Warning – This little weekend post is brought to you by major cycling gear ranting and raving, if you don’t like bikes then this one could be weird for you.

I remember being 12 and starting to ride mountain bikes… Aside from being the best thing I had ever experienced in life apart from girls, it was a revelation to not only experience the riding (bikes), but also have my eyes opened to a whole world that I didn’t know existed: Gear. Yes, it varies from rider to rider, but kit/gear/equipment is a big part of our riding world. For me, ever since I was a kid, there was one acronym that personified equipment for me… that brought it to life and provided inspiration to strive for the best. Its name is folklore and any mountain biker, if not roadie will nod knowingly when you whisper its Godzilla-like impression making title:

x

The 3 letters of perfection

HAI! That little acronym meant everything to me growing up… Shimano XTR. Whisper it… Marvel, respect and covert. As I saved up and worked my way through Deore, LX and then XT, it stayed out there like a cycling super model that almost made you feel like you weren’t good enough for it… How could I afford it? Would I be good enough to justify having it? What happens if I get it and then get dropped in a race? Unbeknown to me I was being introduced to status anxiety by this legendary Group-set.

And then one day, I could afford it. Well, not all of it… But parts of it. Was it as good as I had expected after all those years of craving, saving and paving my way towards it? Fuck yes it was… it was even BETTER. Not only had I arrived, but I could now experience the greatness of this kit. These days I feel mildly ill if I have to ride an MTB with anything else but XTR on it. Even when I did have that period where I broke 3 rear derailleurs in 2 weeks (my fault, NOT the kit), I will still always fork out the extra pingas to make sure I have an acronym that ends in ‘R’.

So So So I hear you say… Well, this is where we become a lemming with the rest of the world and re-spam out the news that has broken, a historical moment if you will. Yes, XTR has gone electronic – XTR Di2 is here:

x

“Come with me if you want to shift perfectly…”

Yes, if the Garmin 1000 sending you text messages while you ride is the horror robot future that we face, then today I bring balance to the force by talking about the GOOD future… Those magicians from the rising sun have pretty much nailed something talked about for years, the end of using cables for us to change gears on our Mountain Bikes. Allow this little video (best watched in HD) to elaborate:

Yes, give me a full facial marketing department, and make me beg for more… If Andrew Shandro says its awesome, then its fucking awesome, I caught a chairlift with him and he’s a real person and may have made Rude Rock his bitch at some stage, so we need to believe him. I also love all the other Euro accents in there, excellent. Touch a button to change gear on your MTB?! The future is FINALLY here!

However… Yes, I am an XTR Rice Rocket fan boy, but I am not 100% blinded at this stage and given I’m not an early adopter (I will let Wolf find the kinks in this first), a few “areas of concern” that I shall keep a watching brief on:

  • Durability/Reliability – A subtle difference between the two, but I shall lump them together. Yes, how is this stuff going to hold up to being smashed by sand, grit, water, mud, rocks and pretty much every single element of nature possible? I have seen the road stuff have EPIC melt downs at the most random times, so how will this hold up when the rear D body is packed with mud? 30km’s from home and the electrics fry? Interesting…
  • Cost – The cost of the road stuff makes your eyes water like you’re going down on an onion, so I am going to be interested to see what this comes out at. Not cheap. Wait for one of your mates to buy it and then wait for them to get bored and flick it on…
  • Retrofit – How will this go on current bikes? Do frames need to be built to accept it? Or do we end up with it looking shit on your current bike with insulation tape vs wires etc? Hopefully there is an easy answer to this.

These are the obvious points really… But aside from that, I think that this is awesome and Shimano are to be applauded for pushing the MTB Technology boundaries again. Do I want it? Most likely I will watch nervously from the sidelines for a bit… Reverting to the 15 year old (well, actually my current emotional age), who looks longingly on, nervously wanting it, but not sure.

Watch this space, but I suspect that like my 26inch wheels, I am not quite ready to let go of my current and beautiful XTR…

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