For many Shimano’s Alfine gear hub system is a fantastically simple, effective and great working bit of kit, and for plugging away through the British winter its sealed design is a winner.

For 2013 Shimano have announced an electronic version, Alfine Di2. Borrowing the electronic technology that has proven itself on Shimano’s top-end road groupset, Dura Ace and more latterly Ultegra, the new Alfine will offer improved shifting, quicker and with more potential shifter setup options.

With an optional flat bar shifter (the drop bar lever version will be a popular choice with town bikes we think) it’ll be prime for some off-road use. No doubt it won’t be long before we see mountain bike manufacturers offering it on hardtails for the ultimate winter/year round bike.

There’ll be no guessing what gear you’re in. A smart digital display that can be mounted to the central area of the handlebars will easily indicate the selected gear. The battery level will also be displayed.

Is this the start of a gradual shift towards electronic groupsets? Have your say in below...