New project: Switching to Glide

Box on wooden floor with legends 'Shimano GRX' and 'Di2' (the box, not the wooden floor)

I’ve been contemplating for some time a rather involved upgrade to Kuroko: replacing the drivetrain (already upgraded on more than one occasion) with Shimano’s GRX line, and the electronic Di2 version at that. There are several reasons behind the desire to upgrade, including the fact I’ve become addicted to making over bikes since I had so much fun resurrecting Ol’ Paint as Dionysus.

Apart from the expense of the change and the rather dramatic differences in the ways some things are attached to and run inside the bike frame, I’ve held off on the upgrade because there’s a global shortage of bicycle parts. The Di2 shifters, which contain the brains of the electronic shifting, were unavailable for months. Then I found them in a rather odd pairing, one shift lever and one brake caliper as a set, in R and L models, at about double the price I expected. Finally a third-party vendor started offering the pair of shifters on Amazon at about the expected price.

For a while I was sceptical. Why should this vendor have the shifters when no one else seems to? Meanwhile, Kuroko had been behaving well. But suddenly, on the last couple of rides, out of nowhere I suffered a return of the balky front shift lever. While I can work around this (and did on those occasions), I’d made up my mind. After reviewing the seller’s rating on Amazon and checking the item description a few more times, I took the plunge.

A pair of Shimano shift levers in the box
The triggers

The box arrived today while I was in the middle of some things for work, and then I left it sit for a while more. I was feeling superstitious about opening it. But finally things quieted down on the employment front and I got out the box cutter. The packaging looked genuine. The parts numbers and description all matched. I carefully lifted the lid and there they were (well, once I unwrapped the packaging): my new triggers.

The box included a number of accessories that weren’t mentioned in the description: the tool for plugging in the Di2 cabling, the hydraulic brake hose and fittings, and a bottle of Shimano hydraulic brake fluid. All unexpected bonuses. (The cabling tool is a cheap bit of plastic, and I expect I’ll have several before this project is done.)

After making a quick visual confirmation that everything was what it was supposed to be (the shifters, primarily), I gave the shift levers a few experimental taps. There’s just enough physical travel and a nice click at the end to make for ideal tactile feedback. It’s quite a change from the mechanical levers, where the motion and force required to move to a bigger gear is quite a bit larger — particularly for the chainrings.

Bike shifters, bottle of hydraulic oil and hydraulic brake cables in packaging
Included accessories

Next steps

Obviously, I need a few more things before I begin work on the upgrade: front and rear Di2 model derailleurs, hydraulic brake calipers, and the Di2 battery, cabling and junction boxes. I’ll also need some additional tools for hydraulic brake installation and to run the cabling through the bike frame. Fortunately these items have been in steady supply.

Once everything is in hand, I’ll spend a bit of time checking various fitting and cabling options before proceeding. Once I’ve begun the work, Kuroko will be unrideable until it’s done. This will also be the perfect opportunity to replace the handlebar tape, which has had a couple of tears in it for a while now. I’d considered a repaint job (this would be an ideal time), but decided I don’t want to hold up the process for that.

If everything goes smoothly (but when has that ever happened?) it should be a one-day job.

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