Ultegra Di2 vs Force etap

Hi guys,

I’ve been contemplating upgrade to electronic group set and facing this dilemma.

Option 1 - keep the current bike (Defy Pro 1 2019) and going with Force etap - would be cheaper approx. 1k€, would be able to run 33/36 ratio, reportedly slower shifting

Option 2 - would be the new bike with Ultegra Di2 12spd (Canyon Endurace) - pros: new bike, very latest from Shimano, ton of positive feedback as new Ultegra goes; cons being inability to go beyond 34/34 ratio plus being more expensive.

Feedback, opinions, subjective/objective - all more than welcome and highly appreciated.

Many thanks
Alen

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I suspect you could get the new 105 12s 11-36 cassette to work with the Ultegra RD. Of course, nobody has any of each item in hand to test, so we won’t know how well or if it works. Historically, the consensus appears to be that pushing Shimano RDs 2t outside their max spec is safe.

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Force (AXS) pros: gearing ratios make great sense (especially if you need a lower than 1:1 ratio), excellent shift logic (especially in gloves), very clean look and easy installation, modular system so you can have the bits you want from each range/ecosystem, app is excellent and intuitive with seamless wireless updates, rear shifting is great, ability to carry a spare battery is reassuring to some.

AXS cons: FD is very pernickety to setup and chain drops can be a problem, disc rotors a bit prone to rub and squeal, DOT fluid is overkill and nasty stuff, a bit heavy, ‘industrial’ aesthetic not to everyone’s taste

I’d add that while the shifting is a bit slower than Di2, it’s not a problem and you’d only notice riding them back to back.

UDi2 (12sp) pros: absolutely superb shifting (especially up front), very little brake rub or squeal, mineral oil in brakes is sensible, utterly reliable

Cons: very long reach on the hoods, buttons are still a bit small/close together for some, app still not intuitive, that you need to wire the system for updates is annoying.

If I could guarantee an AXS system where FD issues were guaranteed not to be a problem, that’s what I’d go for, especially in your situation, but Di2 is just the best at its core job.

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I just got a Canyon Endurace with Force eTap, and though I can’t compare it to Di2, I cannot imagine the situation where the shifting speed, if slightly slower, in any way makes the slightest difference to your enjoyment of your ride. I’m not sure it is significant enough to put in the con column. But a new Endurace is a great bike, so to me you couldn’t go wrong either way.

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If your near the bike shop doing the install, I would save the cash and go with force. Once it’s set up properly it will never drop a chain, but a mm either way can make all the difference. Having wider gearing is also way more important than shift speed (at least to me).

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Thanks for the feedback so far :pray:t2:
Yep it’s a bit hard to swallow the price differential, despite Shimano route being a bit more atttactive to be honest.
FD issues seems to be quite frequent issue, but range a ability to go below 1:1 would be helpful on certain rides.
I also haven’t heard anything bad about Endurace, though I’m really happy with the Defy - geometry is actually quite close.

Ultegra di2 is superb. I haven’t tried the latest sram, but have tried the older sram red and i prefer the shimano option.

Others have covered it well above but id point out one other difference. The shimano has a big battery that powers front and rear rd. I charge it once every now and then. By comparison the sram required much more regular charging. And id find the sram batteries will go flat after cold weather in Melbourne. Usually qbout 5km into a ride.

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Absolutely spot on Mintaerobars. Totally agree

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In order to help you, maybe you can tell us which problem you plan to solve by going electronic?

That’s true; Chorus offers a 48/32 up front and GRX offers 48/31 (iirc). Both cut a bit off the top end tbf but for most recreational riders that’s not an issue.

Having said that, mech vs electronic is a slightly different topic and not really germane to the OP’s question.

Left field suggestion: 1x AXS XPLR. 42t up front, 10-44 at the back. You lose the AXS FD potential issues (but do get some quite big jumps as your payback)

Having said that, mech vs electronic is a slightly different topic and not really germane to the OP’s question.

That was not my question. But the requirements are not the same depending on the reason for the switch.

It can be for ergonomic reasons, for better/faster front ring shift, it can be for aero, both sram and shimano options have pros and cons in term of ergonomy, battery life, cable routing or absence of it, etc.

I think it is important to answer those questions before justifying waste production and pollution.

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might not be a factor for you, but i really like the extra buttons that shimano offers (ultegra/DA) in the hoods. i’ve configured them to switch pages on my headunit and it’s been very helpful if i want to switch the pages from a data only screen to one with maps.

not really that big of a deal, but on a descent it’s very helpful in that i don’t have to take my hands off the handlebar to get to the map page (especially when i’m doing a route i’m not used to).

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Again many thanks for the feedback.
Will try to answer some of the questions raised :slight_smile:
Going electric is primarily for ergonomics/ease of use which both groups deliver.
Range is a bonus - I’m quite fine with 1-1 ratio for 99% of the hills I do.
No prefrence in terms of systems as battery is concerned - etap would be option for existing bike, so easier install is welcome. Di2 would come with new bike so install is not an issue.
I would be annoyed by falling chain on the sram - but again might no happen.
I assume it boils down mainly to the quesion id you would see Di2 worth 1k more (I know it’s subjective) - if the price was the same, I would go Di2 way for sure.

You’re not comparing apples with apples here IMHO. Option 2 gets you a new bike on top of an electronic groupset.
Main question should be: do you need / want the new bike ? Would you keep the existing bike if you get a new bike or sell it to offset the cost ? Do you have use of 2 different bikes (not sure as an Endurace is quite similar to a Defy, as long as both fit you well) ?

Absolutely true - not comparing apples and apples - I would sell the bike, keep only one, Defy fits well, Endurace should be quite similar.

I have both of the options except that my Di2 Ultegra is 11 speed but SRAM Force AXS Etap and Eagle AXS XX1 (on a MTB, of course). I started in Di2 over 10 years ago and switched to SRAM recently for a number of reasons- I like the shifting ergonomics better (button size, etc), WAY easier to setup without wires (this may change with the new Shimano except it still has some wires and a battery in the seatpost), I like the smaller, easily accessible, batteries, wider gearing range, and lower cost. Also, Shimano annoys me by introducing new “standards” just to be different. LIke why is there Microspline when XD and XDR were already there and were perfectly fine? It just makes swapping wheels harder. Any miniscule difference in functionality is not worth having two standards.

On the cons- I don’t think that mineral oil vs DOT makes any difference. I have both now and they both need bleeding about the same as often. However, I hate Shimano bleeding compared to SRAM- the hose at the caliper is much more likely to come off, the gravity bleeding step and the open funnel are much more likely to accidentally dump fluid all over the place. The SRAM method is solid and I don’t make as much of a mess. Front shifting- I have dropped chains on Ultegra Di2 and not on SRAM (yet). Both require careful FD adjustment to not drop chains, get fast shifting, and not get rubbing. That said, Shimano shifts the front a bit faster but it doesn’t matter to me. Shift speeds may be different between the two but it is not enough for me to notice or to make any difference.

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I’ve been riding Di2 for 10 years. I have a couple bikes with 11sp Di2 (Ultegra and DA). My new Specialized Aethos though has SRAM Force Etap AXS, as does my Diverge (1x). Overall I prefer the SRAM. The hoods fit my hand better, reach and contact point adjustable, the buttons are way better. Shifting speed in practice – both are great. Shimano a tiny bit faster but you only notice after riding back to back. SRAM speed is excellent, Shimano microseconds faster. I was dropping the chain occasionally but took it to the shop which has an excellent mechanic. He adjusted the FD and now it shifts great and no dropped chains in the past 9 months. I much prefer the battery setup of the SRAM.

SRAM is also way better for traveling with the bike by air. You’re not supposed to have a battery in your luggage but with Di2 it’s practically impossible to remove. Once, traveling to Europe I was hugely hassled by customs in Italy about the battery. Initially they were not going to let the bike in. I managed to convince them but it was not fun. With SRAM I disconnect the batteries and put in carryon.

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Bang on Mintaorobars. To the extent I’ve used both Ultegra Di2 and SRAM eTap Red, these were exactly the pros/cons I experienced.

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A point to consider if the OP ride a lot in the winter with gloves, sram etap will be ergonomically much better than di2.