The second iteration of electronic shifting improves upon the higher end Di2 Dura-Ace with a simpler wiring system and slimmer profile. It also cheaper than the mechanical Dura-Ace version! Of course a NEW Dura ACE version is going to be released for 2012. Shimano needs to be more aggressive since Campagnolo is coming knocking at the door.
Since the introduction of Di2 at the Dura-Ace level, Shimano’s made several improvements in the wiring harnesses. The original 4-wire system has been replaced by a simpler 2-wire system that allows cable diameters to be reduced by 3mm for lighter weight and a slimmer profile. Cable selection has also been simplified with all connectors being identical so that cable inventory becomes easier to manage.
At the controls, the shifter/brake lever hoods are more ergonomic. Thanks to the cleaner wiring system, the brackets are slimmer and there’s a simplified junction box that’s more discreet in external mounting or more able to be hidden in custom or internal cable routing applications. Frame holes can be smaller, too, which means we should see plenty of stealthy builds at NAHBS next year.
Unfortunately, most of Shimano’s North American group were playing with the new XT stuff this past week, so we haven’t received any glossy glamour shots of all the new parts yet. So, we can just paint the picture: The levers are aluminum but share the shape of the Di2 DA’s carbon blades, and the hoods have an identical profile but skip the dimpled covers for a smooth rubber. The control box is only marginally (if any) smaller than DA’s, but there are fewer wires sticking out of it.
The changes in wiring mean the new Di2 Ultegra won’t be compatible with any Di2 DA parts, but the battery and mounting options are similar enough to work with existing Di2 compatible frames.
Pricing isn’t set in stone, but it’s expected to be about half the cost of Di2 Dura-Ace. This isn’t the only new stuff for Ultegra, there were some recently announced carbon pedals (shown below) and a new cyclocross group, too.