Shimano showcases the Ultegra Di2 electronic bike gears, we go for a ride

How much would you spend for an upgrade to smooth shifting on your next road bike? If $4,000 to $8,000 is in the ballpark, then a Shimano-powered electronic bike may be in your future. We took the cycling giant's latest gear for a spin in Central Park, drawing envious glances from various spandex-clad bikers during the ride. Outfitted with the company's newest Ultegra 6770 Di2 series of gears, the shifters gave us a taste of technology normally reserved for Tour de Francers -- at new, more affordable pricing. So what was it like to be the envy of cyclists everywhere? Jump past the break to find out.

Many aspiring Lance Armstrongs will tell you that the future of bike technology is all about electronic gear-shifting. Unlike the traditional lever shifter, the electronic variety uses a motorized derailleur to move the chain from cog to cog. Thought by many to be faster, smarter and easier to use than a regular shifter, the electronic version only requires the click of a mouse-like button. The handlebar controls move both the front and the rear gears, giving the rider enhanced control over the ride with minimal effort. The shifter is powered by a removable lithium ion battery, which requires a 90-minute charge every 1,250 miles or so.

Even an amateur bike rider will be able to feel the difference between Shimano electronic gears and those on a standard road bike. The super sensitive shifter only requires a light press to move the chain in the front or rear derailleur and find the perfect gear. There's no sticking or bumpy shifting, making the action smooth and effortless -- getting the shift right every time. Of course, moving between gears may not be that big of a deal for those of us used to a Huffy, but when it comes to winning triathlons and road races, a smooth shifter is one of the key components to copping a gold medal to compliment your Lycra bodysuit. Expect to see Shimano's new line of electronic gears in various bikes in the coming months.

Joe Pollicino contributed to this report.