MB
I am in the process of doing a bike build for a gravel bike. I am wanting to see which way more people lean, mechanical or electronic groupsets? 
I have a triathlon bike with Di2 and is very nice having shifting on the brakes. All my other bikes are mechanical. I know how to work on both types very well so being out on a ride and having a problem is not an issue for me. 
Thank you to all who give there opinions.
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SWGraveler
I have been gravel riding for a bit less than 1 year; I started out with mechanical Ultegra but I just switched the bike to Ultegra Di2 and I am happy I did. I have 2 road bikes with Di2 and have been riding it there for 10+ years and I think it offers some real advantages. First, there is just less effort required to shift, especially with respect to front shifting. It may sound silly but over the course of a long ride I think it is relevant. It may be that because I have ridden only Di2 for so many years, but I really noticed the difference on long rides. I have the satellite/climbing switch on the tops of my bars and being able to shift while riding on the tops is really nice. I don't think there is anything transformative about Di2 but I think there are some nice benefits. Ultegra Di2 is just so good and realistically not that much more expensive.. I'd say go for Di2, especially if you are doing longer rides but that's just my $.02!
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nellborg
I have not used electronic but I hear that it really works well.  If I had a new road bike, I might consider it. 

But, I just bought a bunch of Ultregra mechanical components for my new gravel build.  I could have sprung for the Di2, but decided not to.  Having to charge the battery (even if every month or two), or simply think about how much charge the battery has left in it is something that I didn't want.  I can just barely cope with keeping my other charge-ables charged - phone, laptop, gps units, bluetooth speaker....  Another reason is that if I were to trash my Di2 rear derailleur in a crash or in sticky mud - which is pretty unlikely - I'd be looking at a very expensive replacement cost with electronic, and I didn't want that.  Lastly, mechanical works well enough for me.  
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MB
Something I am wondering about is if you have ever done a several day trip? Just wondering if your battery ever died. I know that the front derailleur takes the most out of a battery. Do you run 1x or 2x? What are your gear ratios? Also, what is your gravel bike, steel, aluminum, or carbon? I have been looking at a couple of steel bikes as well as a couple of carbon ones. Looking for mine to be a packer bike for long hauls or several day trips so looking at frames and forks that have a lot of bosses on them. 
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SWGraveler
Honestly, I just chuckle when folks express battery life anxiety as a reason to avoid Di2. I have been road riding with it since '09 and my biggest issue is that the battery life is so long that I totally forget about it because I split my road rides between 2 road bikes. I have checked it a few times and I average about 1350 miles of road riding per charge. That said, I am big gear pusher so I don't front shift much so I'm sure that would certainly shorten it a bit. It is easy to see the charge level and when it is below 25% it takes at most 45 mins to charge. As far as a long trip, you could easily charge up with any of the small portable battery packs that are cheap/common. Assuming you are going to have a phone with you, whatever works there will work for Di2 as it is just a usb charger.. Again, to me, the gains far outweigh the minor negatives. 

I guess "very expensive" is subjective; Ult Di2 RD's are readily available on Ebay, new, for $175.. Because Di2 RD's have a break-away feature, I would submit you are more likely to end up with frame damage with a mech RD if you were to ingest something but that's just my speculation.. There are not a lot of twigs lying around the Sonoran Desert so not a big concern for me haha..

My gravel bike is an Allied All Road so it is carbon with 2x with 52/34 and 11-28/34 depending upon the ride at hand. 52/34 is not a typo; it works great with Di2.
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ljsmith
I have no interest in electronic.  Especially since I ride 1x, shifting just isn’t that big of a problem.  I also do multi day rides and don’t want to have to carry a charger.  It’s hard enough on a multi day ride keeping my lights, gps and phone charged and having enough chargers for that.  One of the responses above says battery life is not an issue, so maybe it’s a low probability of a battery being low.  But honestly electronic shifting really isn’t of any benefit to me other than the “that’s cool” factor, so it’s not worth the small risk of running out of power.  Perhaps if I was the type of person who has to take my bike in to the lbs to adjust cable tension or derailleurs it might be a game changer.
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SWGraveler
Yet another aspect of Di2 that I find amusing; folks assume it is high maintenance. I have been riding for 30 years and have never had drivetrains that require so little attention as do my Di2 bikes. If you never want to go into the LBS again for minor stuff, then get Di2. Once it is adjusted, it just works. Yes, you can make adjustments, the equivalent of cable tension and you can do it on the fly. 

For the 3 mos or so that I had Ult 8000 mechanical on my Allied, I adjusted it more than I had my Di2 bikes in 10 years. I'm not an idiot, I used to work in a shop and know what I'm doing; I'm not a perfectionist either, I just like a reasonably quiet, reasonably consistent drivetrain. Granted, when new, mech drivetrains need some attention(Di2 doesn't) but it got to the point that my wife told me to just get Di2 so I could come in from the garage 🙂.
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Koyote
I'm currently have a new gravel bike built (from a custom frame), and went Di2. Between the components and the charge for porting the frame, it is an extra $1200. But it seems like a nice upgrade, and I am betting the future is electronic -- and I wanted the frame to be future-proof.

I have no experience with Di2, but -- from I have read and heard -- you'd have to be pretty careless to run out of battery, given how long it lasts. And it apparently requires less (not more) fiddling and adjustment than a mechanical system.
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SWGraveler
What frameset did you buy?

I just made a rule for myself of trying to remember to charge my battery at the beginning of even numbered months..

If you don't have the satellite shifters of some type do yourself a favor and add them; I really think they are one of the real benefits of Di2. I have the "climbing switch", maybe SW600, on the tops of mine. It is great being able to shift while riding along on the tops. They are very easy to add; they can plug into the A box if you have the 5 port or the extra ports on the shifters. Just plug them in and you'll be set, the system will recognize them immediately..

Let us know your thoughts after some rides..
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Koyote
SWGraveler wrote:
What frameset did you buy?

I just made a rule for myself of trying to remember to charge my battery at the beginning of even numbered months..

If you don't have the satellite shifters of some type do yourself a favor and add them; I really think they are one of the real benefits of Di2. I have the "climbing switch", maybe SW600, on the tops of mine. It is great being able to shift while riding along on the tops. They are very easy to add; they can plug into the A box if you have the 5 port or the extra ports on the shifters. Just plug them in and you'll be set, the system will recognize them immediately..

Let us know your thoughts after some rides..


I'm having a Gunnar Hyper XF built with custom geometry.

Thanks for the recommendation on the satellite shifters...I am kind of on the fence about those. There is a ton of climbing around here, so it would be useful. But does it interfere with an out-front computer mount? This is the one I use, and it must be mounted to the right of the stem - same place the climbing shifter would go:
https://www.amazon.com/Lezyne-GPS-Front-Mount-Black/dp/B00WKST5X8/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_3?crid=WKFM9WPSSLB5&keywords=lezyne+out+front+mount&qid=1552490913&s=gateway&sprefix=lezyne+out+front+%2Caps%2C148&sr=8-3-fkmrnull 
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MB
Have not bought anything yet but have been looking at the Bombtrack Hook EXT and Niner's RLT 9 Steel frames. Think I am going to steer clear of carbon cause I am not building this to go fast and I have an older Scott mountain bike that is aluminum. I am more of a road bike during the warmer months but then come fall and winter, I just want to play in the dirt. 

Never thought about the Shimano climber shifters. Even on my road bike I have my hands on the tops quite a bit. 
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