Every time I mention brake by wire, throttle by wire or anything by wire, there’s a contingent of voices that just can’t get their heads around the change. Here is another sign of control by wire in a place I wouldn’t have thought about, bicycles. Shimano has introduced their full electronic shift by wire system for road bicycles. The derailleur is controlled by a stepper motor to precisely position itself for each gear change. There is a wiring harness to connect it with the gear shift which takes the slightest touch to execute the move. It’s powered by a lithium-ion battery (isn’t everything?) which will last 1000 km between charges. Everyone who has used it raves about how well it works and, predictably, some purists can’t stand the idea.
If electronic shifting is entering the relatively lower cost (but sometimes still pricey) mechanical world of bicycles, motorcycle “by wire” controls of all sorts will soon be with us on bikes in every price range, after all, electronics continually go down in price once volume goes up so expect it soon on the bargain basement entry level scooter as well as the high end touring bikes, though it will probably be coming on the higher end first. Of course, as electric motorcycles start to enter the market in greater numbers, what better place to go all electric in the control systems, too?
Harley Davidson is introducing electronic throttle control on their 2009 touring bikes and Honda has a new electronic control combined ABS system for super sport motorcycles. It won’t stop there, it will filter down through the entire range.
Put away the cable lube and get out your voltmeter. Change is coming, you might as well get used to it.
Link: Wired Magazine