Ingezonden

Kabush also posted this full bike shot of some supposedly new parts he’s testing. The front derailleur isn’t visible and the image is a bit grainy but by our eyes, it looks like a standard Shimano XTR rear derailleur back there along with standard Rapidfire shifter pods (Geoff Kabush via Twitter)

There’s
been little doubt that Shimano engineers have been developing an electronic Di2
version of the company’s top-end XTR group but it’s only recently that
prototypes look to have been spotted in public. Canadian cross-country racer Geoff
Kabush (Scott-3Rox Racing Team) appears to be testing a prototype drivetrain on
his new Scott Scale 29, an observation based on two images he posted on Twitter Tuesday afternoon.

Accompanying
the images he wrote: “Something feels different today,” and “That’s weird. Someone
just put a battery on my bike.”

Shimano
officials declined to comment further but we managed to reach team mechanic, Gary Wolff. He confirmed
that Kabush was indeed testing prototype equipment today, but offered no
additional information.

Unfortunately,
that also means we have little technical information to share at the moment,
aside from to say that the system apparently exists and is currently undergoing testing.
Kabush did post a close-up image of the battery, which looks to use the
identical pack (and mount) as Shimano’s road-going Dura-Ace and Ultegra Di2
groups.

It’s
safe to assume, however, that much of the system would be analogous to Dura-Ace
Di2, including the powerful servo-actuated front derailleur and motor-enhanced
rear derailleur – both of which we expect to be modestly upsized relative to the
current mechanical analogues. Currently we don’t have any images of the shift
buttons but based on what Shimano has done with road-going Di2, we expect
button placement to be similar to that of standard Rapidfire shifters, not the
modified top-mounted satellite shifters used on third-party creations.

Pundits
will undoubtedly question the wisdom of an electronic drivetrain for mountain
bike use but we’d argue that it makes even more sense than on the road when
viewed in the microcosm of World Cup-level racing where costs are largely
inconsequential. The weatherproof nature of the system should maintain perfect
adjustment regardless of weather conditions, the advantages of being able to
shift under load up front are even more applicable here, and the often
convoluted routing of modern-day full-suspension bikes becomes a complete
non-issue.

Then
again, we also unfortunately don’t
know if he posted the images merely as a prank and Kabush’s comments to us provide little clue either way.

“I can’t talk about my new battery powered heated grip yet,” he told BikeRadar, “but I’d inquire at Fox if you want – or try for some spy photos in Texas.”

Kabush also posted the following to his Twitter feed later on: “Assumptions, assumptions, assumptions…….”

Is Canadian cross-country racer Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Rox) testing a new Shimano XTR Di2 prototype transmission? Perhaps — but then again, maybe not

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