Russ from Path Less Pedaled on the supposed dark side of electronic shifting

Russ Roca posted a video on his channel: “The DARK SIDE of Electronic Shifting No One Talks About

He makes a couple of good points about compatibility, ease of performing modifications, and cost of upgrades and repairs but I still have problems agreeing with the doom and gloom situation he presents.

I’m really of a split opinion here. I have four bikes: a titanium road bike with Shimano Di2 and Shimano hydraulic brakes, a titanium MTB with mechanical SRAM Eagle shifting and Hope hydros, an e-bike with mechanical SRAM Eagle and Magura hydros, and a Trek retro-mod with mechanical SRAM Eagle and … Magura hydro rim brakes.

Both Magura and Shimano hydros are so ridiculously easy for me to service and even on tours I’m not worried because essentially every bike shop can do it. The advantages and lack of maintenance of those over most cable-actuated brakes simply outweigh the negatives for me.

A bit further into the video Russ talks about electronic shifting being the “death of freedom” but he also says,

Here’s the thing: humans are complex, there are certain aspects of my life where, you know, I’ll go for that simplicity. For example: video editing, I’m an Apple fanboy all day long. I just want things to work and in that instance I’m willing to give up, you know, certain levels of customization and control.

And that is the thing: with shifting I perceive Di2 similarly to my Apple gear: they’re both golden cages but very big and comfortable ones. When these products work and fit your needs, they are utterly perfect and effortless. When they don’t, they can be incredibly annoying.
Di2 shifting has been nothing but great for me. Setup and maintenance are simple and easy, the components long-lived (bought mine used). I have the gearing I want for this bike (48/32 + 11-32) and there’s even room to go 11-40 on that system with a Wolftooth Goat Link (as Jom from Gravel Cyclist confirmed).

That said: the frame I’m running Di2 on is a Van Nicholas Yukon disc with internal routing that is also fully compatible with wired shifting (even wired braking) if I ever want to go that route. It was important to me when I bought it because I did not want to get locked into electronic shifting systems.

All in all, I had expected something more profound from the video. Russ and Laura make good content but this felt more like a rant about something he doesn’t like because it doesn’t fit his needs.

Alex Hoffmann @mangochutney