2009 Shimano Dura-Ace

BY KENNETH LUNDGREN

In my opinion, Shimano Dura-Ace is the gold standard. I thought their 9-speed groupset was the best out there, shifted far nicer than the Campy Record 10-speed although Campy is more durable… Then Shimano in 2003 came out with the outboard bearing bottom bracket, a very user-friendly crankset that was lighter and had those masterpiece chainrings…

I’ve test ridden bikes with Campy and SRAM. Campy’s nice, I like the feel of their hoods, but shifting feels muddled, nothing crisp or soft. SRAM belongs on mountain bikes, very mechanical feeling, very harsh. Not a fan of SRAM for the road bikes. If you have a high-end road bike, there is no choice other than Shimano Dura-Ace.

Now Shimano is coming out with a newer edition. When I thought 9-speed was IT, they came out with 10-speed, and when you thought 10-speed was borderline as good as it could possibly get, they come out with THIS… Velo News broke it down and here are some of the highlights:

The cranks have been improved… Shimano claims the cranks are 20% stiffer and 15 grams lighter. They are now using a hollow outer chainring, and the chainring teeth have also been redesigned to improve chain interface and power transfer. ALSO, and this is a huge also, Dura-Ace will be available in a compact crank.

The STI levers are 40 grams lighter. Hello!!! The brake levers are now made of carbon fiber and you can rake the levers closer to the bar — this means you can still run the brake hoods very high and still reach the brakes from the drops…One thing I liked about Shimano was how the cables weren’t hidden like SRAM or Campy — when cut at the appropriate length, I felt the bikes looked classy. Now, Shimano’s taking the SRAM and Campy route, running the shifter cable under the bar tape… Even with the change, Shimano claims that shift stroke for the rear derailleur is reduced by 20%… To save weight, the shifters are clamped to the bar with titanium clamps and bolts. Also, not that anyone really cares anymore, the Flightdeck Computer (bleck) has been improved, can now do HR, altitude, grade, cadence, gear position, and you can download these files straight to your PC…

The Dura-Ace chain offers a new asymmetric design. The inner and outer plates are misaligned to better shift onto the larger chainrings. This aids in the movement of the chain. Shimano also states that the chain will be more durable with less noise and smoother function. And it’s 18 grams lighter… One thing SRAM has is that Powerlink, but now Shimano offers a similar Quicklink, completely reusable, allowing for easy removal and installation of the chain…

The rear derailleur utilizes a carbon pulley cage. Hello! The one criticism is now that the cage is longer to reach the bigger gears of the bigger cassette, the derailleur may be flexy. Just speculation. This problem has not arose yet. But that rear derailleur is 16 grams lighter and can take up to a 28-tooth cog…

The front derailleur cage has been widened, no more trim adjustments necessary when you crosschain. Velo News says that this, paired with the new chainrings, makes for “possibly the best shifting action in the industry.”

The Shimano Dura-Ace brakes, which have always been the strongest on the market, have somehow gotten even STRONGER. And the weight has been reduced. Shimano says that it’s new brake pad compound doubles wet condition performance and improve dry performance by 20%. In short, this break in untouchable in terms of power. Shimano has redesigned the caliper arch and cam in the lever — the brake arm’s cable stop is lower, creating a smoother cable routing which reduces cable friction. Oh, and the brakes are 30 grams lighter.

The hubs, which are already arguably one of the smoothest, most durable on the market, have been updated to you can adjust the bearings without any tools. Velo News says simply, “These hubs may become the best value and most durable high-end hubs for a training wheelset, and of course, hand-built cycloross wheels.”

The cassette is not too noticeably different, whereas SRAM pushed the borders of redesign and lightness. The top four cogs are titanium and the weight reduction is 10 grams. The cassette will come in 11-21, 11-23, 11-25, 11-27, 11-28, 12-23, 12-25, and 12-27.

Hoorah… In the end, pretty much every component from Shimano’s already superior groupset has been upgraded and now it’s around 145 grams lighter. There is a strong possibility I’m going to put this on my Madone and Trek TT rigs for 2009…

Thanks for reading.

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Kenneth Lundgren's Diary | Wednesday, August 27th, 2008 | | |