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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Has anyone used the Shimano Di2 yet who has used Mavic Mektronic? I haven't ridden a bike with Di2 yet, but 10 years ago I put Mektronic on one of my bikes. It had roughly 50,000 miles on it when I sold it to a friend but it impressed me. While the front deraileur was cable operated the Mektronic was a transmitter shifter rather than a direct wired like the Di2.

While I enjoy bashing on Shimano and presently the only bike in the house with any shimano are my wife and daughter's MTB's, I would like to know if the Di2 is much of an improvement or simply a UCI compliant version of Zap.

The way I see it Shimano has two hurdles. The battery needs to be reliable and people will have to overcome the impression that it's just an unneeded gizmo.

In 7 years of riding my Mektronic only needed the batteries replaced twice. It was a PITA the first time because I let the batteries go dead over the winter and there wasn't enough charge left in them when I installed the new battery in the head unit. So I had to reprogram it from step one. The deraileur and front wheel sensor batteries were issue free. In total that was 3- CR2032's a change. The second time wasn't so bad and there is a low battery indicator for each component on the display.

When it came to performance I had two non-shifting incidents. The first one was near the ELF antenna in northern Wisconsin when I visiting a friend in Medford the first summer I had the Mektronic. I wanted to ride for a few hours, but after the first mile the shifter wouldn't shift. Everything appeared to be functional, but it wouldn't shift up or down. So I had a two speed with the front chain rings being hard-wired. I was able to reposition the rear deraileur to a gear, but that required stopping and pushing the servo/jockey wheels by hand in or out while pedaling the bike. I liked that fail-safe feature. In the driveway at my friend's it worked fine again, but I gave up on riding that day.

The second non-shifting incident was to the southeast of Everett, Washington. while staying with the in-laws. I had planned a long day from Mukilteo to the foothills of the Cascades and back to Woodinville where my sister-in-law lives. As I neared Everett the shifter crapped out again. It had been working fine but simply stopped. I turned around to head back all the while trying to get it to work again. A short time later function returned. So I turned around again to give the route a go. Again, and within a few hundred feet of the same spot it died again. This time I went back and forth along the road a few times and it would fail and start within meters of the same spot.

As I sat there and thought about what had happened 2 years earlier it dawned on me there was one oddly common link despite the ~1,800 miles between them. I was near the US Navy docks in Everett. Previously I had been near the Navy communication facility in Wisco. I thought about giving up but I turned east toward Lake Roesinger and within a few of miles shifting returned. The rest of the day was fine but I went back a few days later and it died in same stretch of road.

The shifters never misbehaved any other time and I didn't bother to call the Pentagon and complain.

Back to the Di2. Initial articles I've read suggest a battery life of roughly 1500 miles per charge on a rechargeable battery. Personally I don't have a problem with that system of power. I know when to put my phone, bluetooth, iPod, camera or whatever rechargeable electronic device on the charger before the battery dies. Occasionally I goof and run out of electrons, but it isn't a crisis. As I mentioned about the Mektronic, the rear deraileur could be positioned manually in a power failure. Does the Di2 have that option or do the deraileurs behave like a cabled version where you're left with the chain on the smallest cogs front and rear?

Another feature I like was the multiple shifter buttons. The Mektronic had one behind the brake lever, one on top of the point of the brake hood, and I had the TT wiring which had a button I placed on the flat of the bars under my index finger. Other than the standard paddles what does Di2 have?

Also, is there the possibility of having one battery on the charger while another is on the bike? Lighting systems similar to NiteRider or DiNotte have multiple battery packs for continuity of use.

My last point is about the hardwiring. Was I lucky that my Mektronic only gave me grief twice? With so many of our devices using bluetooth technology I can't imagine that a similar system would be that difficult to engineer.

I hope Shimano is successful with Di2 only because I know Campagnolo, SRAM and MAVIC will strive to better their components.

Me on the Mektronic bike....

corning my own beef
5,713 Posts
I can only address a tiny portion of your questions.

Using more wireless technology (BlueTooth, etc.) is unlikely because of the extra batteries needed. The batteries/brain/processor comprise a big part of the weight of the Di2 system. The sole reason that it is presently a "wired" system is to reduce the weight by eliminating batteries. That is not likely to change unless battery technologies see rapid improvement.
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