The new XT SW-M8050 Firebolt shifter has a similar layout and lever feel as the XTR version, with a similar ability for the rider to customize the angle and placement of the shift paddles for comfort and control. Based on user feedback, however, the paddles of the XT shifters are slightly flatter and longer compare to XTR. As Shimano mountain product manager Matt Robertson said, “Ergonomic is a key to Di2, allowing us to design in adjustability and the lever feel, without having to worry about cable pull and routing.” Roberston went on to say, “Ergonomic is nothing without accuracy. Shifting is the other strong point of Di2: the ability to get that shift all the time, every time.”
The new XT Di2 shifters are one click only, as compared to the two clicks per lever of XTR. Robertson said that riders will still be able to dump gears using the multi-shift feature in Di2, just by holding the shift paddles down. Syncro shift is also retained, allowing the operation of a front and rear derailleur with just a single shifter.
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As expected, the XT Di2 front and rear derailleurs bear a close resemblance to the XTR versions, only with a small weight gain. A variety of mount options are present and accounted for, ensuring compatibility with a wide variety of frames. In addition to the Syncro shift option, XT Di2 can be run as a 1-by system. Most important for fans of 1-by, Shimano is finally heeding a market request and offering wider range gearing with the announcement of a 11-46 cassette option.
One area in which the new XT Di2 is superior to XTR, and even the road Di2 system, is the new bar mounted information display, which is Bluetooth LE and ANT private enabled. The new unit, which also serves as a junction for all the wires, will allow wireless communication. Shimano plans to allow customization and firmware updates via a soon-to-be-released iOS tablet app. An iOS phone app will follow, with an Android version rolling out. According to Dave Lawrence, Shimano road product manager, “We hope to have the all the apps completed by the fall.” The release of phone apps promises the ability to change settings trailside, offering the ability to tailored settings based on conditions and diagnose problems on the go. Both Shimano and other third-party developers are planning on integrating additional functionality via apps, going forward.
The wireless functionality does require a new battery unit. It is the same size, shape and capacity of the current internal seatpost/frame unit. The new display can also be retrofitted to current XTR setups. Similarly, the wireless function can be added to road setups, as long as you have the new battery and a D-Fly unit.
The new XT Di2 groupset is scheduled to be available this fall. Canadian pricing has not been announced. “We are still determining pricing, especially with the dollar in flux. But if you look at the release of Ultegra Di2: it came in around the same price as Dura-Ace mechanical,” said Shimano Canada marketing rep Ben Pye. “If that pattern holds—and I can’t guarantee that—then I would guess that XT Di2 should come in similar to XTR mechanical.”
We eagerly look forward to getting out on the trails with our own test unit, and reporting back. Stay tuned.