Shimano adds computer control to Dura Ace Di2 levers

Shimano Dura Ace Di2 shift levers will soon be able to control Garmin, Magellan, and PRO cycling computers

Shimano Dura Ace Di2 shift levers will soon be able to control Garmin, Magellan, and PRO cycling computers.

The Dura Ace shifters have a small button on the top of each hood that, until now, had no function. But with the addition of Shimano’s D-Fly unit, a transmitter that plugs into the Di2 wiring system, those buttons will be able to send a signal to compatible computers to perform basic functions like scrolling through screens.

The transmitter was introduced in early 2014 after VeloNews spotted it on European test bikes. It is sold for $80.

The D-Fly protocol is open, and computer or GPS manufacturers simply need to update their firmware to accept and translate the incoming transmissions.

“Computers will include Garmin and Magellan” Shimano’s Nick Legan told VeloNews via email. “It is up to the computer manufacturers to produce firmware updates to make it compatible, but both Garmin and Magellan are on board. The functionality may also vary by manufacturer, that is, what occurs with each button click.”

Shimano has had a similar system before, called Flight Deck, but it only controlled a Shimano computer and had to be wired to the computer mount. The modern buttons, in concert with the D-Fly transmitter, could also be used with other cycling apps, as start/stop buttons for example, or with a trainer as a means to increase or decrease resistance.

Shimano is clearly intent on leveraging the digital side of Di2. The D-Fly unit can also send gear selection information to a cycling computer. It is part of a wider wireless system that includes Shimano’s WiFi-enabled Sport Camera.

The previously functionless Di2 buttons have been something of a mystery since they were introduced in 2012. VeloNews contributor Ryan Newill had an idea for them we rather like, though is unlikely to be instituted.

“I wanted it to be a garage door opener,” he said.