Ryoichi Inoue may not be a familiar name to most of you, but his work has been popping up on popular forums a lot lately. He posted videos and images of his work to The Paceline forums, Weight Weenies, and also the CyclingTips forum.
What is his work you say? Well, not only has he made Di2 and Campagnolo electronic downtube shifters, but he has also built SRAM touch-sensitive shifters, his own rear derailleur, and a car gearbox-like shifter that will let you instantly shift to any gear!
So who is this man, and why is he making these amazing shifters and derailleurs? Let’s ask him some questions and find out more about his work.
Looking at your videos on YouTube, you've made some amazing shifters for Campagnolo, Etap, and Di2 systems - how did this all start?
My work started with installing a servomotor on Campagnolo's rear derailleur. The reason was that there was a servo motor left when disposing of the radio-controlled car that I used to have a hobby.
One day I thought it would be interesting if I could attach the servo motor to the rear derailleur, and as soon as I searched the Internet, I found such a case.
What motivates you to build these systems? Is this a hobby, a pet project, or something else?
It's a hobby - I want to make something with humor that makes people laugh.
Or something that has never been seen before.
I have the after-effects of my illness five years ago, so I spend less time biking and working than before. It may be the reason to do it.
What is your day job? Does it involve electrical engineering or bike building? :)
My job is Tig welding. I am currently in a company that manufactures medical devices - I worked in bike building over 10 years ago. I had never done anything about electrical engineering until I started these projects.
Have you been approached by companies yet, to build these systems for them?
Not yet, but I did receive a message from the president of SENSAH that he is enjoying the videos (and products) I made.
Shifting is incredibly smooth and fast in your Campagnolo DIY downtube shifter and derailleur - how did you get it to work that well?
The function is not intended. At that time, I couldn't program, so it became a stepless shifting system. When I tried to operate it, the movement was very light, so I tried shifting quickly in the video. In real-world use, you wouldn't operate it that fast.
How did you build your Di2 downtube shifters?
I disassembled the SW-R600 climbing shifter and connected the ON-OFF-ON toggle switch to its PCB using a lead wire.
That's pretty clever! While a lot of Di2 homemade shifters exist, they usually involve soldering 'dumb' switches onto E-Tube wires and plugging those into the dedicated sprint shifter ports only found on the 11-speed rim-brake shift levers.
The approach of taking apart something like SW-R600 and connecting a new switch to that means that the Di2 system sees the new shifter as SW-R600 and that you can plug it into any regular E-Tube SD50 port. You don't even have to connect it to a shift lever!
About that H-shifter, or car-gearbox shifter. It supports 10-speed shifting systems and lets you skip to any gear.
How does that work? Is it connected to a microprocessor/microcontroller like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, or other?
Initially I used BBC Micro: bit. I am currently replacing it with a Raspberry Pi Pico
What are you working on now? Any future projects or older ones we should know about?
I made something that can be operated digitally, but it was fun to operate it with a simple friction system, so I would like to make a bar-end shifter for the front and rear friction system from now on.
In that case, I would like to attach the auto trim mechanism of the front derailleur. When operating, it moves linearly and auto-trims after 1 second.
Where can we find out more about your work? What pages should we visit?
If you want to see videos of my projects, visit my YouTube page: Ryoichi Inoue on YouTube.
If you want to know about the production process, please refer to Twitter. Keep in mind though, that it is in Japanese.
Huge thanks to Ryoichi for answering these questions - and definitely keep up the good work! You've certainly inspired me to do some more tinkering of my own!
Other Di2 hacks
Hacking the SW-R600 or even time-trial shifters is not a new thing. If you search for "DIY Di2 shifters" you'll find a lot of people experimenting with them.
I'll definitely keep an eye on these projects, as well as Ryoichi's future work. I may even do some shifter-hacking of my own some day...