Why Bart Haynes Switched to Electronic Shifters?

Another question from an acquaintance who I sometimes ride with, who was a bit surprised that invested in electronic shifters. Why did Bart Haynes upgrade to electronic shifters?

Well, I’ll say this, electronic shifters are not for everyone. They should be the icing on the top of your top-tier bike. They should be the extra bike hardware that you don’t need, but that won’t hurt performance and won’t hurt your pocket book.

When I say, “not hurt your pocket book,” I simply mean that you have extra budget for your bike and don’t quite know where to put it. I would say there are really five considerations you should make before deciding whether or not to switch to electronic shifters.

Here are the five things you should be able to say to yourself before buying them.

1 – I have a new bike that would benefit from electronic shifters

Electronic shifters are not for every bike. Unless you have a fairly new frame – a fairly nice, lightweight frame – your money would be much better spent on upgrading your frame. Electronic shifters are really only meant for frames:

  • With new technology
  • Carbon fiber (in most cases)
  • Not much older than 5 years

If your bike doesn’t fall into one of these categories, you would get much better “hardware” to increase your cycling performance by investing in an upgraded frame than electronic shifters.

2 – I have the budget for electronic shifters

As said, electronic shifters are expensive. Expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000. There are several conditions that would allow for this kind of budget:

  • You have a high enough income where dropping this kind of cash will not “hurt”
  • You have a dedicated budget to your bike and these shifters are within budget
  • You have extra cash and want to buy yourself a nice present

If you are going to have to struggle to get these shifters, such as by taking a loan (i.e., paying with credit card or financing them), I just can’t say they are worth it at all. As I said, these are the icing on the cake. They are fun to have on your bike. But they are not worth making dubious financial moves for. Period.

3 – I was tired of adjusting my drivetrain

Once electronic shifters are adjusted on your bike, you don’t need to tinker with them anymore – they are the “solid state hard drive” version of shifters. For those of you out there who are riding a lot, or riding on rough roads, the “solid state” of electronic shifters is a major incentive to invest.

For me, I was so tired of tinkering and adjusting my drive train or taking my bike in to have it tuned up and adjusted. I estimated that I was spending about $600 per year just to take my bike in just to get the drive train adjusted. In addition, this means driving it to my bike store, waiting for the bike, and picking it up – so $600 plus the hassle of dealing with it.

I could and sometimes do adjust it myself, but I’m not a professional bike mechanic. In short, not having to worry about adjusting it myself, take it in, or spend money on it anymore was a huge selling point for me. In the end, if I spend an extra $600 dollars this year to not have to worry about dealing with it, that’s well worth it to me.

4 – I’m a little crazy about bike weight and performance

I ride enough that I am obsessive about weight. In the same way that riders will religiously take their water bottles off their bike and put it in their back pocket when doing hill climbs, getting electronic shifters adheres to this same mentality.

How many ounces did I shave off by getting electronic shifters? I don’t know, probably not much. Cables can’t weigh much, but it’s still just one way of reducing weight. If weight is really really important to you, then see if electronic shifters are a good fit for you.

Secondly, they shift faster than cable shifters. As in, once you try them out, going back to manual shifters is sort of like going from a driving a Ducati to a golf cart. In short, they are fun, and very convenient, and they are definitely a step up in hardware performance improvement.

5 – I want something completely dependable

Last but not least, electronic shifters are immensely reliable. The batteries last forever, and as long as you check them every now and then:

  • They will almost never fail
  • They shift almost instantly

As a Veteran rider, I’ve had my fair share of:

  • Cable snapping during ride
  • Cable coming loose during ride
  • Pressing my shifter and have frustrating delay before shift

With electronic shifters, you don’t have to worry about this.