Electronics once again dominate this year's Cyclingnews Reader Poll in the Best New Product category with Shimano's new Ultegra Di2 group taking home nearly 40 percent of the vote – nearly double that of second place. Once considered a marketing fad, electronic shifting is here to stay and you've stated loud and clear that it's high on your list of interests.
Ultegra Di2 admittedly won't offer any groundbreaking new features that aren't already present with Dura-Ace Di2 but it does promise nearly identical performance with a little more weight and at a much, much lower price roughly inline with the current mechanical Dura-Ace group. As a result, adopters should get the same incredible precision and smoothness, the same robotically consistent movement, and the same TT/sprint expandability potential of Shimano's flagship without having to take out a second mortgage.
Top-flight performance at a much more reasonable cost? Now that's something we can get excited about, too.
Despite the fact that prices haven't dropped in years, power meters still rank highly among Cyclingnews readers with the new Garmin Vector pedal-based system falling into second place. Garmin's offering don't promise increased accuracy relative to existing systems – at least not in standard consumer trim – but building the measuring equipment into the pedals will make it easier for owners to easily move the system to other bikes as needed.
Users will get information on left/right power output balance, too, and full-blown scientific systems will provide researchers with heaps of directional and scalar power info (hence the product's name) for more insight on biomechanics. Assuming no further setbacks, Garmin tells units will start shipping in the spring – we're expecting our own test set in February.
Only a handful of people have been fortunate enough to sample Campagnolo's new electronic road groups (check out our First Ride review here) but the years of anticipation surrounding its development have nevertheless earned it the last spot on our Reader Poll podium.
Campagnolo launched not just one but two complete groups: the Record EPS package to go head-to-head with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 and an even more upscale Super Record EPS. Lighter weight relative to Shimano's options is one touted advantage but the biggest difference is the ergonomics. Campagnolo's system sticks to its separate two-lever Ergopower configuration, slightly longer lever throws, and stronger springs and clicks for more tactile feedback relative to the Shimano.
Our initial impression is that the overall performance is very similar but consumers are bound to prefer one actuation method versus the other. Campagnolo has a lot riding on this regardless and time will tell how this will all shake out, of course, but at least now we can get started.
2011 Best New Product:
1. Shimano Ultegra Di2 8,280 (38.3%)
2. Garmin Vector power meter 4,148 (19.2%)
3. Campagnolo electronic group 3,672 (17.0%)
4. Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4 road bike 2,563 (11.8%)
5. Cannondale Scalpel 29er 871 (4.0%)
6. Wilier Triestina Zero.7 646 (3.0%)
7. Santa Cruz Blur TRc trail bike 426 (2.0%)
8. Speedplay Szyr mountain bike pedal 392 (1.8%)
9. Scott Spark RC 377 (1.7%)
10. Cane Creek Angleset 259 (1.2%)