The earliest bicycles did not have a gear mechanism. In fact, the unicycle did not even have two wheels and when the two-wheeled bicycle was invented, the “penny farthing” model had one small wheel and another, much bigger wheel. But then all that is now ancient history.
Over the last decade or two, engineers developed mountain bikes that were physically rugged and could be used even in difficult terrain and during bad weather. As mountain bikes became more sophisticated, they came with gear systems that you had to engage with a flick of your thumb.
Shimano has now launched its Alfine Di2 road bike with a digital gear shift that was originally designed for the high-end Dura-Ace range. You get a choice of 11 speeds, making it quite easy to ride even over steep, hilly terrain.
The internally geared hub is controlled by an electronic shifter via wires that run through the tubes. The electronic gear responds quite well, and you can hear a buzz as it shifts. The black finish makes the Alfine Di2 look very sleek indeed.
The electronics are powered by a single lithium ion battery. Reportedly, on a full charge, the battery is enough to power the gears for a 1500 Km ride.
The LED display, discreetly fitted onto the bike’s handle, tells you your gear speed as well as expected battery life. The internal drive train is sealed inside a container, which means that it is less vulnerable to the weather.
Category: Bike Gadgets