So it seems to be a recurring theme that Shimano likes to introduce a new tech update at the top of their line – think: Dura-Ace or XTR – and then one year later trickle down some of that same tech into the next tier – Ultegra & XT. Well, it’s been almost a year since we saw the big R9100 series Dura-Ace overhaul that brought us a new look, a new Shimano powermeter, and dedicated Dura-Ace branded hydraulic disc brake levers that resulted in four complete groupsets cover the full combination of rim or disc brakes & mechanical or Di2 shifting.
Then the middle of this week we saw new road bikes introduced from BMC that at the top level all were sporting the new Dura-Ace, but the next step down where we tend to find Ultegra groupsets, we instead got photos with blacked out components. We got word from BMC suggesting that they would have updated images in the coming weeks. We talked with Shimano too, and they essentially kept their cards closer to the chest, asking coyly what made us think they were Shimano components under there anyway.
So obviously the details are thin, but really looking around the edges of those blurs on BMC’s images we can deduce a lot of interesting info, and pair that with what we do see from Dura-Ace. Jump down the speculation rabbit hole with us after the break…
OK, first things first, we aren’t really sure this is a new Ultegra groupset, but the spec sheets on the Teammachine SLR01 Three, SLR02 One, SLR01 Disc One, SLR02 Disc One & SLR02 Disc Two all
do call did call the components out as Ultegra when the Teammachine was launched yesterday (it seems those references have been since wiped). That could be carry over text, but all that blacked out kit suggests to anyone making any assumptions that something cool and new is under there.
Let’s start off with a refresher of what we know about Dura-Ace. The new BMCs mark one of the first times we see the new R9100 series road groupset with a Shadow-inspired direct mount rear derailleur. We commented on the road adoption of the MTB tech back when Dura-Ace was debuted. It definitely makes for a more protected derailleur, but we were waiting for road bikes with that new integrated hanger. BMC has made the jump here with a lightweight solution on both thru-axle & QR road bikes.
In this pic from one of the new BMCs we see that same direct mount hanger, and blacked out derailleur shaping that looks almost identical to the Dura-Ace derailleurs above. That suggest that not just the new interface, but maybe the same angular D-A aesthetic could trickle down as well. Almost surely that is a Di2 wire popping out above the dropout too, since there is an unused shift cable stop under the chainstay. There’s a blacked out disc brake caliper, crankset & front derailleur here is well, but all we can get from that is that it’s likely a entire group. No surprise there. (Shoutout to some readers who pointed us in the direction of some UK folks on Instgram who have some good photos that look convincingly like a new Ultegra crankset, among other things?! There’s even some nonsense of pricing offers over at ChainReaction that suggests a R8000/R8050 naming scheme might be in order?)
So there we go a mechanical shift version. A really short loop of housing also supports the idea of using the revised design of the mechanical Dura-Ace R9100 rear derailleur. The shift wire under the chainstay (and a bit of wire extending out of the black blob) confirm a mechanical shift setup. Here we also see that direct mount BMC hanger and how it works with a quick release dropout. Again nothing up front, beyond dark colored chainring teeth, but if you look up at that light gray bike above, we can see a blacked out set of rim brakes (remember the new Teammachine is direct mount only for rim brakes) and dual control levers.
On one bike – the Teammachine SLR02 Disc Two – BMC din’t bother to hide the front rotor which is a bit different than anything else Shimano currently offers. Looking at the new Dura-Ace rotor on the left, and the unidentified one on the right, that overall shape is almost identical, save slightly larger slots in the braking surface & silver cooling fins vs. D-A’s black ones. There is also a pretty big blob on the fork. It could be that is just to confuse us, or whatever is hiding under there is measurably larger than Dura-Ace?
As to the disc brake dual control levers themselves, there’s not much hard data to go on. The blue bike (SLR02 Disc One) with presumed Di2 and discs (at top) has much smaller black blobs than the black (SLR02 Disc Two) that shows the rotor and looks to have mechanical shifting. It’s clearly been photoshopped though, so we’ll have to play wait-and-see.
Now as to real timing for official word of an update, that’s a total crap shoot. We see bike companies inadvertently, quietly, or just accidentally launch bikes with components on them that haven’t been official revealed a few times a year. It’s actually pretty common, and I’m sure is a headache for those suppliers like Shimano (Sorry guys, we’re just speculating with what we see out, floating in the interwebs.) The dates are all usually close though. That typically means it is no more than a couple weeks from premature release to full reveal. So, looks like June could see a Shimano update, and could hopefully trickle down some recent Dura-Ace tech to a more affordable price point. Ultegra mechanical shifting/hydraulics would be on my personal wish list; and an Ultegra (although maybe a reach) would be awesome!