Rent a road bike with mechanical or electronic shifting

Rent a road bike with mechanical or electronic shifting

When you want to rent a road bike, the question is whether you choose mechanical or electronic shifting. We would like to discuss some of the bigger points in this discussion. It is no longer a simple situation of better, faster shifting or less maintenance, the topic has become broader than that.

A mechanical connection versus an electrical one

Cable-operated derailleurs date back to about 70 years ago, and we’ve seen a slow evolution in technology ever since. Consider the introduction of indexed gears, the shifting of the shifter to the handlebars and general refinement of the system. What has remained unchanged, however, is the inner steel cable that connects the shifter to the derailleur.
That changed in the early 2000s with the arrival of Shimano’s Di2. Today it is a rare sight to see a mechanical groupset racing at the highest level of the sport.

The early sales pitch for electronic gears was that it provided effortless and fast shifting without having to mechanically use the derailleur itself. Electronic gears were meant to be set and forgotten. As long as the battery doesn’t drain or the derailleur remains unaffected, the system would continue to operate exactly as it was originally set up (at least in theory).

Those same benefits continue to this day. The latest performance bikes like our Stevens Ventoux Disc Ultegra Di2 have even more positive points for electronic gears.

Advantages of electronic shifting

Pressing a button and hearing a derailleur “bzzzzzt” is certainly easier than pressing a mechanical lever until it hits an index point. Modern mechanical shifting is great, but a small servo motor can do the job. This is especially true for front shifting and equally applies to rear shifting with the advent of clutch derailleurs (for increased chain security) and complex cable runs.

To take it a step further, a number of electronic powertrains can be operated in a sequential mode, meaning that shifting forward is effectively controlled. This may not be an appealing feature for the experienced cyclist, but it can be a plus for those relatively new to the sport.

Image to electronic shifting

Multiple switching points

Traditionally, a mechanical shifting system would have a derailleur wired to the shifter, and your shifter’s location is the only place that can be shifted from. Electronic shifting changed that by allowing optional shift points to be added.
Talk to a bicycle mechanic and they will tell you that the greatest benefit of electronic drivetrains is that there is no mechanical cable or housing to compress, crack, dirty, rust or fray.

Aesthetics of the road bike

In recent years, we’ve seen bicycles become more and more integrated, more aerodynamic and sleek. The latest integrated road bikes now go to great lengths to completely hide cables inside the bike.

The cons

Electronic gear remains a premium feature. The cheapest options are still noticeably more expensive than Shimano Ultegra mechanical or equivalent, and so electronic is simply out of reach for those looking to buy an entry-level or even mid-range.

The reality is that the huge manufacturing cost comes with the derailleur servo motors and the rechargeable batteries that power them, and there’s no easy way to take that technology to a truly cheap level. For now, Shimano offers its Di2 electronic gearing at Ultegra and Dura-Ace levels.

Charging the gears

Mechanical gear systems may occasionally require an adjustment or replacement of the cable, but you never have to worry about the charge level of a battery. Checking the battery level is a common drawback of all electronic drivetrain systems, and failing to do so will ultimately lead to a challenging ride and an embarrassing story.
The good news is that most electronic powertrains have long-lasting batteries. Many Shimano Di2 users can go months without charging.


Traditionally, electronic powertrains are heavier than mechanical systems. The lack of steel cables and complex shifting mechanisms in the brake levers can save weight, but the electric motors and batteries involved often add back that weight, and then some. The gap narrows, and depending on the bike and gear setup you want to use, electronics can be lighter in some situations. In the case of Shimano, the penalty weight for electronic shifting is now under 100 grams.


The question if you rent a racing bike with mechanical or electronic shifting is now easy to answer. The reality is, electronic gear systems are the simplest option for most riders. Rather, they work without intervention and allow you to focus on the ride. The mentioned disadvantages mainly apply to buying a bicycle. These expire when renting a racing bike. And it is for these reasons that a large proportion of our customers rent the Stevens Ventoux Disc Ultegra Di2.

Source: Website Cyclingtips

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