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Huge Shimano Dura-Ace & Ultegra Announcements: All The Details
Now we know why Shimano components have been in short supply for the last year. They’ve been making 2 whole new groupsets for us that will be available in October 2021 (Dura-Ace), November 2021 (Ultegra), Q1.2022 (Power Meters).
After 8 years in development, Shimano has finally announced their move to semi-wireless, 12-speed on the road.
That’s just the headline and there are MANY more significant product details that follow as a result ranging from new gearing options to a brand new Shimano-branded power meter for Ultegra.
Q: What’s New
A: Lots! Let’s take them one at a time
Shimano R9200 Groupset
The R9200 groupset now only shifts with Di2, previously the R9100 had a manual gear change option.
- Shifting Speed – Di2 shifting speed was previously configurable via the E-Tube app. Shimano is now claiming further improvements to shifting times: 58% from the rear derailleur and 45% from the front.
- Wireless or Wired Di2 – There are fully wired and part-wireless Di2 options. Note that the new Di2 wires are smaller than the previous ones and are incompatible without the use of a step-down adapter.
- Battery location(s) -There is a seatpost battery connected by smaller wires to each derailleur and each lever contains a CR1632 battery that lasts for over 1.5 years.
- Charging – The new battery charge port is part of the rear derailleur (RD-R9250) and as a result, it’s easily accessible and can be charged without the need for a port or charging unit elsewhere on the bike. The front derailleur (FD-R9250) is powered from the same battery as the rear.
- There is only one rear derailleur for each groupset…there are no longer medium/long cage options
- Redesigned shifters – The ST-R9270 hydraulic levers for disk brakes have several subtle ergonomic changes that help ride position and the Di2 levers within that also have minor changes to make changing gears easier whilst wearing gloves. Plus we see a small LED to indicate coin cell battery status.
- Satellite shifters – These are still supported as wired-only options. There are sprint shifters (SW-R801-S) or climbing shifters (SW-R801-T). Interestingly, where previously frames were modified to accommodate charging ports, newer handlebars like the PRO Vibe Evo bar are designed to integrate satellite shifters.
- 12-Speed Hyperglide+ rear Cassette – If you look closely at the teeth on modern cassettes they are unusually shaped, this is not for aesthetics as each shape affects the speed and quality of shift. Hyperglide+ sees these shapes revised for the new 12-speed cassette which covers 11-30T and 11-34T. It is claimed that shifting whilst under load is improved.
- A new, larger Dura-Ace 54-40T front ring is available for the front and support also exists for 3rd party rings with sizes to 50-55T
- There is still the option for a power meter on the cranks (FC-R9200 and FC-R9200P) and those cranks range from 160 to 177.5 mm and with a Q-factor of 148 mm. The R9200P supports ANT+ and BLE with 1.5% accuracy and 300+ hours of ride time – available early 2022.
- The 12-Speed chain is the same as the existing 12-Speed MTB version
- The current E-Tube 4.0.4 app handles the upgraded components.
Dura-Ace also sees improvements to disc brakes for Gravel riding, maintenance and noise.
Finally, there are 3 new wheelsets ranging from the light C36 (WH-R9270-C36-TL) to the all-rounder C50 (WH-R9270-C50-TL) through to the specialised sprint option of the C60 (WH-R9270-C60-HR-TL). These optimise lightness, rigidity and aeroness as appropriate for each model. There are carbon rim brake or disk brake options with Tubeless for each. However, these wheelsets ONLY support Shimano 12 speed setups.
Shimano Ultegra R8100 Groupset
R8100 is the groupset that most riders will choose and the options appear very similar to those in Dura-Ace. These are specific points of clarification:
- Ultegra components tend to be a tiny bit heavier. For example, the DURA-ACE R9200 front and rear derailleurs weigh 96g and 215g respectively, versus ULTEGRA R8100 weights of 116g and 262g, resulting in a combined 67g difference.
- For the first time, Ultegra now comes with a power meter option in the FC-R8100-P cranks.
- There are also new Ultegra-level wheelsets that are backwards compatible with 11 speed but which are ONLY for disk brakes.
- Shimano says, “ULTEGRA cassettes come with a new spline fitting pattern, which is also backwards compatible to Shimano 11-speed freehub bodies, meaning that new ULTEGRA R8100 components can be used on the previous Shimano 11-speed wheels.“
Opinion & Thoughts
This was an upgrade that was expected and most of the high-level details leaked earlier in the year.
It’s interesting that Ultegra gets a power meter for the first time and we will probably see a 12-Speed roll down to the 105 series within a year. Wired Di2 won’t roll down to 105, as I strongly suspect that we will never see another new mechanical Ultegra or Dura-Ace groupset meaning that 105 is differentiated from lower groupsets as Shimano’s top-end mechanical option.
Clearly, Shimano wants us to move to disc brakes but the PROs still want and get the rim brake option. Sure discs are ‘better’ but they’re also more expensive to buy and harder to maintain.
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