Wired Magazine (of all mags) has tweeted an article that takes the first look at Shimano's Alfine Di2 Internal Electronic Shifting System designed for 'city' bikes.
The internally geared hub is controlled by electronic shifter via wires running through the tubes for a slick, neat look. It all works smoothly, swiftly and intuitively, and the flat black finish looks sharp.
The Alfine Di2 was designed for city bikes. Bicycles sporting the system will feature wires running from the mountain- or road-style shifter through the downtube and chainstay to the hub. A battery, mounted in the seat post or on the downtube, provides juice to the shifter, hub and a small bar-mounted display that indicates what gear you’re in and how much battery is left. When the battery runs low, simply plug the bike in.
The Alfine line always has offered an 8-speed internal hub, and the Di2 adds an 11-speed option. We found it offers more than enough gears for even the hilliest commute. But the real attraction is the simplicity, with no derailleur to dangle next to your wheel and get bashed on stuff, constantly needing adjustment.
Read the review and see a few pics: http://www.wired.com/playbook/2012/03/shimano-alfine-di2/
I rode a 7 speed hub geared bike recently it was quite nice.
Personally if you are not a mechanical person and just want a reliable bike for transport hub gears are worth considering.
That is fantastic!
I think I must be missing something. My father-in-law has a pushbike that is basically a flat bar road bike (a bit more upright and the frame is heavier with bigger wheels) and it has a 8 speed mechanical hub.
What is the advantage of having electrical gears over a mechanical hub? Is it lighter? Bigger range?
Di2 control/power wire never gets full of dirt and can route around tight corners. I can certainly see applications where it'd be preferable to the cable version.
I have an Alfine 11 speed. Its a really good hub. Can't notice any drag or problems. I wouldn't mind electronic shifting as I may then be able to install a full chain case. I've hacked various bits and pieces, but its really hard to get anything to fit and the rear shifting mechanism is the hardest part to enclose.
Im vaguley thinkibng of this as for an option for my Vapour MTB. No real reason other then its time for a project and this could be cool.