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Patent Patrol: Next Shimano Di2 Derailleur Floats Shifts for 2-Direction Impact Protection

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Published just today, Shimano’s latest Di2 drivetrain patent details an all-new, somewhat simpler electronic shifting mechanism that manages to float its shift motor in an isolated manner to better protect it from impacts. Once it’s mounted on the bike, you’d be hard-pressed to spot the functional differences tucked inside. But by employing a second return spring and a couple of lever arms that tuck inside its parallelogram, this prototype Di2 derailleur can handle direct outer strikes and impacts from objects coming off the wheel without damaging the sensitive motor & gearbox inside…

Floating-shift Shimano Di2 derailleur concept patent

Shimano Di2 patent diagrams of floating impact-resistant electronic-shift rear derailleur

Let me just start out by saying that the 42 pages of vaguely descriptive, conceptual legalese in this patent filing are dense. And its 31 diagrammatic illustrations are certainly helpful, but by no means clear in their own right. If you could read through it and come away understanding it all on a first pass, you’d be much better than I.

existing Shimano Ultegra Di2 mechanics

But I popped a current Ultegra Di2 drivetrain beside my monitor, and waded deep into the weeds to figure out what’s different and why it matters.

So What’s New?

Shimano Di2 patent floating impact-resistant electronic-shift derailleur prototype concept, extended rear mech

From the patent’s basic description, the key to this new Shimano Di2 derailleur concept is its ability to shift electronically just like you’ve come to expect, but to use two springs within its linkage system that allow the derailleur to move out of the way whenever it is hit from either side. Doing so protects the most expensive and precise bits of the Di2 system – its motorized actuator and internal gearbox – while allowing it to return to center and shift accurately after the impact.

The current Di2 design achieves somewhat similar impact protection and automatic return from an outer impact by driving shift via an inboard link and exposed spring that can slip past a small stop. But if you get something caught between the cassette/wheel and your derailleur it requires a manual reset.

Shimano Di2 patent floating impact-resistant electronic-shift derailleur prototype concept

The new dynamic is more automatic & compact, enabling Shimano to tuck all of the mechanics inside the shifting parallelogram. Upshift and a new lever pulls the derailleur linkage outboard to align with a smaller cog via the 1st spring. Downshift and that lever pushes the second “saver” lever to pull the opposite side of the derailleur linkage inboard via a 2nd spring. Since the spring forces are much stronger than the force required to actuate the shift, everything moves quickly & precisely.

Shimano Di2 patent floating impact-resistant electronic-shift derailleur prototype concept,

But since the parallelogram linkage is essentially floating in between the two springs, any harder force from either side will simply move the derailleur without damaging the gearbox or motor.

Shimano Di2 patent floating impact-resistant electronic-shift derailleur prototype concept, front derailleur

Interestingly, the exact same solution works for the front derailleur too.

Why does it matter?

Shimano Di2 patent floating impact-resistant electronic-shift derailleur prototype concept, rear derailleur

We all know that you don’t want to have to replace an expensive electronic derailleur, so it’s always been nice that they pretty much all disengage when the suffer a big impact. This seems to just make that disengage mechanism more fluid, while adding automatic recentering in both directions. We scratched our heads to wonder why you really need impact protection from both sides. but it is certainly conceivable that a rock flying up off the rear wheel could strike the inside of your derailleur, or something could get jammed between the cassette and derailleur body when riding gravel or off-road.

In any case, the inherent floating design allows for movement and impact protection in both directions.

Now, the question remains…

When we might see this in production?

It’s only been a year and a half since both Dura-Ace & Ultegra got their latest Di2 update (and just half a year since 105 Di2) so we don’t expect a new road Di2 group anytime soon. It has been almost 4 years since gravel’s GRX Di2 debut, though. We have been anxiously awaiting a new XTR Di2 group ever since XT got an ebike-only Di2 last summer. It’s been almost 9 years since the current XTR Di2 M9050 groupset was revealed!

If this new impact-resistant Shimano Di2 derailleur patent design is coming soon, it’ll likely be off-road!

Bike.Shimano.com

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Exodux
1 month ago

I cant wait to hear the comments on this article, since Shimano is the originators of the “planned obsoleteness” in the bike industry!

blahblahblah
blahblahblah
1 month ago
Reply to  Exodux

for instance?

Exodux
1 month ago
Reply to  blahblahblah

Dual Control are Rapid Rise are some examples…

blahblahblah
blahblahblah
1 month ago
Reply to  Exodux

sure they were crap but how is that “planned obsoleteness”

Roger Pedacter
Roger Pedacter
1 month ago
Reply to  Exodux

Nope. Neither dual control or rapid rise were “planned obsolescence.” They just didn’t have the widespread appeal Shimano expected so they eventually abandoned them.

Exodux
1 month ago
Reply to  Roger Pedacter

Yeah. Rapid Rise and Dual Control made the previous parts obsolete.

I realize that new tech sometimes does delete the previous tech, which is expected.

ShopMechanic
ShopMechanic
1 month ago
Reply to  Roger Pedacter

Shimano literally stopped making components that weren’t Rapid Rise and Dual Control after that launch. It was less than a year after the launch that they panicked and brought back non series trigger shifters and then months after that rereleased standard rear derailleurs. All of that was a direct result of the market rejecting the tech and SRAM launching X7 and X9 around the same time as the rapid rise launch. This is simply a historical fact.

Shafty
Shafty
1 month ago
Reply to  Exodux

I bet you’re still running freewheels and downtube shifters on all your bikes then, right?

Exodux
1 month ago
Reply to  Shafty

Nope…I do have bikes vintage bikes with downtube shifters though.

Technician
Technician
30 days ago
Reply to  Shafty

Those DT shifters were superior in every way imaginable thanks to their simplicity.

Rasmus Berg
Rasmus Berg
1 month ago

The huge off-set of the upper pulley should reveal that it’s designed for a wide-range cassette. My best guess is that this is the new XTR/XT (Even though the return of the b-link is a bit of a surprise) (But then again it wasn’t laid off with the new road groupsets)

Rasmus Berg
Rasmus Berg
1 month ago

With second thought, the existence of a FD makes it more plausible that it is a gravel group.

Conde
Conde
1 month ago

GRX 910 12s.

Roger Pedacter
Roger Pedacter
1 month ago
Reply to  Conde

*920

FTFY

Roger Pedacter
Roger Pedacter
1 month ago
Reply to  Roger Pedacter

Ugh, nope. The current kit is 800, not 900. My bad

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