One step ahead, not just one more cog
Ten years after the launch of its first electronic Di2 shifting system, Shimano [B3-300] is rolling out the third generation of the technology with the new Dura-Ace and Ultegra Di2 groupsets. Yes, they do have 12 gears in the back, but there’s much more to the new products than just that.
While Shimano still offers the new Dura-Ace and Ultegra groupsets with cable-actuated side-pull rim brakes, only those who opt for hydraulic disc brakes get to enjoy the biggest change for the model year 2022: with the third generation of the Di2 system, the ergonomically enhanced shift levers now send a wireless signal to the front and rear derailleur. While the latter are still linked to the main battery by cable, the levers rely on cell batteries for easier assembly and a cleaner cockpit. Satellite shifters can still be linked by cables. The rear derailleur now is the control unit of the entire system, replacing the junction box and featuring a hidden button to change the shift modes, LED lights that indicate the charging state of the battery and a charging port. The detailed layout of the shift paddles and the different shift modes can be customized with the improved E-Tube app, using the Bluetooth LE protocol. According to Shimano, this mix of wired core and wireless remote controls offers the best mix of shifting speed, ease of maintenance and battery management.
As for the gearing, Shimano favours a narrow-spaced pattern: The 12-speed cassettes are available in either 11 to 30 or 11 to 34 teeth versions. Interestingly, the omission of a 10-tooth cog allows for backwards compatibility to existing wheels – no Microspline standard here. Cranks are available with either 50/34, 52/36 or a really big 54/40 combination and with an integrated power meter as an option – this is where the close cooperation with pro cyclists throughout the development shows. A lot of effort has also gone into addressing some of the disadvantages of disc brakes on road bikes: Shimano has increased the distance between the pads and the rotors by 10 percent and adds rotors from the XTR mountain bike groupset to the mix. As a first on road bikes, the new Dura-Ace disc brakes come with the Servowave technology to increase modulation and control. Mechanics will like to hear that Shimano has made the bleeding of road disc brakes a whole lot easier with the Dura-Ace 9200 as well.
A wide choice of wheels with carbon rims with an internal width of 21 mm, a rim depth of 36, 50 or 60 mm respectively, rim and disc brake versions and tubeless or tubular options is completing the new Dura-Ace groupset. All these wheels come with Shimano’s new Direct Engagement free hub system that is said to offer a very fast engagement. Most of the features of the new Dura-Ace 9200 can be had a lower price with the new Ultegra 8100 as well, a groupset that Shimano is launching at this year’s Eurobike as well.