The promise of Zap was left unfulfilled by Mektronic. While many early adopters became instant and passionate fans, a few issues kept it from gaining the wide acceptance that would have been necessary to truly succeed. The first was a limited take up of chain slack by the rear derailleur due to the sliding post Mavic used to resist he tension created by chain torque as it initiated a shift. The narrow gear ranges most pros rode meant this was an issue they were unlikely to encounter, but the wider market certainly needed them and found a drop off in performance.
Another Mektronic issue directly related to the move to wireless
was the timing of shifts. They could take anywhere from . 5 to 2
seconds. There was no way for the rider to control this, and Mavic
had no fix. But perhaps the most interesting and slightly surreal
issue was the interference riders experienced from radar guns.
If your ride happened to take you by a highway patrol
speed trap you could expect your Mektronic to stop
functioning completely. Only once you had passed the
radar gun and reset the system could you expect it to
begin working again.
Shimano Di2, and presumably the new Campagnolo
electronic, learned an enormous amount from the initial work
Mavic did. The performance of Di2 is absolutely superlative,
and while it may have a few idiosyncrasies, a compelling
argument can be made that it is the pinnacle of shifting systems. It
would not be without the trailblazing work of Mavic.
Again, it is Zap’s premiere rider, Chris Boardman, that offers the
“I used the system for the entire eight years of my pro career and
was happy to do so. It’s worth noting though that no electronic
system today passes the performance test. Does this piece of
equipment actually make me any faster? Having said that, it
wasn’t a hindrance, so I was happy to use it.”
Mavic has never been a company to
shy away from a new idea. Whether
pioneering the aero bicycle wheel in
1973, developing the clincher rim, or
creating electronic shifting, Mavic has
continually pushed forward. This means
they occasionally end up answering
the question no one asked. Some of
the resulting products work and enter
the cycling mainstream and some are
lost to history, but all of them help
to move our sport forward. ]p[
Check out this early modification where you can
shift in the drops or on the tops. It’s not unlike what
we have seen with Di2 on the mountain bike side
and what many road riders are looking for with
future electronic developments.