Electronic shifting does not work for me

It was around September when I wanted to head into a quick ride with my bicycle, but the Dura-Ace electronic shifting didn´t do anything. The disappointment in such a case is two-fold. You cannot start riding as you planned to, which is a big no no. In addition, suddenly you are aware you´ve got an issue with your super-expensive shifting system that will not be easy or cheap to solve (the battery was charged the week before). That day in September I charged the battery again for 30 minutes, which was enough for a single ride. In the days after, I figured out, it was not the battery malfunctioning, but a component connected to the battery was consuming power continuously. I didn´t figure out for now which component was taking the power, a shifter, the front- or the rear-derailleur. At that point it was clear to me, that I absolutely dislike the hassle of batteries, cabling and expensive components. For some weeks I was riding my old mechanical Sram Red bike (one of the lightest groupsets that is working fine for years now). It was untouched for one and a half years and I only needed to put some air into the tires and was ready to go. Also, after one and half years riding with electronic shifting, I actually liked the feeling of mechanical shifting over electronic shifting. The electronic shifting will decouple you for the most part from the drive train, while you get a good sense about what is going on with your drive train when applying mechanical shifting.

I decided to move away from electronic shifting, and not try to repair the Dura-Ace (for now). I swapped shifters and derailleurs for a GRX 820 mechanical setup which is working pretty fine since that day. The shifters are similar in shape and reach to the Dura-Ace, except of the more pronounced anti-slippery ribs on the GRX hoods. The shifting at the front, with a Rotor ALDHU crankset, is even better than with the Dura-Ace Di2. I´m using the 105 front derailleur and not the GRX, because of the narrower chainline of my road crankset. An additional eye-opener for me was, a new mechanical front derailleur will cost 40 to 50 Euro (105 or GRX), while a new Dura-Ace electronic front derailleur will cost around 300 Euro. Both weighing close to 95 grams!

This is a frustrating and pretty expensive learning I would have preferred to avoid. Maybe, if that can be counted as an excuse, at the time I decided for the Dura-Ace, Shimano´s statement was that likely all the new groupsets with 12 sprockets on the cassette would be electronic. Despite of that announcement, Shimano released two new mechanical 12-speed groups during the recent weeks, the 105 and the GRX. Only because of that release it was possible to swap the expensive electronic system for a cheaper and as well working mechanical one, otherwise I would have been locked into the electronic system.

Close image of a GRX 820 mechanical rear derailleur mounted to a white Fairlight Strael with C36 Dura-Ace wheels.
The new mechanical GRX dreailleur – already dirty.

On Dec 6th 2023 I came across this video by Russ Rocca. One point addressed is the vendor lock-in implied by electronic shifting, named the Applefication of shifting.

The DARK SIDE of Electronic Shifting No One Talks About, by Russ Roca