One sure-fire way to come up with a new idea for an invention is to simply add “electric” to the name of a product that already exists as after all, if something is electronic it is automatically better than its predecessor. Take the electric toothbrush, for example, or even the electric chair – chairs couldn’t kill anyone until someone had the bright idea of putting electricity inside them.
It’s with this mantra that Shimano have improved upon the humble bicycle, by coming up with an electronic gear system that they reckon will “improve performance” and “reduce maintenance”.
The Di2 gears replace the old-fashioned mechanical mechanism with “solid state” switches and rubber-coated wires – the theory being that if something is solid state there’s less moving parts and therefore less that can go wrong. It also includes a couple of derailleurs with servo motors instead of springs and a 7.4 volt lithium-ion battery pack to power it all.
Apparently this all makes shifting gears a whole lot more pleasant with pro-cyclist and Tour-de-France contestant Frankie Andreu, who probably knows what he’s talking about, claiming that gear shifting is “super nice”.
Apparently it is also fairly impressive that the Di2 weighs 67 grammes less than the Dura-Ace 7800 – whatever that is – and seems to add credence to the notion of electricity improving things. The Di2 will apparently be offered as an upgrade on the Dura-Ace 7900, which will be out in January 2009.
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