Bicycles continue to evolve. Every year new technology enters the market that makes riding a bike easier, safer and more enjoyable – from all-steel hardtails to e-bikes with front and rear suspension and ABS brakes, the possibilities seem endless.
Shimano is one of the largest manufacturers of bicycle components in the world and recently announced several products that they hope will revolutionize electric bicycles: automatic gears. Are they worth it and should you use one? What is all this hype about? let’s dive in
What is automatic change?
There are many reasons to buy an electric bike, and many must-have gadgets for cyclists and cyclists.
In addition to the list of devices available on ebikes, Shimano has released two different but related pieces of technology that help with an ebike’s ability to shift and overcome some of the challenges associated with conventional drivetrains. Shimano markets these two pieces of technology as Shimano Cues Di2 AUTO SWITCH and the shimano FREE TURN. Both can be operated and tuned via Shimano’s companion app, E-Tube Project Cyclist.
Shimano Cues Di2 AUTOMATIC SHIFT
The Cues Di2 is designed specifically for electric bikes and is essentially a redesigned rear derailleur powered by an electric bike’s integrated battery and motor. By digitally connecting the derailleur to the rest of the drivetrain, the various components of the bike can communicate.
On bikes equipped with Cues Di2, Shimano has installed a speed sensor in the rear hub of the bike. As a result, as the bike picks up speed, the rear derailleur can shift to a harder cog on the rear sprocket without the rider having to monitor the constantly changing difficulty of pedal strokes and manually up or down to ensure a smooth cadence.
Cues Di2 equipped e-bikes also include torque and cadence sensors in the e-bike’s bottom bracket/mid motor assembly, which also ensure that the selected gear remains optimized for the amount of effort the rider is putting in.
FREE SHIFT is the sister technology to Cues Di2 AUTO SHIFT, which was released simultaneously.
Where a traditional derailleur requires the rider to be pedaling to initiate and complete a gear shift, FREE SHIFT allows your bike to shift gears even while sliding. This is possible on an electric bike because the mid-drive motor can spin the front chainring using battery power instead of pedal power, which activates the rear derailleur.
Using speed and cadence sensors, the bike can monitor when you’re slowing down and automatically downshift, setting you up with the optimal gear needed for your next acceleration.
It’s important to note that the Di2 and FREE SHIFT systems can be set to auto or manual, allowing you to manually override auto shift at any time. And there’s a benefit to manually shifting at least some of the time: Shimano claims that by doing so, the system will learn your preferred cadence zone, ensuring that the autoshifting feature maintains the gear that suits your preferred riding style. Thanks to this technology, we may have entered an era of custom automatic transmissions, which is great.
Shimano LINKGLIDE and HYPERGLIDE+
A note about compatibility: AUTO SHIFT while pedaling is compatible with e-bikes equipped with Di2 gears and an 11-speed or 10-speed LINKGLIDE transmission AUTOSHIFT while sliding is compatible with e-bikes equipped with Di2 gears and a 12-speed transmission. HYPERGLIDE+ or a LINKGLIDE 10/11-speed transmission.
Benefits of automatic transmission
Let’s face it, using your thumbs to shift gears isn’t necessarily rocket science or difficult. While many riders take shifting for granted, Shimano claims Cues Di2 and FREE SHIFT technology reduces the stress associated with optimizing ride quality and pedaling cadence by making the constant decision to shift up or down. out of the driving equation.
It allows you to focus on the road and enjoy the ride a little more. Automatic gearing can be a welcome addition for people looking to maximize the fun they get from a bike.
FREE SHIFT and E-Mountain Bikers
Shimano highlights a particularly suitable use case for the automatic: mountain biking. If you’re a mountain biker, you climb trails regularly, and it’s not uncommon to find yourself in the completely wrong gear when the terrain changes abruptly, especially when you start descending.
For example, when climbing, you’ll be in the easiest gear your e-bike has available. After cresting and crushing a 40km/h descent, you’ll eventually find yourself on a flat section that requires harder gear to maintain speed. With FREE SHIFT, the derailleur will automatically adjust the gear so that the first pedal stroke after the descent delivers power to the wheel, instead of having to spin like crazy to get through the entire gear range.
Shimano also claims that being able to shift into the correct gear without pedaling will change the way you think about cornering on a mountain bike and that FREE SHIFT can help you focus on planning your line and maintaining a stable body position for more control. and acceleration after corners.
Using the E-Tube Project app to customize changes
Shimano’s companion app, E-Tube Project, allows you to adjust a wide range of performance variables on your e-bike using your smartphone. With regards to autoshift specifically, the app allows you to fine-tune how your autoshift system works for you.
For example, the app allows you to choose a “Driving Scene” on a scale from “Pavement” to “Mountain”, to adjust the shift time on a scale from “Slow” to “Fast”, turn auto-learning on or off. , and control the starting gear on a scale from “Light” to “Heavy”.
Is the E-Bike automatic transmission right for you?
The answer to this question depends on several variables. For example, if you don’t have a compatible e-bike, you’ll need to upgrade your entire e-bike to take advantage of Shimano’s latest technology. You will also need to ask yourself how much you think you will benefit from the automatic transmission.
You might find the technology redundant if you’re an old-school rider who prefers maximum control of your gears. But if you’re looking for the least complicated cycling experience, if you’re a mountain biker who loves to tinker with the latest technology, or if you’re new to cycling and having a hard time choosing the optimal gears to maintain the ideal cadence, then the automatic transmission could become your new best friend.