This article originally appeared on BikeRadar
Shimano has confirmed that its Dura-Ace Di2 shift levers are now able to act as remote controls for external devices such as bike computers. Want to flick between data screens and your navigation without taking a hand off the hood? Soon you'll be able to.
Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 9070 electronic shifters have had a button on top of the unit, under the rubber hood, since they were launched in 2012, and we've already discussed their practical use with Shimano and Garmin.
Now a software update, coupled with Shimano's wireless D-Fly unit (introduced earlier this year) means these buttons finally have a use – controlling compatible bike computers while maintaining full control of steering – a development that fits within Shimano's 'stress-free riding concept'.
Shimano's release states that "It is up to the developers of the external devices, such as cycle computers, to design the exact features that the buttons control."
As of Dec. 3, Garmin, Magellan and PRO computers are compatible. The system works on the ANT+ wireless network (which Garmin owns), but requires collaboration with Shimano for configuration. Shimano spokesman Nick Legan said that Shimano isn't restricting access to any computer company for integration.
The timing for the release is good — appearing at the same time as thick winter gloves are making touchscreens a pain in the northern hemisphere.
The design is similar to Shimano's old Flight Deck platform, which allowed communication with the Japanese company's own head unit thanks to buttons on the inside edge of the brake levers that were wired into the computer mount. Such units were the first to give riders information on what gear they currently had selected.
There could be other applications too, such as controlling videocameras (like Shimano's CM-1000 Sport Camera) changing resistance on turbo trainers or interacting with cycling apps.
We'll have info on third party compatibility as soon as we hear more. In the meantime, check out our discussions with Garmin about the idea.