2013 Shimano Dura-Ace Unveiled – Exclusive Interviews & Tech!
The new Dura-Ace DA9000 mechanical and DA9070 Di2 electronic groups take system engineering a step further than before with the new four-arm crankset and polymer coated cables, yet their essence is that of a simpler, smoother, easier to use group. Something for everyone, thanks to their Rider Tuned philosophy that brings a wide range of options, including an expanded range of brakes and electronic shifting for time trialists and triathletes.
“It’s really about options,” says Eric Doyne, Shimano’s North American PR manager. “So much of what Shimano’s doing by increasing gear options, mounting options and shifter location options, we’re really trying to accommodate as many people as possible.”
Aesthetically, the changes are mostly obvious, and as suspected it’s lighter and claims to work better. In fact, road PM Dave Lawrence says the new mechanical Dura-Ace is the best group they’ve ever developed ergonomically and that you simply have to try it to believe how wonderful it shifts. Wayne Stetina, their brake products manager, says it’ll have people that have run Di2 and all but sworn off mechanical shifting rethinking their stance. Strong claims, and we’ve spoken at length with Shimano America’s product managers to get the underlying changes, tech details and more…
DURA-ACE DA9000 MECHANICAL
The big question is why go to 11 speeds?
“The biggest thing is you get some really nice gear ratios,” says Lawrence. “Compared to 10 speed, if you’re using an 11-25, you’re basically tacking on a 28 and getting a really nice climbing gear. Or, you can drop in a 16 and get some really nice gear progressions. It lets you basically run one cassette to tackle just about any terrain. Most people opt for the increased range over the tighter ratio, but the options are there.”
DA9000 is an 11-speed-only group. It’s a different cable pull for both front and rear derailleurs, so there’s no compatibility between the 7900 shifters and derailleurs.The chainrings are the same width as the 10-speed rings from the 7900 group, but the chain and tooth profiles on both the chainrings and cogs have been revised for 11-speed.
Perhaps the most striking piece is the asymmetrical four-arm crankset. As suspected, it’s a one-size-fits-all-chainrings design. The BCD is a 110, which is usually a compact BCD, but Shimano’s largest chainring offering is a 55/42 combo. Lawrence says the hollow outer (larger) chainring, they’re able to match the stiffness of a 130 BCD: “We found it wasn’t going to be possible to offer just one BCD until we perfected that outer hollow ring to get the stiffness we wanted, and now we can do that.”
The new four arm design puts the strength where all the pressure comes in your pedal stroke. Shimano’s studies determined they could beef up those areas to achieve the desired stiffness and decrease the weight. They’ve been studying the four-arm designs for about three years with rideable samples for about 18 months. They’ve been racing on it since February. The later prototypes that Team Sky has been racing this season were virtually production level, and they’ve been running full production finish and graphics since mid-April. No one’s been racing the new Di2 yet.
Six chainring combos will be offered: 55/42 – 54/42 – 53/39 – 52/36 – 52/38 – 50/34.
That’s plenty of options, but should you be tempted to mix and match big and small rings to create your own combo, know this: Shimano recommends staying with the designed pairs because the ramps and pins are designed to work together. For example each 52T ring is different depending on whether it’s mated to the 36 or 38. No word yet on how much replacement chainrings will cost.
The cassette will come in five options, outlined here from an internal specification document we received:
- 11-23: 11-12-13-14-15-16-17-18-19-21-23
- 11-25: 11-12-13-14-15-16-17-19-21-23-25
- 11-28: 11-12-13-14-15-17-19-21-23-25-28
- 12-25: 12-13-14-15-16-17-18-19-21-23-25
- 12-28: 12-13-14-15-16-17-19-21-23-25-28
Like the chainrings, the cogs themselves are the same width as before, but the spacing between them gets a hair smaller. The whole cassette is 1.85mm wider, which mirrors the increased width of the freehub bodies on the new hubs. Titanium for the top five cogs, bottom six are steel.
The Hyperglide shifting is improved, too, via minor tweaks to the chain-cassette interface. Because the cassette is slightly wider, the chain will approach the outer cogs at sharper angles when cross chaining, so the tooth and plate profile has to be designed to keep the chain on the gears yet still shift quickly.
The 11-speed chain is 5.62mm at the widest point, and the current 10-speed chain is 5.88mm. The inner dimensions are the same as the 10-speed chain, but the plates are 0.08mm thinner. The chain’s outer plates are no longer slotted, but the pins are hollow and it’s still slightly lighter (9g). It also gets a PTFE coating (plating), same as the 7900-series shifter cables.
Does this affect chain durability? Lawrence says overall durability is up about 20% thanks largely to the PTFE plating and that it feels much slippier on the shifts and smoother when cross chaining.
Besides getting thinner, the new 11-speed chain is not directional like current gen road and mountain bike chains.
Lawrence: “As we were working through the relationship between the chainring tooth and chain, the wider cassette and revised cog tooth profile for 11-speed, it ended up being that the inner and outer plates could be the same shape. It makes it easier to install and reduces manufacturing complexity, too.”
Lawrence said it may not be the same case for mountain bikes and was pretty careful not to give away any progress on 11-speed stuff for the dirt. He did say they’re likely to explore the PTFE plating for MTB chains, though.
Shimano’s throwing around a lot of numbers with regards to shifting improvements:
- Lighter action that cuts shifting effort nearly in half
- Release lever stroke reduced by 30%
- Short stroke 11-speed RD-9000 rear derailleur reduces shifting effort by 47%
- Lighter, quicker front shifting with 43% less effort at the end of the lever stroke
How do you get shorter throw and easier shifting, particularly with the super long arm on the front derailleur?
“It takes a little more effort to get it going, but as you get into the stroke, the effort drops off considerably. As you lose your strength in leverage, the derailleur takes significantly less effort. But it’s actually a shorter throw at the lever, which is counterintuitive. The magic is that we were able to make a shorter throw and have a lighter shift feel. Part of it is the new cables, they take a lot of the friction out.”
Indeed, Shimano says the full benefit of the new design is achieved with their new shift cables. They’re coated with a new polymer that looks like a series of tubes under a microscope. This means less surface area rubbing the internal housing liner and it holds grease well. The housing is their standard SP41 housing, which comes pre-greased.
They didn’t have numbers on the actual amount cable pull, but the size and volume of the hoods on the shifters is smaller, which doesn’t suggest a bigger pulley wheel inside, either. Basically, we’re left to wonder how they did it until they get back to us or we can get some hands on it later this year.
The reduced diameter of the hood bracket and refined lever shape claims to provide better ergonomics. The levers have 10mm of reach adjust. Lawrence: “Wayne and I both feel this is our best design ever, better than the original Di2, with the best ergonomics we’ve ever made.”
The front derailleur’s design belies the claimed reduction in shifting throw. The long leverage arm makes the start of the shift movement a bit firmer, but as you push the lever in, it increases the power to glide the chain to the big ring. Stetina says it’s “practically a mechanical version of Di2, including comparable front outward shifting while standing under power. So crisp and light action, it’s going to force everyone who rides Di2 and has sworn never to ride mechanical again to reconsider.”
Similarly, the rear derailleur gets revised cable mounting points to deliver better leverage over the shifts. We’re hoping this returns or even improves upon the ultralight shift effort of their external shift cable levers from a few years back (before the levers ran the shift cables internally, which added some drag).
Shimano’s updated their outboard and press fit bottom brackets, too. The bearings inside are smaller and the actual size of the external cup is smaller and lighter. The biggest improvement is in the sealing. They’re able to maintain the same sealing but with 50% of the resistance. Why not finally offer BB30/PFBB30?
“For us, we believe that steel is the optimal material for the spindle and BB30 is really optimized for an alloy spindle and carbon crankarm,” said Lawrence. “We’re pretty committed to steel and aluminum arms and the 24mm spindle in steel is the best solution for us.”
In a new component group where every part seems to be a highlight, the brakes have received some special attention. Considering Shimano’s road calipers were already setting some pretty high performance standards, to hear both Stetina and Lawrence rave about them sets some pretty high expectations. Stetina’s exact words are they “must be ridden to comprehend how good they are.”
The new dual pivot design makes the section of the arm between the pivot and the pad much shorter, which translates to 20% more power with better modulation. Stetina says the biggest change is power from the hoods is much closer to power from the drops. He says half the power improvement comes from the new calipers and half from the new levers and use of the new coated cables.
On the spy shots, we speculated that the small arm attached to the cable-side brake pad (top) was an articulating linkage that added force. In fact, it does add movement to that brake arm, but the design is simply to balance it’s range of motion with the other one for even braking on both sides. The set screw is to adjust that arm’s position relative to the rim.
They recommend up to a 24mm wide rim, and the thin pad option will allow a 28mm wide rim. They’re targeting clearance for a 28c tire, but there’s ample clearance for a 25c. The holder’s identical, so any third party pad should fit.
There are also new aero brakes. Different front and rear, both use two-bolt mounts. Front is mechanically very similar to the standard brake but the pivots on the TT version are where the frame anchors are. The images here aren’t of the final version, Lawrence says it’ll be more sculpted and aerodynamic…likely more like the left image than the right.
The rear brake doesn’t have the quick release, but there’s an inline quick release and barrel adjuster. Despite appearances, it’s mechanically similar to the front but more minimalist.
Braking performance is said to be very similar to their new standard calipers, and Lawrence says the design here isn’t specific to TT or triathlon frames. With the growing trend in aero road bikes, these are designed to work with standard drop bar road brake levers and work on any bike with the dual bolt brake mount standard.
The Dura-Ace pedals don’t change at the body, but there is a new 4mm wider spindle option, helping give more custom fit options. There are also two new cleats, both designed to eliminate lateral movement. The original cleats’ toe section is slightly narrower than the front of the pedal cage, allowing them 1.5mm of float side to side. Combine that with the 3º of rotational play allowed by the rear of the cleat, and you have a bit of movement.
The new cleats are wider at the front to fit snugly and keep the toe stationary…meaning there’s no side-to-side lateral movement. Two options will be available: A blue cleat that’ll have 2º of rotational movement and a red one with zero rotation.
2013 DURA-ACE DI2 9070 ELECTRONIC GROUP
The new Dura-Ace Di2 9070 group gets similar cosmetic changes, but the bigger news is that the derailleurs are much smaller and the shifters get larger, wider buttons and they have more wiring ports available. As suspected, they’ve upgraded the entire system to the newer E-Tube wiring from Ultegra Di2, which opened the door to create a wide variety of junction box options and incorporate the new Flight Deck as both a data display and command center.
The previously reported internal seatpost battery option will work with the Ultegra system and new Alfine Di2, too. Other options will also be reverse compatible back to Ultegra. The Junction A box (wires that go from shifters to the box up at the front) will have 3-port and 5-port options that includes a charging port. So if you run the internal battery, you’d never have to remove the battery to charge it. It used to be designed to mount to the brake cable housing, but we’re now recommending you mount it to the stem. The additional ports allow for more shifter button options to be linked into the system.
The 5-port box will also transmit information wirelessly via ANT+, so as Garmin or other third party computers update their software/firmware, they could read data from Di2 information like battery charge, gears, etc.
The only item left untouched is the external battery, nothing else of the new DA Di2 is compatible with the original’s part. Rumors of a smaller battery apparently aren’t true (yet).
The old Dura-Ace Di2 is a closed system. With the new system, you can program the right shifter to work the front derailleur if you want. You could even program them to simply make the right shifter shift harder and the left shifter shift easier, or vice versa, or really whatever.
Run time for the seatpost battery the same as external battery, and charge time is about 90 minutes with USB wall charger, slower via USB charging from your computer. Dimensions and a mounting system have been sent out to bike and seat post manufacturers. It’ll set inside the seatpost, and the post will need a lip to work with a C-clip provided by Shimano with the battery. MSRP will be $199.99 for the internal battery, and if you added it later on you’d want to upgrade to the external junction box to get the charging port on the bike. Unfortunately, there’s no way to charge the regular batter on the bike at present. Why? Because the seatpost battery’s charger is built into the unit, but the traditional battery needs the charging dock.
What all does the new Flight Deck computer do? For starters, it’s touch screen, and the display is customizable to show what’s important to you.
“It’s not fully baked yet, but generally speaking it’ll have all the basic speed, odometer functions and other stuff you’d expect,” Lawrence said. “Where it gets unique is with Di2. You’ll get the Di2 information, gear indicator, battery life and you’ll be able to do some basic programming. That includes Crash Mode, shift indexing adjustment to fine tune shifting and more.”
Lawrence says you don’t need the Flight Deck computer to use the new Di2, but it is Di2 specific. There’s no non-Di2 Flight Deck computer.
The new 9070 Di2 also adds Multi-Shift Function and E-Tube Project Software. It’s free and a PC connector is included with the system. You’ll get a username and password that lets you download the software, but you’ll need the connector to do anything with it. At launch it’ll be PC only, but they’re working on a Mac version. Lawrence says their field techs use Macs running Parallels and it works fine. With it, you can program the shifter to cycle through multiple gears when holding down the shifter, even letting you set how quickly it shifts between gears when holding it down. Out of the box, it’ll be set stock to perform one shift per click.
Two aero extension bar shifters will be offered for Di2. The single button shifters (left) are designed for a pure TT set up and are entirely new. Shimano’s pro racers reportedly said they didn’t need to access the front derailleur from the aero bars, so this just simplified it for single button up or down shifts. The dual button pods (right) are updated to work with E-Tube and are more for triathletes that are going to be in the aero tuck for hours and want to control both derailleurs.
There’s a new satellite shifter (not shown) like the climber’s shifter from the original coming in September, but is E-Tube compatible and can be programmed to do whatever you want.
The derailleurs are both much more compact and lighter. Wire routing is said to be cleaner, too. Functionally, they’re similar to the originals.
PRICING & AVAILABILITY
The mechanical group and parts will be available in October both aftermarket and on complete bikes. Di2 is scheduled for December.
Flight Deck is still in development and more news will come on it later. It’s scheduled to come out 30-60 days after 9070 Di2, which likely means early spring 2013. Lawrence says supply for the mechanical parts should be pretty solid. The good news for Di2 is that all of the wiring and junction boxes is done, they’re just waiting on the bigger parts. This is good news because initial supply for Ultegra Di2 (ie. E-Tube) wiring parts was pretty bad…it took almost six months for us to get our test set up.
In other rumor news, they’re working on a drop-bar Di2 system to work with the Alfine 11. Theoretically, it would work with the Ultegra shifters since they both use the E-Tube system, but you’d have a lot of extraneous wiring and a left hand shifter lever that wasn’t doing anything.
|2013 Shimano Dura-Ace||
|Cranks + BB||683g||735g||683g||735g||610g|
*All weights are manufacturer’s claims.
WHEELS & HUBS
Shimano is also releasing several new wheels and new Dura-Ace hubs, all spaced for 11-speed. Full details in this post.