Recover Di2 Component Firmware using the SM-PCE1 / SM-PCE02 or Charger

Updated April 12, 2023 by BetterShifting Terry

Updated for E-Tube for Windows Version 4.0.2

As of October 13 it is possible to do basic component firmware recovery using the SM-BCR2 charger. This doesn't mean the SM-PCE1 and SM-PCE02 are now obsolete and you'll never need to visit the bike shop again, but it definitely is a step in the right direction.

I originally intended to record an E-Tube V4 version of the video that's further down this page and use the SM-PCE02 to recover my component, but things turned out even better. This time I didn't have any components that required updating, but seeing as E-Tube Project V4 offers the firmware rewrite functionality I used that to run the firmware update process and yanked out the USB cable at 30%.

Naturally E-Tube Project complained that the firmware rewrite failed and that my component would require recovery. I then reconnected the SM-BCR2 charger and E-Tube project offered to recover the firmware. I let it do its thing and the ST-6870 was indeed recovered - without having to use the SM-PCE02!

Note that this does not mean you can recover every 'bricked' component using the SM-BCR2. Do not try this at home.

Original article:

Updating Di2 firmware is a relatively easy process. It usually can be done at home using the SM-BCR2 charger. However, this process can fail and when it does, your component is “bricked” and it stops functioning.

While it can usually be recovered by disconnecting it for a minute or so, sometimes the firmware needs to be re-written to the component. The SM-PCE1 and SM-PCE02 can do just that.

The SM-PCE02 / SM-PCE1 and tools

So what is the SM-PCE02? It’s a PC Linkage Device, but unlike the SM-BCR2 charger it will not charge your bikes. Most consumers will therefore not own an SM-PCE02, but your local bike shop most likely has one.

Shimano SM-PCE02 Di2

It doesn’t charge the bike, but it can do a lot more in terms of diagnostics and recovery. These units can:

  • Run battery drain diagnostics (SM-PCE02 only)
  • Check each component for errors
  • Connect to a single component or the entire bike
  • Recover and re-write component firmware

That last part is what we’re interested in here, so let’s get to work.

There’s a video too!

Don’t feel like reading this page? That’s OK – there is a video too. It shows the entire process, from bricking the component to eventually fixing it. The video is just over 10 minutes long.

First – corrupt some firmware

There wouldn’t be much to restore without a component that is severely confused. Unfortunately I don’t have a box of Di2 components that need fixing in the garage (I wish), so let’s try to “break” a component first.

I happened to have this set of ST-R8070 shift levers that I bought recently – they’re meant to go on my Bowman Palace 3. One of these levers I updated a while ago, but the other was still as outdated as they get. My plan was to update this shift lever and disconnect the cable halfway through the update process…. so that’s what I did!

Do not unplug etube wires

Unfortunately the E-Tube firmware update progress indicator is just that – an indicator. I unplugged the component with 15 seconds left to update and E-Tube Project told me I should plug the SM-BCR2 back in and let it finish. I didn’t and closed E-Tube Project instead.

When I restarted the application and connected to the bike it told me nothing was wrong. Not only was the shift lever firmware not corrupt at all, it had also updated it to the latest version.

restore a shift lever

I now only had one component left that I could update and break – the FD-R8050 front derailleur. I decided to update this and disconnect the component as soon as the progress bar appeared.

Front derailleur not found

E-Tube Project offered to restore the unit, but I would not let it – the goal here is to restore firmware using the SM-PCE02, not using the SM-BCR2 charger. It then displayed a red box next to the front derailleur and when I disconnected / reconnected the bike the component disappeared completely.

front derailleur not found at all

Restore the component firmware

Now that we have a component that is so confused that it does not show up in the list of installed components, let’s try to fix that.

I will follow the same steps your local bike shops do when restoring Di2 firmware. If you want to try this at home you need:

Restoring component firmware happens in “single unit connection mode”. Basically you connect only one component to the SM-PCE02, instead of plugging in the entire bike. This way you can be 100% sure you’re not writing front derailleur firmware to a rear derailleur (or any other component).

Using single unit connection mode is simple: you just use the button on the top right – the one with the E-Tube wire on it.

single unit connection mode

It will then immediately display the ‘Connection check‘ screen. This makes sense, because there isn’t much else you’d want to use single unit connection mode for.

restore firmware connection check

Those ‘Back‘ and ‘Cancel‘ buttons both take you back to the previous screen, so I clicked ‘Next‘. E-Tube Project will now attempt to recognize the connected unit:

restore firmware detecting pce02

The FD-R8050 front derailleur‘s firmware was definitely destroyed beyond repair. It could not even tell E-Tube what kind of device it was.. E-Tube just says “Unit is not recognized“.

restore firmware unit not detected

You then click ‘Next‘ and E-Tube will once again try to identify the component.

restore firmware recognizing unit

In this case it failed again. This is normal when the firmware is no longer in any recognizable state, there is nothing to worry about.

restore firmware not detected

Now.. if you click ‘Next‘ it will overwrite the current firmware with the correct one – even though the component was not recognized it can still be restored.

How you ask? Each piece of Di2 hardware has a bit of code that identifies what it is. This information is not part of the firmware and should always be intact.

E-Tube uses this information to identify the component and restore its firmware.

restore firmware overwrite firmware

E-Tube has just written new firmware to the component. Note that it still says “unknown unit” on the right, but the box has turned green and the message on the left shows us it has been successful.

restore firmware restored

Click ‘Next‘ and it will once again try to identify the component, this time using the information from the newly written firmware.

restore firmware recognized it works

Great news – the FD-R8050 has been recognized as the FD-R8050! E-Tube now asks you to confirm that this is indeed the connected component.

I have to admit I did not click ‘No‘ to see what would happen, but I imagine it’d go back to the previous page and try rewriting the firmware again.

restore firmware unit is recognized

Now at this point you could probably quit E-Tube Project if you wanted to, but you really should stick around for these last steps.

E-Tube Project will guide you through the error check for this component, making sure it is indeed fully functional.

restore firmware error check

The error checking procedure involves it shifting the derailleur a couple of times, so E-Tube Project asks you to turn the cranks while it performs the diagnostics.

Also, don’t put your fingers between the chain and chain ring…

restore firmware turn crank error check

After the check has completed E-Tube reports “a fault could not be found“. Click ‘Ok‘.

restore firmware operating normally

E-Tube once again confirms that the front derailleur functions normally.

restore firmware functions normally

The ‘Cancel‘ and ‘Next‘ buttons both lead eventually lead to the ‘Connection Check‘ screen:

restore firmware final connection check restore firmware connection check

At this point I could have quit E-Tube Project using either ‘Back‘ or ‘Next‘, but I made it run the ‘Connection check‘ again. It now correctly identifies the front derailleur:

restore firmware all done

Clicking the ‘Update firmware‘ button displays this windows, indicating that it has written the latest firmware to the front derailleur.

restore firmware updated to latest firmware

That’s it, you can now run the ‘Error check‘ again, or ‘Rewrite firmware‘ if you really want to. There isn’t any reason to do that, so let’s exit the application.

restore firmware complete to home screen

Click ‘Complete Setup‘ to return to the Connection check screen. You can now close E-Tube Project.

restore firmware connection check again

All done! Want your own SM-PCE02?

Now that’s all – the front derailleur is fully functional again. In case you’re interested in buying an SM-PCE02, keep these things in mind:

It will not charge your bike

No matter what battery or what generation Di2 you have – the SM-PCE02 / SM-PCE1 will not charge your bike. These units are for diagnostics only.

Get a spare Junction B / E-Tube wire

If your PCE does not come with a Junction B and extra E-Tube wire, consider getting one. These units plug into an E-Tube port, meaning that you’ll probably have to disconnect something from your Junction A in order to connect the SM-PCE02.

If you have a spare Junction B you can then plug that into your Junction A and any unplugged components into the Junction B, allowing you to still connect the entire bike to the SM-PCE02.

Also, a 600-1000mm Electric Wire will allow you to bypass any ‘suspect’ wires, helping you to troubleshoot battery drain issues.

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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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