We rode one of the first working prototypes of the electronic Dura Ace Di2 over a year ago, and it?s taken until now, for it to be available on production bikes. Focus? bike is the first to be available to test.
We were keen to find out how much more refined the components had become in production, but also answer the question that was on everybody?s mind; how would Di2 cope with UK weather? We all know water and electricity don?t mix.
Before I?d even shifted a gear I was aware of the improved lever-hood shape compared to 7900. Sure, there?s bound to be differences of opinion between riders, but for me the new simmer design found the ideal middle ground; taking cues from SRAM?s ?less scooped? shape, but adding a more ergonomic feel. The textured grip, was a nice addition too.
At first I found myself constantly shifting up and down the gears, pressing and playing with the buttons, like a chaild with a new toy. The rear mech shifted incredibly smoothly, and rapidly too. It?s a step up from the previous Dura Ace shifting performance for sure, which is a hefty compliment given the comparative quality.
Some of that might be down to the new directional chain, but the self learning rear mech, which you can visibly see ?micro-trimming? itself means each shift should always be perfectly aligned.
It was an unusual mentality but with Di2, there was an urge to try and trip it up by deliberately making unreasonable demands on it, so I went and found the steepest hill I could. Standing starts on a 1:4 whilst simultaneously attempting to shift from the small to large chainring should be enough to send it into meltdown ? I hoped.
All the time it delivered a level of shifting performance that no cable operated system could have coped with so smoothly and flawlessly. I could not, and still cannot, fault it in this regard.
Murphy?s law applied itself superbly and the days and weeks after getting my hands on the Izalco were completely dry, but finally the skies cracked. Di2 has now had a few good soakings, including a 50 mile circuit race in driving wind and rain yet it?s still not missed a beat.
What I?m constantly finding is that every time I think of a criticism there?s at least one counter point. For example, whilst riding flat-out, deep in the drops I remembered thinking the shift button on the brake lever is not very easy to flick, particularly if you run your levers a bit high on the bars.
The full review appears in this week’s Cycling Weekly magazine, available from all good newsagents, priced £2.60