Currently Im riding two bikes, well.. three if you count the MTB. But for the road I have my BMC Roadmachine One with Ultegra Di2 and my Trek Crockett with eTap.
I’ve had some time on both to make a few comments. As far as Di2 go’s I’ve been on that steady since 2012. The groupset was groundbreaking when it came out. But the best thing about it is that they continue to improve and add features. The newest shiftsync is just one of the improvements they have made. Really, Di2 is the mark that all others are gauged by.
Then last year eTap finally hits. We all have seen it for several years before but Sram took their time to make sure they got it right. And Im glad they did. It’s a great driveline with the main feature being wireless. I held out for the hydro driveline and am still just one of the few who have it now. I have a second set coming in early Aug.
So the thing about the wireless eTap is of course, setup. I’ve only installed two drives so far but the last one I had the front and rear derailleur, chain and both levers in my hands and had the drive on the bike, up and running in 16 minutes. Thats crazy. It really is that simple.
So I was amazed on how simple it is to install the eTap. Installation award goes to eTap.
So which one is best. Both of them. They both have good points. They both shift great. But for the eTap, the advantage kinda ends with the wireless deal. Really, thats about it. But its a big deal even tho its just the one thing Di2 does not have. So let’s get down to it:
Battery life go’s to Di2. But thats to be expected when you have wireless and need a smaller capacity battery on each derailleur and shifter. The Di2 go’s months. Im not sure how long the eTap runs on a charge but I know its in no way a deal breaker. Still very manageable.
Shifting performance is a wash. They both work very well. Some say the eTap’s front derailleur moves a bit slower but nothing to write about. Both shift excellent.
You can imagine riding both systems at the same time can cause some shifting confusion. I dont know how many times I’ve hit both levers on the Di2 to shift the front ring thinking I was on eTap. Its a old guy memory problem. I do get it figured out after a few miles on the specific bike. As far as shifter operation, I really like the eTap. So simple and easy. On the Di2 you have two buttons very close to each other and with my pudgy fingers I hit the wrong button all the time. But thats hard to do on the eTap. One side goes up the cassette, one side goes down. Both at the same time move the front. Its very hard to make a wrong button mistake. Im going to put shifter operation a nod for eTap.
Finally, Im going to put a nod in the Di2 category with programmability. You can choose and adjust and customize your shifting with Shimano e-Tube software. And for me thats huge. I love playing with different shift modes and such. Also with the same software you can diagnose issues with the system. Another plus. I just had to do so with my dead battery (see Monday’s post). Also Di2 has a bluetooth sensor you can add to your system to talk to you phone and Garmin. All awesome stuff. Now, we all know that Sram’s eTap will have the same capabilities soon. In fact the groups come with a dongle for your computer so someday you will have the same capabilities to talk to your driveline like Shimano. Its coming but as of today its not here yet.
So in closing… both are great for their own specific reasons. Both would do you good.
But if you put a gun to my head and told me to pick one? Just because they are farther along and programmable I would say Di2. I will say the eTap has a bit more of a “cool factor” to it still. Its new and growing and Im sure I will have a few more bikes with the driveline in the future.
It’s amazing how fast this stuff is evolving. Im reading that FSA is coming out with a electric driveline that is wired to the derailers so you can use a bigger battery for longer battery life, but wireless to the shifters. The best of both worlds? I would assume I would give that a try when its time comes up.
Its pretty interesting to see where this all ends up someday.