Shimano has unveiled details of their top-tier Dura-Ace groupset with some exciting developments pushing towards greater efficiency and easier operation. This is the 10th edition of the industry leading Dura-Ace groupset and the most innovative and functional yet. The groupset gets some unique upgrades as well as the standard 'less weight, greater stiffness' improvements.
We've broken down the top ten things you need to know about the new groupset.
1. R9100, R9120, R9150 and R9170
There are four versions of the 2017 Dura-Ace groupset to choose from.
Two mechanical versions referred providing either rim-brakes and hydraulic disc brakes options, these are R9100 and R9120 respectively. And two electronic Di2 versions also providing either rim-brakes and hydraulic disc brakes options, respectively known as R9150 and R9170.
2. New look
It's clear to see the new dimension Dura-Ace has had some changes. The crank arms are much bigger as is the outer chain ring to improve stiffness and power transfer. There are larger shift buttons, new lighter rim-brake calipers, a new rear derailleur design with a more angular look, and if you examine closely you can even spot the new tooth profile on the chain rings and sprockets.
As well as changes to the shape and dimensions of the groupset, a new 'colourway' has been adopted. Gone is the chrome look of the 9000, in its place an industrial fade from black to silver on almost all components, right down to the hubs within the new wheels.
3. Disc brakes
As mentioned above, hydraulic disc brakes are available on the mechanical and electronic groupsets with a new look and feel.
The shifter ergonomics get a real shake-up by becoming streamlined to feel more like a traditional shifter, losing the bulk and extended reach of typical hydraulic disc brake levers. The new levers will also allow for contact point adjustment, something only previously available on mountain bike brake levers. The new technology allows for very small adjustments to the control and movement of the lever.
The new-look rotor is perhaps a glimpse into the future of road cycling with Shimano making a conscious effort to create a road specific rotor that provides greater heat dissipation and improved aerodynamic characteristics which will improve performance.
4. Power meter
Shimano have entered the power meter market with a unobtrusive, dual-leg power meter with some industry first features.
Shimano invested heavily to improve the reliability and accuracy of their power meter to exceed industry standards. To do so the new power meter (know as 'Dura-Ace FC-R9100-P') features strain gauges in three separate locations: one on each hollow aluminum crankarm and a third inside the 24mm steel spindle. A wire runs through the crank spindle connecting the left and right.
The strain gauge placed in the spindle is said to show pressure spots through the pedal action which could provide useful information related to your shoes and feet, specifically cleat position and innersole type.
The new power meter is charged via a sealed magnetic plug that connects to the driveside 'brain', making charging a simple operation and truly waterproof.
Unfortunately you won’t be able to fit the new power meter to previous Dura-Ace cranksets due to its integration, but will be able to just fit the new power meter crankset. Full weight and prices to be announced shortly.
5. Wider range gearing
An updated rear derailleur now caters for a larger gear ratio. The new derailleur named 'Shadow' (first seen in Shimano's mountain bike ranges) has a low profile and sits further in-board for improved aerodynamics and less chance of getting bent or damaged in the event of a crash. A 11-30T cassette can now be used too, featuring 11-12-13-14-15-17-19-21-24-27-30T sprockets.
A new chain ring and sprocket tooth profile has also been introduced to better suit a wider gear ratio.
6. Wireless connectivity
The new 9150 Dura-Ace gets a significant upgrade from the current wired-only (and Windows PC-only) setup with wireless communication, for both ANT ‘Private’ (works with ANT+) and Bluetooth connectivity.
The upgrade, in association with Shimano’s soon-to-be-released ‘E-Tube Project’ app, will allow for complete customisation of shift settings, shift button purpose, shift speed, and wireless firmware updates.
This isn't to be confused with SRAM's eTap wireless shifting, which does away with wires all together. Instead, the wireless aspect of Dura-Ace is purely for communication features, and the wires remain to connect the derailleurs, shifters and battery all together.
The next progression in the Shimano's electronic groupset story is 'Synchro', otherwise know as 'Full Synchro Shift'. The system provides an almost automatic response in shifting based on your cadence and the position of the chain on the front chain rings and rear cassette.
Once again the technology comes from the mountain bike world, synchro shifting has been used with great success since 2015 on Shimano's XTR groupset. The concept is based around an automated control over the front shifting based on the rear gear. As you shift up or down the cassette, the 'Full Synchro Shift' system will decide whether you should be in the large or small front chain ring. The XTR groupset gives an audible beep to let the rider know when a shift is going to happen, which although unconfirmed, appears the new Dura-Ace will too.
Another nice feature is the ‘Semi-Synchro’ shift mode which will automatically change the rear gear after a front shift to the best position so you can maintain an even cadence. For example, a shift into the small chain ring would result in a move down the cassette to increase the gear and smooth out the usually clumsy shift process.
Synchro shifting can be fully customized or turned off through an upcoming app if you prefer manual control.
8. Old bikes can be upgraded
For those of you out there with previous Dura-Ace or Ultegra Di2 iterations thinking this is going to cost you an arm and a leg to upgrade, you haven't been forgotten. You’ll be able to upgrade your existing drivetrain to Synchro Shift and other wireless features by changing to the new battery and adding a “wireless unit.” The exception here is owners of original 10-speed Dura-Ace 9790 Di2, there are no cheap upgrades for you.
As the groupset has remained 11-speed, you'll also be able to use older components mixed in with the new.
9. Wheel Changes
Shimano's fleet of wheels has been overhauled to keep pace with modern day wheel concepts.
To start with the current line-up of the C35, C50, and C75 will be trimmed to a C40 and C60. The rim widths become wider (28mm) and form a U-shape. Shimano claim the updates result in a saving of two and 16 watts, respectively, when compared to the current 9000-series C50 in a regular 'sprint'.
Some weight has been shed in the process, the C40 tubular is claimed at 1,343g and the C60 version at 1,400g. For reference, the outgoing C50 tubular weighs 1,442g for the pair. Stiffness too has improved thanks to wider hub flange spacing which improves the spoke bracing angles.
Both the C40 and C60 will be available in a disc or rim-brake option.
10. Time trial bike updates
Arguably the best place for electronic shifting is on a time trial bike. Not only does electronic shifting remove the laborious cable routing process due to internal cabling, long tube lengths, and sharp bends, it also eliminates the need to move your hands to the bar ends to shift if you are on the brake-bars. A frequent occurrence if you are braking or negotiating a corner.
The introduction of Di2 to time trial bikes was a revelation and Shimano have now taken the next step to automatic shifting (well kind of). The Synchro Shift technology will feature on time trial bikes which will take manual control of front shifting away from the rider, but the trade off is well worth it. The new generation Di2 will produce lower weight, simpler operation and improved aerodynamics. The new extension shifters are 30g lighter, produce an almost 40mm shorter profile and simply push into place. The base-bar shifters are also narrower and less weight.
More aerodynamic, less weight and automated shifting - triathletes and time trialists rejoice.
Full details on price and availability will be announced shortly. For a full review of the 2017 Shimano Dura-Ace groupset visit CyclingTips