The year of the component.
This year and last year has seen a lot happen on the component side of things. SRAM has become a legitimate player on the road side of components with the release of Red and the redesign of Rival. Shimano released the long awaited redesign of Dura Ace with an electronic shifting version to be out late spring. Not to be out done Campagnolo has come out with an eleven speed versus of their Record and Chorus groups as well as a Super Record Group. Things happen in threes right?
I haven’t gotten a chance to play with any of the Campy groups but I have seen and played with the new Dura Ace 7900 Group. Very neat stuff all around it is hard to know where to start to talk about it. The most obvious change is the overall appearance of the components. Next is the fact that the shifter cables and housing are now internally routed to the bar. A much cleaner look overall and something that will trickle down to a new Ultegra group that Shimano is going to call Ultegra 6700. So with Ultegra SL just recently on the market Shimano will be at it again with Ultegra 6700. Next up in obvious changes are the ergonomics of the Dura Ace, a much more comfortable grip shape for the hoods, flared out shifter blades and new adjustable reach at a Pro Level component group. What is also interesting to learn is that Dura Ace will have a smaller hood then even the new Ultegra. The Shimano folks tell me this will always be the case because they view Ultegra as for the enthusiast and longer distance rider wanting to offer them a larger hood position for comfort. Also for the first time Dura Ace will have a Dura Ace level compact crankset. I’ve haven’t had a chance to ride the Dura Ace so I will hold off from a full review and an opinion. If you have to have one there are plenty of other sites that offer a complete review of the extensive revisions (which I haven’t mentioned them all) to it so I will hold off from an opinion of the functionality and performance. Early reports are strong. I am looking forward to having a chance to ride it enough to give you an opinion.
What I am excited to ride is the Electronic version of the Dura Ace, Dura Ace Di2. I have played with it on a bike in the stand and it is impressive! Shimano Dura Ace Di2 is a huge improvement over the electronic groupo that Mavic had on the market for a short period of time in the early nineties. When I first heard about Di2 the purist in me was thinking “why would you want an electronic shifter?” Check out the photos I took.
Well for starters, how about never missing a shift and a self adjusting front derailleur? The system is light and very weather proof, it held up to the rigors’ of Paris Roubaix. The pricing is not out yet from Shimano but the rumor on the street is the group should run about a thousand dollars more than the new 7900 Dura Ace group. I think the first early adopters of Di2 may very well be the triathletes. I was impressed with the performance of the components the shifting was flawless. Time will tell but I think that electronic shifting is here to stay and will be the shifting method of choice for the future!
Also due out from Shimano will be a revised version of the Flight Deck that will be wireless and Shimano appears to have designed the new Flight Deck and Dura Ace together so they will integrate seamlessly.
Once again Shimano proves why it is in the industry leader and the component manufacturer of choice for riders around the world! I’ll report back as I learn more and have more time under my belt with the new stuff.