Digital vs analogue: is there still a place for mechanical shifting?

(Image credit: Colin Levitch)

When I first saw a bike shod with the original Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 in the flesh, I scoffed. I thought it was an answer searching for a problem and predicted in a few short years it would go the same way as Mavic Zap — boy, was I wrong. 

Now electronic shifting has well and truly become the norm and what the vast majority of riders hold as an object of desire on new bike day, or when it comes time for an upgrade — and for good reason. The 'electricals' that were once commonplace are largely a thing of the past, and Di2, eTap, and EPS provide for quiet and accurate shifting every time you hit the shift button (especially on the front), regardless of whether it's clean or dirty, or how sloppy your shifts become five hours into a ride. There is no cable stretch, broken cables, or replacing inners and outers to deal with and, once it's set up, it will continue to work provided your derailleur hanger is straight, and even sometimes when it's not.

Based on the Gold Coast of Australia, Colin has written tech content for cycling publication for a decade. With hundreds of buyer's guides, reviews and how-tos published in Bike Radar, Cyclingnews, Bike Perfect and Cycling Weekly, as well as in numerous publications dedicated to his other passion, skiing. 

Colin was a key contributor to Cyclingnews between 2019 and 2021, during which time he helped build the site's tech coverage from the ground up. Nowadays he works full-time as the news and content editor of Flow MTB magazine.