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

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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.

Gallery: Shimano Di2 electric bike shifter | 33 Photos


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.

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