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After deciding to hang-up the road bike after a nasty accident while riding involving an SUV, I've decided to get a cross bike and more or less limit my riding to mixed trails. Cross racing is also a possibility in the future. My road bike frameset was destroyed in the crash, but the Shimano Di2 (electronic) groupset came through mostly unscathed. My question is whether or not Di2 is overkill for cross (with future racing in mind). I'm not sure how well it would do with the dust and mud, but did read recently that some of the pros in Europe are starting to run Di2. I also realize that I'll have to change the crankset to something for cross-friendly. The other option is to try and sell the Di2 components, which probably will pay for a new groupset, wheels and then some!

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First - who says you'll "have" to change the crankset or chainrings? Yes, it would make it easier on the knees on certain terrain, but you and your fitness should be the judge of that before dropping a bunch of cash on an whole equipment change. I used to ride a full 53/39 on my commuter cross bike in the Marin headlands and while some days it really sucked, I made it happen.

As you may have heard/read, non-standard matched chainrings can really reduce the Di2 effectiveness, but I'm no shimano rep so you should speak with a well educated shop or directly to one of their tech reps. Even if it doesn't work great, it should still work better that most, and you'll definitely win any bling contests at the local ride (you'd better bring the heat though with that on a bike).

I think it is simple - go for it, put as large a rear cog as will work with your rear der. and Di2, and go have fun (pronounced "act like a kid again and ride through puddles as fast as possible while giggling, falling, and looking forward to the next lap" - see my photo from a ride a couple days ago). You're newish to the whole "riding trails on an obviously underdesigned bike" thing, and as hard as it may be to believe, you may not enjoy it. I have a feeling you will, so for now, keep it simple, shake off the bad juju from the Stupendously Unnecessary Vehicle incident, and next year you can tear it up on a brand new cross bike with your choice of equipment from the insurance claim.
Ha!!! "Stupendously Unnecessary Vehicle". I love it! Hey, thanks for the advice. Before the accident, I had ordered a compact DA crankset (50/34), which has yet to arrive. I was going to ship it back, but on second thought, maybe I should just make use of it.
There are plenty of chainring options for both standard and compact bolt diameters. I run a 46-38, standard BCD on my race bike - and this setup looks like it's similar, maybe 48-39? http://velonews.com/photo/99009

Compact would allow even more flexibility on the small ring.

Bradley Wiggins is also using Di2 with the O.Symetrics rings... if it can handle that...
Di2 makes a lot of sense for cross. No cables to get clogged with mud or go out of adjustment.

Just swap the outer with a 46. Shimano has made a few prototype 46t 7900 rings but it will probably be next year until us regular folk can get our hands on one.
I've been in love with Di2 since I demo'd it at Interbike. Wish I could justify that purchase but there are at least 17,000 things ahead of it on the priority list. I'm think it would be great in 'cross with all the shifting I do. I am curious to see what the pros think of it after a season of 'cross, see if it holds up. Give it a go and let us know how it works out.
Overkill is the wrong word, it would be more wasteful. Just remember that cross eats nice bike parts. It would be sweet to run Di2 on a cs bike, but I would feel guilty wrecking such a nice group, because parts on my cx bike seem to live short happy lives, followed by quick and painful deaths. You'll probably get back on the road at some point, so maybe hang onto that group or sell it. I was hit by a taxi in Manhattan a few years back, and had some major injuries. I was a little shy about climbing back on my road bike, but after a while you get used to it again. Just think you'll have somehot Di2 action to look forward to.
Many thanks for all the replies! I was going to just make use of the Di2, since I have it. However, Michael Dolan's point about the life span of components in relation to cross has me hesitating a bit. Decisions, decisions . .
since you're swearing off riding on the road, use it! do it! life is short...rings, cogs are replacable but shifters should last, and if not, maybe shimano will replace it. or, better yet, donate it to the mag for true testing! hah!

you can be sure we'll put the beat down on it for everyone else's benefit.

If you saw one of our past polls, the fact that most people think the down shift is more critical than the upshift makes di2 pretty compelling, IMHO.

let us know what you decide. we could do a trade...
Running Di2 would be a total waste in cross. The lifespan of components in cyclocross is horribly short. I would sell the Di2 to someone who can use the parts for years of great road riding, then buy a sram force or red groupset. Sram force or red is great because it cleans up better than shimano, If you have Di2 it won't break the bank, and with sram there is a way to take apart the shifters and clean them out.

Sram shifter lifespan is way longer than shimano for cyclocross.
All great points, Zach. I'm just wondering if the assumption that Di2 is somehow more or less susceptible to dirt is true, or if it is just assumed, since only a few of the European pros are riding the groupset. Everything is supposedly sealed against moisture, yada, yada. I suppose the only way to tell is to actually find someone who has used it for cross, or use it myself.
Zach, while SRAM shifter lifespan may be longer than STI levers for 'cross, one might think that the non-mechanical nature of Di2 eliminates that argument, no? He was asking about Di2...Electronic means no springs, ratchets and 100s of moving parts that might cause failure in a sand-filled STI lever.
If you race cross you will know that things break. $900 to replace an electronic rear derailleur that will most likely be broken by the end of the season.

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