Update the firmware on 12-speed Hydraulic Shift levers

Published November 29, 2021 by BetterShifting Terry, Last updated November 16, 2022

Shimano DI2 firmware updates used to be relatively easy - you connect your SM-BCR2 charger or SM-PCE02, run E-Tube Project 3.4.5 of 4.0.4, and update the firmware.

If you had a D-fly / Wireless module installed, you could even update firmware using the mobile app - E-Tube Cyclist.

12-speed Di2 firmware updates

Firmware updates for the 12-speed Di2 systems are different. The charger is just a USB cable, and cannot be used to connect the bike to a windows computer.

Instead, you need either the SM-PCE02 tool, or use the E-Tube Cyclist mobile app. All 12-speed Di2 series (DURA-ACE R9200, Ultegra R8100, and Di2 R7100) support BluetoothLE/ANT out of the box.

Looks easy, right? Well.. when it comes to the wireless ST-R9270, ST-R8170, and ST-R7170 hydraulic disc levers, there is a bit of a gotcha - for the initial update, they need to be wired to the rest of the system.

If you don't connect the levers to the rest of the system, you cannot update them. Note that this issue only applies to the hydraulic disc levers - the rim brake levers are not wireless and are connected by wire by default.

Initially, Shimano said that this would only be a problem the very first time you update the shift levers, and that future updates should be wireless.

However, update 4.1.1 cannot be installed fully wireless either. Whether or not future updates can, remains unknown.

Update using SM-PCE02 tool

Most home users won't own one, but if you do - by all means, go ahead. Update your levers using the SM-PCE02.

You will need E-Tube Project V5 / Professional, so download that if you haven't already.

SM-PCE02, EW-SD300, EW-AD305

Also, since the SM-PCE02 only supports the older EW-SD50 interface, you'd also need the EW-AD305 adapter and an EW-SD300 wire.

Connect the EW-AD305 to your SM-PCE02, and then plug the EW-SD300 wire into that.

You then connect the other end of the EW-SD300 wire to an unused port on the shift lever you want to update, and run E-Tube Project V5/Professional. Just make sure you do not use the bottom port, that is for satellite shifters only.

Alternatively, you could use three EW-SD300 wires and a four-port EW-JC304 junction to connect and update both levers at the same time. It's the more expensive option, and since shift lever updates are not all that common, I'm sticking to the update-one-lever-at-a-time approach.

Firmware update using E-Tube Cyclist (Android/iOS)

If you're reading this page, you are probably a home-user trying to update their ST-R9270, ST-R8170 or ST-R7170 using the mobile app, E-Tube Cyclist.

While the app will tell you that there is an update available for your shift levers, it will not let you download and install that update.

Cannot update not-wired lever

You see, there is an additional requirement when updating these wireless levers for the very first time- they need to be wired to the rest of the system. If you do not connect the lever to the rest of the system, the update button will be disabled.

How do you connect a wireless lever using wires? (Ultegra / DURA-ACE only)

So you have this wireless lever... and you need to connect a wire to it. How do you do that?

Easy! Ultegra and DURA-ACE 12-speed hydraulic disc levers have one SD300 type port and one satellite shifter port. You can use the SD300 port to plug an EW-SD300 wire into.

Note: the bottom port is for satellite shifter use only. Updating using the bottom port will not work.

The next question is: what do you plug the other end of the wire into?

You've got two options:

Rides of Japan did just this, and of course made a video of the process:

Connect your shift lever to the battery (Ultegra / DURA-ACE only)

This method is great if you can easily get to your battery. Most bike manufacturers put the battery in the seat post, and therefore getting to the battery is pretty easy.

Note down your saddle height if you haven't already, then take out the seat post to get to the battery.

Now take a long (1200mm - 1600mm) EW-SD300 wire. Plug one end into the battery and the other into the shift lever you want to update.

You can now use the mobile app to update your shift lever. Simply repeat the process for the other lever and you're done.

Connect your shift lever using the front derailleur wire

If you cannot easily get to your battery, this is a pretty good alternative. We can use the front derailleur wire to connect the Di2 levers to the rest of. the system. You need a 1200mm-1600mm EW-SD300 wire and an inline junction though (the EW-JC302).

  • Disconnect the front derailleur wire
  • Plug the now disconnected wire into the EW-JC302 two-port junction
  • Then take your EW-SD300 wire and connect one end of it to the EW-JC302
  • Connect the other end of the wire to the shift lever you want to update

That's it! You can now update one shift lever using the mobile app (Shimano's E-Tube Cyclist manual. Once you've done that, simply connect the wire to the other lever and update that as well.

Can update a wired lever

Now that the shift lever has been connected by wire, the text "wired" appears in the lever image, and the update button is enabled.

If yours doesn't show the "wired" label, double-check you used the SD300 port, and not the sprint shifter (bottom) port. The bottom port will not work.

All done!

Did that work? If so, you can store the extra wire and junction away for the next update. In case things didn't go as smoothly as you would've liked, keep in mind that your local bike shop will also gladly update the shift levers for you - it should take them about 10-15 minutes.

If you're looking to buy the accessories needed to do the update and feel like supporting the site, I've added (affiliate) links to Amazon, eBay, and Wiggle below - as well as to the component detail pages.

BetterShifting Terry

About the Author - BetterShifting Terry

I enjoy playing with bike tech - both bike building and wheel building, bike maintenance and of course, Di2. Besides writing content and working on the technical side of BetterShifting, I also work as a Software Developer in The Netherlands. Read more on the About this site page.

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