Words by Flow and Shimano | Images by Flow

Zap zap! Shimano have just confirmed that electronic shifting will be soon be available at a more accessible price point with the soon-to-be-released Di2 XT groupset. This is fantastic news, as the benefits of electronic shifting aren’t just relevant to the high-end market.

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We get the feeling we’re going to be seeing a lot more Di2 now.

We’ve been riding XTR Di2 for the more than a year now, and it’s superb (read our review here!). While Shimano billed XTR Di2 a real racer’s product, we’ve found it’s far more versatile than that, but the price was always going to be a barrier to most. Now that’s set to change.

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One of the neatest improvements over XTR Di2 is that you now have Bluetooth integration for all E-TUBE adjustments, along with a smartphone/tablet app to drive the software. If you’re already an XTR Di2 user, you can fit the XT display to take advantage of these new additions.

Before we delve into the XT Di2 equipment, let’s quickly recap on our time with the XTR Di2 system. We’ve now had the groupset fitted to two different bikes, the cross-country oriented Pivot Mach 4 and the all-mountain Trek Remedy. We’ve also run it in a number of different configurations, initially we had a double ring up front using the cool Synchro Shift mode before converting it to a single chain ring with an 11-42 cassette out back. Make sure you watch our video explaining all the Di2 shift modes below:

It’s fair to say that over the past 12 months, we’ve been able to put all of our initial fears about electronic shifting to bed – the system has been flawless, impervious to the crud and mud of mountain biking, and intuitive to use too. The benefits of Di2 are pretty obvious once you’ve ridden the system, but to sum up quickly:

  1. The shifts are instantaneous and consistent no matter what the conditions.
  2. There’s no adjustment required as with a cable system.
  3. Unlike with a mechanical cable system, the shift quality never degrades, so shifting feel is always light and smooth.
  4. The whole system is completely customisable (you can set which buttons do what, and the speed of the shift).
  5. You can shift through multiple gears by simply holding down the shifter.
  6. If you want, you can run a front derailleur and still only have one shifter (great if you also use a dropper post).
  7. The system integrates very cleanly into the bike as the wiring is unobtrusive, especially if you use the PRO Di2 bar/stem.
  8. You get a lot of riding out of one battery, like hundreds of kilometres.
  9. It sounds awesome.

Read our review of the XT 11-speed mechanical groupset here.


 

We still haven’t seen XT Di2 in the flesh and won’t for another week or so, but from the information we’ve received, it appears to have all the same functionality as XTR Di2, with a couple of notable improvements:

Easier to use E-TUBE software:

Judging by the information we’ve received from Shimano, the XT Di2 groupset has all the same functionality as XTR Di2, but with some welcome improvements to the  E-TUBE program, which is the software used to make adjustments or customisations of the Di2 system. Previously, using the E-TUBE software involved physically plugging the Di2 display unit into a PC (it wasn’t Mac compatible!). This has all changed with a new Bluetooth integration that allows users to control all the Di2 functionality from a phone or tablet.

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If you’re keen for multiple rings, XT Di2 will facilitate double and triple ring setups.

Wider range single-ring drivetrain, or still double/triple compatible:

XT Di2 is compatible with every drivetrain configuration you could ever want. You can run it with a triple ring crankset or a double ring (using an 11-40 cassette) with one or two shifters. Or you can set it up as a single chain ring system, using the recently released XT 11-46 tooth cassette or an 11-42 if you prefer. We’re a big fan of single ring drivetrains, and the massive 11-46 range will be broad enough to satisfy just about all riders we’d imagine.

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New Boost hubs for XT.

Boost hubs:

Shimano have used the XT Di2 release as an opportunity to also introduce new Boost compatible XT hubs as well. Boost hub spacing is rapidly being adopted across the industry, and now you’ll have the option of using XT’s bombproof hubs for your Boost bike too.

In terms of weights, we don’t have any more info yet, but we’d imagine it’ll be very similar to current XT offering. Nor do we have any pricing from Shimano Australia unfortunately, but the best indicator we’ve received is that “XT Di2 will be to XTR Di2 what Ultegra Di2 is to Dura-ace Di2.” We’ll leave deciphering that riddle to you!

We’ve confirmed with Shimano Australia that we’ll be getting a full review on this groupset very soon. Read below for the official word from Shimano.


Di2 technology lands at DEORE XT level

Di2 now features wireless customization capabilities with upwards compatibility to XTR level

 Sitting between the granite-hewn professional racers and the weekend warriors you’ll find a group of highly competitive and highly skilled mountain bikers. These are the privateers and the self-supported riders. These are the riders who put the hours in to keep themselves race-fit and have the skills to test themselves against the best. These are the amateur mountain bike racers. And these are the riders Shimano had in mind when it developed DEORE XT Di2 M8050.

If you’ve dreamt of winning races, if you’ve sent in a race application and started to wonder if you’ve got what it takes, if you’ve pinned on race numbers and glanced enviously at the other riders’ bikes then you know what the trail to triumph involves. If you cravethe latest components in search of the technology to change your ride, then the answer is Shimano DEORE XT Di2 M8050.

The technology to change your ride

Two years after launching the world’s first commercially available mountain bike electronic shifting system, Shimano brings the power and the technology to drastically change the way you ride to DEORE XT level.

At the touch of a button and with just one lever you can now change gear with extreme accuracy, speed and precision. When the trail suddenly turns up hill, your DEORE XT drivetrain can now respond to your every demand. When your hands are aching from gripping your bars, a light touch of your Di2 button is all you need to move to a more efficient gear. And together with Synchro Shift technology, which adjusts your front derailleur and your chain line automatically, you’ll always have the right gear options to quickly switch between tough climbs, technical descents and pure-adrenaline racing.

Much like the Shimano DEORE XT M8000 mechanical derailleur, the DEORE XT Di2 M8050 rear derailleur also includes Shadow RD+ technology, which is designed to eliminate chain bounce and keep chains on sprockets over multiple types of terrain, leading to a more stable shifting platform.

The most groundbreaking technology featuring on DEORE XT Di2 M8050 though is a new wireless Bluetooth connection to Shimano’s E-TUBE program, which is the system Shimano uses to set up and control the Di2 shifting behaviour. Through Bluetooth technology riders or mechanics can wirelessly communicate with their computer, tablet or a smart phone via the SC-MT800 system information display and a new battery. As well as allowing wireless workshop customizability, it allows riders to customize their shifting preferences on the trail via an app on their smartphones.

Additionally, Shimano’s wireless D-FLY Data Management system will allow riders to see battery and gear information on their compatible third party display devices (eg bike computers). This technology will be rolled out with DEORE XT Di2 components and will be available as an upgrade for those currently riding Shimano XTR Di2, either with SC-MT800 or SCM9051 system information displays and a new internal or external battery.

The components of adventure

In terms of the components themselves, it’s the drivetrain where DEORE XT Di2 M8050 developments have focused.

SW-M8050 front and rear FIREBOLT shifters are designed to provide easy operation and accurate shifting with an ergonomic rotary action, short single-click action and effortless multi-shift possibilities. The FIREBOLT shift button placement is customizable and can be positioned exactly where the rider’s thumbs naturally rest. This allows you to shift faster and match your efforts like never before.

The SYNCHRO SHIFT technology inherent in the shifters means riders can rely solely on one shifter to take care of their rear and front gear changes. A customizable shift map means riders can program the exact gear ratio at which Di2 automatically shifts into the big ring when going up through the gears, or into the small ring when going down through the gears. Whichever gear ratio you choose, Shimano’s Rhythm Step philosophy ensures that riders make the minimum amount of incremental steps when changing up or down gears, allowing the rider to maintain an even cadence and fluid riding style. No large gear steps, no over-working joints and muscles, just effortless pedaling throughout the gear range. No compromises, just a focus on simplicity and enjoyment.

The shifters are designed to work in harmony with the SC-MT800 system information display, the RD-M8050 rear derailleur and the FD-M8070 front derailleur. Not only does the SC-MT800 system information display give a visual display of the rider’s gear and battery level, but it is also the control point for operating the trim adjustment and reboot function and wirelessly adjusting the multi-shift speed and SYNCHRO SHIFT operation via computer, tablet or smart phone.

The FD-M8070 front derailleur and RD-M8050 rear derailleur retain the accurate and stable shifting developed for XTR Di2 components. Computer-controlled auto trim on the front derailleur keeps the drivetrain running smoothly. Meanwhile, at the rear, changes are seamless, even under high loads, on steep inclines or when cassettes are more mud than teeth. The derailleur motors are twice as powerful as those on Dura-Ace and Ultegra Di2 to give precise shifting in difficult conditions.

Battery performance is identical to that of its big brother, XTR Di2, giving a minimum of several hundred kilometres of power under heavy usage (eg lots of shifting over three chainrings plus control of ancillary devices). The visual LED display indicates battery charge and the LED screen shuts off after a few seconds of inactivity to save battery life. If you do find yourself running low, charging the battery takes around 90 minutes and internal batteries work on a simple plug and play operation so can be easily swapped.

Durability is also in line with XTR Di2 components. A sealed, waterproof system means DEORE XT Di2’s electronic signals will stand up to mud, water and dirt from the worst of winter. Plus, with no worrying about cross-chaining, cable stretch, or cable adjustments, your gear changes will be incredibly consistent.

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