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Electronics: the next bicycle frontier?


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With the introduction of new shifting components from SRAM and FSA (see Let the Shifting Wars Begin), Shimano and Campagnolo will be forced to come up with new ways of keeping consumers riding their name brand. Will that next frontier in bicycle shifting include a battery? Too heavy, you say? With frame and component weights dropping every season, a road bike with electronic components meeting UCI minimum requirements is not too farfetched.

An electronic shifting group has long been a prototype in the Campagnolo camp. Heck, Mavic already produced an electronic groupo, the Zap, plus a wireless groupo, the Mektronic. Both Mavic groups have been met with mixed reviews, which ultimately led to their discontinuation. Despite this luke warm welcome of electronic shifting, Shimano has been testing an electronic road group being used by a Gerolsteiner team member. Unique to Shimano's electronic offering is a shifting display on top of the hoods (although I question how important this feature is). Rumors have it that the 'control mechanism' for the Shimano system will be incorporated into the seatpost. A search in the US patent office also reveals a recently acquired (Nov '05) patent (#6983949) of a special headset used to conceal electronic wiring. Shimano also has a patent (#7015598) dated as recent as Mar '06 of an electronic input device used for shifting a bicycle, an electronically operated derailleur (#6997835) and an electronic bicycle shift control device (#6959939).

Don't think that only Campagnolo and Shimano (and Mavic) have been testing electronic shifters. Another search in the US patent office indicates SRAM has had a patent (#6698307) for an electronic shifting mechanism since April '04. Things are definitely in the works for electronic shifting in the cycling industry.


Related articles:
User reviews the Mavic Mektronic groupo (bikeforums.com)
The empire strikes back (Shimano electronic shifting) (cyclingnew.com)
2005? Electronic Record (campyonly.com)
Campagnolo experimenting with electronic shifting (velonews.com)


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