Where is Shimano's 12 speed GRX Di2 group?

More than 6 months have now passed since Shimano introduced the mechanical shifting version of their new GRX 12 speed group. At the time, it was assumed that a Di2 electronic shifting version of the 12 speed GRX group would follow shortly, but that didn't happen. With Shimano's Dura-Ace, Ultegra, and 105 road groups now all firmly in the 12 speed Di2 "family", it is curious that GRX 12 speed Di2 never materialized. So what happened?

What could be driving a delay of the launch of GRX Di2 12 speed?

Excess inventory in the bicycle industry is not a big secret. Both manufacturers and bike shops are suffering from overproduction, too much unsold inventory, and lack of storage space. This issue is affecting parts and accessories, but also, and perhaps more importantly, complete bikes.

Shimano's largest customers are the bike brands who purchase components in bulk to outfit their complete bicycles. If everyone up and down the supply chain has too much unsold inventory, there isn't much urgency to introduce a new 12 speed GRX Di2 group - doing so would immediately obsolete the 11 speed GRX bikes sitting on bike shop floors and in warehouses. For that reason, Shimano might choose to delay the introduction of the GRX 12 speed Di2 group until they, and their dealers, sell through stock of GRX 11 speed Di2 parts and bikes.

GRX Di2 exists today, but it's 11 speed

If you're reading this thinking "doesn't GRX Di2 already exist?", you're correct. It's just that it exists only as part of the older, now obsolete 11 speed version of GRX. 

Notably, that means it uses the wired junction box at the handlebar or stem, and wires from the junction box to each derailleur - a setup hassle for sure!

Shimano's 12 speed Di2 Dura-Ace, Ultegra, and 105 groups, in contrast, use wireless connections between the shifters and derailleurs - a significant improvement - especially on modern aero bikes that attempt to route control cables internally through the handlebar and stem. Wireless means fewer cables to route. Among other features, that's one of the key changes I'm expecting to appear in a future 12 speed GRX Di2 group.

What features will likely be included in a future 12 speed GRX Di2 group?

It's very likely that the 12 speed GRX Di2 group will adopt some of the key features and capabilities of Shimano's newer groupsets, with the key influences being 1: the mechanical shifting version of GRX 12 speed and 2: Shimano's 12 speed Di2 road groups.

It is very likely we will see:

  • Wireless shifting - eliminating the need for the wired junction box at the handlebar/stem, and the requirement to route wires from the shifters through the frame
  • Internal seatpost battery, modeled after the version (possibily identical to) the type used on the Dura-Ace 12 speed Di2 group
  • Charging port at the rear derailleur: the modern 12 speed Di2 groups charge via a USB cable at the rear derailleur
  • A clutched rear derailleur. Currently, there is no Shimano Di2 road/gravel/cyclocross rear derailleur with a clutched design. A 12 speed GRX Di2 rear derailleur will certainly have this feature.
  • Read more about what's on my wishlist for GRX 12 speed Di2

Because 12 speed GRX mechanical is already on the market, it's certain that GRX 12 speed Di2 will: 

  • use the same cranksets as the mechanical group
  • use the same cassettes as the mechanical group

It wouldn't make sense for Shimano to break compatibility here. 12 speed GRX mechanical has already been on the market for so long, that 3rd-party options for chainrings from brands like Wolf Tooth are starting to appear! Those chainrings and other similar models, designed with GRX 12 speed mechanical in mind, will almost certainly work just fine on a future GRX 12 speed Di2 group also. 

When might a 12 speed GRX Di2 electronic shifting group actually be released?

I don't have any inside information, but if I had to gamble, I'd bet on Shimano releasing GRX 12 speed Di2 at one of the upcoming trade or industry shows coming up this Spring. 

In Europe, Eurobike is the dominant trade-only show; this year, it's July 3-7, 2024. Does that seem like a long time to wait?

If so, cross your fingers for the Sea Otter Classic in the United States, taking place April 18-21, 2024. The Sea Otter Classic has become the de-facto spot for new product introductions, since the demise of Interbike. With Sea Otter open to both the trade and the public, Sea Otter might be the first place for consumers to see a new Shimano GRX 12 speed Di2 group up close.

Finally, the UNBOUND Gravel has also been used by many brands for new product introductions. That one is May 30-June 2 this year. Given the entire reason for the existence of GRX is drop bar riding (cyclocross and gravel) the UNBOUND Gravel could be the perfect spot for a reveal of a new Di2 12 speed GRX group.

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