Shimano’s latest and greatest mechanical (and thus, superior to anything with a battery) groupset has finally been weighed… and found wanting. Dura Ace 9000 incorporates significant design changes to help get the scale to tip quite so badly, and while they have succeeded in shaving around 200g from their groupset weight from the year prior, it doesn’t come close to their main rival: SRAM Red. That’s not to say that it isn’t a drool-worthy groupset – it most certainly is – but that it won’t win a Miss America pageant any time soon.
The most noticeable change from prior is the all-new crankset and the lack of a rear-bracing spider arm, which Shimano has done extensive testing on and found unnecessary, saving a bundle of rotating mass. Further, the ramps and chainrings are cleverly designed to cut down on the lag time between shift and swapping between the big and small rings using inclined chainrings. Hopefully, this helps those of you out there who forget what rear cog you’re on and try to cross chain to not drop right off the bike.
The last mentionable update is to the brakes: we finally have true dual pivot brakes in a Shimano groupset. Stop better, stop faster, stop having to smash the lever to get any real feel out of it. I’m all for putting Shimano on a diet, but when you tell me that they’ll stop better, too, you have my undivided attention.
As a closing note, there are those among us who think I may be overly harsh on Shimano for having groupsets that can’t manage to get their weight down (even to Force numbers, that’d be great), but I’d like to clear something up: I ride Shimano on both my competition bikes, both Road and TT. I have replaced exactly one item on my road bike in the two and a half years I’ve owned it – the chain wore out. I replaced it with the Dura Ace version, for the record. Would I like to see a lighter DA? Absolutely. But weight be damned, Shimano parts just work. And that’s worth a few ounces, to me.