What We Like
Faster, Smoother, and Remarkably Quiet Shifting
Shimano claims the new semi-wireless R9200 group can execute rear shifts 58 percent faster than its wired R9150 predecessor. Front shifting is now 45 percent faster. Just like prior Di2 drivetrains, the new group transforms rider input into flawless, precise shifts without fail. Rear shifting is smooth, with shifts being completed before your finger manages to leave the button. Front shifting is the best we’ve ever tested.
The entire package is noticeably quieter. Everything from chain noise to motor noise has been reduced. Part of this is down to the 12-speed chain, which is the XTR chain from Shimano’s mountain bike groupset. The Hyperglide+ technology that Shimano introduced on its 12-speed mountain bike drivetrain is now carried over to the road. The difference it makes in silencing drivetrain noise and smoothing out shifts, particularly under hard pedaling, is easily noticed.
Huge Braking Improvements
Shimano brakes have always had excellent stopping but lagged behind competitors in modulation. To address this, Shimano applied Servo Wave technology to the new levers.
Servo Wave helps control brake modulation. As you apply the brakes, the initial part of the lever throw moves more hydraulic fluid to help the pads bite a little bit faster. Deeper in the lever throw, the cam begins to move less fluid, giving you more precise modulation over the brakes. The result is sensitive, fine-tuned control, and excellent stopping power.
Shimano also increased pad-to-rotor clearance by 10 percent to address noise concerns around rotors rubbing on pads. The new brakes are indeed much quieter. There is still the occasional ping after prolonged braking periods, but the difference is night and day between 9100 and 9200 series brakes.
Dura-Ace now uses XTR rotors, which suffer less deformation under braking. A redesigned bleed port and screw allow for faster brake bleeds without removing the caliper from the bike. The new brakes continue using the same pads as previous-generation Dura-Ace.
Same Freehub Standard
Shimano added the 12th cog, but the cassettes still fit on the 11-speed HG driver body. Meaning all of those existing 11-speedcompatible road hubs and wheels out there are still relevant. This eliminates the need for riders to purchase new wheels, or source replacement freehub bodies to upgrade existing wheels.
New Dura-Ace Di2 Is Cheaper Than OG Dura-Ace Di2
In no way is a $4,280 group set cheap. But it’s worth noting that when Dura-Ace R7970 Di2 was first launched in mid-2008 as a 10-speed, rim brake, wired group, it cost $4,865. The new R9200 12-speed, disc brake, semi-wireless Di2 group is nearly $600 cheaper; and that’s before you factor in inflation.
While wireless sounds more advanced than wired, retaining some wires does improve user experience. Removing the front half of the wiring system makes the new Dura-Ace easier to install, with fewer bits to rattle inside the frame. Maintaining a central wired battery allows Shimano to keep some key advantages, including having a very long battery life and fewer batteries to charge, and making the derailleurs themselves as compact as possible.
Bluetooth Built In
If you wanted previous versions of Di2 to relay gear and battery information to your head unit, you had to spring for a $100 wireless unit. That piece was also necessary to enable over-the-air firmware updates and customization via Shimano’s E-Tube app. Shimano has finally done away with all of that, integrating Bluetooth functionality into the rear derailleur, which now serves as the junction box and the charging point for the system.
One Battery, Two Derailleurs
A single battery powers both derailleurs.
This is one less battery to think about compared to SRAM’s eTap system. Plus, the Di2 battery is in the frame, where it can’t be knocked off the bike or lost, and you leave it in place while you charge it. No hurrying out the door with your bike and leaving your battery behind.
Ultegra Launches With Dura-Ace
Shimano usually launches Ultegra the year after a new Dura-Ace group, but this time we got both at once. New Ultegra is functionally identical to the new Dura-Ace. So, if you want the new tech and features of Dura-Ace but at a lower price, Ultegra costs $1,700 less.