First Im­pres­sions of Shi­mano’s New Dura-Ace Groupset

Hy­draulic disc brakes and an in­te­grated power me­ter mark the big­gest de­vel­op­ments

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Matthew Pioro

Hy­draulic disc brakes and an in­te­grated power me­ter mark the big­gest de­vel­op­ments

On the de­scent into Xaló, I came at the hair­pin turn at a scream­ing speed. Well, my “scream­ing” speed may not have been as fear­some (or fear­less) as the oth­ers in my group. The roads near Calpe, Spain, where Quick-step Floors and Team Sun­web were for early-sea­son train­ing, were new to me. Rain that had fallen ear­lier was on the road in patches. Still, I de­scended bet­ter than I had the day be­fore on dry pave­ment. At that time, I was on rim brakes. Head­ing to Xaló, I was rid­ing the new Dura-ace r9100 hy­draulic disc brakes. Shi­mano had an­nounced the ro­tor and calipers for i ts top-of-the-line road gruppo in June 2016, just ahead of that year’s Tour de France. By the end of Jan­uary, many pro teams still hadn’t rid­den them. The caliper is the light­est one yet by Shi­mano. The listed weight is 256 g per pair, 33 g lighter than the older rs805 calipers. The ro­tors use a new vi­sion of Freeza, the heat-man­age­ment tech­nol­ogy that has an alu­minum core sand­wiched be­tween stain­less steel. On that de­scent, the disc brakes made me feel more in con­trol. I could brake later com­ing into turns com­pared with the rim brakes I had used the day be­fore. With the discs, the stop­ping power was smooth and reg­u­lar as I ap­plied force to the levers. As es­thet­ics go, the ro­tors, with more sur­face area when com­pared with their moun­tain bike sib­lings, seem bet­ter suited to the road. The other bit of tech­nol­ogy that I and a few oth­ers were try­ing for the first time was the power me­ter in­te­grated into the Dura-ace crank. Shi­mano also in­tro­duced the power me­ter at this past year’s launch. The com­pany plans to roll it out this sum­mer. “Get­ting into the power-me­ter busi­ness was from re­quests from the teams,” said David Lawrence, road and pave­ment prod­uct man­ager for North Amer­ica, part of Shi­mano’s global road prod­uct team. “They needed some­thing that was go­ing to be in­cred­i­bly re­li­able. They needed some­thing that was go­ing to be very ac­cu­rate. They were kind of get­ting both but not at the same time.”

The power me­ter has two strain gauges set in the cranks, giv­ing you left/right power. The gauges, how­ever, are hard­wired to­gether. Their data is trans­mit­ted, via ant+, from one point, and then in­ter­preted at the head unit. The ad­van­tage of this sys­tem is that you only need one bat­tery – in this case, a nar­row cell in the spin­dle. You charge the bat­tery with a ca­ble that has a mag­netic end, which fas­tens to the sur­face of the crank. If you want to change chain­rings, you can. The ac­cu­racy should re­main at plus/mi­nus two per cent, which is stan­dard with power me­ters. Shi­mano rec­om­mends that you zero the me­ter at the start of each ride for best re­sults. One no­tice­able fea­ture of the power me­ter is how un­no­tice­able, or at least sub­tle, it is. It’s nicely in­te­grated into the sys­tem in terms of look and func­tion.

Dur­ing my short time with the power me­ter, I was able to cap­ture some data via Ip­watts, an An­droid app. Each sec­ond, it records whether it re­ceives a sig­nal from the power me­ter. It’s com­mon for sig­nal drops to hap­pen on all power me­ters; head units sim­ply smooth out the data. While I need to do some more tests to come to stronger con­clu­sions, it seems the Shi­mano power me­ter trans­mits data well, sim­i­lar to Pow­er­tap P1 ped­als. Any is­sue I may have had with the power me­ter’s num­bers was more about what they said about my

early-sea­son fit­ness than the qual­ity of the data.

Shi­mano also added to E-tube, the brains be­hind the Di2 elec­tronic shift­ing sys­tem. E-tube first ap­peared on the Ul­tre­gra 6770 group, roughly six years ago. Since then, it has ex­panded to other com­po­nent lines and has ex­panded its fea­tures. With the Dura-ace r9150 Di2, syn­chro­nized shift­ing has come to the road from Shi­mano’s moun­tain bike xtr group. With syn­chro shift, you can use your full 2 x 11 gear range with one shifter. If you’re in your small ring and you’ve reached your limit with the small cogs at the back, the sys­tem will then shift to the big ring and an ap­pro­pri­ate cog to put you in the next hard­est gear. R9150 also comes with semi syn­chro: a shift from the large ring to the small ring is fol­lowed by a cor­rec­tion shift at the back to a smaller cog. If you shift from

“Any is­sue I may have had with the power me­ter’s num­bers was more about what they said about my early-sea­son fit­ness than the qual­ity of the data.”

the small to large ring, your chain is also moved to a larger cog. Cam­pag­nolo has a sim­i­lar func­tion­al­ity on its eps sys­tem. The Shi­mano cor­rec­tion shift, how­ever, is speed­ier than its Ital­ian coun­ter­part’s.

With the new E-tube Project app, you can cus­tom­ize the semi syn­chro be­hav­iour. In Spain, my test bike was set to move the chain two cogs if I went into the big ring or the small ring. There was some­thing un­sat­is­fy­ing about this ar­range­ment. Later, I found that when I shifted into the small ring, a cor­rec­tion of just one cog smaller felt bet­ter. You have three shift modes with the sys­tem: man­ual, and two oth­ers you can pro­gram for syn­chro or semi syn­chro. These op­tions are great if you are swap­ping rear wheels with dif­fer­ent cas­sette ranges.

In all, I spent two days learn­ing about and test­ing these fea­tures of the new groupset. It was a good in­tro­duc­tion, but not nearly enough time to re­ally delve into the sys­tem. Rid­ing more with the new Dura-ace is def­i­nitely some­thing I’m look­ing for­ward to.

above The new Di2 junc­tion box can hide in a bar end. An­other model can sit in spe­cially de­signed frames.

be­low The bat­tery of Shi­mano’s new power me­ter sits in the spin­dle

right The new Dura-ace hy­draulic caliper and brake ro­tor sport a look ap­pro­pri­ate for the road

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