Despite saying that I have a Shimano Dura-Ace R9100 setup on one of my bikes, it’s not wholly true as the Dura-Ace bits and pieces are mixed and matched between the latest Dura-Ace R9100 tech and other bits of slightly lower-specified Ultegra kit. Nevertheless, I love it all and I’m just about to whack another R9100 crankset onto one of my other bikes and/or buy another Cervelo frame. That’s another story for another day and the thought of it got me thinking.
What will Shimano introduce on Dura-Ace in 2020?
This article is a bit of speculation on that exact topic. Yet an even more interesting and related topic might be to speculate what Dura-Ace bits will be rolled down to Ultegra and further down to 105 as 2020 progresses. For example, Di2 is currently on the Ultegra R8050/R8070 but will it make its way further down to 105 componentry (R7050/R7070)? Anyway, back to the top-end Dura-Ace stuff.
The Past Chronology
You can spot patterns behind the product releases here on the Wikipedia link for Shimano’s Road Groupsets.
The most obvious pattern is the annual rolldown of a new feature from Dura-Ace to Ultegra and then a further rolldown to 105 the next year. But the gap between the first, major iteration of a new Dura-Ace model and the next is not quite so predictable.
Yet, clearly, we’re due a notable upgrade to Dura-Ace either in 2020 or 2021, just to keep up with the competition 😉
The 2020 incarnation will enumerate as the Dura-Ace R9200 series (ie Road 92xx)
- R9200: 12 speed
- R9220: 12 speed, w/ disc brakes
- R9250: 12 speed Di2
- R9270: 12 speed Di2, w/ disc brakes
The intended customers will be wannabe racers…and real racers too, of course.
But it’s not about top speed. You might be surprised to know that it was the pro riders who wanted the super-spinny gear combos. My granny does too with her granny cog and three up front, but she doesn’t need to spin up the Alpe d’Huez (ever). Some of the pro’s clearly do need to do that.
Primarily the tech will be delivered bundled on new bikes, although it will be available in the aftermarket too.
I don’t think there will be any product gimmicks in Dua-Ace. Just serious kit for serious people.
I think the headline addition here will be a move to 2×12 speed following similar moves from SRAM and Campagnolo . Note well that Shimano already have an existing 12-speed MTB offering from 2018 (M9100) and, if memory servies me correctly, they have patents on designs to cover 13-speed and 14-speed.
This is a non-trivial launch and requires new chains, cassettes, shifters…the lot, even wheel hubs/geometries need to change in order to accommodate a wider cassette. Bike manufacturers too will have already considered new, modified frame geometries and perhaps new ways to attach any new types of component eg Wireless units.
Front rings will remain as they currently are, ranging from spinny to speedy as 34-50 t, 36-52 t, 39-53 t, 42-54 t, 42-55 t. FYI: Campag varies from 34 to 53 and SRAM from 33 to 52.
Dura-Ace Rear Cassette sprockets will increase to cover 32T, with the current Dura-Ace cassettes being: 11-25T, 11-28T, 11-30T, 12-25T and 12-28T. R9100 currently supports 32T with a longer derailleur hanger, although you have to use an Ultegra 32T Cassette. I’d have to do some maths on the gear combos but I don’t think a 10t ring is needed at the rear when the 55t option already exists with Shimano at the front. FYI: Campag varies from 11 to 32t.
No change, other than support for 12 speed. Initially, there might not be 12-speed support for Di2 with disc brakes, that might come in 2021.
‘Just’ supporting Di2 might sounds easy but, for one, it requires some significant changes to the E-Tube app on 2 iOS/Android.
Aftermarket Di2 components and accessories are expensive and probably a nice little earner for retailers everywhere. I can’t see a move happening to either a fully-wireless or part-wireless setup, especially when the current Di2 cabling works well enough as it is. To my mind, wireless is not that much of a compelling offering over and above the benefits of wired Di2 as it introduces other minor potential annoyances. However, I concede that further down the line, some form of wireless is inevitable.
We will see an R9200P Power Meter to represent Shimano taking the existing R9100P to greater and more accurate levels, although that would most likely be in 2021. I’m envisaging a TOTALLY re-designed, dual-sided PM product as an option to the standard R9200 cranks which themselves will be re-designed possibly having 5 gear arms and a new iteration of Hollowtech construction.
I can’t see a carbon offering here at all so alloy is here to stay along with the same compatibility to the existing BBs.
There are some issues with the Ultegra and Dura-Ace cranks when power meters are added to the cranks, to cut a long and complex story short – we may well see a more symmetrical design with the bolts for the chainrings evenly spaced. Failing that, the acquisition of PIONEER’s power meter business could see Shimano take a different road more akin to the PM products offered by 4iiii and Stages.
No material change
There will still be support for rim and disc braking systems through cables or hydraulics
A possible, major innovation here would be ABS (Shimano DO have a patent for it).
I have the ISTR9150R/L Di2 shifters which are pretty cool and can be programmed in many exciting ways, including a button which can trigger paging, lapping and other actions on your Wahoo, Garmin, and supported head units.
You can read more about it at the following link and, whilst improvements can be made to the usability of the app, I don’t see the need to add much more functionality over and above what’s already there. It’s already pretty cool, IMHO.
Shimano Electronic Tech
I suspect that Shimano is going to be much more interested in keeping up with the latest trends in gravel bikes and eBikes, both of which are significantly growing markets right now. I just can’t see the need to introduce weird stuff like electronic brakes (somewhat dangerous!) or brake-wear indicators or anything like that. I love my tech (obviously) but I love that Shimano is more about good MECH rather than tech. Let’s keep it (mostly) that way.
Dura-Ace: I reckon it’s almost certain that we will see Shimano’s first road, 12-speed plus Di2 and maybe a new power meter (2021) but no wireless Di2 until perhaps 2022
105: There’s a reasonable chance we might see wired Di2 sooner rather than later.