A new version of Shimano’s flagship Dura-Ace is finally here after much talk and teasing. Like we had seen before the standard crankset gets the biggest update in terms of looks, but there is improved tech at every step of the line. As Shimano’s reps told us, literally everything is new except the new, reshaped 11-speed chain that was just updated last year.

That is a good place to start. The new Dura-Ace R9100 groupset sticks with 11 speeds in this update. The R designation is one borrowed from their trail groups, but will now brand the road groups going forward for added clarity, most likely as we are seeing more road groups on the all surface riding machines. Shimano introduced us to 11 speed on the road, and seems to be satisfied with the gearing combinations that it makes possible. The rumors of a power meter were indeed true, so we’ll get a glimpse of that below. Plus a look at both mechanical and Di2 electronic shifting setups, and both rim braking and hydraulic disc braking, and even more after the break…

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We got a detailed first look at the new M9100 in its mechanical/mechanical guise. While Shimano sees electronic shifting as the ultimate way forward, they still understand the demand for the tactile feedback and lightweight groups that some pros and amateurs prefer. And there is a lot of tech in the ‘classic mechanical’ group, with pretty much everything getting shaken up in Shimano’s System engineering concept where the group is designed to function as a whole, better than the sum of its parts. The new Dura-Ace R9100 takes that a step further with what they are calling System Supremacy.

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Di2 R9100 is probably the pinnacle of that integration with all new disc brake and rotor designs, new derailleur geometries, and new options for TT controls and synchronized shifting.

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The new Hollowtech II crankset is all about improving the balance of weight and efficiency. Stress analysis of the current 9000 cranks showed stress risers above where the spider and crank arm come together, so the new crank gets stretched there to delivered decreased weight and better overall strength. Shimano keeps with the same 4-bolt spacing that gives chainring sizing flexibility, but does alter the distance between chainrings. They are now a bit wider spaced for better alignment with 135mm hubs, shorter chainstays, and no drag. The cranks will be available in 165-180mm lengths and 50/34, 52/36, 53/39, 54/42 & 55/42 ring sets. (No word yet on cyclocross ring sets, but we’re told that the current 4-bolt CX rings will work.)

Shimnao_Dura-Ace-R9100_road-component-group_FC-R9100-P_integrated-power-meter-crankset

The wider crank shape was not the direct result of adding the power meter option, as the power sensors are incorporated more into each crank arm away from the spider. The Bluetooth & ANT+ power meter version of the crank looks almost identical as the standard crank with the addition of a small communication box a la Pioneer. It is not apparently a cooperative effort though. Shimano was very concerned with day-to-day reliability when putting the D-A name on a power meter, so the system is totally sealed to keep water out. An internal rechargeable battery gets power from a magnetic power connector like in Mac’s magsafe, so you don’t have to open anything.

Update: Check out the power meter cranks here.

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Only one short-ish rear derailleur will be offered for R9100. Shimano calls it a short cage, but the composite cage is clearly a bit longer than what had been called short in the past, and looks like something borrowed from XTR. The rear derailleur will spin around a new selection of Dura-Ace cassettes, including a new wide range 11-30 option.

Shimnao_Dura-Ace-R9100_road-component-group_short-ish-cage-rear-derailleur Shimnao_Dura-Ace-R9100_road-component-group_RD-R9100-SS_new-derailleur-pulley-designs

Also from the trail comes a Shadow mounting system to give the derailleur a lower profile and the ability to work with direct mount hangers like we often see on thru-axle bikes. The pulleys also get redesigned, with a toothy upper pulley for improved chain retention.

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The Dura-Ace shifters get redesigned to have a bit easier to use ergonomics. That also means new hoods that are easier to take off and reinstall. The shape stays mostly the same, if trimmed down a little bit.

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The mechanical internals get a big overhaul with faster shifts and a shorter stroke to drop gears. We got a rare chance to sneak away with the demo bike, and the shifting does indeed feel noticeably easier with shorter lever movement. Although in a short spin it wasn’t really discernable if the shifting was any faster over already-quick 9000.

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For those who like the 9000 series, it is welcome news that the new Dura-Ace feels essentially the same in hand, albeit with a nice new checkerboard pattern that might make for better grip in the wet.

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The mechanical front derailleur also gets a big reshaping overhaul, with the promise of even lighter shifting and easier cable routing. The recent trend of long lever arm derailleur seems to be over with this new twist activating mechanism. The new R9100 uses a new design that attached the cable directly and does not require a section of housing at its stop, and has built-in hex-key adjustment so no more barrel adjusters are required. I personally will be happy to see this trickle down to the other groups over the coming years for the betterment of any cyclocrossers out there riding 2x setups.

Th R9100 front derailleur comes in 1 braze-on variety only, with a separate band clamp for frames that require it.

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Dura-Ace’s dual pivot brakes get an update with a stiffer design, and a more predictable linear braking curve. They also get improved tire clearance up to 28mm tires. Improved stiffness comes from a new internal brake booster like we saw on brakes in the 90s. Shimano claims a 43% reduction of flex in the brake over the already benchmark 9000 calipers.

New direct mount R9100 calipers are also coming, also with improved tire clearance.

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Shifting over to Di2, Shimano worked hard to bring the ergonomics more in line with mechanical setups. The idea was to trim the lever bodies, so that all four possible shift/brake combinations (mech/mech, mech/hydro, Di2/mech & Di2/hydro) were essentially the same size so that their pro riders could jump back and forth during competitions throughout the race season. That’s welcome for any (wealthy) amateur schlubs, too, who might use Di2 on the road and mechanical for cross.

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Di2 also gets big TT updates. New Di2 TT brake levers go from 2 buttons to one for a slimmed down profile. TT extension end shifters also drop to just one button and are now activated from the tips of the bars for less finger movement to shift. To make those work you need to use Shimano’s Synchro Shifting which was introduced recently along with Di2 offroad. There you just shift the rear derailleur – one button up, one button down – and the front automatically shifts to keep gearing optimal.

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But now Di2 is adding a second synchro option called Semi Synchro Shift. This time you keep shifting your rear derailleur only like normal, but when you shift the front mech, the rear drops or climbs the cassette automatically too, so you get a smoother cadence transition. Most Di2 users already probably do this by tapping both buttons at the same time (like I do), but with Shimano timing it, the shifts should be ever faster and more precise.

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In the new R9100 group is another small nugget that will be great for all Di2 users. I have personally thought it was a bit silly to have the Junction A box hanging from a rubber band on such an expensive, high-end group. With R9100 comes a new integrated junction A box that can slip into a bar end clip, or integrated into frames by some manufacturers. It has the same charging port with a little plug that will be accessible but not dangling from your stem. (Send me one now.)

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Yeah, finally. Dura-Ace disc brakes. While the flat-mount-only disc calipers look mostly unchanged, the rotors get a completely new look that improves upon the cooling of both Ice-Tech and Freeza rotors that we’ve seen off-road. The current stainless steel and aluminum sandwich meant the contact with the alloy spider was a point where heat could not so easily transfer. The new Dura-Ace rotors, however, use a alloy carrier that actually becomes the inner sandwich layer under the braking surface. The result is a very different, more closed look, without the raised cooling scoops of Freeza, but still an improved cooling performance of about 30°C at the ~400° max that Shimano’s rotors see under extreme braking. For now they look to only be coming in Centerlock.

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Dura-Ace pedals get a refresh too. That means they get improved rigidity and lower weight with their wide injection molded carbon body. They now get hollow cleat bolts and a bit more open layout.

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Not to be ignored are the new cassette offerings. While not too different, the cassettes keep weight down with the 5 bigger titanium cogs on a carbon fiber reinforced plastic and aluminum spider. Cassettes will be available in tight cluster 11-25 & 12-25, or in wider range 11-28, 12-28, and the new 11-30.

Several new carbon 28mm wide wheel options are also coming with R9100, in 40mm and 60mm depths for both disc and rim brakes, plus a 24mm version for rim brakes. We’ll take a closer look at those in the coming weeks.

Update: Check out the new wheels here.

No word on pricing on the new M9100 Dura-Ace. The mechanical version (and maybe the Di2/rim brake) is expected to be available this fall to consumers, soon after tradeshow time, while the Di2 and hydraulic disc brake versions are expected at the start of 2017.

Update: Check out pricing here.

DuraAce.com

58 COMMENTS

  1. Liking everything about today’s announcement, with the notable exception of that fugly crank arm!

    (And possibly that they maxed out the RD/cassettes at 11-30t — Wiggo won the TdF in the mountains with an 11-32t!)

  2. Does the rear derailleur feature a clutch?
    The carbon cassette spider is somewhat of a disappointment after the 9000 carbon spider fiasco.
    Eager to get the details on the hub internals… the wheels look fantastic!!
    Eds: No clutch, or CX specificity, at least within 2016.

    • As I posted below in regard to a similar cassette question, I have read elsewhere that the largest spider is now alu on the cassette, rather than carbon. If you look at the pic above, it does appear to be alu with a dark ano finish.

  3. I hope all existing Di2 setup can use the new junction box. It would a good deal for my road disk bike
    Eds: That’s what we were told. When this come to market, all e-tube setups can use it. you just might have to drill a hole in your carbon bar!

  4. Great technology but a pox on all bike related blackness. This group will NEVER be on a bike I own. -D Shimano. Can’t wait to see photos of crank arms with the “black paint” worn off. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

    • I read elsewhere that the largest cassette spider is now alu rather than carbon. Only the second one down is carbon now, so hopefully that improves durability.

      • The largest spider on the 9000 cassette is alu as well. Durability of the carbon spider was improved with a running change to double the number of rivets used to attach the cogs.

  5. I kind of like the black crank with the large arms. I like it double extra a lot if said crank is the power meter version and comes at a competition beating price.

  6. What were the issues with long arm front derailleurs?

    I have to admit I don’t really understand how that new DA front der works exactly. Prolly doesn’t matter as front ders will be gone in a few years anyway.

    • For cyclocross, the long-arm FDs were notorious for packing very quickly with mud. They really weren’t ideal for this purpose and this seems to be a recurring complaint.

      Over on the road, it looks like the long-arm FD design caused issues with some bike frames when fitted with wider tires, such as 28mm slicks. At least that’s the official Shimano blurb anyway.

    • Regarding the new FD-R9100 design: BikeRumor’s photos seem to be the best yet at showing how it works. Instead of relying on a large arm for the leverage required to shove the chain over chainrings, there seems to be an internal cam mechanism that does the same thing while making the whole unit more compact.

      You can see the cable anchor bolt change position ever so slightly on the photos. That seems like the cam mechanism at work. I think it’s rather neat. I’d like to see this trickle down to Ultegra and 105 soon. It might even be a good basis for an updated CX50/CX70 FD, if Shimano ever gets around to that (they’re essentially modified 105 5700/Ultegra 6700 10-speed parts).

    • The main advantage seems to be improved clearance with ever wider wheels/tires, as type vertigo points out.

      The 9000 FD was a big improvement over the 6800 version, mostly due to differences in the cage design, well worth the upgrade. It’ll be interesting to see how well this 9100 FD works with existing mech shifters (supposedly compatible with both ST-9000 and ST-6800…) and that enhanced chain line for the new crankset. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      Personally, I’m not in any hurry to go to 1x on a road bike. Shimano is already the gold standard for FD shifting, and 20% jumps per cog is a non-starter in any case. (I do like 1x on MTB, though.)

  7. I am digging the new look, embracing mountain bike technology, wider tires, as well as sticking with Aluminum. Aluminum (not Al – u – minimum) ages way better than carbon.

  8. Dura ace 9100 is going to look especially bad ass on murdered out black bicycles. For those that a nostalgic for the polish – it showed scratches way too easily!

    • It can be mounted the traditional way, or with the direct mount attachment, but only for a frame with that standard. Most people will end up mounting it the “normal” way.

    • Yes. There is a page up at bike.shimano.com with individual component details (sorry, I can’t link from BR), you’re looking for the ST-R9180: Di2 TT/Triathlon Hydraulic Disc Brake Dual Control Lever

  9. Was excited about the power-meter until I noticed not an option for compact. Also, why no wide range rear cassette?

  10. The 9000 cassette issue was in the early batch. I’ve run three of the redone version with no issues and frankly had one of the originals and didnt break that either. These will be fine.

    • You probably got old stock. There was even a BR story about the change made to the carrier body. I have both the old and the new 9000 cassette. Old = creaky, new = perfectly fine.

      • Or one of the thousands of other reasons a creak appears. Freehub body, hub, freehub body / cassette interface, chain, chainring, BB, crank, frame, derailleur hanger, etc etc

  11. “my comment is awaiting moderation”

    Well I tried. Basically wanted to say pricing and weights are already out there. Can’t post the link but there is a PDF which has all info on 9100.

    • weights are basically a wash. Literally 4g between 9000 and 9100 mechanical. 50g savings for 9100 Di2.

      $2G for 9100 mechanical groupset
      $3G for 9100 Di2 groupset

      Hope the “street” price is less!!!

  12. Cory, were you able to test the FD shifting action? I read somewhere that the shifting action is supposed to be on par with RD shifting ease now. Curious to know if the new FD shifts that easily…I’m so buying it if it does.

  13. An 11-30 cassette is nice – using an Ultegra 11-32 should be a non-issue.

    What I’d really like to see is Shimano 48/34 chainrings. The jump between 50/34 annoys me and a 48×11 top gear is plenty big. 48/34 + 11-32 is a huge range and would be pretty cool for a road bike with big tires.

    • I agree. I am running a 46/34, and with 46×11, I have the same top gear that I had with my old 50×12, and I find that I stay in the big ring way more than I used to. Really though, I wish that Shimano would introduce subcompact cranks, like 46/28 and such (FSA is making some now, but who wants FSA). That would provide real options for climbing and “gravel” (ugh) bikes.

      • It’s ridiculous that Shimano doesn’t market a 46/30 crankset for road. Actually I think their new Metrea (?) commuter line will have a smaller crankset. SRAM has a 10-speed Centro commuter line, but they haven’t been marketing it well. I applaud FSA’s new gravel adventure series… but they aren’t going to offer it for a standard BB.

  14. The 11-30T cassette got me smiling a little smugly. It’s essentially the old Tiagra 4600/Ultegra 6700 10-speed 12-30T cassette with an 11T cog bolted onto the end. All the other cogs have the same number of teeth.

    From experience (I have the Tiagra 12-30T on both my bikes), that 11-30T/12-30T should do wonders on the road.

    The new R9100 RD would probably work with a 32T cassette if needed – just fiddle with the B-tension screw.

  15. It looks like Shimano is trying too hard to be cool. This is a very edgy design with the rear derailleur looking a lot like a mountain bike derailleur. I did like the finish on the 9000 groupset and their cranks which still had some polished aluminum were very cool and could enhance a bike with their looks. Now they’re just black cranks like everyone else but with an overly modern design.

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