The story behind Shimano’s XT Di2 Coming Out Party

Originally posted on December 7, 2016 at 11:16 am

The BC Bike Race is the ultimate proving ground for riders, bikes and gear. Charging through seven days of stages across British Columbia, racers push themselves and their equipment through tough times and tough terrain. Over the years, we’ve seen many broken bodies, bikes and spirits.

Shimano BC Bike Race
Photo credit: Marcus Riga

As an exciting stage to test its recently-released electronic XT Di2 grouppo, Shimano decided  BCBR would be the place to put the components through the wringer. It’s a bold move for a product line still in its infancy, but the results were overwhelmingly positive.

However, things don’t always go according to plan, and Shimano’s path to get the parts together and a team assembled is an interesting tale that illustrates how deeply committed some companies.

Shimano recently released its story around the trial-by-fire public debut of the XT Di2 drivetrain. We’ve selected some of the more interesting parts of this story, and have included them here. You’ll also be able to watch the video that Shimano has produced around the adventure.

“The BC Bike Race continues to prove to be a legit testing ground for companies like Shimano. Shimano sends engineers from Japan, heads of marketing from all over the world, and a variety of other people within the company to be a part of the event. From the Shimano Mechanical Support at aid stations to actually doing the race, Shimano has triangulated our observational positions to allow them to go home with hard data.”

Shimano BC Bike Race
Photo credit: Dave Silver

“A few months prior, while attending the launch of the new Deore XT Di2 release at the Sea Otter Classic a simple plan was set in motion. By the time BCBR kicked off, there would certainly be some limited pre-production XT Di2 that could outfit the Kona Adventure Team. What seemed like a simple plan suddenly turned into a scramble as three of the four Kona riders became unavailable to attend several weeks prior to BCBR’s start! On top of that, a last minute realization that the pre-production parts that were being counted on were not going to arrive in time for the start of BCBR. As with most well laid plans, this one suddenly required traveling down the alphabet to Plan B, C, and D.”

“With less than two weeks before day “0” of BCBR, a Hail Mary request was sent to the Rocky Mountain team – a strong supporter of the BCBR. To Joe’s [Lawwill] surprise Rocky Mountain’s resident Squamish shredder (and previous BCBR stage winner) Quinn Moberg jumped at the opportunity. Quinn was the only rider on the short list who had any experience on Di2. Both Cory and Spencer [Paxson] would be riding and trusting equipment they had never used. This is not how professional riders normally operate. Although Joe was confident in the parts, it’s their willingness to trust Shimano that really stands out.”

Shimano BC Bike Race
Photo credit: Dave Silver

“The plan from April had almost totally fallen apart, but was alive again! It might not have had all the original players involved, but it was a dream team of riders with three previous stage winners and two Olympic short list riders. In the last two days before go-time, Shimano Mechanical Support Ben Pye and Ryan Sweeney made magic happen and managed to collect all missing parts and get Quinn, Stephen and Spencer’s bikes together, as well as make sure Cory’s bike was dialed in and ready for the next seven days.

The rest of the week went as perfectly as was hoped. Cory, Spencer, Stephen, and Quinn went on to each win at least one stage each, and they finished the race in that order overall.”

You can read the entire story on Shimano’s web site, and you can learn more about the BC Bike Race here.

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