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Shimano Dura-Ace R9150 Di2 Groupset Review

31st May 2017

The 9150 Dura-Ace group set has the typical sleek design as we’ve seen in previous years. Some key differences are integrated thumb shifters on the hoods to control the rear derailleur, an updated rear derailleur design and rim brake callipers featuring ‘Booster Bridge’ and SLR-EV pull system for better tyre clearance.

 

CRANKS
Given our time spent on previous Dura-Ace crank sets we were scratching our heads on how Shimano could improve, with some cosmetic changes and the executive look of the dark grey they definitely looked the business. The Dura-Ace cranks drop seven grams in weight and Shimano claim the design aids stiffness at the load points of pedalling, although this Dura-Ace crank and all others we have used in the past have never felt anything but super-stiff. We found under load they delivered plenty of power through the new crank arms which has a bigger outer chain ring. A dual-leg power meter will be added to the line up later in the year.

 

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SHIFTERS & DERAILLEUR
One of the biggest changes in the set was the new functions with the shifting, such as the buttons on the top of the hoods that control rear shifting and aid rider position when pushing hard up a hill or sprinting. We found them a welcome addition and especially handy when leaving the saddle at the bottom of the hill and maintaining momentum while flicking through the gears. The traditional shifters also had a nice feel, with the ease of pushing an electronic lever rather than a mechanically lever with the weight of a cable being something that is all too easy to get used to! On that note the shifting was flawless and unlike some gears where you will tentatively power across gear changes the Dura-Ace gave the rider confidence from just how reliable it is. The derailleur both front and rear have seen some changes with the front becoming a smaller, sleeker unit and the rear having the ability to accept wider gear ratios.

 

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Another progression is 'Synchro', otherwise known as 'Full Synchro Shift'. The system provides an almost automatic response in shifting based on your cadence and the position of the chain on the front chain rings and rear cassette. The concept is based around an automated control over the front shifting based on the rear gear. As you shift up or down the cassette, the 'Full Synchro Shift' system will decide whether you should be in the large or small front chain ring.

 

Another nice feature is the ‘Semi-Synchro’ shift mode which will automatically change the rear gear after a front shift to the best position so you can maintain an even cadence. For example, a shift into the small chain ring would result in a move down the cassette to increase the gear and smooth out the usually clumsy shift process. This was ideal when used as if you’re in the break and want to quickly change the front ring will trim up or down depending on what you require. It does take a bit to get used to but after a while its seamless, makes sense and stops cross chaining.

 

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Synchro shifting can be fully customized or turned off through an upcoming app if you prefer manual control. The new 9150 Dura-Ace gets a significant upgrade from the current wired-only (and Windows PC-only) setup with wireless communication, for both ANT ‘Private’ (works with ANT+) and Bluetooth connectivity.

 

The upgrade, in association with Shimano’s soon-to-be-released ‘E-Tube Project’ app, will allow for complete customisation of shift settings, shift button purpose, shift speed, and wireless firmware updates.

 

BRAKES
A real highlight of the Dura-Ace kit was the brakes; we are talking rim brakes not disc brakes. Don’t get us wrong, we are fans of disc brakes but these Dura-Ace brakes that were matched to Dura-Ace wheels with a metal braking surface were seriously impressive. Having only read the technical jargon on the brakes before writing this and learning about the “Booster Bridge’ designs and it’s claimed ability to decrease deformation under hard braking we can say that is bang on. This translated to noticeable less flex than many other brakes when you really hit the slammers and that all translated to power and control. The action from the lever was smooth and the new pull ratio allows the brakes to accept up to a 28c tyre.

 

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CASSETTE
As mentioned the rear derailleur now caters for a larger gear ratio. The new derailleur named 'Shadow' (first seen in Shimano's mountain bike ranges) has a low profile and sits further in-board for improved aerodynamics and less chance of getting bent or damaged in the event of a crash. A 11-30T cassette can now be used too, featuring 11-12-13-14-15-17-19-21-24-27-30T sprockets. A new chain ring and sprocket tooth profile has also been introduced to better suit a wider gear ratio. In practice on the road this meant we could mostly find the gear we needed from sprinting to the local coffee shop to taking out the bunch KOM. This also means if you have larger volume tyres or want to go further afield you have more gears to choose from which essentially saves your legs.

 

Distributor: Shimano NZ 

Website: Shimano 

 

Words: Liam Friary

Photos: Cameron Mackenzie 

 

Orginally published in the NZ Road Cyclist May/Jun Issue. For more in-depth reviews and exclusive articles grab the latest copy on-sale today!