Are you a serious Ironman Triathlete who wants to get the best result possible and perhaps earn a spot in Ironman Hawaii? Perhaps this Electronic bike gear shifters: Ironstruck product review will be helpful in helping you get the most out of your bike training and racing.
Do you check out the latest bike technology in order to find a way to shave some minutes off your Ironman bike time?
Perhaps an electronic gear-shifting system will help you get the most out of all your hard work out on the triathlon bike course.
A BIT OF ELECTRONIC GEAR-SHIFTING HISTORY
It seems that in 1990 the Japanese bike manufacturer SunTour was one of the first to introduce this radical new way of shifting road bike gears.
They were followed in 1992 by the French company Mavic.
Mavic called their product ZAP and the prototype was tested out in the Tour d’France, but the product was not really a huge success at the time and was never commercially developed.
In 2009 it was Shimano who made an electronic system available in the market-place. It was the Shimano Di2 (Dura-Ace 7970).
In 2011 Shimano brought the Ultegra Di2 to the market place and the price was less than the original Dura-Ace system. This made the system available to a much wider audience and Campagnolo joined the fray and introduced their own electronic gear-shifting system the same year.
Now the electronic gear-shifting system for your triathlon bike is available in most retail bike stores if you want to give it a try.
HOW THE ELECTRONIC GEAR-SHIFTING SYSTEM WORKS
An electronic gear-shifting system allows riders to shift by using electronic switches instead of using the conventional control levers. A traditional bike uses mechanical control levers that pull and release the Bowden cables and spring-loaded derailleurs.
The switches are connected by wire or wireless to a battery pack and to a small electric motor that drives the derailleur, switching the chain from cog to cog. An electronic system can switch gears faster, and because the system does not use Bowden cables and can calibrate itself, it may require less maintenance.
The Shimano Di2 is controlled by solid-state switches located either in the integrated shift levers and/or at the end of time trial bars. The signals are sent through a wiring harness to a battery pack that is installed near the bottom bracket.
The rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack supplies power to the derailleur motors, which move the derailleurs via worm gears. Shimano estimates that their 7.4-volt battery pack can last up to 1,000 kilometers (620 mi) per charge. The system also has an LED light to warn when it needs a charge.
The shift times on rear derailleurs using the shimano Dura-Ace 7970 electronic gear-shifter had similar times to conventional shifting and also had a break-away system it in case of a crash.
However on the front derailleur the Dura-Ace electronic shifter was 30% faster.
On your traditional bike, have you ever notice how it can be such a problem sometimes when you switch from your big chain ring to the small one?
It’s caused by the tension on the chain and in some cases the chain can “fly” off completely and that means getting off your bike and getting covered with oil and dirt as you attempt to get the chain back in place in the middle of a race.
A good example is Ironman Canada.
I was in that race 11 times over the years and there was this one short, steep uphill that seemed to come out of nowhere just after a right-hand turn and it appears as riders are just coming off a steep downhill and most are still in the big chain ring.
This short hill was so steep that about a third of the way up it was all you could do to keep moving if your were caught in the big chain-ring.
So now you had tons of tension on the chain as you attempted to throw the chain from the big ring to the small ring. Every year there were dozens of people throwing their chains right off in the same spot on the course when they tried to jump from big ring to the small.
It happened to me the first time I was on that course until I realized I just had to be sure to be in the small ring before I started up the hill. After that I never had a problem.
With the Dura-Ace electronic shifting system this problem is eliminated as it has a controlled motion.
The Di2 can also trim the front derailleur to eliminate chain rub and calibrate itself to adjust for wear and tear. Finally, the entire 7970 group set weighs approximately 113 grams (4.0 oz).
TRIATHLETES AND THE ADVANTAGES OF USING ELECTRONIC SHIFTERS
–The electronic system is faster than the conventional system.
–There is no need to change hand positions when you want to shift.
–If you are cold or exhausted the system is still accurate and effortless.
–The shifting performance is just as good even if your Bowden cables are stretched or worn.
–The electronic shifter has a trim function that virtually eliminates the dreaded “chain rub” that can drive you crazy in a long training ride or race.
–The system is so smooth that it reduces the shock to your drive-train components.
–With the electronic system you can have two sets of gear controls as opposed to one with the traditional system.
IRONMAN TRIATHLETES-WHAT TO BE AWARE OF WHEN USING ELECTRONIC SHIFTERS
–If your battery runs out of energy there is currently no over-ride system to go back to manual shifting and you could end up in the same gear for the duration of your Ironman Triathlon for instance.
Of course this would not happen if the unit was monitored closely and fully charged for the big race.
–You have to push the button in order to make each shift and will no longer be able to jump over 3 or 4 cog positions as you can do with traditional shifters.
However sometimes people jump over the gears so fast that the chain flies off. With electronic shifters this will not happen as you are limited to one cog at a time.
–This is still cutting-edge technology and there is always the chance of encountering reliability issues, but one would assume that there is an extensive warranty on this product and that at this point most of the bugs are worked out.
–Then of course there is the cost. In May of 2010 the Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 system cost in excess of $2500. The good news is that the Shimano Ultegra Di2 was introduced in 2011 and is a less expensive system.
It’s best to shop around and compare prices as chances are the electronic gear-shifting systems may have come down considerably as we head into the 2012 season. This will be a good possibility if more competitors have entered the market-place.
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