Electronic Bike Shifters: The Complete Guide (2023)

Let's be honest: For enthusiasts like us, getting our hands on the latest cutting-edge technology is one of the most compelling reasons to test drive the bike.

But electronic bike shifters aren't just a gimmick—they offer a smoother, deeper, more enjoyable riding experience.

With the level of performance benefit they provide, there is a strong case to be made that all serious riders should upgrade to electronic shifting!

So what's available now? And what do you need to know about the different options on the market?

Read! In this article we will cover:

  • 4 Main Benefits of Electronic Bicycle Shifters
  • What do you need to know before investing in electronic bike shifters?
  • The 3 contenders:Shimano Di2, CampagnoloEPS, miSHAME ON YOU

Ready to get familiar with electronic bike shifting?

let's dive!

Electronic Bike Shifters: The Complete Guide (1)

4 Main Benefits of Electronic Bicycle Shifters

Electronic bike shifters haven't been around that long, and adoption hasn't been as quick or unreserved as one might expect for exciting new technology.

So what are the benefits riders are looking for when making the transition from mechanical to electric?

#1. change simplified

The gear-shifting experience is basically better in every way when you're using electricity, and that's the key benefit of the technology.

ChangeUsing a mechanical shifter involves pressing a button or lever, which transfers power from your hand to your hand.derailleur using a cable and spring.This is how cyclists have controlled their gears for decades.

This basic system has been perfected over the years, but it presents a series of drawbacks that the electronic system eliminates.

(Video) How does Shimano Di2 Actually Work?| Electronic Shifting 101

First, moving between gears in a mechanical system requires a different pressure, or actuation, for each gear change. This means that changing multiple gears requires several quick actions that you have to track to get to the correct gear.

This is not the case with electronic shifters.You can hold down the shift button and the system will shift repeatedly until you release the button, easily making as many shifts as you like in a fraction of a second.

Second, in a mechanical system, you change yourpower trainusing your derailleur by applying all the force yourself, from your hand, which is then transmitted by cables and springs.

This means that to shift you need to apply the right amount of force to a system that may be reluctant due to wear. Not applying the correct force can mean losing the turn entirely.

Again, this isn't a problem with electronic bike shifters: pressing the button is easy, and the battery-powered shifter provides the power needed to shift.

It also means that an electronic bike shifter offers near-perfect consistency up and down your gear set—it always takes the same amount of force and time to shift. The same cannot always be said of a mechanical system.

Finally, electronic gear shifters for bikes further streamline the process by doing the math for you.osyncedresource forShimano groupsetsosequential changebySRAMallows your system to calculate the ideal ratio between front and rear gears.

For a 2x12 powertrain, for example, this gives you continuous, uninterrupted access to all 24 gears from a single shifter, without splitting it into two sets of 12.

Again, this means a smoother experience as the system takes care of some of the practicalities for you, which is cited as aprimary reasonpeople choose not to ride anymore.

In other words, with an electronic bike shifter, you shift into the exact gear you want, at the same rate, every time.

The benefit of this is obvious: no downshifting, lost gears, or stalling when finding the right gear.

Electronic Bike Shifters: The Complete Guide (2)

#two. Durability

Let's get this question out of the way: Sim, electronic bicycle shifting systems are waterproof.

(Video) Electronic Mountain Bike Shifting | What Is It & How Does It Work?

You can go for a ride in the rain and wash the bike when you get home and you won't have any problems.

Because the systems use static wires (or are completely wireless), they won't clog up with debris or fray over time. Weatherproper bike maintenancealways recommended, with an electronic system you can leave regular cable replacements behind.

#3. personalization

With electronic bike shifters, you have a certain degree of flexibility in positioning the buttons and riding levers that you simply don't get with a mechanical system.

There are no cables to think about, your shift knobs can be anywhere, so you can shift from the drops, the top, the base bar, or anywhere else.

In fully wireless systems such asSRAM AXS Groups, you can also have multiple shift knobs in various places, all linked to your derailleur and triggering the shift.

Electronic bike shifting systems also often have associated apps or computer interfaces that allow you to further customize your experience by controlling the way your system works and tailoring it to suit your riding style.

#4. Data!

Electronic shifters are fun pieces of hardware to innovate on your rides, and the innovation extends to new software as well.

In today's cycling world, reviews provided by platforms likeStrava, electronic bike shifters allow you to expand your information portfolio by gaining data and analysis from your group.

That's right, electronic bike shifters are capable of exporting information, including the time you spend in each gear.

This adds another dimension to quantifying your riding and can be useful in understanding how your fitness is changing and even how many teeth your cassette needs.

Electronic Bike Shifters: The Complete Guide (3)

What do you need to know before investing in electronic gears for bicycles?

How much do electronic bike gears cost?

Here we come to the elephant in the room:Electronic group assemblies are significantly more expensive than their mechanical counterparts.

This is the main reason why the adoption of electronic shifting for bicycles has been somewhat slow, as the technology is still expensive to manufacture, purchase, maintain, and replace. Until now, they've been prohibitively expensive for all but the elite cyclist (or those with deep pockets).

(Video) How Does Shimano Di2 Synchro Shifting Work? | Electronic Bike Gear Shifts Explained

A good rule of thumb for cycling and life is don't ride on what you can't replace.And these days, there's a considerable price difference between electronic shifting technology and its mechanical big brother.

That said, as electronic shifting inevitably becomes more commonplace and mass-produced, costs should start to drop to manageable levels.and the recent electronic update ofShimano's revered blue-collar 105 groupsetIt's a great sign of things to come.

Electronic Bike Shifters: The Complete Guide (4)

And the battery life?

Here's the good news: With electronic bike shifters, battery life isn't the issue some people might think.

It's an emotional scenario: far from home and your shapeshifters die, leaving you stranded and stuck in one gear. Fortunately, this is unlikely to happen.

The batteries in electronic bike shifters last literally hundreds of miles.and there are plenty of indicators to alert you that your kit needs to be charged when that time comes.

When you find that the battery indicator is low on power, you can probably still complete three or four full laps without running out. then it's a“make sure you charge it when you get home”indicator, not a"You are in trouble"indicator.

Now that you know the ins and outs of electronic gear shifting, let's talk about what's really out there!

The 3 contenders:Shimano Di2,Campagnolo EPS, miSHAME ON YOU

Shimano Di2 rear derailleur

Electronic Bike Shifters: The Complete Guide (5)

Shimano first released Di2 as an electronic shifter for road bikes in 2009.The technology then developed to a point where it could be applied to the hard-to-reach world as well.Mountain bike.

Di2 technology is currently offered on a range of Shimano's high-end road, mountain and road bikes.gravel pools.

The Shimano Di2 system is wired, which means that a display unit is connected to the shift paddles, derailleur, and battery via frame-mounted cables.

Paddle shifters look like traditional mechanical levers, but function like lightweight buttons. The display unit contains the system computer and indicates information such as battery life and your equipment.

The battery is installed in the frame, usually on the seat post, unless you're using one.dropper, but it charges with the display unit, so once you've inserted the battery, you don't have to take it out again.

(Video) How To Use Road Bike Shifters | Change Gear On Your Road Bike

The systems work with one or two derailleurs, depending on the number of front gears you use and thesynchronized turnthe system will actively manage the ratio between both gears as you shift up and down. The Shimano Access app lets you customize even more.

The system also features a safety release in case the derailleur is hit while in motion.

Change Campagnolo EPS

Electronic Bike Shifters: The Complete Guide (6)

Campagnolo currently only offers its EPS Electronic Shifting system for road bikes.It is a wired system structurally similar to a Di2 groupset.

The main point of differentiation is that the EPS system is designed to more fully mimic the mechanical experience: The shift knobs have built-in resistance to make shifting more tactile.

oSuper relief EPSIt comes with an impressive battery life of up to 1700 km.

Perhaps then, for the purist cyclist, the EPS represents a happy medium between exciting new technology and an uncompromising riding experience.


Electronic Bike Shifters: The Complete Guide (7)

SRAM is a late entrant into the world of electric shifters, and their AXS systems are comparatively a bit simpler, but simple doesn't necessarily mean worse.

There are currently AXS systems for road, mountain andgravel biking.

The derailleurs and display unit work as independent systems, each with their own batteries and base plates. They communicate wirelessly using a proprietary frequency system.

Shifts are activated by buttons that also communicate with the wireless system and can be mounted anywhere on the bike.The batteries fit into the respective units externally and are removable for easy charging.

AXS groupsets also interface with the SRAM Access app, allowing you to customize your shifting experience.

Did you find this electronic guide to bicycle changes useful? Learn more from the BikeTips experts below!

Ultimate Guide to Shimano Groupsets: Road Bike Edition
(Video) How to Adjust a Rear Derailleur – Limit Screws & Indexing
What is a dropper post? The best dropper posts for 2022
Bicycle derailleur explained (and how to adjust a derailleur)
The bicycle cassette: everything you need to know


How do electronic bike shifters work? ›

Electronic shifting differs from mechanical shifting because it uses small electric motors to shift the gears instead of metal cables. Batteries power the shifters and derailleurs, making them move the exact amount necessary, making shifts seamless.

Do pro riders use electronic shifting? ›

All professional cyclists – almost all – now use electronic groupsets on their bikes. They are simply better than traditional, mechanical gears – the shifting is more precise and pushing a button is easier than manipulating a lever, especially over rough terrain or in cold weather.

What gear should my ebike be in? ›

For regular terrain on a flat road, the middle gear is ideal. You can shift to the middle gear if you need strength, but not enough to ride on undulating roads. Combine the middle chainring with a triple rear cog to bike ride smoothly on a flat road. For beginners in biking, it is best to keep the bike in middle gear.

Is electronic shifting reliable? ›

So electronic groups are incredibly easy to shift, extremely consistent, reliable in the worst conditions, low maintenance, and provide tons of options to improve the riding experience. That's all great. But it's impossible to talk about electronic groups without mentioning cost.

Is electronic shifting better than mechanical? ›

Electronic shifting is faster than mechanical shifting. For example, Campagnolo claims that “shift times are now 25% faster that than the mechanical rear derailleur (taking just 0.352 seconds to swap sprockets)”. Campagnolo EPS offers the fastest shifting followed by Shimano DI2. Sram's eTap system shifts the slowest.

Why is my shifter not working? ›

Linkage. Misadjusted, damaged or stretched shift linkage or cables can keep an AT from going into gear when moving the shifter. Check your owner's manual, because some vehicles have shift cables that are adjustable. Adjusting a cable is a one-time fix you can make before taking your car in for service.

Why are my bike gears not changing? ›

If you find you're skipping a gear or that your shifting is getting stuck, then there's a good chance you need to adjust your indexing. Indexing problems can be caused by cable stretch, which is a normal part of the bedding-in process for new bikes or cables.

Which is better Di2 or eTap? ›

Shimano's Di2, because it has no radio transmitters or receivers to power, has a longer battery life than eTap AXS. On an eTap AXS system, the radio functions consume battery life. Although the batteries still last a very long time, the battery life is still much shorter than on a Di2 system.

How long does electronic shifter last? ›

The CR2032 batteries in the shifters will need changing on average about once every two years, and there's a similar LED system to tell you how much juice is remaining. Constant pressure on the button can eventually drain the battery of an electronic shift system.

How long does Di2 battery last? ›

Shimano Di2 battery life is also best-in-class, with a single charge of the main power source delivering approximately 1,000 kilometers of worry-free riding.

What gear do you use when going uphill? ›

If you're using a manual transmission, use second or third gear when you head up a steep incline – and don't change gears once you've committed to the climb. Failed Climb: Put the vehicle in reverse to allow for natural engine braking and keep tires turning.

What gear combination is best for going uphill? ›

Low Gear = Easy = Good for Climbing: The “low” gear on your bike is the smallest chain ring in the front and the largest cog on your cassette (rear gears). In this position, the pedaling will be the easiest and you'll be able to pedal uphill with the smallest amount of resistance.

What RPM should I shift my bike at? ›

Determining when to shift will vary on the bike, road conditions and travel speed. While most bikes are happy shifting at 5,000 to 7,000 RPMs, it is best to judge by the sound and feel of the engine. As you move faster, its pitch will increase. When the pitch is high, it is time to shift.

Do you keep pedaling when changing gears? ›

First, remember that you have to be pedaling when you change gears. That's because the chain has to be moving in order for the derailleurs to "derail" the chain from sprocket to sprocket.

What is the hardest gear on a bike? ›

The highest gear is when it's hardest to pedal, this will move your bike at a fast speed if cruising along on the flat. The highest gear is when the chain is on the largest cog on the front and the smallest cog on the rear.

Should you pedal while changing gears? ›

While you are shifting gears, you must keep pedaling in order for the chain to move from one gear to the next. When you're in a particular gear and pedaling, the chain is pulling on the teeth of that gear.

How do I know my shifter model? ›

The shifter can be identified by model number, which is stamped on the plastic perch (under the rubber hood).

What is the benefit of electronic shifters? ›

Electronic groupsets utilize derailleur motors that do the work for you, instantly shifting gears at the push of a button. Multiple shifts can even be actuated by one click, allowing you to find the correct gear quicker, and with less movement and energy.

What are the different types of bike shifters? ›

Shifters 101
  • Trigger (AKA thumb) shifters. ...
  • Twist-grip shifters. ...
  • Downtube shifters. ...
  • Bar-end shifters. ...
  • Integrated shifters. ...
  • Electronic shifters.

Can I convert my bike to electronic shifting? ›

Yes, you can upgrade your bike.

A switch from mechanical to electronic bike shifters can involve as little as swapping four parts, says Shimano's Road Brand Manager Nick Legan: the Di2 shifters and derailleurs (and adding the wiring harness and battery). But that's only for current 11-speed and 12-speed drivetrains.

Is shift by wire better? ›

Shift-by-wire works without a clutch pedal. Not only does this save even more weight and space, it also makes the system much faster. A gear shift takes around 50 milliseconds with most shift-by-wire systems: about as fast as the blink of an eye!

Does Shimano have electronic shifting? ›

Electronic shifting is nothing new for Shimano and with the revival of XT Di2, the Japanese brand has introduced two new shifting technologies, Autoshift and Freeshift. The best way we can describe Shimano's new Autoshift is by comparing it to the automatic transmission in a car.

Is electronic shifting heavier? ›

Traditionally electronic drivetrains add weight over mechanical systems. The lack of steel cables and complex shifting mechanisms inside the brake levers may save weight, but the electric motors and batteries involved often add that weight back in, and then some.

Can you put Di2 on any bike? ›

Di2 is available for exterior type frames, so even full exterior type frames can be converted to Di2. In the case of full exterior Di2 conversion, Junction B is the key.

How do you know if your shifter is broken? ›

If you suspect yours is failing, watch for the following symptoms.
  1. Indicator doesn't match the gear. If the shift selector cable is going bad, the indicator light or cable will not match the gear you are in. ...
  2. Vehicle will not turn off. ...
  3. Vehicle starts in another gear. ...
  4. Vehicle will not go into gear.
Jan 12, 2016

How do I know if my gear shifter is broken? ›

With bushings, thumping, bumping, squealing, and whirring sounds are most common. This indicates a problem with the shift linkage, and that problem could be a worn bushing. Finally, transmission fluid leaks can indicate a problem with the bushing.

Can wd40 be used on bike chains? ›

WD-40 is a great bike chain lube water based lubricant and will not only lubricate the chain well, but will also keep it rust and corrosion free. It also minimizes the accumulation of dirt which reduces the wear and tear of the chain.

Why are my gears so hard to change? ›

Hard, and sometimes impossible shifting into first and reverse is caused by the clutch disc not moving away from the spinning flywheel. This is commonly referred to as the "clutch is not releasing". The number one cause is the hydraulic system that operates the clutch is leaking and has low fluid.

What is electric Shift Lock override? ›

You can usually locate it on the lever itself. It is actually a button. It allows you to switch to an option, say parking, and then lets you lock it till you switch into another one. Then, unless you release the shift lock, you will not be able to do shift lock override.

Should you be pedaling when you shift gears on a bike? ›

First, remember that you have to be pedaling when you change gears. That's because the chain has to be moving in order for the derailleurs to "derail" the chain from sprocket to sprocket.

What is the easiest gear to pedal on a bike? ›

Low Gear = Easy = Good for Climbing: The “low” gear on your bike is the smallest chain ring in the front and the largest cog on your cassette (rear gears). In this position, the pedaling will be the easiest and you'll be able to pedal uphill with the smallest amount of resistance.

Which gear is easiest to pedal? ›

Low Gear. The low gear is the "easy" gear and is primarily used when climbing. The low gear is the smallest chain ring in the front, and the largest cog on the rear cassette. In this position pedaling will be easiest and the least amount of force will be required to push the pedals.

What RPM should you shift gears on a bike? ›

Determining when to shift will vary on the bike, road conditions and travel speed. While most bikes are happy shifting at 5,000 to 7,000 RPMs, it is best to judge by the sound and feel of the engine. As you move faster, its pitch will increase. When the pitch is high, it is time to shift.

Do you push and pull when cycling? ›

Pull your pedals in semicircles

Wainwright says cyclists should focus on pulling (instead of the pushing) their pedals, using a semicircular motion. “Normally the most important aspect of pedalling is to pull backwards at the bottom of the pedal stroke.

Should you pedal backwards on a stationary bike? ›

The improved quadriceps strength resulting from pedaling backward may eventually produce an enhanced cycling experience by making pedaling forward mentally and physically easier.

What gears to use on bike to go faster? ›

The higher, harder gear (big chain ring, small cog) helps you increase your top speed, but requires more work and muscle to accelerate.

What are the modes on an electric bike? ›

E-bikes with the SyncDrive Pro motor have five support modes: Eco, Basic, Active, Sport & Power. Eco mode: The Eco support mode is the least powerful support mode (100% human power receives 100% support from the motor) and consumes the least power. It is the best mode to get some exercise and for riding flat terrain.

How do I turn off the speed limiter on my e-bike? ›

The handy method
  1. Start out the process by bringing out the sensor and the magnet or simply moving them.
  2. Locate a pedal bracket in your bike, and then affix the magnet to it.
  3. Follow this by moving the sensor and turning it in a way that it faces the magnet and boom! You are there.
Dec 19, 2022


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