UPDATE: Read the full details of Shimano’s Prototype Dura Ace Electronic time trial groupset in this week’s Cycling Weekly, on sale Thursday 17th July.
There is nothing new about finding the latest components at the Tour, but timing is everything in life so after today I’m going to start playing the lottery.
Just as we arrived at the Gerolsteiner team bus the mechanics were pulling out Sebastian Lang?s time trial bike which has the first example and is the only working prototype of the long awaited Shimano electronic time trial groupset. This is the first time that a time trial specific groupset in an electronic format has been used in competition by either of the two largest groupset players.
Litterally minutes before we arrived Gerolsteiner mechanics had received the shifters from the Shimano engineers. Already built onto the Pro Missile base bar it was set up such that Gerolsteiner had no involvement other than to link the system to the derailleurs and fit the bars to the bike. Barring the aluminium brake levers, the whole system is a carbon composite construction.
Shifting on the extensions is via two buttons located next to the riders thumbs, with the upper most button controlling the changes up the block and the lower one to the smaller sprockets, the same idea is also used for the front changer. The intuitive design carries the same properties of the current electronic groupset which self aligns and provides quicker shifting. Mounted via one bolt to the extension the shifting unit itself is of a large diameter and would likely be slimmed down to provide less frontal area exposure to the wind.
Shifting can also be taken car of at the brake lever, a first for a time trial groupset. Thus allowing easier changes when climbing out of the saddle or entering and exiting tighter corners. Again the same principles apply for the shifting with the buttons inside the prototype Shimano brake lever, with the thumb being used to shift. The brakes of course have remained using cables as the road groupset.
A small control box fitted to the cables enables the battery power levels to be checked whist also allowing the system to align itself. With a battery pack still being needed, this has been mounted on the underneath of the down tube.