How will it change my life?
There comes a time for every cyclist when that local training climb can feel akin to your own personal Alpe d'Huez. With each pedal stroke the burning sensation coursing through your body only serves to intensify as, through gritted teeth, you shift the gear levers in the hope of sweet relief.
Let me paint the scene: a tranquil summer's evening, the last of the day's sunshine bathing the climb up the Crow Road in Lennoxtown with a golden glow. Suddenly the silence is broken by a blood-curdling scream of fury followed by a string of expletives that would make a sailor blush. The sub-standard chainset on Mrs Dimmock's road bike had jammed again leaving her pushing a gear that many of the Tour de France peloton would baulk at up an 8% gradient.
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What followed at the car park half way to the summit will be one familiar to anyone who has seen the YouTube clip "David Millar biffing his bike" (if you haven't watched it, check it out - it remains a regret that I don't have video evidence of Mrs D attempting to do likewise and hurl her bike over a crash barrier in the Campsie Fells).
The science bit: Traditional mechanical cycle gearing functions by the rider engaging levers that pull cables to move the attached derailleurs, which captures the chain and places it on the next cog. Electronic gearing works in the same way but the method to manoeuvre them changes from cable pulling to electrical signals sent through a button press by the rider down an electrical wire. Battery life is around three months.
Good points: Even well maintained mechanical gears succumb to cable stretch, which throws off the derailleur movement and causes gear jumps and the need for a recalibration or cable replacement. Electronics have taken the will-it/won't-it aspect out of gear changes because what was once a lottery of variables has been replaced with a mechanism which reacts with the same measurement of movement from the first change to the last.
Bad points: Die-hard cyclists obsess about every needless gram so replacing their existing groupset, with a heavier electronic solution, complete with added batteries and control box, might be a step too far. The cost will put off many, with prices starting at around a £1000.
Best for: Those looking to take their cycling to the next level as good deals can be found on bikes that come with discounted electronic groupsets. Look out for Autumn sale bargains.
Avoid if: You don't know Tiagra from Dura-Ace.
Score - out of 10: 9. A lot cheaper than Dura-Ace Di2, Shimano's marquee gearing, but with the same outstanding functionality.
Would I buy this with my own money: Absolutely.
Prices from £1000. Visit shimano.com