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.
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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.
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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.