Shimano is far from a perfect company, and the Japanese giant has had its fair share of misses, such as the lackluster Dura-Ace group and its related Ultegra and brethren and the failed attempt to introduce the Dual Control concept to the mountain-bike world.
Many have described the latest Dura-Ace groupset as an evolution of Dura-Acerather than a revolution. In terms of tangible differences, that would be an apt description. However, making significant improvements over something that was already so good is no small feat.
The groupset is also light, easy to install and service, and as always, thoroughly engineered. Simply put, every single piece feels, works, and moves exactly as it should, with a reassuringly solid and precise character that reinforces the notion that they do so because someone meant for them to do so — and will likely stay that way for a long, long time.
Shimano has yet to release official worldwide pricing, but our information says that the cost is holding steady, too. If anything, the larger inboard shifter paddles and more generous reach adjustment range on Dura-Ace are more noticeable, as both improve the lever ergonomics for riders with smaller hands, especially while in the drops.
Upper-end Campagnolo models can dump up to four gears with a single push. Likewise, the new Dura-Ace dual-pivot rim brake calipers once again generate heaps of power with outstanding lever feedback. A new steel bridge joins the caliper arm pivots for reduced flex, but it mostly manifests in improved performance only under very hard braking, and slightly better modulation elsewhere in the power band.
Visually, the new quick-release lever is lower in profile for a sleeker appearance, but it no longer offers indexed intermediate positions between fully open and closed. The new brakes are a subtle improvement over the previous edition, which were already arguably the best available with superb power, modulation, and feel.
Indeed, a search for those big gains in Dura-Ace will come up fruitless. While the sensations at the levers are familiar, the front and rear derailleur designs are grand departures from anything else Shimano has produced thus far for the road. Shimano is showing clear disregard for convention with the new Dura-Ace rear derailleur. Those revisions are subtle but significant on the road: that more constant chain gap makes for noticeably improved shift performance across the entire cassette spread, and quieter running regardless of gear selection.
Shimano took a big leap forward on the previous-generation front derailleur, which used a then-radically long lever arm for the cable that dramatically shortened the shift-lever throw relative to Dura-Ace How well that design worked, however, could vary wildly depending on the cable entry angle from the bottom bracket, and it was always sensitive to cable tension.
With Dura-AceShimano has moved to a more complex secondary linkage that precisely alters the leverage ratio throughout the range of motion. This still provides the short lever throw up front, but without the finickiness. Setup is a bit more tedious — and even experienced mechanics will need to consult the installation video to do it properly — but more reliable provided you follow the directions.
The front derailleur cage operates on one parallelogram linkage, but the cable pulls on its own complex arrangement. This allowed Shimano engineers to more finely tune the cable leverage ratio throughout the range of cage movement, resulting in more precise positioning and shorter shift lever throws.
Even so, the new Dura-Ace front derailleur design is very well thought out, and quite possibly my favorite part of the group. No other component company has championed the use of aluminum more than Shimano, and no surface treatment highlights that material more than a glimmering polish.Shimano Dura-Ace is intended to be the best groupset you can buy.
Dura-Ace typically exists within a four-year product cycle, which gives you an idea of how much engineering and testing goes into the finished product. We are periodically treated to a new updated version which culminates in a grand launch somewhere exotic. In terms of excitement and expectation, it is the cycling equivalent of Willy Wonka revealing his latest chocolate bar.
Here is our review of the mechanical version — Dura-Ace R A review of the new Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 R will follow once we have had the chance to properly test it. New look for the Shimano Dura-Ace R chainset. The angles and edges are much sharper too, something that is particularly apparent on the rear derailleur. It all looks very smart, precise and purposeful. To this end, the new rear mech is now rated up to a 30t sprocket which, after extensive consultation, Shimano insists is what the pros want and need.
With regard to engineering, the new rear mech is probably best described as a short-cage version of the mountain bike-specific XTR rear derailleur, with a linkage system that connects the unit to the hanger. This system helps provide a more consistent gap between the upper jockey wheel and cassette sprockets across the whole gear range irrespective of which front chainring is used. One thing to point out is Shimano has changed the spacing on the R chainrings, suggesting that cross compatibility with older Dura-Ace front mechs is not advised.
Set-up is significantly different from the previous version. Fortunately, Shimano has extensive and detailed service manuals available online that you can consult for free. I must stress that if you are going to adjust your new groupset or install it, follow these manuals. The limit screws and set-up may look familiar, but there are subtle, crucial differences. Subtle changes to how the Shimano Dura-Ace R works internally. Instead of just feeding the cable through, clamping it and cutting as per the outgoing design, the new mech is a little more complicated.
Although outwardly more complicated, this system has a number of key advantages. Previously, the front shifting performance could be influenced by the cable entry angle from the bottom bracket.
It also does away with a separate barrel adjuster as that is now built into the front mech too. You can adjust it by way of a small grub screw. When setting up there is also a useful little inbuilt guide on the adjuster that aligns when you have the perfect cable tension to achieve the trim function on both the big and little ring.
Previously this required a little trial and error. I have heard some mechanics criticise the new front derailleur for being more complicated. I would argue it is just new, different and, once you get used to it, a better design.
The level action feels slightly lighter and more positive, with a very crisp and precise click. I should stress that the improvement really is marginal, though. The shifter hood is slightly smaller in girth and I welcome the new shape. It feels more comfortable in the hand and as a rider who prefers not to wear mitts I like the new textured surface finish. New hoods are a little longer in length but allow for a nice hand position. The front shifting is particularly impressive, too.
This is partly down to the high torsional stiffness of the Shimano chainrings. Once again, they are not the lightest available, but the performance is excellent. The new Hollowtech chainset, despite appearing substantially chunkier, is actually 7g lighter than the equivalent previous version. There remains no multishift function though, as found on high-end Campagnolo groupsets.If heritage and beauty are paramount, there can be nothing but Campagnolo and its striking carbon curves.
But if clever, precise engineering and absolutely flawless performance gets you flush in the face, Shimano Dura-Ace is the group for you. How do we know? Normally, gear moves through the VeloNews tech department relatively quickly, out of necessity. A few months on a single product is all review schedules allow.
But for this round of Stress Test, we put Dura-Ace on the machine of a separate tester, who thrashed it across two full seasons. He reported back, and we combined those notes with our own opinions formed from shorter test periods. There are already plenty of stories that can tell you what Dura-Ace can do ; we want to tell you what it does.
This is the first of three Stress Test reviews of top-tier mechanical groups, a category we still feel merits close inspection. We want another few months of riding on the Record group before forming firm opinions.
Swipe the left shifter, in either direction, at any time, under any load, and the shift is perfect, instantaneous, and reliable. The updated front derailleur now features a longer arm for more leverage.
Combined with the new ultra-stiff chainrings and the front shifting comes incredibly close to the power and accuracy of Di2, with the added benefit of human-touch finesse. Pro mechanics now travel with piles of rings, not boxes of cranks. Rings were changed once, at 7, miles, though they still had quite a bit of life left. Rear shifting quickly becomes an act of muscle memory, requiring no thought or planning.
Tap and go. No second-guessing, no easing up a gear. Both front and rear derailleurs are designed for even lighter action than before, harkening back to the glory days of Dura-Ace The ideal weight behind each click of the shifter is a matter of personal preference, and some testers did make it clear that felt a bit too light, particularly for those used to the hard click of SRAM or Campagnolo. The brakes are standout performers amid a sea of excellence.
Dura-Ace offers more power but only justeven better modulation, and easy setup. Over more than 10, miles of riding, through wet, salt-covered Colorado winters, muddy Belgian springs, and hot summers, Dura-Ace proved admirably durable in most areas.
Shimano Dura-Ace 9100 groupset review
The threaded bottom bracket had to be removed twice, threads cleaned and re-greased, and then re-installed. That was the extent of the mechanical service. The object was to ride this group into the ground. It even survived a car crash.
The shifters have not developed any extra play, and the rubber hoods are still in excellent condition, sticky and comfortable as ever. The internals have never been thoroughly cleaned, yet still function flawlessly. The rear derailleur pulleys spin perfectly and are only lightly worn, despite receiving zero maintenance. The front derailleur functions as if new. The cassette, with its set of titanium cogs and carbon body, does not last as long as it should. In fact, just buy an Ultegra cassette, which offers all the shift performance for one-third of the price.
We had no such issue, nor have we encountered any such failure firsthand. It took 7, miles, but a small point of failure in the otherwise spotless record of Dura-Ace did finally raise a nasty, ragged head. The shift cable frayed and almost snapped on our right shifter. The problem centers on the cable routing as it exits the shifter.
A small plastic plug slots into the shifter around the exiting cable, forcing the cable into a tight bend. After many thousands of shifts, the cable begins to fray, and can then snap.By Warren Rossiter. But ignore the mechanical R at your peril. The rear mech has adopted a more angular, flatter and flusher-fitting profile from its sister mountain bike group, XTR.
The new design also allows the use of a bigger gear range, with an available for the first time. The inner chainring has been placed 0. This makes for a shorter wheelbase for a more agile ride. The front mech is radically different, replaced with an internal toggle mechanism. The long extended arm is gone, and the new mech sees a built-in cam-actuated cable tension adjuster, and the routing is particularly neat.
This creates more clearance for large tyres, an issue that some cyclocross and gravel bikes ran into with the previous mechanisms. Also built into the new derailleur is a cable tension adjuster. This eliminates the need to install an in-line barrel adjuster when assembling the bike. Lastly, the new mech can be pulled by a bare cable but also incorporates a housing stop, allowing frame manufacturers more options for cable routing.
The main contact points, the STI units, have been significantly reworked too.
The lever body has been slimmed, shaped and textured, and it now offers more reach adjustment too — 14mm up from The brake levers are curvier and sit better in your hands from the tops to the drops. The rear shift paddles have a more sculpted and defined push pad.
The brakes have been reshaped to accept wider 28mm tyres on wide rims, and the profile is angular but slimmer with it.
We preferred being able to slightly open a brake to eliminate rub if we ended up riding on a buckled wheel. The black semi-sparkly finish has grown on us, but we wish Shimano had retained a bit of polished metal. Also our beautiful cranks are already showing signs of scuffing and flattened shine after five months of testing.
Shimano Dura-Ace R review Mechanical mega-group goes black metal. Our rating. September 25, at pm. Shimano Dura-Ace R review. Pros: Sharp, snappy shifting. Cons: Finish is starting to wear, brake QR. Skip to view product specifications.
Shimano Dura-Ace R9100 groupset review (video)
The new crank uses an asymmetric spider to improve power transfer. An integrated power meter will also be available but was not on offer for testing Nick Legan. The front derailleur foregoes the tall lever and instead uses a toggle mechanism Nick Legan. The small Allen key bolt near the top of the mechanism is the cable tension adjuster Nick Legan. The new rim brakes are more angular than their predecessors Nick Legan. The new shifters have slightly updated ergonomics that include a larger rearward paddle Nick Legan.
The hubs on the new Dura-Ace wheels have a fade from black to pewter Nick Legan. The rear derailleur is quite low profile Nick Legan. Shimano engineers were happy to point out that in the event of a crash the first point of contact would be the quick release nut, not the derailleur Nick Legan.Historically Shimano has always worked on a three-four year cycle for its top tier groupsets, progressing methodically through the range.
Dura-Ace, as the flagship group, obviously gets the royal treatment, receiving the highest level of technology and utmost premium enhancements ahead of the rest. Enter then, Dura-Ace The chainset, the centrepiece of the group, has bulked up even more than its already chunky predecessor. It has also acquired a new glossy surface finish that, like the other components has a fade from black to a sort of gun-metal or pewter grey. It has retained the same asymmetrical four-arm configuration, supposedly to improve power transfer, but for my money the more crucial feature that thankfully has also been retained is the hollow outer chain ring.
I believe it is this alone that gives Shimano supremacy in the front shifting department, and the upholds this accolade. Every time. Part of that process is of course the shift levers themselves. Shimano claims to have reworked the internals of the Dura-Ace shifters to further reduce the lever stroke required to make the shift, theoretically leading to easier, faster shifts. Staying with the shift levers, the hood ergonomics feels much the same too, although apparently also reworked slightly to be a little slimmer this was not overly discernable.
Although, that said, it may save the mech from some damage in a crash. Regardless, it looks more techy, and the higher cable entry point means a shorter run of outer cable, plus there is now the opportunity for direct mount, once manufacturers get fully on board with thru-axles and dropouts accordingly.
A few people had warned me the front mech was complicated and a bit of a headache to set up, but although it is more complex than the previous design it is really not of huge concern. Now the cable entry is self-explanatory, and easily achieved, but what happens after is the slightly more tricky part.
The reason is the new mech activates with a sort of a twisting movement, rather than the older lever design. This is supposedly to lighten the shift action, but also to increase the clearance behind so as not to foul against wider tyres.
Why was this little gem never thought of sooner? Great news. Shimano claims the braking force on the new callipers is improved too, compared to its predecessor, thanks to an internal brake booster.
The old brakes were considered by many as the benchmark in the industry, and these are still every bit as good with a solid feel at the lever and powerful, progressive braking on tap, for confident stopping. The quick release mechanism has been repositioned such that the lever now sits entirely in-board, rather than poking out the side.Shimano's new version of their top-level Dura-Ace groupset is comfortably their best yet with an extra sprocket taking it up to speed, ultra-light shifting and improved braking.
We first rode Series Dura-Ace last June in Belgium and we were impressed, but we didn't get our hands on a set to review properly until early November. Since then, we've been getting in plenty of miles on the new kit to see how it stands up to regular use on our own local roads. And bearing in mind the dire weather we've had over the past couple of months, we'd say it has been a pretty demanding test period.
To save you skipping back and forth to our previous article or to Shimano's website for tech details, we're going to include all that information here along with our review findings, so you can treat this piece as our definitive guide to Dura-Ace The front mech, chainset and cassette are available in different versions at different prices; we've used the cheapest prices to make up that total, so you might have to pay a bit more depending on the exact components you want.
We've included the pedals in our review below but not in that overall price total. I'll put my cards on the table right at the start: I reckon this is the best groupset out there. It's lightweight, the shifting is smooth and requires very little effort, the braking is powerful and easy to modulate It's not cheap, of course, but for a no compromise, top-level groupset, it's not ridiculously expensive either. We say Shimano have reshaped the levers to make them more like their Di2 levers.
The diameter of the bracket is considerably reduced from the previous generation Dura-Ace and everything fits together very smoothly. I've got large hands and I find the reduced size to be an advantage. People with smaller hands are likely to notice it even more. You can really get a tight grip right around the lever bracket when you're riding out of the saddle, with more overlap between your thumb and fingers, so you get loads of control when you're throwing the bike around on a climb or in a sprint.
You just feel like you have more command over that front end. The rise at the front is high too, so your hands are never going to slip off. It's really simple to find the inner lever whether you're on the hoods or on the drops, even if you're wearing big winter gloves and I have been recently.
You'll never push both levers across accidentally. The next big difference you notice is the lightness of the shifting action. As you can see aboveShimano put figures on it. What those numbers actually mean in the real world is that it's really, really easy to swing the levers across to change gear, but you still get a definite click to tell you what's going on. Shimano have also reduced the release lever stroke the stroke of the inner lever considerably.
What's the advantage to all this? It's not going to make you ride any faster, it's just These details add to the overall improved feel.
Shifts are completely reliable and very smooth, even if you're downshifting while standing on the pedals on a steep climb. There's no clunkiness whatsoever. Shimano really had that sorted before and it's a trait they've carried over here.
Braking is more powerful than previously. Shimano have moved the brake lever pivot further from the bar and extended the brake lever slightly so the power is easily controlled whether you have your hands on the hoods or on drops plus, they've altered the callipers and the cables, see below. Reach to the levers is easily sorted by peeling the cover back and adjusting a screw in the top of the body. You just tighten it to dial the levers in towards the bar.This article originally published on BikeRadar.
Exclusive video: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 speed. Shimano took a big step with Dura-Acebut not necessarily one in the right direction. Fast forward to the new speed, mechanical groupthough, and all is forgiven.
It works better, it feels better, it's quieter, it's faster, and it's smoother — it's just plain fantastic. We've only logged a few rides on the new group, but so far every indication is that it's a home run. Ergonomics are on par with Di2, the shifter action has taken a page out of the XTR playbook, every motion is remarkably refined, and there's simply no question that was thoroughly engineered to work together.
In fact, it's so good that electronic transmission skeptics now have even less of a reason to switch over. Been holding out on or waiting for Shimano to redeem itself? Well, your day has come. Shimano readily admits that wasn't an ideal lever body shape. A major goal on that group was to tuck the derailleur housing underneath the bar tape, but ultimately, the packaging required to do so yielded a bulky lever body.
Dura-Ace 's rearranged guts now give a lever shape that's highly reminiscent of Di2 and that Shimano deems virtually ideal. In general, we've found there's a more natural feel when you wrap your hands around the hoods. The bodies are more rounded and smaller in girth, the width is now more constant from rear to front, and the upper knob has actually grown a bit to lend a more secure grip when you're fully laid out. Shimano has also moved the pivot point on the brake lever out a few millimeters, to improve leverage when you're on the hoods.
The bigger, Di2-like inner shifter paddle is easier to find from the hoods or drops and, once again, the brake lever blades are canted slightly outboard so they fall more naturally at your fingertips. Last year's dual derailleur housing routing has been abandoned in favor of an inboard-only layout.
While this obviously provides less flexibility in terms of housing positioning, we think Shimano has made the right move — the outer edge is now perfectly smooth under your palms, with no harsh ridges to concentrate pressure.
Even last year's adjustable reach has been improved. There's still a plastic set screw hidden beneath the hoods but now shortening the reach doesn't create an ugly gap at the front of the lever. Riders with bigger hands might miss 's more substantial, squared-off form. But everyone else will see a big improvement in every way.Cheap Bike Vs. Super Bike - What's The Difference?
Rear shifts are as seamless as ever — no surprise given that Shimano had virtually no room for improvement there. Even downshifts on steep climbs under full power are utterly reliable and smooth.
Thankfully, a full sweep of the main lever once again moves the chain across three cogs, not just two as with The total lever throw remains virtually unchanged. Upshifts are still done just one at a time, but at least that lever throw is substantially shorter, with the amount of free play cut roughly in half. Many have questioned the need for yet another cassette cog and, yes, you don't need 11 gears back there.