Tech Corner #5: Electronic Shifting


Gravel bike 1x drivetrain Thesis OB1

Are state of the art electronic groupsets actually better than tried and true mechanical shifting? This week, Randall discusses pros and cons of electronic shifting you should consider before buying your next bike.

This is Tech Corner, a mini-series we're doing with The Gravel Ride Podcast, garnered from Randall's 18 years as a mechanic, racer, product developer, and industry insider. Tune in at the beginning of every episode to catch Randall's 60 second tech tips.




Randall: Thank you Craig.

These days electronic shifting is receiving quite a bit of hype, but is it actually better? 

To figure that out, let’s pretend that electronic shifting came first and a mechanical alternative was just invented. What benefits would the marketers be claiming?

A big one would be the lack of batteries to charge or have die in the middle of a ride. Another would be improved serviceability. Shift quality would remain similarly excellent assuming proper setup and cable routing, and this would especially be true for 1x setups. Weights would remain similar as well. And finally, all of these benefits would come at a radically lower cost.

In such a world, why might a rider choose electronic shifting? Well, with a motor doing the work of shifting gears, action at the lever can be near effortless. This can be helpful to those with small hands, or arthritis, or simply for those who prefer a lighter feel. For 2x drivetrains where the front derailleur tends to be the source of most problems, electronic systems can use software to prevent cross-chaining and automate the skill of shifting smoothly between chainrings, making that experience super easy.

As for me, for now at least, I’m sticking with 1x mechanical for its simplicity, reliability, and serviceability.

And with that, back to Craig and this week’s guest.


The Gravel Ride Podcast features conversations with the athletes, product designers, and iconoclasts who are most influential in the growing world of gravel cycling today.  You can follow The Gravel Ride Podcast on their websiteFacebook, and Instagram.  Join us again for the next episode.