Deore XT 11/12-speed e-MTB Di2 and Shimano CUES 10/11-speed Di2
Shimano has just announced their long-awaited MTB Di2 update - for e-MTB drivetrains and e-Bikes: 11/12-speed Deore XT Di2, and 10/11-speed CUES Di2.
Paired with these new groupsets come two new drive units, the DU-EP801 (EP8) and the EP6 DU-EP600. These drive units are designed to work with both Deore XT (MTB) and CUES (urban / e-Bikes). Use either drive unit and that'll also enable AUTO SHIFT and FREE SHIFT, depending on what rear derailleur you use - more on that in a bit.
So what is it? Read on for my first impressions. I'll also take a good look at the new technology at Eurobike Wednesday, so keep an eye on my Instagram for the latest on that.
Intelligent Shifting - Free Shift and Auto Shift
What is free shift you ask? It's a neat new technology that'll let you shift the rear derailleur without pedaling. You can shift while coasting or freewheeling so you won't be caught out when the trails present the unexpected. It works by ensuring the rotation of the chainring is synched with the rear derailleur when changing gear.
Basically, it'll tell to drive unit (motor) to advance the chainring when you press the shift button, letting the rear derailleur change gear even when you're not pedaling. It relies on having the drive unit and therefore is unlikely to ever make the transition to non e-Bike systems.
Free shift can be controlled via a compatible STEPS or Di2 system, or manually.
Auto Shift lets you set up the bike to shift automatically for you, using forward-thinking sensor technology that monitors your cadence, torque and speed to automatically move you into the best gear for your riding conditions. You can choose to override the automatic shifting, of course.
Auto shift only works on Linkglide systems, meaning that it's not available on the 12-speed Deore RD-M8150.
Deore XT Di2 12-speed and 11-speed
Yep - there's not one, but two new Deore rear derailleurs. The RD-M8150-11 is the 11-speed drivetrain option, utilising Linkglide to enable both Free Shift and Auto Shift.
The RD-M8150-12 is the 12-speed rear derailleur, meant for those riders that want the best performance at the lowest weight. It uses hyperglide+ and can use it with the new Free Shift tech, but it not Auto Shift.
Hyperglide+ and Linkglide
Like I mentioned above Deore XT Di2 comes in two versions.
The first is the 12-speed Hyperglide+ version for quick and lightweight shifting, when performance, speed, and weight are of the utmost importance.
Its sibling, the 11-speed version, works with Linkglide and features both Free Shift and Auto Shift. It is the drivetrain option for those that want smooth and durable shifting. Linkglide isn't entirely new - Shimano introduced it April 2021, promising 300% more drivetrain longevity.
If you've never heard of CUES before, don't worry. This is completely new. CUES is very similar to the 105 Di2 Shimano released two weeks ago - except for a more urban setting. It is meant for those who want a hassle-free ride or commute.
According to Shimano, CUES delivers versatility, durability and reliability to a wider range of cyclists, allowing you to enjoy the ride and the scenery instead of worrying about what gear you’re in.
Automatic shifting and Free shift
Combined with the new DU-EP600 or DU-EP801, CUES Di2 features Intelligent adaptive shifting, allowing the system to self learn and adjust the Auto shift system the more you ride. CUES Di2 is available in 11-speed and 10-speed options as well as being fully customisable via the E-TUBE PROJECT Cyclist App.
Just like the new Deore XT Di2, CUES features Free shift, letting commuters shift without thinking about how to shift.
Aimed at commuters and especially useful to cargo-bike users, CUES also features ABS - Anti lock Braking System. This lets users brake at any time, without worrying about skidding and should ensure smooth braking performance.
It works through a wheel speed sensor at the front brake, and a built-in motion sensor in the electronic control unit,
These new systems are compatible with drive-unit powered systems only, meaning e-Bike or e-MTB. You cannot use the new Deore or CUES derailleurs with the BT-DN300 battery... yet.
I say "yet", because I think there's a decent chance that some day this technology will also make its way to 'regular' MTBs.
On the other hand, the SW-M8150-R/IR shifters are fully compatible with 12-speed 105, Ultegra, and DURA-ACE Di2 - as long as there is a wired connection between the shifter and the battery. If you really want to, you can shift your 12-speed road bike using an MTB shifter!
I'm looking forward to having some hands-on with these new systems at Eurobike Wednesday, and I'll update this page as more information appears online.