. The big news is that the chain has a new surface coating called Sil-Tec that reduces friction between all the moving parts. In the swing-this-one-then-swing-that-one test at the launch the difference is noticeable and impressive. It’s unclear how long that treatment is supposed to last, although I’ll wager that 2,000 miles in and several scrubbings later, it’s a memory. The chain wear is good though, with the Park CC3.2 suggesting there’s loads of life left in it even after a harsh winter. The chain joins with an extended pin that you snap off, like all Shimano chains do; I’ve replaced that with a SRAM 11spd connector as I find that a much simpler way to join and re-join a chain. It’s probably not allowed, but it hasn’t impacted on performance.
As a whole package, and assuming that you’re not going to be fuming over your wheels not working with it, Shimano Ultegra 6800 is everything you want from a mechanical performance groupset. It’s light, the shifts are crisp and quick, the braking is truly excellent. At the RRP of just under a grand it represents a significant but worthwhile investment if you’re upgrading; the fact that you can have it for not much over half that online makes it the go-to groupset for anyone building up a nice bike at home. For everyone except the true racers, the difference between Ultegra and Dura-Ace at the moment is so small – both in terms of weight and performance – that you’re effectively giving away nothing by speccing the second-tier kit and saving yourself a bunch of money. Do that.
Top-end performance from Shimano’s second-tier groupset: great shifting, fantastic braking.
A miserable day out there and so I cycle in my mind with some more purchases for the Touring Bike.
Panniers arrived – Axiom they look great but review once they get used
Mercian Frame (reynolds 631) fork and Seatpost on their way
Brooks Saddle B17 Champion – I have a spare
Decided on a triple as i am sure those lower gear inches will come in handy once i see some hills. Ribble have a decent deal on so ordered a Shimano 105 triple in Silver
Also a rear Stainless Steel rack.
Then there is steering.
- Nitto Rando B135 Bar and a quill stem -Classic randonneur touring style, also great for cyclocross and dirt drop riding
- Bar slopes upward from the center to the corners, the drops are splayed outward
- A randonneur is a participant in a randonnée or brevet – a long-distance ride that passes through check-points within a specified time limits. It is not a race, but a test of endurance with distances of 200-1000 km
- All Nitto bars are measured center to center
- 120mm drop
- 105mm reach
been thinking of this bike more – this from their own blog so none of my words …..
Our boundary-blurring and irrepressible Croix de Fer might look a little niche on paper to many, but, in reality, it’s our best-selling model by a country mile. It tentatively falls under the ‘cross’ section, but, truth be told, we really could’ve picked from an abundance of similarly suitable tags. A large part of the models’ success is undoubtedly down to its incredible versatility. Perhaps ‘Jack-of-all-trades’ might’ve been more apt.
The ‘Croix certainly slots nicely into the ‘one bike’ mantra for many of you, sitting directly in the no-man’s land between road and dirt (and everything in between), and that’s exactly how we intended it to be – designed from a ‘see it, ride it’ perspective. A bike for exploring with!
With this in mind, we didn’t want to go changing things too drastically for 2014 – refinements and improvements as opposed to change for change’s sake whilst clinging onto the £1149.99srp…
Probably the biggest and most obvious improvement is the move to an inboard-mounted disc caliper. Many of you had expressed the faff of fitting a rear rack and mudguard to the previous design, having to space out the stays to clear the disc caliper. With the new design they’ll bolt straight on saving you having to rummage the parts bin to fabricate a suitable longer bolt and spacer combo. It also means that the rack no longer has to be a disc-specific model (with built-in clearance for the caliper).
We know a lot of you use the ‘Croix predominantly on tarmac so perhaps found the dedicated CX knobbies a little OTT for daily duties. On the other hand we didn’t want to completely abandon its off-the-beaten-path capabilities. Step forward the excellent compromise that is Continental’s semi-slick Cyclocross Speed 35c tyres. The lower profile diamond file centre tread will hopefully give a faster rolling performance on tarmac and hard-pack surfaces whilst the side knobbles should mean enough grip and traction for any off-road jaunts.
We’ve upped the gear range via a 12-30T cassette out back. Combined with the compact 50/34T Tiagra chainset up front it should give enough low-range spread for fully-laiden touring adventures into the unknown.
Hayes excellent CX Expert (formerly CX5) mechanical disc brakes take up the stopping duties. They give a nice a nice positive braking feel thanks to the stiff, forged one-piece caliper and include an integrated barrel adjuster for cable adjustments. We’ve offset the slight weight gain in the caliper body with their L-Series lightweight drilled rotor, so the overall is comparable to last years’ Avid BB7 setup. If you want to get really pedantic then I guess you could argue we’ve dropped rotational weight also.
The new M:Part Elite sealead cartridge bearing headset and upgraded Shimano Deore M525 6-Bolt hubs (vs. Shimano M475) should mean smoother steering and rolling for many a mile and drastically reduced service intervals.
So, there you have. Not massive changes by any stretch of the imagination but hopefully all small choice tweaks to improve the versatility, everyday use and overall ride characteristics of what is our best-selling model. If you think we’ve missed something out or you’d like to see certain features or kit integrated further down the line please let us know below – we’re all ears…