Ultegra Di2 Part 1: System Components
Ultegra Di2 Part 2: Connecting up the circuit
For my Boardwalk, the most tricky part of the installation is the placement of the battery. For full sized road bikes, the bottle cage mounts can be used to hold the battery mount. However, since my Boardwalk needs to fold, I cannot use the bottle cage holes to mount the battery. Thus I had to try out other ways to fix the battery to the frame.
It is necessary to fix the battery tightly to the frame, so that it does not jiggle around and drop off while riding. Using cable ties is not really possible as the battery mount has nowhere for the cable tie to loop through.
One day, the idea to use the FD adaptor clamp to fix the battery mount suddenly occurred to me. Using 2 adaptor clamps, there would be 2 X M4 holes for me to thread a bolt into. Since the external (short) battery mount uses M4 bolts to fix the battery mount, this solution is perfect!
Extra LitePro FD adaptor clamps that I have lying around. Once the "ear" for the FD is removed, I have a M4 threaded hole at the side of the clamp.
From what I see, there are only 2 suitable positions to fix the battery mount. One is to fix it on the rear of the seat tube. The other is to mount it on the top of the frame top tube. In the end the decision was to mount it on the top of the frame.
Mount behind seat tube? Difficult as the original FD clamp is in the way.
Using the 2 clamps on the top tube. The diameter of the top tube (~38mm) is slightly smaller than the seat tube (40mm external), thus 2 thin rubber strips were needed to make the clamp secure. Frames with non-cylindrical top tubes cannot use this mounting method.
Estimating the approximate positions for the clamps, using the battery mount.
Secure the clamps, and bolt on the battery mount!
Once the battery mount is settled, the most tricky part of the installation has been settled. Now it is time to fix on the other components.
The RD goes on with no issues. Standard RD hanger mounting.
FD is installed onto the previous FD adaptor. The crankset had already been changed to Ultegra previously, so the colour scheme matches well.
The metal tab that is provided together with the FD. As the FD has an extra screw to help support the FD during shifting, this tab is to be pasted onto the frame to prevent damage to the frame.
From the back, you can see the little screw sticking out from the FD, and it rests against the metal tab that is pasted on the frame.
Quick comparison of the Shimano 105 shifters and the Ultegra Di2 shifters.
The Ultegra Di2 shifters are smaller in girth and width as there is no internal shifting mechanism. This allows the hand to wrap around more of the shifter hood and give a better grip.
Installed the right shifter. The outer casing on top is the brake cable. The 2 wires (one leading to Junction A, the other coming in from the satellite shifter) will be neatly hidden under the bar tape.
The left shifter with only one electrical wire, as there is no satellite shifter.
The satellite shifter mounted on the flat part of the handlebar with cable ties.
Junction A clipped onto the rear brake housing with cable ties.
Quite a clean look as there are only 2 brake housings coming out from the handlebar. No more shifter cable housings!
The last part that needs to be fixed to the bike would be Junction B. This is the part that connects up everything (Junction A, battery, RD, FD). This is usually located around the BB area.
I got the internal type Junction B (originally designed to be located inside the frame), as it is small and easy to install anywhere. I found that the best location to put Junction B would be at the back of the seat tube. It would be protected from road spray (the system is waterproof anyway) and is relatively well hidden.
I used strong mounting tape to stick Junction B to the seat tube, and then used a cable tie to hold it against the frame. As long as the cable tie doesn't break, Junction B will not slip downwards. Even if the cable tie breaks, the mounting tape will hold it there (it is really sticky!). And if the mounting tape peels off from the frame, Junction B will not be going anywhere as it is held in place by the 4 wires connected to it.
How Junction B is fixed onto the frame
Using the sticker covers to align and hold the wires against the frame.
An overall view of the Junction B setup.
Once everything has been fixed in place, we can start tuning the RD and FD. There must not be slack wires hanging around as it will get snagged on the drivetrain.
Tuning this Ultegra Di2 RD is new to me. Unlike conventional mechanical RD, the limit screws are not set first. Rather, the indexing is done first. Start by shifting the RD to the 5th gear. At this point the RD guide pulley may not be aligned to the cassette's 5th gear at all. Press the button on Junction A to enter RD adjustment mode. Then, use the 2 buttons on the shifter to make minute movements to the RD. The aim is to line up the guide pulley with the 5th sprocket on the cassette. Once done, the indexing is set! The RD will shift to all 10 positions accurately. Lastly, tighten the low and high limit screws. These screws do not actually index the RD at the high or low limit, it just acts as a safeguard against overshifting in case the RD acts up.
Setting up the RD
Setting up the FD
Once the RD and FD are both set, you are good to go! More pictures of the complete bike below.
The battery and battery mount nicely installed on the frame
Ultegra Di2 RD. Remember to leave some slack for the wire at the RD area as the RD will rotate about the axle in different gears.
Can't really see the wires that are running down the back of the seat tube. The wire linking Junction A to B also runs neatly along the rear brake housing.
Overall view of the electronic shifting components
By default, the left button shifts to a higher gear, and the right button shifts to a lower gear. I plan to reprogram it to work the other way round.
Neat routing of the electrical cable, from Junction A (handlebar) to Junction B (behind seat tube)
Overall view of the Dahon Boardwalk with Ultegra Di2
Some people may want to know about the weight of this Di2 system. Compared to a conventional shifting system, would it be heavier because of the extra battery? To answer that question, I had weighed all the parts individually (even the wires) in order to do a weight comparison.
Weight comparison between mechanical and electronic (Ultegra Di2) shifting system:
Not a totally fair weight comparison, as the components are from a different series (105 vs Ultegra). But it indicates the weight difference for this upgrade for my bike.
Some people are worried that relying on battery power for shifting can give you problems if you run out of juice while out on a ride. However, the reality is that this is unlikely to happen unless you purposely choose to. First, the mileage on a single full battery is probably 1000 miles on average (number from other people's review), which will probably last me a few months. It also depends on how frequent you shift. Next, there are multiple warnings for battery life. Even if you let the battery run all the way down to zero, it is said to be able to shift 150 more times before it completely dies. So, you can only run out of battery power if you deliberately choose to ignore all the battery indicator warnings. Surely it is not difficult to charge it once every few months, when the battery life hits 50%?
Advantages of Ultegra Di2 over mechanical shifting system:
1) Effortless, no friction shifting. Pushing a button is so much easier than pushing the levers, especially when shifting gears frequently.
2) Multiple shifting positions possible with the use of satellite shifters.
3) No frequent adjustments required for FD and RD, as there is no inner cable stretch.
4) Smooth and fast gear engagement for both front and rear shifting.
5) Automatic front derailleur trimming, based on position of rear derailleur.
6) Weatherproof, as the system is fully sealed against water, and there are no moving cables that can be jammed up by dirt.
Of course, not everyone may like an electronic shifting system. Some may prefer the clicky feel of a mechanical drivetrain, whereas others may not even need to shift as they ride a fixie or single speed. But for someone who rides a multi-speed bike, having the Ultegra Di2 system is really fun and useful as it makes shifting so effortless that there is no thinking required. Just concentrate on the ride!
The next part of the Ultegra Di2 series is now up! Read up on how Ultegra Di2 can be reprogrammed and customized to suit your needs, and what new features it has after a firmware update.