Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 road bike component group installation and first impressions review

After the Unboxing and Weigh In, it was time to install the new Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 group. And then, of course, ride the snot out of it!

Most of the group goes together as expected, and Shimano’s done a fair job of making installation easy with guidelines and obvious holes, ports and bolts. They also have Dealer Service Instructions available online – handy since there is very little in the way of instructions included in the box.

Even with all that, there were still surprises. As with the New SRAM Red, a lot of attention is paid to getting the front derailleur aligned properly. And once it’s all together, there’s still more to discover…


Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 road bike component group installation and first impressions review
Titanium clamp? Sweeeeeet.

When it comes time to mount the front derailleur, you’ll need to be able to align parts of it with the cable. So, the best place to begin is putting the shift levers on the bar and running cables and housing.

Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 road bike component group installation and first impressions review

Put ’em about where you think you’ll want them and snug them just enough so they don’t slip while running the cables and housing. Shift cables insert from the outside…

Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 road bike component group installation and first impressions review

…and run into curved slots that feed it out the back, into a housing port. A small cover (blurred in foreground) slots in and is held in place by the hoods. From here, just measure (twice) and cut the housing to get the cables to the business ends of the bike.

Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 road bike component group installation and first impressions review

Shimano recommends and includes their own new housing and cables, both of which are excellent. The cables are coated and slippery. The ferrules have small extensions to help keep crud out, but they’re a bit oversized. They wouldn’t fit in the petite guides on the Argonaut. Oh, and it’s worth installing an inline barrel adjuster into the front derailleur’s housing…I regret not doing this.

Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 road bike component group installation and first impressions review

While the instructions aren’t bad, it does take a bit of re-reading to get it right. Assuming you like to follow instructions. In this case, I’d recommend it. Or pay your local bike shop. For the DIYers, here are my helpful hints:

Loosely install front derailleur on frame, snugging bolt just enough to get the outer cage plate a few millimeters above the large chainring. Then, using the support screw to assist, adjust the angle so the top of the outer plate is parallel with the large chainring.

Adust the lower limit screw until the outer plate is parallel and directly inline with the large chainring. At this point, the rear/bottom of the front derailleur’s outer cage plate should be about 1/2 a millimeter inboard of the large chainring. Shimano actually recommends using an allen wrench as a guide, hence the image above.

Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 road bike component group installation and first impressions review
A small set screw twists in against the metal sticker (included) to rotate the derailleur into place.

Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 road bike component group installation and first impressions review

Remove the fixing bolt from the FD and insert the plastic cable guide tool that comes with the FD. Pull the shift cable through the slot on the tool.

Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 road bike component group installation and first impressions review

There’s a line printed on the guide. Depending on which side of the line the cable appears, you’ll adjust the converter accordingly, as printed on the bottom of the guide. Our cable hit the guide dead center, in which case it doesn’t really matter which way you set it. Shimano’s PR guy even said you could just install it one way and if the shifting doesn’t feel right, switch it and see if it gets better.

Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 road bike component group installation and first impressions review

Here’s the adapter shown both ways, along with handy graphics to show where the cable goes in. The cable sits in a groove facing the washer, making it pretty easy to get everything put in the right place. Getting the cable tension correct is key for having both upper and lower trim work. I set it too tight initially and didn’t have the upper trim (I’d click it, but it didn’t budge). This is where the inline barrel adjuster would have come in handy. That, and taking up any cable stretch down the road. If all’s done well, you’re front shifting set up should be complete.

Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 road bike component group installation and first impressions review

The rear derailleur’s pretty straight forward. Just make sure the shifter is set to 11 (smallest cog position), adjust your lower limit screw and pull the cable taut and bolt it down. Make sure it goes through the groove on the derailleur body. It’s a little surprising how sharp of an angle there is on the cable coming out of the housing insert when you’re on the smallest cog, but it all works pretty smoothly irregardless. (not a real word)


Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 road bike component group installation and first impressions review

The new hood shapes are very comfortable. The levers cant outward and are easy to reach in the hoods and the drops. Shifting is precise and the lever feel is incredibly light. With the tight spacing between 11 cogs, one could argue it’s too light, being perhaps a bit too easy to over shift a gear in the rear. But that’s like complaining it’s too easy to paddle shift a Ferrari. It’s freakin’ amazing, and that’s that. It’ll be interesting to see how it holds up to mother nature and father time since Shimano says part of the light feel is due to the new cable and housing.

Front shifting is equally light, which is really saying something. Repeating for effect: Front shifting is virtually as light as the rear. It makes you want to shift the front more frequently because it’s such a non-chore. Beautiful.

Brake pull is also light, even with the spring tension dialed up at the calipers. Credit the extra leverage or the new cables or both, but it’s unlikely you’ll get any finger fatigue with this system. We’ve heard the 9000 mechanical group will make people rethink electronic’s superiority. Having ridden both, it’s a valid argument.

Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 road bike component group installation and first impressions review

One thing we mentioned in the Unboxed post that we still see as a potential issue is how exposed the shifter’s internals are on Shimano’s mechanical groups.

Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 road bike component group installation and first impressions review

This pic’s intentionally blown out to show you the same thing rain, dust, dirt and grit will see all too easily. If only they could be disassembled for cleaning…

So far, this is the only bad thing we have to say about the group.

The other thing people seem curious about is whether 11 speeds make any difference. I can say that it is very nice being able to find more of the right gears while maintaining a wide spread. I’m running the 11-28 and it’s fantastic being able to keep my cadence where I want it across a wide range of terrain. But, we suspect 11-speed will trickle across more groups, which means it’s really not a matter of if you should upgrade but when you’ll do it anyway. And I bet you’ll like it.

Here’s a little video showing more about the shifting and braking, including one of the biggest small changes to the group that Shimano never bothered telling anyone about: Reverse lower trim!

Look for a full, long term test write up later in the year.


  1. I see other groups adopting the long swing arm in their front derailleurs. Still think that Srams Yaw feature, with no trim needed, has this beat, in theory at least.

  2. When Campagnolo released 11 speeds, almost everybody said it made no difference. Now that Shimano jumps in, everybody raves about it.

    About front shifting, you need one push to shift, another to trim. The slowest among the top three manufacturers.

  3. Actually Dave, I remember just the opposite being true. Plenty of people I know, customers and acquaintances, as well as online reviewers, raved about Campagnolo’s tight clustering and ease of shifting with the 11-28 cassette and compact gearing.

    I’m not sure what makes this “slow.” Do you mean slowest to trim, or slowest to shift? If you mean trim, I guess SRAM’s is technically the fastest, since no trimming is needed, but you still the challenge of getting a Red crank to shift, which it doesn’t do nearly as fast as Dura Ace (or Ultegra, or 105, or Tiagra, or Sora). As for Campagnolo, I’m a user (every road and cross bike I own), and I don’t see how my shifting into the big ring with the lever and then using the paddle to trim is any slower than Shimano’s click-click method. And, as stated, both of these component groups shift dramatically better than SRAM, so you’ve already got a speed advantage there.

  4. new sram shifts great and requires a minimal pain in the arse. a little, but not a lot.

    this is a huge pain. it also runs into the seat tube of cervelos. thanks for nothing, shimano. let the computers do it for you, since you clearly lost the cable battle.

  5. I can’t believe anyone is complaining about the functionality of anything DA9000-related. I jumped on the bandwagon with a 9000 build as soon as it came available, and there is no group on the market that can hold a candle to it. I’ve spent a couple years on the old Red, an entire season on the new Red, 2 years on 7900, a year on 7970, a training bike with 6770, and two seasons on Super Record when it came out.

    I’ve got months of riding on a 9000 group and now a few weeks on 9070, it’s time for everyone else to play catch up again.

    There isn’t a group out there that has better front shifting, there’s just no arguing that. The rear shifting is really light, and I think the Di2 groups I SLIGHTLY prefer because there is virtually no lever throw with the buttons, but beyond that Red certainly can’t come close to matching 9000 and since I never liked the Campy thumb shifter while riding in the drops, this is it.

  6. Ha, I just lost a bet because I was sure someone would have already commented “why didn’t you put it in the big ring for the photo?” – lol.

  7. I have been in the industry 20 years, racing and in sales and have never encountered a road group this nice. This is the greatest road group to date from anyone.

  8. Brandon that doesn’t add up. How many “seasons” do you ride in a year? Sounds like you are trying to justify your purchase to yourself.

  9. @bin judgin,
    yea, it runs into the seat tube of some cervelos. more accurately, it runs into ITSELF on the inner ring position, and cant be set inward enough. but it’s not Shimano’s issue, it’s Cervelo’s. their FD mount on some of their bikes are further to the right than others, and possibly leaning to one side as well, so the low limit is fully out. cant blame shimano for that. that’s also why it only happens on some cervelos and on no other brands ive seen.

  10. All this is is the ongoing “which company makes the best components” debate. Heres what it comes down to. Ride what you like. end of story. I’m pretty sure 90% of us here can remember a time when we were passed by a guy on an old steel road bike with sora on it.

  11. @endurobob – I hate it when that happens! I would like to think that I could tell the difference between Red, DA or Record, but really, a well adjusted 105 group is about all it takes to impress me.

  12. @ Tyler
    This looks fantastic. When will we get to see photos of your argonaut frame in all of its dura-ace glory? I’m georgin’ out over that build.

  13. @greg

    ah true. i tend to forget how crummy cerv’s are due to their high ticket price. not jokin’

    anyways yeah they mostly all work great. new red, new dura ace, campy, whatevs.

  14. I am all for busting the economy but let’s be honest without a major change in the technology it is only going to be marginally “different” than the previous year’s version. Notice I did not say better because Shimano, Sram and campy have been making fantastic cable actuated components for years and are limited to the same laws of physics that they always have been. Odds are if the shifting is incredibly light then the throw will be longer than some people like… It seems like if they add any significant performance gain in one area they will take it from another.

  15. nice groupset, but sram yaw front der is hard to beat. triming a der sounds like too primitive.

    sram or di2 are the groupsets to get. the rest aren’t good enought for the price. having said that, i will stick to 105groupset, the best selling ever road group.

  16. I really wish Shimano would bring back some clicks/feel in their shifting. I stopped running Shimano shifters after 7700 ’cause I *like* the chunk and the feel of a shift.

    Maybe it goes back to my days of DT shifters. I don’t know. Light action and continuing to make lighter and lighter action = the wrong way *for me.*

    There’s no denying its slick and works well. I saw the new stuff on a bike Wed nite at an LBS and the crank looks better in person than in pics.

    My $.02. Worth what you paid for it


  17. @ Namath – I don’t even know Brandon, but I am guessing he has more than one road bike, hence the ability to be running different groups in the same season. Or he is trying to justify his purchase. You probably got him with that zinger.

  18. I have been riding this 9000 group for a couple months and really appreciate all the new features, compared to 7900. The one that stands out is the shift from the big ring to small ring. It drops the chain about 3/4’s of the throw and basically avoids dropped chains without using chain-catchers. This is brilliant and yes you may need to use the “trim” , but only about half the time and it surely beats a dropped or jammed chain.
    All in all, Shimano has pulled out all the stops to produce one of the best road groups to date. A nice benefit will be when the features from 9000, trickle down to more affordable Shimano groups.

  19. I do know Brandon, and he has several bikes. In fact I can’t keep up with how many and what’s on them component-wise, but i do pick up some of his cast-offs when he gets new toys.

  20. “a potential issue is how exposed the shifter’s internals are on Shimano’s mechanical groups.”

    That has GOT to be missing a cover part…no? For how finished everything else is, I can’t see why Shimano would eliminate a cheap cover or boot in that area.

  21. @gravity Agree, Instead of “everybody” I should have said “everybody in the media”. It worries me how the press seem hard to find faults in Shimano stuff. Furthermore everything coming from Campagnolo is treated as coming from a company with lower engineering abilities, and as such, when something works on par or better than on competitors’ stuff, is put under quarantine.

    As for front shifting, yes I mean the whole actions requires shift, then trim which I find really annoying and, yes, slow. Sram’s Yaw is an impressive technology, but as you say, when paired whith their own cranks shift very slow. Praxis chainrings make it perfect though. And Campagnolo’s system is perfect to me, as it was easy to me to learn to shift to the point it doesn’t rub when upshifting and can be adjusted so downshifts can be made in a single motion to the right point for the lower or higher cogs.

    @Brandon, I’m sorry yes, I’m complaining. I find rear shifting click too light too, as were in the first Campagnolo SR iteration. I hope Shimano will release an upgrade for their Dual Levers so clicks have better tactile feedback.

    Anyway, I’m riding mostly electronic these days, although that’s personal preference for sure.

  22. TT: That would be because what you’re seeing in these photos is exactly what they look like, there are no covers. I currently have two 9000-equipped bikes less than 5 feet from me and neither came with the elusive cover that’s been mentioned.

  23. To all of you worried about the Blown Up shifter pics. There is a way to clean the shifters. These reviews stir up more stuff than they should. If you pull back the shifter hood from the bar. On the bottom there is a small phillips head screw. Take that off, remove the 2 plastic cover plates, and you have access to all the goodies inside. Please don’t try and take it apart more than that.

    Another note. I truly believe that if you are reviewing product you should have more working knowledge of the product than just open a box and put it on a bike. I’m all about the internet and blogs and what not, but there is no need to post stuff that is misinformation. That’s all.

  24. bin judgin: It’s not Shimano’s fault that the new grouppo doesn’t work well with Cervelo.. It’s Cervelo for not figuring out how to accomodate the new technology. And maybe it’s your mechanic for not figuring out how to install it properly. I’m not bashing Cervelo here, they make a beautiful bike. But if a company wants to make something that is compatible with newer standards then they should adapt to the component manufacturer… Regardless of what you might think about frame manufacturers and big bike companies, they really should take into acount the companies that are developing all of the bits and pieces for the frames a little bit better than some do.

  25. @DK, read the title–SHIMANO DURA-ACE 9000 COMPONENT GROUP – INSTALL NOTES & FIRST IMPRESSIONS, This post is not a review. It’s more of a preview. If we want something fresh to read every day on bike rumor, we’re going to get a lot of content like this. I appreciate that these guys are writing this themselves and giving us their educated impressions versus just pushing out a press release verbatim. Have you ever searched for “reviews” of a tech product and all the results are the exact same release on every tech site? Kudos to bike rumor for giving me something to read every day. Now i can’t wait to see how they actually review the product and find out if their initial concerns result in actual issues.

  26. Note: I am a Shimano fan (after SunTour died).

    Would like to know what happens to the rear derailleur (however one choses to spell it) cable after a couple of months of real use. Ok, the coating will fray and ’tis “not a big deal”, but spirally wound cable strands are not meant to be bent at such great angles laterally. I’ve seen (older) D. Ace cable break strands just away from the pinch bolt even on front derailleurs (without this extreme bending). Hopefully ’twill work. Or they may have to make the stop for the outer cable articulate so the cable doesn’t bend.

    Back to riding mah bike!


  27. Ashok: I have had 9000 on my CX bike since the first week of January and I’ve been riding an average of about 12-14 hours per week since then (split between two bikes, both have 9000) and so far it’s not a problem. We’ll see in 6 months. If it does become an issue it’ll be a big one since the cables are outlandishly expensive.

  28. In the DA 9000 if I continue to push the shifter for the front derraileur it always click.
    Is this normal? Thanks

  29. I purchased a set of DA 9000 shifters that came attached to handlebars (not used; removed from a new bike). A section of cable was attached to each shifter. I was able to remove the cable section from the front shifter, but no matter what I try, when I roll the hood back on the rear shifter, I see a coiled cable inside rather than the end of the rear shift cable section. Is there a trick to this that I’m missing (I’ve “shifted” both directions without luck)?

  30. This is so funny reading the comments almost three years later… Shimano reigns supreme and dura ace is the best. End of discussion. Anyone else who disagrees just doesn’t know what’s up… At all lol.

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