Shimano XT di2 electronic shifting drivetrain mountain bike mtb battery wired-49

Just as Di2 trickled down on the road, so too does it now bring electronic shifting down to the a more affordable level for mountain bikes. And, just as Ultegra Di2 ushered in the new E-Tube and other technologies that improved upon the original, so too does the new XT Di2 8050 bring a host of impressive new tech and features to Shimano’s battery powered groups.

“How do we make the ride experience better?” asked Dave Lawrence, Shimano’s road product manager, as an introduction to showing how the new XT Di2 will improve the entire Di2 family. “We looked at electronic shifting and how that would change the ride experience. What we found was we could offer incredibly precise shifting. And the ergonomics were fantastic, too. Then we moved it into triathlon, but when we started using it in cyclocross is when it really took off. You had this precise shifting in the worst possible conditions.”

From there, it trickled down to Ultegra and a switch to their plug-and-play E-tube connections. That made remote shifters possible and really brought electronic shifting to the masses. All of that led to Dura-Ace 9070, which borrowed E-tube wiring and actually offered new shifting options for road and triathlon. It also added multi-shift and user control over shift speed and other settings. This group also put their electronic shifting below the weight of a mechanical group for the first time. All of these improvements then trickled down again to Ultegra, and then they took Di2 to their Alfine, Nexus and Steps pavement groups.

From there, it all combined to create the first digital mountain bike system, XTR Di2. And why did they do that?

Shimano XT di2 electronic shifting drivetrain mountain bike mtb battery wired-24

“Di2 leaves behind some of the restrictions imposed by mechanical systems,” added Matt Robertson, Shimano’s mountain bike product manager. “Things like using cables to pull something and how to route the cables to make it work correctly. And it opened up new opportunities to combine shift and suspension functions operating off the same battery. Di2 improves rider momentum and efficiency, and it allows the drivetrain to react at the speed that you are reacting to your surroundings. Rider input leads to instant reaction from the bike. In short, Di2 lets people build a better mountain bike.”

“Better ergonomics, shift without moving your hands, better and more precise shifting, user control over shift speed and multi shift, or even synchronized shifting that changes the front gear to optimize the gear ratio.”

That’s all well and good, but XTR Di2’s price put it outside the realm of most enthusiasts. The new XT Di2 will be more accessible, with a complete group price starting around $1,368 for a 1×11 setup, including brakes. It’ll also have better ergonomics, and it introduces all new wireless setup and data transmission features.

Shimano XT XTR di2 shifter comparison
XT Di2 still gets the independent adjustment of each button’s extension toward the grip. The bottom pad is a little larger than XTR, and the top pad is a little longer, making them easier to hit. XT’s button pads are also flatter, and felt much better.

Two cost saving measures were limiting the number of clicks and using steel rather than titanium. XT’s levers have a single-click rather than XTR’s two-click design. They found that it simplified it a bit, and with Multi-Shift, the second click wasn’t as necessary as most riders quickly learned how long they needed to hold a lever down to shift a specific number of cogs.

Shimano XT di2 electronic shifting drivetrain mountain bike mtb battery wired-27

The system allows you to run multiple Junction B boxes down the line, which allows it to recognize up to six different shifters…or just keep wire management tucked discreetly inside the frame.

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Materials make up much of the rest of the cost savings. Functionally the units are the same as XTR Di2, and parts are interchangeable between the groups. In fact, while folks have been doing it for a while, Shimano’s finally starting to talk about using road Di2 drop bar shifters with mountain Di2 derailleurs (or vice versa). There were lots of NAHBS bikes doing just that, but until very recently, Shimano hasn’t really endorsed or even discussed such mashups. You’ll still need to use both front and rear mountain or front and rear road derailleurs, you can’t mix one from road and mountain on the same bike.

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The rear derailleur is Direct Mount compatible.

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Shimano XT di2 electronic shifting drivetrain mountain bike mtb battery wired-36 Shimano XT di2 electronic shifting drivetrain mountain bike mtb battery wired-34

Non electrical parts (cranks, brakes, cassette, chain, and pedals) all carry over from the recently updated XT 8000. They offer an 11-46 cassette for 1×11 systems, and either 11-40 or 11-42 cassettes for 2×11 systems.

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The chainrings carry over, too, but a new +/- tooth profile is coming soon, which is basically their version of a narrow wide.

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Perhaps the biggest news to come out of the XT Di2 introduction is their new dual-band Bluetooth and ANT communication.

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Bluetooth compatibility now lets you set up, tune and change the shifting and functions with your smartphone or tablet. Available for iOS and Android, the E-tube app will let you customize and update the system on both smartphone and tablet, and the tablet app adds Error Check and Preset programs. Those last two are aimed more at bike shops than riders, but they’re there for all to use. You can also still do it with their E-tube PC software, too.

That dual transmitter will be built into the XT system information display, and a new dual transmission D-Fly that’ll add wireless updates to both road and mountain bike groups. XTR will soon get a new display, too.

The ANT signal is ANT Private, not ANT+, meaning it’s transmitting a closed protocol that carries gear data directly to an approved third party cycling computer (Garmin, Magellan, Wahoo and Pioneer are partners so far). So, you could choose to have a compatible computer show you that data if you choose not to use the Di2 display (or you’re using it on a road group that has no display).

The ANT Private data will even transmit adjustment settings, letting you see the trim tuning on your cycling computer, and even get a low battery warning pop up. Suspension information is coming, too. Whether any cycling computer uses all of that data is up to that manufacturer. And all of that third party compatibility means it’s unlikely we’ll ever see another Flight Deck.

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The trick to making all of that communication work is that you’ll also need either the new BT-DN110 battery or BM-DN100 battery mount. Both contain the brains that allow those smart functions that make the wireless display work. So if you wanted to add wireless function to an existing XTR group, you’ll need to upgrade to either the new battery or new battery mount. The new battery will replace the original battery, so going forward you should see OEM spec using the new one.

A new battery was necessary because they couldn’t fit any more memory into the original E-tube unit. As electronics continue to shrink, they could fit the necessary transistors and what not into the same size package to add functionality while maintaining the same level of battery power. So, the new battery is the same size as the old one, it just does more.

To recap, all of that new wireless communication will soon be available on all Di2 groups, road and mountain.

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Now that we’ve covered the new wireless setup, let’s jump back to the shifters. The XT shifters, through the app, can be set to control a Fox iCTD-equipped fork and/or shock.  So, using Shimano’s Synchro-Shift to automatically shift the front derailleur as you move up and down the cassette means you can use the left hand shifter to cycle through Open, Medium and Firm settings on your suspension. Or, what we think would be cool, is you could set the larger, lower thumb paddles to do downshifts on the left and upshifts on the right, then program the smaller top paddles to cycle the suspension settings.

The app will make it all incredibly easy thanks to a graphical interface and check box settings. Very cool, and very user friendly.


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  1. Walt on

    I’m not buying myself any electronic shifting setup until it’s totally wireless, that article title is a tease!

    Looks like nice stuff, though.

    • hllclmbr on

      I think you’ll be hard pressed to hit this price point with 4 batteries and bluetooth modules added into the equation.

  2. Allan on

    I’m slightly confused, so the actual shifting on the bike is not wireless, just between the system and a phone to do the setup and adjustments? In other words, this is not Shimano’s version of etap?

    Also, curious that the article says that $1400 is “out of reach” for many people? This, in a world where no one blinks at $250 jerseys, $5000 framesets, and $10K+ bikes? Huh?

    • AlanM on

      No one blinks at $250 jerseys, $5000 framesets, and $10K+ bikes? Working in a really busy bike shop, I’d tell you that most people do more than blink at those prices.

      • Allan on

        Hi Alan, this is Allan. I’m just making a general comment that the hobby of cycling is not cheap, and is in fact, extremely expensive. I certainly don’t have the money to throw around at these prices, but generally speaking, I don’t think $1400 for a groupset is that expensive, relatively speaking.

      • Ryan Brown on

        You can run it with out the display, but with “d-fly” a small module on your rear stay, that will add the wireless tuning ability.

    • John on

      The SRAM road eTap only supports a 28 cog cassette, max. Based on that, I think they’re a *long* way from MTB wireless shifting….

      • Luiggi on

        That’s because of the derailleur’s geometry, not because of the wireless part. Adapting the existing road technology to MTB has been the default behavior for almost 40 years.

        • John on

          So you’re saying the company that “invented” the WiFli marketing strategy can’t design an eTap derailleur geometry to support their own 11-32 or 11-36 wide range cassettes?

          • adrian on

            John, the slant-parallelogram patent has been dead for 30 years. Worm-gear electronic shifting still has another 18 to go.

            It doesn’t help SRAM that they got to the electronic shifting market last.

        • Aaron on

          Er, the trend as of late has been the opposite. SRAM’s behavior lately has been adapting MTB technologies to road (As has Shimano’s). The only reason eTap came out was because it had real demand in the pro road peloton, before it had significant demand in MTB. Same thing for Shimano.

  3. TIO on

    Allan, if you really think no one blinks at $5000 framesets and $10k bikes, me thinks your perspective is slightly skewed…. but if you can, go you.

  4. bearCol on

    I would love to try E-shifting. I went all in on sram 1×11 buying xx1 down to gx for my bikes. After all my mechs came loose even with loctite, I’ve moved on to xt. Xt has been perfect, prices are on par with gx but quality is better than xx1. Shimano was way late to the 1x party, but they are putting out good stuff now.

    • CAJ on

      That is a problem out of the box with SRAM rear mechs. Just clean and lube the B pivot and the derailleur will no longer try and unthread itself while going down the trail. That problem is why SRAM have changed the B pivot on the next gen of derailleurs.

  5. John on

    So I’ll need the new battery plus whatever that new inline wireless replacement unit is (the D-Fly aesthetics were terrible!). Add my existing Garmin 520, and I’ll get iPhone/iPad Di2 road setup/configuration with Garmin display + .fit file gear tracking, all without a PC? Sweet!

    When does this stuff ship?

    • John Caletti on

      Good points. I have both on my road and cross bikes, and the new mechanical shifts really really well, and the Di2 is a little better. I think it would be even better on mtb – as you don’t have to worry about dirty/worn cables/housing or under/over shifting when riding on bumpy terrain. Also, it’s a subtlety, but we sort of think for a second and feel out the shift with our finger motion a tiny bit – that goes away with electronic – just mash the button real quick and the derailleur hits the right spot every time – no over or under shifts.

  6. JBikes on

    What is the point of an electronic drivetrain on 1x? Seriously. Cause you can. Fine, but performance? M8k and M9k RD’s are extremely precise and fast. Trim and sync shift isn’t needed, so…?

    • Aaron on

      System longevity, 100% perfect shift performance and zero maintenance.

      The costs of cables and time spend fiddling with the bike to get it to shift cleanly are all contained in the cost of the electronic shifting system. Trust me, if I didn’t have to spend 30 minutes changing out a derailleur cable every 6 months, then spend a few minutes before every ride checking the cable tension, it would be worth it to have an electronic groupset. Some people have no idea how to work on bikes and need something that works all the time.

      Plus, it’s more integrated and cleaner. Takes your mind off shifting and lets you focus on flowing.

  7. Czechmate on

    A few weeks ago BikeRumor mentioned that Shimano is planning to unveil four major products this year. This is clearly one of them. The new 2017 Dura Ace will be another one. Curious to see what the other two will be…

    • Shoprat on

      I have it on good authority that a more robust Alfine hub will be released by the end of the year. Not sure if it will be rated for MTB use, but it should shift much smoother than the current iteration.

      I would also be very surprised if we didn’t see a shadow rear mech for cyclocross/road use.

  8. Moby on

    It is interesting that Shimano just started commenting on road + mtb di2. I guess I just timed it right. On my gravel bike I was running 6770/r785 (which was handed down from my road disc bike when it went DA di2/r785). My 6770 rear has a k-edge long cage and I run it with 11-36 XTR cassettes. But it has started making a soft rattling noise when shaken. Not terribly surprising as I beat this bike pretty hard. Since these are discontinued and the only ones on EBay are pretty thrashed looking I just upgraded from 50/34 front to a Wolftooth single oval 40, an XTR di2 rear and an XT 11-42 cassette. I called Shimano last week and they said “Sure, that will work fine. The only thing that matters is matching front/rear derailleur. Shifters don’t matter”. I set it up last night and yup, works just fine. Just need to reprogram the shift speed to fast. My only regret was giving up the range and spacing of the 50/34 front (XTR di2 only supports a 40 tooth big ring). Oh well. Happy to see that they are releasing an 11-46. I might pick that up and get a 42 tooth front ring.

  9. CDG on

    Tommy likey! Looking forward to trying out XT Di2! Also can’t wait to try out wireless E-tube as well…..since our other mechanic has a habit of breaking my SM-PCE1….

  10. duder on

    A new battery, not really wireless and an horrible display don’t really hit any wow factors other than price.

    SRAM; can you just release a wireless shiftier and rear mech for mtb and sink this ship?

  11. Mortimer E G on

    XT for me has always been bullet proof. Sram not so. Prob stay with the mech shifting though – prices there are within my budget. XT elec is though desireable (wireless or not)

  12. hjb1000 on

    With all these features hitting a lower pricepoint, the one massive compromise is the weights- 3KG groupset, 330g RD, ouch! Happy to stay mechanical for a while longer…

  13. Eric Hansen on

    Shimano has been endorsing ‘mixing and matching’ of road shifters and mountain derailers and vice-versa in Di2 for well over a year now. You’re just listening in the wrong places.

  14. Antipodean_eleven on

    Wires, cables, same thing, stuff that physically connects point A to point B.

    eTAP. No wires, junctions, frame mounted battery packs. Points A and B completely free of one another. Sold.

    If I am going down the electronic road, so far SRAM has it all so very right for me.

  15. Anthony Varvarigos on

    Quote from above article:-
    “The ANT signal is ANT Private, not ANT+, meaning it’s transmitting a closed protocol that carries gear data directly to an approved third party cycling computer (Garmin, Magellan, Wahoo and Pioneer are partners so far). So, you could choose to have a compatible computer show you that data if you choose not to use the Di2 display (or you’re using it on a road group that has no display).”

    Question 1:
    Can someone please explain the difference between ANT Private & ANT+? Does ANT+ read / communicate with ANT Private?

    The following is from Shimano’s website:
    * ANT private has compatibility with ANT+ cycle computer but not freely open profile.
    ** Display function depends on the specification of cycle computer.

    The reason I ask the above is as follows:-

    Question 2:
    2. I have a Garmin Edge 810 that is ANT+ certified and works great with my current Ultegra 6800 mechanical groupset. I’m now thinking about upgrading from 6800 to 6870 Di2 and would like to add Shimano’s new EW-WU101 wireless unit and BT-DN110 internal battery to the Di2 upgrade so I can view battery status & gear selection on the Edge 810 (via ANT+, if possible?) and eventually use the new E-tube iPhone App (via Bluetooth) when it becomes available. Does anybody know whether this will work on my Edge 810 or can offer any advice?

    Thanks in advance.

  16. Joshi on

    This proves one more time shimano doesn’t have any more tricks in the hat! BOOr-ing
    I’m sticking with Sram big time, at least a Sram has a vision on where to go next, in the other hand shimanjunk is got nothing!! that’s right Nothing anymore, stealing their own MTB components design to make up the new 9001 group set, child’s move, Shimano ran out of ideas, time to move and let other companies do what they can’t do anymore.


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