Di2 shifting trickles down to Deore XT

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Just two years after bringing electronic shifting to the mountain bike market, Shimano has announced that Di2 tech will trickledown to its Deore XT group.

Building in upwards compatibility to XTR level, the Deore XT Di2 M8050 group utilises much of the tech found in superior labels, including Synchronized shift tech, which will adjust the front derailleur and chain line auotmatically.

Much like the mechanical derailleur, the Deore XT Di2 M8050 rear derailleur also includes Shadow RD+ technology, which is designed to eliminate chain bounce and keep chains on sprockets over multiple types of terrain, leading to a more stable shifting platform.

The most groundbreaking technology featuring on Deore XT Di2 M8050 though is a new wireless Bluetooth connection to Shimano’s E-Tube program, which is the system Shimano uses to set up and control the Di2 shifting behaviour. Through Bluetooth technology riders or mechanics can wirelessly communicate with their computer, tablet or a smart phone via the SC-MT800 system information display and a new battery. As well as allowing wireless workshop customizability, it allows riders to customize their shifting preferences on the trail via an app on their smartphones.

Additionally, Shimano’s wireless D-Fly Data Management system will allow riders to see battery and gear information on their compatible third party display devices (eg bike computers). This technology will be rolled out with Deore XT Di2 components and will be available as an upgrade for those currently riding Shimano XTR Di2, either with SC-MT800 or SCM9051 system information displays and a new internal or external battery.

Development energy has been largely focused on the components themselves. With the main button able to be placed in the rider’s sweetspot for their thumb, the SW-M8050 front and rear Firebolt shifters are designed to provide easy operation and accurate shifting with an ergonomic rotary action, short single-click action and effortless multi-shift.

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The Synchronized Shift technology inherent in the shifters means riders can rely solely on one shifter to take care of their rear and front gear changes. A customizable shift map means riders can program the exact gear ratio at which Di2 automatically shifts into the big ring when going up through the gears, or into the small ring when going down through the gears. Whichever gear ratio chosen, Shimano’s Rhythm Step philosophy ensures that riders make the minimum amount of incremental steps when changing up or down gears, allowing the rider to maintain an even cadence and fluid riding style. No large gear steps, no over-working joints and muscles, just effortless pedaling throughout the gear range.

The shifters are designed to work in harmony with the SC-MT800 system information display, the RDM8050 rear derailleur and the FD-M8070 front derailleur. The SC-MT800 display gives a visual reading of the rider’s gear and battery level, but it is also the control point for operating the trim adjustment and reboot function, as well as wirelessly adjusting the multi-shift speed and Synchronized Shift operation via computer, tablet or smart phone.

The FD-M8070 front derailleur and RD-M8050 rear derailleur retain the shifting developed for XTR Di2 components. Computer-controlled auto trim on the front derailleur keeps the drivetrain running smoothly. Meanwhile, at the rear, even under high loads shifting should retain smooth characteristics. The derailleur motors are twice as powerful as those on Dura-Ace and Ultegra Di2 to give precise shifting in difficult conditions, including when the cogs are mud-clogged.

Battery performance is identical to that of its big brother, XTR Di2, giving a minimum of several hundred kilometres of power under heavy usage (eg lots of shifting over three chainrings, plus control of ancillary devices).

The visual LED display indicates battery charge and the LED screen shuts off after a few seconds of inactivity to save battery life. If you do find yourself running low, charging the battery takes around 90 minutes and internal batteries work on a simple plug and play operation so can be easily swapped.

Durability is also in line with XTR Di2 components. A sealed, waterproof system means Deore XT Di2’s electronic signals will stand up to mud, water and dirt from the worst of winter. Plus, with no worrying about cross-chaining, cable stretch, or cable adjustments, gear changes are reportedly incredibly consistent.