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Force eTap v. Ultegra Di2 v. Dura Ace

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Force eTap v. Ultegra Di2 v. Dura Ace

Old 11-11-19, 02:24 PM
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Force eTap v. Ultegra Di2 v. Dura Ace

Hi, bike gurus. I need some help. I am going to be buying a new road bike fairly soon. I haven't settled on a frame yet, there are so many that could work. I will probably see what pricing is and let that help guide me. Overall, though, I hope to keep it under $6K. Am kind of looking at an Orca, as I had one in the past, but they've gotten pretty expensive, so not sure.

I currently ride a 2018 BMC SLR02 w/105-R5800--got the bike just a few months before R7000 came out. I really enjoy this bike. My only wish really is for better wheels (I have Aksiums right now) and a crisper, smoother shifting experience. It's already pretty darn good. But I would appreciate better.

Which brought me to the possibility if electronic shifting. I have read everything I can get my hands on. But I've never experienced it myself. The question for you all is, if my goal is crisper, smoother operation of the shifting process, is there one of these three that is preferable? I can't afford Red eTap or Dura Ace Di2, so those are out.

I do not race. I ride for the sport and the cardio and to get my butt out of the house. I ride mostly in a decent-sized city, where a lot of stopping and starting and shifting is required. I do also get out of town on some long reasonably flat stuff., but my city itself is extremely hilly. And lastly, I'm pretty sure I've never ridden more than about 120 miles in one go in my life. My usual sort of longer ride would be, like, 60-75 miles with a bunch of hills.

I really appreciate any thoughts you might have, including something completely different from what I list. Totally open-minded here. Very grateful for your assistance.
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Old 11-11-19, 02:34 PM
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eTap apparently still has its issues for too many users. Between that and the need to maintain four batteries, I've never felt tempted to go that way.

As for Di2, I have ridden every variety of Di2 from the beginning -- including the original DA version before etube. Right now, I have Dura Ace Di2 on one bike and Ultegra Di2 on another. There is absolutely no functional difference between the current Dura Ace Di2 and the current Ultegra Di2. Except for coloration and perhaps a few grams weight difference, they are the same. Di2 is extremely reliable and low maintenance -- less maintenance than a cable actuated system. (And there's just one battery to monitor.) I would recommend Ultegra Di2. You can alter shift patterns, button functions, shift speed, etc. to get exactly the shifting you want.
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Old 11-11-19, 03:38 PM
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I would go test ride some bikes with both systems. I did and ended up getting an old fashioned cable type bike, but not because the electronic stuff was crap - it's great. The bike I wanted was on sale with Ultegra 5000, so that ended my electronic shifting quandary. Now I don't have to charge my bike .

Personally I like the e-tap because it's wireless, but I've read more people liking the Di2... it seems to be more popular. Both systems worked flawlessly on my brief test rides.

Your post makes me think you'd enjoy electronic shifting. Go for it!
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Old 11-11-19, 05:40 PM
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If I were installing in a frame I can see where E-Tap is immensely easier to deal with, especially if the frame has a press in b-bracket as you may or may not be able to do that part of the install. Once you get Di2 installed, it needs nothing else from you. Thus and on a new bike where it’s all complete, I’d get whichever bike floats your boat in terms of fit and how it rides. Only thing odd to me about E-Tap is that you press a lever on the L shifter to go to a different cog, a lever on the R shifter for the other way ?. That just seems so non intuitive especially after 25 years on Shimano. And there’s the 4 batteries to deal with. My Di2 battery is on its 2nd year, no signs of going bad.
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Old 11-11-19, 05:49 PM
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Have both Ultegra Di2 and Red eTap 11 speed. I know SRAM have a bad reputation for tolerances (I believe Hambini uses the S-Bomb a lot to describe it ) but knock on wood so far mine seems to be going on quite well. Both shift very well, with maybe an incremental advantage to the Di2 in terms of smoothness and snappiness. Riding one after the other I can sense a smidge of difference (or maybe it's in my head) but I can honestly say if I only had one I wouldn't miss the other.

The major differences are well known: Di2 has better shift programmability (although this may have changed with the Red eTap 12 speed, I don't own that version). Di2 has the one battery in the seat tube which is charged through the junction box, whether that's in the bar-end or under the stem or integrated in the frame somewhere vs. the four batteries that you have to charge on the SRAM (two in the derailleurs, which charge via the supplied charger, and 2 in the shifters which are the coin batteries (2032s?). I've not had to swap out the 2032 but I have had to charge the derailleur batteries once, and it was fine. I don't consider it much more onerous than the Di2 but maybe when I have to change the coin batteries I'll sing a different tune. One cool thing about the SRAM derailleur batteries. I got a warning the rear one was low but not the front one. I swapped and both registered as normal (I switched back and got the same warning, so this wasn't an error). I assume that's because the AI assumes you're shifting the rear way more often than the front, so what is "low" for the rear D is different than the front D. So in a pinch, if you get a low-battery warning and you're far from home, you can always swap the front and back batteries and pretty much get home no problem. Also the wireless is very cool and reduces the amount of visible wiring too--so more aesthetically cleaner look and possibly a minuscule wattage savings. Of course if you having fully internal/hidden cabling this isn't an issue.

I saw the new Force seems to be close to the Red (incurring a weight penalty) and Ultegra is pretty much the same deal with Dura-Ace (95% of the performance plus few hundred grams).

Bottom line I'd ride the bikes you're interested in and get the one which feels best to you. I don't think you can go wrong with either the Force eTap or the Ultegra Di2. I'd let the rest of the bike be the deciding factor (geometry, comfort, stiffness, compliance, wheel quality, fit, ride position, etc.).
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Old 11-11-19, 05:52 PM
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I'm biased...as I've just gotten an Ultegra Di2 equipped bike...but if you believe GCN, they say you can't even really tell the difference between Ultegra Di2 and Dura Ace Di2 in the new generation. And based on how crisp and smooth and instant my shifts are, I believe them. It doesn't seem like it could get any better than that. I had a 105 equipped bike before, and even though it seemed nice at the time...the difference between 105 and Ultegra Di2, to me, seems very significant. I'd recommend it 100%. That said, I too was looking at Orbea and Scott and Canyon and Felt...and well, at the end of the day, you can get a very nicely equipped Orca with Ultegra Di2 in your price range. That said, if you buy Scott, you can definitely get a bike with Dura Ace Di2...as I just saw a "new" last year's model for like $5,800 with this groupset at a local shop (Y's Road).

?SCOTT ADDICT RC********************NEW**************************************************??6.45kg**********??? | Y's Road ???

They had it discounted, and then discounted it again. So there are deals to be had on previous year models, if you're set on a specific groupset.
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Old 11-11-19, 05:53 PM
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I've got around 2100 miles on a new eTap AXS (Red) bike. I was a bit apprehensive going SRAM considering I'm a long time Shimano user.

So far, the AXS has been fantastic. No issues whatsoever, the "4 batteries" for me are really two as the brifter batteries need chaining once a year. The derailleur batteries charge very quick and I get hundreds of miles between charges - I've never been even close to running low on a ride.

I got used to the different shifting method in no time and my other bike is Ultegra which I still ride also.

Having said that I'm absolutely sure I'd have loved a Di2 setup also.
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Old 11-11-19, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by joelcool View Post
I would go test ride some bikes with both systems.
This. Try for yourself. Then decide. Problem solved!
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Old 11-11-19, 06:40 PM
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Ultegra Di2.
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Old 11-11-19, 06:52 PM
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I have two rigs with Ultegra Di2, latest gen. Never let me down once. I can't imagine shifting getting any easier or more predictable.
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Old 11-11-19, 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by FlashBazbo View Post
eTap apparently still has its issues for too many users. Between that and the need to maintain four batteries, I've never felt tempted to go that way.

As for Di2, I have ridden every variety of Di2 from the beginning -- including the original DA version before etube. Right now, I have Dura Ace Di2 on one bike and Ultegra Di2 on another. There is absolutely no functional difference between the current Dura Ace Di2 and the current Ultegra Di2. Except for coloration and perhaps a few grams weight difference, they are the same. Di2 is extremely reliable and low maintenance -- less maintenance than a cable actuated system. (And there's just one battery to monitor.) I would recommend Ultegra Di2. You can alter shift patterns, button functions, shift speed, etc. to get exactly the shifting you want.
I also have current Utegra and DA DI2 and I was wondering if the DA battery lasts more than twice as long as the Ultegra for you or if I have it shifting against the stop or a weak battery. Today the DA was at 80% after a month but the Ultegra is at 30%. I can't tell the diff between the 2 and I really love DI2.
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Old 11-11-19, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by popeye View Post
I also have current Utegra and DA DI2 and I was wondering if the DA battery lasts more than twice as long as the Ultegra for you or if I have it shifting against the stop or a weak battery. Today the DA was at 80% after a month but the Ultegra is at 30%. I can't tell the diff between the 2 and I really love DI2.
Ultegra Di2 and Dura Ace Di2 use exactly the same battery. There should be no difference in battery life unless one is older than the other, one is stored in the cold / the other indoors, one bike is leaned where the shift button is bearing weight, etc.
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Old 11-11-19, 07:41 PM
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Ultegra Di2. I'm a Super Record EPS user myself, but if I were to choose from your options, Ultegra Di2 is solid.
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Old 11-12-19, 04:04 AM
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Thanks a million to everyone who has responded so far. I really am grateful Interesting that nobody yet has recommended EPS...

As for test-riding the bike I ultimately buy, the problem is, even in a town with 8 trillion zillion bike shops, the chance of finding the brand of frame, model, the size, and the gruppos of interest in stock to ride for 30 minutes is def not a sure thing here. At this price-point, I may have to order the complete bike. Maybe in LA or something they have tons of these on the floor in a 56 or 57. But I'll do my best.
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Old 11-12-19, 06:15 AM
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Have you considered EPS?
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Old 11-12-19, 07:44 AM
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Originally Posted by bpcyclist View Post
Thanks a million to everyone who has responded so far. I really am grateful Interesting that nobody yet has recommended EPS...

As for test-riding the bike I ultimately buy, the problem is, even in a town with 8 trillion zillion bike shops, the chance of finding the brand of frame, model, the size, and the gruppos of interest in stock to ride for 30 minutes is def not a sure thing here. At this price-point, I may have to order the complete bike. Maybe in LA or something they have tons of these on the floor in a 56 or 57. But I'll do my best.
Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
Have you considered EPS?
"...of these three that is preferable? I can't afford Red eTap or Dura Ace Di2, so those are out." ......this is why I didn't recommend EPS.
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Old 11-12-19, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by bpcyclist View Post
Overall, though, I hope to keep it under $6K.
That's probably why nobody has recommended Record EPS.
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Old 11-12-19, 09:06 AM
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I certainly wouldn't spend the money for a soon to be outdated 11 speed electronic group this year.

I've read a lot of drivetrain noise complaints from force axs owners. The new chain is not to blame, it's quiet on a Campy 12 drivetrain. The noise apparently comes from the cassette.

Right now, force axs is very high priced unless it's on a prebuilt bike. I bought two campy chorus 12 groups for less than the typical asking price for a force axs group. The shifting is great.
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Old 11-12-19, 09:41 AM
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My two current gen Ultegra Di2 are both noisier than my current gen 105 on my hybrid FX S6. One was spec'd with a KMC chain (Giant TCR) the other came with an Ultegra chain, which I upgraded to a Dura-Ace chain (now-retired SuperSix), so it's not just a chain issue. I think GCN Tech may have even mentioned a theory as to why the newer Di2 may be a bit louder. Both have been dialed in by LBSs mechanics that I trust. And it happened on 2 different Di2s on 2 bikes that are one year apart, different models, different LBSs, so to me that is more than coincidence.

I can tame the noise by applying Rock n Roll Gold every 30-50 miles. But in the dusty desert that is SoCal, it gets a fairly noisy at the 50 mile mark. The quietest I can get it is when I use the wet style lube (one drop per link). Then it's dead silent. But that stuff really attracts dust and converts it to grime very quickly. And then it's a pain to have to clean and reapply. Which is why I settled on the RNR Gold. Yes I apply it every other ride, but it's a pretty easy backpedal, apply, backpedal, wipe dry. Takes 3 minutes, gets it 90% of the way to the near silence of the wet lube, but with less effort and less grit/grime.

I do that for the SRAM eTap too, which keeps the noise down, to the point where I don't think it's significantly louder than the Di2. At least I don't notice it on my rides (I switch between the TCR and S3 every other day).

A friend is trying out SCC Tech Slick lube which is expensive (for lube) at $25 for 2oz. But apparently according to early reviews it applies like a wet lube (i.e. one drop per pivot joint), so that bottle should last you a good long while, and all it requires is a wipe down after every ride. They claim you don't even need to deep clean the chain prior to first application (though I will), and that if you wipe after every ride, road bikes can get 200-400 miles between reapplications (they really stress the wipe the chain after every ride part). When I run out of my RNR Gold, I may give SCC a try.
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Old 11-12-19, 09:49 AM
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My R8070 Di2 must be an anomaly because it's never been noisy.
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Old 11-12-19, 10:07 AM
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I have had Di2 Ultegra and currently have mechanical DA. I love both of them but the Di2 really is the bees knees. It was flawless for me on the road and in cross. Highly recommend.
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Old 11-12-19, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
Have you considered EPS?
Sure. I've never even seen it, but any lifelong bike rider from the U.S. in my age group (55) I think has always either secretly or not secretly wanted a bike with Campy/
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Old 11-12-19, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by jadocs View Post
My R8070 Di2 must be an anomaly because it's never been noisy.
Same here. Both my DA Di2 and Ultegra Di2 run pretty silent. But then, I don't lube or wipe down my chain on a regular basis. I lube when I wash -- probably about every 1,000 miles. Nothing more is needed. (The chain lube / wax / hot oil enthusiasts are getting the vapors after reading that. Sorry.)

If my Di2 were noisy, I would suspect somebody messed with the rear derailleur adjustment.
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Old 11-12-19, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by jadocs View Post
My R8070 Di2 must be an anomaly because it's never been noisy.
To be clear, if I thoroughly clean and degrease the chains, let dry, then apply something very viscous like Finish Line Wet Lube and wipe dry, the Di2 is nearly silent. For a while. But dust and road dirt are really attracted to that viscosity of lube and start to gunk up the chain, even if I wipe after every ride. Since it's not a one-step lube like RNR, I have to clean, degrease, and reapply.

The RNR Gold, which is a dry lube but also an all-in-one cleaner + lube, is much easier to apply but doesn't get the chain as near-silent as the wet lube. This has been true on my 2 Di2s and eTap. I'm hoping the SCC Slick will give me the performance and silence of the wet lube, with the lower maintenance associated with the RNR. If it does, it will be worth the $25.

The reasons I believe it's not an alignment or setup issue (aside from the fact that I've had two techs from two different LBSs check it out) are 1) that it's dead silent when applying the wet lube, nearly silent with RNR, and slowly gets louder as dirt accumulates...if something were amiss it would make noise all the time, and 2) shifting performance is exceptional (and yes I know how to microadjust both Di2 and eTap and have dialed it in when changing out wheels). It's a common pattern. Lube it, it gets quiet. Ride 30-50 miles, it gets louder around the 40-50 mile mark. Again, SoCal is a very dry and dusty place, so my riding conditions may be very different from yours.

What boggles my mind is how quiet my 105 stays because I don't give that the same level of care and attention. I think there may be something to the theory that chunkier/lower end drivetrains being more forgiving of dirt/grime due to not having the same tight tolerances as higher end drivetrains.

Also, not sure if linking to Weight Weenies forum (which I'm not a member of, but when I was doing a Google search on the noise I came across it) is allowed but there is a thread about Di2 noise, so it's not that I got the 2 bum sets in the lot.

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Old 11-12-19, 11:21 AM
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Those who need to apply a dry lube frequently should consider my home made solution. One ounce by weight of paraffin to 6-7 ounces of camp stove fuel (naptha) and 0.5 to 1 ounce of high quality lubricating oil ( I use automotive gear lube). The chain should be very quiet for 50-100 miles.

I always started with a clean dry chain. Camp stove fuel works great for chain cleaning.
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