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Dura Ace 9100: Evolution through Science

There has been plenty of rumour and speculation, but at last it’s here: Shimano introduces the latest iteration of her top-of-the-line groupset! After a week of teasing -even with a countdown clock- the newest Dura Ace range has been launched: Dura Ace 9100. Shimano’s long-standing passion for technology has come together in the latest groupset. Dura Ace now has a previously unheard of synergy between the various components, with equally impressive performance figures. Dura Ace 9100 looks to be the new benchmark when it comes to mechanical and electronic groupsets.

Mechanical & Electronic

The latest version of Dura Ace actually consists of two different groupsets: the mechanical 9100 version, and the electronic 9150 Di2 one. Both groupsets are built up using fantastic looking components, which only enhance each other when they come together. It might sound like a cliche, but the synergy of all the components -one supporting the others- is where the true strength of the groupset lies: everything works together beautifully to ensure optimal performance.

As the title suggests, the new Dura Ace range has been developed using cutting edge science to create the underlying technology. The sleek design is a result of optimising aerodynamics and power, and all the components come together to create the best possible drivetrain capable of superior power transfer. Shimano has done everything they can to ensure you always have an edge on your opponents.

shimano dura ace 9100 9150 di2

Dura Ace 9100

The mechanical Dura Ace 9100 series has been seriously reworked when compared to the previous 9000 iteration. Plenty of improvements have been made, some were to be expected practical changes, others are cosmetic tweaks which really sharpen the looks of the groupset. All these small tweaks and adjustments have lead to a massive improvement and mean the new generation of Dura Ace is crammed with technology.

One of the major challenges for the engineers has been the addition of hydraulic disc brakes, and making them fit seamlessly into the groupset. Even this has proven to be possible though!

shimano dura ace 9100 9150 di2

Crankset

The crankset has been redesigned and improved, particularly when it comes to rigidity. The combination of the unique asymmetric 4-arm design and the Hollowtech II construction ensures the crank is stronger and stiffer where needed, raising the bar yet again when it comes to weight and efficiency.

The largest addition however, is the optional integrated power meter; a first for Shimano! The power meter is integrated into the crank arms to ensure accurate data recording, which will help you improve your performance. Connectivity comes in the form of ANT+ and Bluetooth.

shimano dura ace 9100 9150 di2

Cassette

It was one of the highlights in the presentation: the brand new 11-30T cassette. Another first for Shimano, as it’s compatible with the standard derailleur. No more fiddling around with having to swap derailleurs just to run a larger cassette when you’re hitting the mountains. It can now all be done seamlessly with one derailleur. The titanium cassette is lightweight, and various ranges are available to suit your every need.

shimano dura ace 9100 9150 di2

Shifters

The Dual Control Levers boast a shorter throw, accurate shifter positioning, and a larger adjustment range with a lighter operation. The materials have also been altered to optimise the ergonomics and improve grip.

shimano dura ace 9100 9150 di2

Derailleurs

The new “Shadow” rear derailleur uses a direct mount for a more rigid base, ensuring improved gear changes. It also reduces your chances of frame damage in the event of a crash. The new low-friction cables, which have a polymer coating, mean you can change gears quicker and easier than before.

The front derailleur is more compact and uses an alternative cable routing which decreases the amount of force required to change gear. It also has an integrated cable tensioner, meaning barrel adjusters are no longer required. The new design is also capable of better facilitating modern wider tyres, and is compatible with various frame mounts.

shimano dura ace 9100 9150 di2

Hydraulic brakes

With disc brakes, lower temperatures lead to improved brake performance. With this in mind, Shimano has created the new “Ice Technology ‘Freeza’”. Optimal heat dissipation is ensured even under the most demanding conditions. The larger surface area means the heat is distributed over the entire rotor and your brakes stay cooler.

Dual-Pivot rim brakes

The new rim brakes have been on a diet, and now look a lot sleeker than before. They also offer excellent brake feel due to the 43% increase in stiffness over the previous generation. Easy to install and maintain, these brakes are ideal for easy access, or if you want to be able to quickly swap a wheel. They’ve also been designed to work well with tyres up to 28 mm wide!

shimano dura ace 9100 9150 di2

Dura Ace 9150 Di2

The Dura Ace 9150 series is the electronic version of the 9100 groupset. This too has been upgraded and re-engineered. The shifters are now an exact match to the mechanical ones for example. Both shifters also feature new technology, including Shimano Synchronized Shift in both “full” and “semi” versions.

shimano dura ace 9100 9150 di2

Di2 Shifters

The new Di2 shifter has become a truly integral part of the brake system; everything is perfectly adjusted to optimally work together. More grip and improved ergonomics are a result of the increased adjustability of the shifter. The click-feel has also been changed to ensure you have more feedback during shifts.

shimano dura ace 9100 9150 di2

Di2 Derailleurs

The new rear derailleur ensures quick, accurate and easy shifts with very little effort thanks to the low-profile “shadow” design. It’s also capable of running up to a 11-30T cassette, meaning you’ll only need one derailleur for any set-up.

The front derailleur has broadly remained the same. The compact and sleek design still offers you smooth and fast gear changes, even under heavy pedal load.

Shimano Synchronized Shift (Road)

Perhaps familiar from mountain biking, but now also available on the new Dura Ace 9150 Di2 groupset. It allows you to program a set gear change sequence, ensuring you can use the entire range of your drivetrain. For instance, the front derailleur will automatically shift when you’ve reached your farthest gear on the back (either smallest or largest) and simultaneously compensate on the rear. Shimano assures us it will be a completely seamless gear change, and won’t noticeably interrupt the power transfer.

The video demonstrates the possibilities based on the XTR Di2 groupset designed for mountain bikes:

Wheels

The brand new C40 and C60 wheelsets were also launched at Shimano’s press demonstration, with all the appropriate pomp and circumstance. The wheels will become available in both clinchers, tubes, and tubeless versions, and compatible with either disc brakes or rim brakes.

shimano dura ace 9100 9150 di2

The renowned Shimano C24 offers you a lightweight wheelset for optimal acceleration. Ideal for climbing, if you ask us.

The Shimano C40 is extremely well-balanced in its design and is an ideal all-round wheelset. Not overly susceptible to wind, and light enough to work in any terrain.

The Shimano C60 is perfect when it comes to aerodynamic prowess; they even look fast. Improved rigidity, oversized hub flange, and an asymmetric, wider rim- these wheels take aero to a new level.

shimano dura ace 9100 9150 di2

When to Expect all this Beauty?

Sadly, it’s going to be a while. For now, we’re left wanting more, especially after the grand reveal Shimano gave us.

Price-wise we’re also uncertain. Considering the current prices -which will probably increase slightly for the new set- most of us will have to keep saving in order to obtain all this greatness.

One thing’s for sure: we can’t wait to get our hands on the new Shimano Dura Ace groupset and do some proper reviews for you! For now, we’re left with some great images, promises and most of all: a burning desire to try it all out. Stay tuned…

Translated by: Bart van Es

 

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Bart van Es

Bart van Es

My heart stilll lies with my boat, though it's forever being tugged at by the bike. I spend most of my time on or around the water, either as a rower or a coach. However, I'm always up for a blast around the countryside after work with my colleagues! Proud owner of a Giant TCR Composite, and addicted to upgrading it...

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