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New patent suggests Shimano is designing a fully wireless 13-speed electronic groupset

New patent suggests Shimano is designing a fully wireless 13-speed electronic groupset

Shimano has filed a patent showing plans for a fully wireless 13-speed groupset.

Patent US 11,975,800, first spotted by Instagram account Better Shifting and first reported by Bicycle Radar, shows several details that differ from the designs the Japanese brand uses for its current Di2 groupsets. This includes an image of a Di2 derailleur working with a 13-speed cassette, while the patent also indicates a move to fully wireless shifting with rechargeable batteries in both the front and rear derailleurs.

As with most patents, the technical language doesn’t say much and there’s no specific indication as to whether the designs are for a road or off-road group. However, the inclusion of a front derailleur in the plans indicates that it will be 2x, meaning it will likely be a new version of a road groupset, most likely Dura-Ace, although it could also be for gravel.

Patents are no guarantee of a future product, but if the plans come to fruition, it would be the first 13-speed electronic groupset.

Read more: Complete Guide to Road Bike Groups 2024

2x electronic group with 13 gears

Currently, Shimano’s road and gravel groupsets score best at 12 gears, but that could change. Figure 10 in the patent shows a Di2 derailleur – very similar to the current Dura-Ace model – working with a 13-speed cassette.

It would not only be a gear up for Shimano, but also the first 13-speed electronic groupset available. Like Shimano, SRAM’s road and gravel groupsets make the most of 12 gears. We recently saw a new version of its high-performance Red AXS group at the Giro d’Italia, which still had 12 gears, suggesting the American brand won’t be moving higher anytime soon. Campagnolo has created a 13-speed shift through its gravel Ekar group, but it is a mechanical group and not electronic.

Read more: New SRAM Red AXS group, not yet released but in force during the Giro d’Italia

While the similarity to the current Dura-Ace derailleur suggests a 13-speed group could be on the way, Figure 29 shows a clutch derailleur. These are used by Shimano for its gravel and mountain bike groupsets, so the plans in the patent can be used across Shimano’s road and off-road offerings.

Completely wireless

Until now, Shimano has stuck with semi-wireless shifting for its electronic groupsets. It is the only one of the three major groupset brands to still use the system, unlike the fully wireless setups used by SRAM and Campagnolo. SRAM’s groupsets have been completely wireless for a while, but Campagnolo only joined the bandwagon last year with the release of its first fully wireless groupset, Super Record EPS.

Shimano may soon join them, as the rear derailleur is home to what Shimano describes as a “power source,” meaning a battery. Currently, the batteries of Di2 groupsets are housed in the frame and connected via a wire, hence the semi-wireless name. Plans for what appears to be the battery are shown in Figure 41, along with a charger in Figure 40. Based on the images, it appears as if the battery is removable.

Plans for the front derailleur also include space for a ‘power source’, which the patent says would be located between points 30X and 30Y in Figure 47. The patent also says the system ‘may include the electric front derailleur’, suggesting this won’t the case is. It is not necessary and a 1x variation is also being worked on.

While the 13-speed elements described in the patent are a new development, the fully wireless designs aren’t much of a surprise, as Shimano has already filed patents for similar designs this year.

The patent doesn’t give a timetable for when we’ll be able to see the designs in action and there’s no guarantee this will ever happen. However, it’s safe to assume that if they do, the designs will likely debut on Shimano’s top groupsets, most likely Dura-Ace, which was last updated in 2021. That came five years after it was last updated , although that’s the four-year release cycle that’s more commonly followed.

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