We had a pretty good look at the new Dura-Ace R9100 group when it was unveiled over the summer, adding a proper top-level set of hydraulic disc brakes to Shimano’s premium road race groupset both in electronic Di2 and mechanical shift options, as well as an integrated power meter crankset among other drivetrain redesigns. But less attention has been paid to the accompanying Dura-Ace wheels.
Shimano has effectively added two new wider carbon rim families the C60 & C40, that will join the carry-over C24 to mesh with the new groupset. But even then with options for tubular, tubeless & clincher rims and both rim & disc brake setups, there are a lot of different wheelsets coming in the R9100 & R9170 groups. Get the details including claimed weights & pricing, plus another good look at those new disc rotors, and a sneak peek at what looks to be Shimano’s own quick release thru-axle solution…
R9170 disc brake profiles
A lot of the new innovation in the new Dura-Ace wheels came out once they started to make the move to ditch the brake track. These are the first road wheels to be developed that didn’t need to deal with rim braking forces or rim heat build up, so got a clean slate design. That also gave Shimano the flexibility to start with a wide profile, so they chose to grow out to 28mm at the widest point. They didn’t give us much more width details, whether inside or out, but also mentioned widths of 24mm at times, so we’ll be anxious to put a set of calipers to the wheels in the next few weeks.
Both of the two new rim platforms – C60 & C40 – were said to be developed around the new 28mm outer width profile better suited to the growing use of wider tires for lower rolling resistance. The new shapes were then optimized through CFD & wind tunnel testing to deliver improved aerodynamics over the current C50 wheels.
The new deeper 60mm C60 tubular beat out the previous 9000 generation tubulars by 16W, while also trimming off more than 40g from the wheelset. In addition to the race-ready tubulars, Shimano has developed the new full carbon rim for disc brake use to be compatible with road tubeless. As more tire testing is showing lower rolling resistance tubeless even compared to tubulars, the new R9170 wheels will give one more reason to opt for disc brakes.
With disc brakes, the new full carbon tubeless C60s will sell for $2080 a pair at a claimed weight of 1644g. Their tubular version drops the weight back to just 1492g with a retail of $2670.
Aerodynamically,even the more shallow profile 37mm deep C40 wheels are still claimed to offer a 2W savings vs. the C50 at the same 7.5° wind angle that Shimano claimed delivered the best real world sprint approximation. The wheels carry the same 28mm wide rim, but also go to a dramatically asymmetric rim that Shimano claims improves stiffness greatly paired with the wide flange disc hubs.
The new carbon disc tubeless C40s will sell for $1970 at 1557g, while the tubular option will drop down to just 1389g at a retail of $2450. No disc brake version of the carry-over C24 will be offered.
Shimano sees the C60 disc as the ideal race wheel for the performance-driven roadie or triathlete who are looking for the added braking security offered by discs in hilly events or unpredictable weather. At the same time with light overall weights and excellent aerodynamics, the mid-depth C40 is the best balance for an all around road disc wheelset with responsive acceleration.
The move to disc brakes finally brings a centerlock hubset to Dura-Ace. Showing a strong family resemblance to the most recent XTR 9000 wheels where they clearly pull some of their design ideas, the new R9170 hubs get slimmed down hub shells with the same offset straightpull flanges. The disc brake wheels look to be only offered in 12mm E-Thru thru-axle for now (142mm rear spacing), with the rim brake wheels sticking with QRs (130mm only).
All of the new Dura-Ace wheels also incorporate bladed stainless steel spokes for improved aerodynamics. Update: So far, these tubulars we see here do indeed have internal nipples, which anyone who has glued up tires knows is at least an inconvenient idea. That said, we’ve seen some images of new D-A wheels that have visible external nipples. We’ll get more info on nipples as soon as possible, and hope to be able to report back in a month or so once we’ve had a chance to see more of the different wheels available in person.
Both rim and disc brake wheelsets use Shimano’s OptBal spoke systems to varying degrees. That means that spoke numbers and their lacing patterns vary depending on the application. For the disc brake front hubs, the wheels get effective 3-cross lacing out of the straight pull hubs, while the rear hub is effectively 3-cross on the driveside and radial on the disc side.
R9170 rotors and E-Thru axles
It can never hurt to get another good look at those new Dura-Ace, next gen Freeza disc brake rotors. Mounted up on the new R9170 hubs gives us a better sense of the look of the vented alloy cooling fins and aluminum carrier.
A closer look also reveals a sneak peek at Shimano’s own quick release E-Thru thru-axle. It uses a newly shaped QR lever to match the aesthetics of the new D-A group with a traditional internal cam for smooth action. On the driveside you can see that the QR axle doesn’t appear to thread into the interface at the fork, but rather looks like it has an expander that clamps it into the dropout. This is certainly different to the thread-in axle interface that we have seen on other disc brake, thru-axle Pinarellos, and is likely a new solution developed to allow for faster wheel changes in the pro peloton.
Out back we can see the same QR lever, plus another couple of views of the new rotors and the straight pull bladed spoke lacing.
R9100 rim brake profiles
Interestingly, while the disc brake wheels have gone full carbon even for the tubeless versions, only the tubular rims for either of the new C60 & C40 rim brake wheels go full carbon. The deeper rim brake C60 uses an ultra-shallow doublewall aluminum rim extrusion that is them bonded to a complete carbon airfoil that looks very similar to the accompanying tubular. The more shallow rim brake C40 on the other hand uses a complete, but thin aluminum rim extrusion that gets wrapped in carbon to deliver its desired rim stiffness.
Also if note, the composite aluminum/carbon rim brake clinchers are not tubeless ready as the disc brake versions are.
For the rim brake wheels, the new C60 will sell for $1650 a set for the clinchers at a claimed weight of 1770g and $2630 for the 1471g tubulars. The new C40 clinchers will run $1580 at 1527g, and $2400 for the 1343g tubular version. The 1412g alloy C24s will carry over for $1150.
All of the new Dura-Ace R9100 rim brake & R9170 disc brake wheels are slated for early 2017 availability. We’ll have the chance to get some riding in on the new wheels hopefully by the end of January, so we’ll report back out impressions then.