First up, I’m not going to claim that the new features in Shimano’s new Dura Ace 9100 groupset are down to me, BUT I was speaking to one of the chaps at Shimano just 3 months ago about what I would like to see in the new groupset and Synchro shifting and decent hydraulic brakes both were included in my list, along with DA wheels. Lo & behold, scant months later they have done exactly what I’ve asked. You are, indeed, welcome!
When a new top-end groupset is launched it’s big news in the cycling world, and it doesn’t really get much bigger than Shimano’s Dura Ace, the dominant system on display in the professional peloton’s ranks.
Their hegemony has been under threat in recent months as the rest of the manufacturers have all launched their follow-ups, whilst they did launch the first electronic groupset their competitors have played catch-up, so it was with baited breath that they launched DA9100.
I got the invite to go to Caen for the launch, however coming as it did just hours after I got home from the racing in Ireland and being away for 10 days there was zero chance of getting that pass approved!
Instead, here’s a few pictures and my own take on why it’s shaping up to be a very impressive upgrade……
first up has got to be Synchronised Shift. the gist is simple, you shift up or down and Di2 does the thinking, automatically changing front derailleur if needed (and the corresponding rear mech as well). I love this, no more jarring as you change gears and find yourself briefly in the wrong choice, the mechs will automatically take you to the next logical step. This makes so much sense!
Shimano see it as ideal for time-trials and triathlons, and other situations when you are going at full gas, i can also see it coming in handy when fatigued and possibly not thinking straight. When i’m like this that move from outer to inner ring can sometimes jar the knees, so synchronised shifting will make things far more comfortable.
New hydraulic braking. There was never really anything wrong with Shimano’s previous iteration of hydraulic braking, but to get the Dura Ace branding the new kit will have made a performance jump nonetheless. Shimano are claiming, “New dedicated Dura-Ace rotors bring better heat management properties to provide stability in brake performance. With an increased adaptor size, heat transfer through the rotor is decreased and more heat can dissipate through the air. This results in a 30°C reduction in rotor temperature over Shimano’s Ice Technologies Freeza rotors.”
Getting the new hydraulic levers and some newly modified shifters all into a new, reduced-size, shifting body, is also something to be cheered, this should make longer rides that little bit easier on the forearms.
30 tooth sprocket… a little treat for us muggles without quads the size of Cav’s. This will make hills slightly more pleasant, however it’s worth keeping in mind, that the DA sprocket is a real treat, and even the pro’s don’t necessarily run them.
A new junction box. Will it make you go faster? probably not. But having the new Di2 junction box secreted in your handlebars will aid charging, and also clear up some of the cabling clutter sound the stem. This is going to make the whole bar look much neater, and whilst it may not be ‘wireless neat’, it sounds like a massive step in the right direction.
No more need for a Windows computer to update everything, it’s no possible to update and program the whole system via smartphone or tablet, this is sweet! As a Mac user it’s been frustrating to not be able to fiddle with gears etc from my computer, this changes all of that!
Power-meter integration. Yes please!
Regarding the aesthetics, it’s a big step away from the flowing lines of Dura Ace 9000, the angular Shadow rear derailleur and the oversized crank-arms are quite a leap, but like a Justin Bieber song, whilst at first glance they may not be to your liking, I’m pretty sure they will get more attractive the more we see them.