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  • Writer's pictureDan Cavallari

VeloNews stories of the decade: Electronic shifting takes over

How quickly did electronic shifting take over pro cycling? Shimano launched its electronic Di2 shifting system in 2009, and George Hincapie quietly used it at the Tour de France that year. Hincapie was one of a select few riders experimenting with the new drivetrain that ditched cables for wires.

Fast forward to 2019, and you’d be lucky to spot a single cable-actuated derailleur at any WorldTour race. And the technology has infiltrated the amateur cycling ranks, from your local Cat 3 criterium to the regional Gran Fondo.

The last decade hosted an era of electronic refinement, with Shimano leading the charge, and then Campagnolo and SRAM bringing their own technologies to the market. And while this decade’s trend didn’t have an easy path to fruition, it has ultimately resulted in cementing electronic shifting as the rule rather than the exception.

Head back to 1992 for the technology’s bumpy beginning. Mavic’s hardwired Zap drivetrain capitalized on the notion that electronic shifting had a future. Mavic’s wireless Mektronic followed a few years later in 1999. Unfortunately, the system was plagued by bugs. Shifts happened agonizingly slowly, and the system often ghost-shifted. Still, the ambitious product planted a seed that blossomed into the offerings we have today.


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