Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Journey of the Boardwalk: Part 42 - Installing 11 Speed Ultegra Di2

It is now time to upgrade the Dahon Boardwalk to 11 speeds! As shown in the previous post, all the components for Ultegra 11 speed Di2 have been prepared and are now ready to be installed on the bike.

Before that, it is necessary to update all the firmware on the different components, so that they all have the latest firmware version in order to function properly as an 11 speed system. Also, we need to check the compatibility of all the different Di2 components. Although the E-Tube system has already allowed a wide variety of Di2 components to be used with each other, we still need to check compatibility. A compatibility table from Shimano has been provided below for checking of Di2 compatibility.

Compatibility table for a Road Di2 setup

As shown from the table above, I can only have one Junction A for the Di2 system. If you remember, for my current setup (10 speed Ultegra Di2), I actually have both the Ultegra 6770 Junction A (EW67) and the Alfine Di2 digital gear display (SC-S705) installed on the Dahon Boardwalk.

In the older firmware versions, this was an unofficial setup that just happened to work. Although it was sometimes buggy (display did not turn on sometimes), it worked pretty well as it gave a nice gear display. Under the latest firmware version, this would count as two Junction A and will not work.

For this 11 speed setup, I will need to update the firmware for the whole Di2 system. This would cause the old setup to stop working, as there will be two Junction A in the system. This means that I have to remove one of the Junction A.

Although the Alfine Di2 gear display is more useful, I have to use the EW67 Junction A as it has the two wires that are necessary to connect to the two road Di2 shifters. The Alfine Di2 gear display only has one input and one output and thus is not compatible with two Di2 shifters.

Current 10 speed Di2 setup, with the Alfine Di2 gear display mounted on the centre of the handlebar

Current setup, with the Garmin Edge 510 and Shimano Sport Camera mounted out front

Before I can update the firmware on the bike, I will need to wire up the entire system, so that I can update the whole system together. As I will continue to use the Ultegra 6770 Di2 shifters and the existing Di2 wiring which are already on the bike, this means that I will need to install the new 11 speed components onto the bike, before I update all the Di2 components at one go.

First, the old 10 speed Ultegra components are removed from the bike. This includes the 10 speed Ultegra 6770 Di2 RD, FD, chain and crankset.

RD, FD, chain and crankset removed from the bike

This Chris King R45 rear hub is 11 speed compatible, but because a 10 speed Shimano road cassette was installed, 2 spacers (1.85mm + 1mm) were on the freehub body.

The 11 speed Dura-Ace 9000 11-25T cassette will go straight onto the Chris King rear hub. No spacers required.

While installing the 11 speed Ultegra Di2 FD, I had an unexpected problem with the axle of the FD rubbing the LitePro FD adapter. This would sometimes prevent the FD from moving smoothly as the axle is too close to the adapter.

Axle of FD is rubbing against the FD adapter

I tried the FD adapter from another brand. Similar design, but it has just a little bit more clearance from the axle on the FD.

Ultegra Di2 FD installed onto the bike, with the new FD adapter. Small clearance between the axle on the FD and the adapter arm.

With the new 11 speed Ultegra Di2 RD and FD installed on the bike. After wiring up all the components, I can now update the firmware for the whole Di2 system.

Connected the Di2 system to the PC Linkage Device, which is then connected to the computer.

Before updating the individual components, the battery mount will automatically be updated first. For more information on updating the Di2 firmware, refer to this earlier post.

Next, the individual components will be identified, and those that need to be updated will be highlighted in yellow. Basically everything needs to be updated as it has been more than 2 years since I last updated the firmware.

All the Di2 components being updated one by one with the latest firmware

Glad to see that after all the updating is done, all the components are working normally! It is now possible to shift the new 11 speed Di2 RD and FD with the older Ultegra 6770 shifters. Another benefit of the new 11 speed Ultegra FD is that I can adjust the shifting stroke of the FD, similar to adjusting the cable tension of the FD inner cable. It was not possible to adjust this for the previous generation of Ultegra 6770 Di2 FD.

New Ultegra 6870 11 speed Di2 FD mounted on the bike. Looks much smaller than the previous Ultegra 6770 version! Wire exit is also nicely hidden at the rear.

Shiny new Ultegra 6870 11 speed Di2 RD. Also much smaller in size than the previous Ultegra 6770 10 speed version.

11 speed cassette, with a 11-25T cassette combination.

Ultegra 6800 compact crankset, 50/34T chainrings, taken from the Merida Scultura 5000.

A new 11 speed chain needs to be used for this new 11 speed drivetrain. The gear combination has also been changed from a largest combination of 53 front/27 rear to 50 front/25 rear, which means a shorter chain can be used.

The new Ultegra 6800/6870 drivetrain! With the 4 arm Ultegra crankset and the new 11 speed Ultegra Di2 RD and FD. Shifters are still the same Ultegra 6770 Di2 shifters, reprogrammed for 11 speed components.

Full view of the newly upgraded 11 speed Ultegra Di2 Dahon Boardwalk! 

It is great to finally complete upgrading the Dahon Boardwalk with the new 11 speed Ultegra Di2 components. Functionally speaking, there is no big difference in shifting performance between the 10 speed and the 11 speed Ultegra Di2 components.

However, from an aesthetic point of view, the smaller Ultegra 6870 RD and FD is a big difference from the bulky Ultegra 6770 RD and FD. Also, the 4 arm crankset gives a different image from the older 5 arm crankset design.

Most importantly, this latest upgrade frees up the 10 speed Ultegra 6770 RD and FD for another bike, another project!


  1. Hi Steve! Thanks for your blog! I have learnt a lot from it.
    I'm in the process of upgrading my Crius Velocity to an Ultegra setup. Do you think 11 speed groupset is worth the trouble? I'm thinking that it may limit the choices of wheelsets.

    1. Most new wheelsets are already 11 speed compatible. If going for drop bar setup, 11 speeds is better due to better shifters and fd. If flat handlebar, 10 or 11 speeds are similar.

    2. Thanks Steve! I had gone and bought an 11 speed wheelset just to be more future proof.
      I also chanced upon an 11-speed flatbar shifter at a great price of $85 or $95 from bike settlement, so I went ahead and ordered the rest of the 11 speed parts from CRC.
      thanks again!

  2. Hi Steve,
    Where did you buy the Di2 Wireless Unit SM-EWW01? Did you buy it online or at local bike shop?

    1. You can get it at a local Shimano dealer, such as at Hup Leong.

  3. Hi
    Would it be possible for you to take very detailed di2 front deraileur mechanism measurements? Total height, width, depth, measuring from seat tube and biggest chainring. And at any other possible imaginable angle and distance.
    I would be very greatful, as I was not able to find an examples of di2 system in local retai shops - so no on the spot fitment available.
    Im trying to figure out if it would fit on my bike (dahon mu frame copy). On this frame ive got only some 50-60mm spare after installing 105 53-39 chainring.

    1. If it is a Dahon MU frame, the older larger fd 6770 will fit. If you are using the newer fd 6870, even better as it is smaller.


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