We were up at Shimano distributor Madison's Milton Keynes HQ yesterday to take a look at what the big S will be bringing us in 2014. Was there lots of interesting stuff? Of course! Can we tell you about it? No. Not until, variously, March, May and July. Sorry.
So stay tuned for all that. There was stuff we saw that we can talk about though - notably a nice demonstration of how easy it is to program the new Dura Ace Di2 system. Mark from Madison was on hand to show us how configurable the system is...
The big gain for most riders will probably be multi-shift. Campag's EPS groupsets have it – press the button and the mech keeps shifting until you let go – and Shimano have followed suit. Predictably they've upped the ante a bit too: you can have either two or three changes and then it'll stop, or you can set it to run through the whole block. There's five speed levels too, all of which are apparently faster than clicking the button manually.
The configurable buttons might not seem like such a big draw. Obviously it means that you can configure extra shifters and sprint buttons to do whatever you want them to, which is good news for anyone that wants shifting options when they're not normally available. But we spoke to Chipps over at Singletrack who's changed his shifter set-up to a kind of paddle gearbox. "I never shift the wrong way on manual levers but I didn't find it so easy on electronic," he told us. "Anyway I've set up the levers so that the big paddles are the rear mech and the smaller buttons are the front. Harder gears on the right, easier on the left. And I've written 'Easy Tiger' on the bars on either side so I can remember which is which. Easy gears, and tiger gears! I find it works really well, although obviously I have to re-learn it all when I switch to a standard setup"
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.