Shimano has taken a big step in the direction of taking your gear selection out of your hands, introducing automatic shifting into one of its e-Bike groupsets. The change applies to e-Bikes using the Shimano Steps system with a Nexus Di2 hub, and can be introduced using a simple firmware update.
The system works by detecting you speed and cadence, sending a signal to the Di2 hub to shift into an easier gear if your speed has dropped and you’re labouring on the pedals, or a harder to gear if you’ve accelerated with your legs spinning like a windmill. The drive unit then temporarily reduces chain tension, to give smooth shifting even when you’re not expecting the system to change gear.
Watch: buyer’s guide to road bike groupsets
As an added bonus, the system will learn you’re riding style over time, so if you’re the type of rider who likes to churn all day at 60-70rpm, then it will not shift at the same points as it would with Chris Froome, for example, in the saddle, accelerating away at 120rpm. However, if this sounds a little disconcerting, then riders still have the ability to override the automatic shift system using a small switch on the handlebars.
This isn’t the first automatic shifting system we’ve seen, with Bioshift introducing a system that was more aimed at road bikes. This system was due to be available in the summer of 2015, but we’re still yet to see a finished product.