Electronic Shifting: A year of Enduro racing.
It's been a tough season. Back in January nobody believed it would work. It did.
Did you make your own shifters and wiring harness? Have a link to your setup?
I've ridden the Ki2 kit that Ace Sports Co. does. It's pretty damn slick and makes me anxious as to when Shimano will come out with a factory kit for XTR. I've been around the stuff for a while and it's impressively reliable. Your definitely steeping things up a bit though.
Both harness and shifters are self made. I got into electronic shifting and suspension control in 2010:
06062010061 - YouTube
I rode that system during all the 2010 season, with better results than expected. Everything was self made as you can see, still to me it proved electronic control is hands down the way to go these days in terms of precision, reliability and ergonomy.
Still, I preferred to go the safe way for a racing rig, I didn't wanted races ruined by one of those silly problems that use to happen in home made electronics, so I decided to modify a Shimano Dura-Ace kit.
Played a bit with different cages based on CAD I made, ended with 65mm and offset enough to make the RD to shift up to a 36T with a 9T upper pulley.
I made too differerent shifters throughout the season, based on buttons, levers, even a Grip Shift
Electronic Twist Shifting Prototype by Black Cat Bone Bikes - Bike Rumor
No suspension control but we'll see next year.
So... what's the point? Doesn't mechanical shifting work fine these days? Sure it does but here in the Atlantic face of Europe winter makes it messy with cables, and the CX guys prefer electronic just for that matter. Also, my own system showed easier to use than mechanical just because there is no lever to displace. Just click on a button and it's done, very handy through sweepy sections, rock gardens,all those places where you want to have a good grasp on the bars. Furthermore, I found electronic to be more consistent in shifting and keeping the gears on. Zero ghost shifts no matter how rough the thing gets.
I've been told many times it takes big balls to put such an expensive RD on such a bike. Probably the component that is more prone to failure and you put a 600€ thing? Well, I got a decent deal on the system, but yes, I knew I was taking a risk and was ready to take the hit. But it's also true that learned a couple of things about how the think worked while I got my own system ready so I was pretty confident It could have been repaired if needed be (and it was!)
First couple of months it faced Atlantic winter. Mud very much and why not some snow. If it has to fail better now than during a race.
Weight was a main concern when building the thing because Enduro involves a lot of climbing to the specials and even into them sometimes, but some stuff didn't took the abuse.
And off to the first race of the Spanish EpicEnduro Series.
By then it was clear the thing was working flawlessly. Shifts were crisp and always spot on. But best of all was the front derailleur. A mechanical one simply can't compare to this: click, whirrrrl, gear on. Never fails period. No matter how much you're mashing on the pedals. Click. Whirrrrl. Done. Problem is when you ride another bike. You forget to displace the lever and ease on the pedals, and all gets very, very messy with the chain.
Second race, Canyon Enduro Series. We had been checking the trails during Saturday, shuttling with the van, which involved taking off the front wheel.
At some point the chain guide hit something during shuttling and right after the start of the race, when climbing to first stage, **** happened: The chain guide broke and had to disassemble it, leaving the chain too slack. I knew sooner or later something was going to break but I decided to take the risk. Had some chain drops during the first three stages. The fourth had a fast singletrack section at the end. Was spinning as fast as a could and entered a rock garden when the chain went off the RD cage and in between the spokes and the big cog. At 35 km/h, four spokes were ripped off... and the rear derailleur simply disappeared from the bike. It stripped off the dropout, unplugged from the wire and flew into the bushes. Took me a while to find it. I can't find the pics of the mess and repair, but yes, I repaired it and lasted the rest of the season.
Next race was L'Entregu, where I did quite well! Being able to shift effortlessly through the most technical stuff was giving me an edge, I think. Where others have to be in the right gear for the exit before entering, I just use the gear I feel comfortable with and shift when I feel I need it because it's just a subtle movement of the thumb and it always works.
Training in our local track means some abuse for the bikes, but no problem for the burly Nox and it's needle INA bearings in all the links. It's worth mentioning the tuned Lyrik and Evolver give butter performance all the time, and only the Manitou leaked through the schrader valve once. Apart from that an awesome couple.
I mean abuse.
Season's end: Endur'Hautacam in France. 2 days, 1,5 hours of specials.
Enduro Lourdes - YouTube
Again, no issues apart from a minor leak in the front brake lever master piston probably due to too much fluid with new pads and consequently the o-ring slightly out of the cylinder at rest. No issues for the bike, that's it. I had a crash training that week and I didn't felt very well during the weekend, couldn't sleep on friday... all in all didn't do too bad but I finished injuried and am waiting for surgery now.
You see, The Di2 hold up well. I did not.
Cool thread. I'll be back. Rep.
Very interesting post, thanks for sharing. Hope the surgery goes well.
What's the plan for next season? Further refinement of the system?
Not really doing much Ridin' or Diggin'
Di2 never fails to impress. The engineering is top notch, and there's no question that sometime soon we will be seeing XTR Di2, with Shadow+. What a rock solid drivetrain that would be.
Nice work there Vindiu
I have something similar in the pipeline.
This could very well be the real easy solution, with the availability and low cost of stand alone micro-controllers today.
The ones I have bought for this, are like the size of a square inch.
Keep the updates coming, I read them with great interest.
Plan for next season is racing again on DA Di2, but route everything internally, except for the battery. Until now only the RD wire was internal from mid season on to avoid damage in such an exposed area.
I'll try new shifters too. I tried three configurations this year. The one showed in the pics above is the first one I tried, it's OK, and it's sturdy as I took the time to build it properly, but later on the season I built two different protos I liked better. Problem was rushed as they were, they were prone to damage in case of crash. I'll show pics of the last one. My plan is building again a kind of trigger with very little displacement, as is the config I liked the most, but I 'll take time to do it well.
Apartt from that I'll be running a Campagnolo Athena EPS on another bike. I made a 1X11 based on Campagnolo a while ago.
It's a Super Record, expensive, but light and surprisingly sturdy. That bike is still around. Funny thing is we did the 1x11 a year before Sram . Well, well do it electronic this time. We'll use Athena because it is cheaper and it's CANBus, which I think is the future if you throw suspension control at it.
Mr Magura, I'd love to see your project when it's ready.
I have too thought of using an off the shelf derailleur, but chose against it.
Making a linear motion derailleur is not that much work, and just might be the ticket to something that really kicks butt.