We've been accused of over-interpreting things in the past, and maybe that's exactly what we're doing here. Bear with us, please, and allow us to start with a question: Has anyone here ever had a headache of note with a set of Dura-Ace brakes, regardless of the generation? Sure, we remember the 7700-series brakes that came with terrible pads back in the Michele Bartoli-era and we all upgraded to salmon-colored Kool Stop pads to achieve better stopping power. But except for that one now-forgotten incident, would we all agree that Dura-Ace brakes are pretty much phenomenal? In our minds, this isn't controversial stuff.What's interesting, then, is the fact that the folks over at Ciamillo Components who manufacture the ultra-lightweight Zero Gravity brake calipers seem to have a bit of a bullseye on Dura-Ace. Visit their site here and find the page titled "Powercam". On this page they make an argument that Zero Gravity brakes are superior because as you pull more brake cable they provide intensified braking power. By virtue of this argument, they suggest that Dura-Ace brakes are inferior because they provide equal braking power no matter how much cable you're pulling.We're not engineers. We're bike racers. So the first time we read this page we asked ourselves whether predictability is a good thing. When we're buzzing down the road at 30mph in the middle of a 60-man field, fighting for wheels, tapping our brakes -- is this a circumstance where we're aware on a moment-to-moment basis of what Zero Gravity calls "% of pull/arm travel"? Maybe we should be, but we're not. Our experience is this: Whether we're touching the brakes or grabbing them, we want to know how much stopping power to anticipate. We don't have time for slide rules and quadratic equations, and we certainly can't define at any given moment whether we're at 20% or 60% of our allowable lever pull. Without this info, Zero Gravity suggests, we can't properly anticipate how much stopping power we'll experience. In their technical literature for the Dura-Ace BR-7900 brake calipers, Shimano seems to tell their side of this story. With the BR-7900, Shimano provides "increased linear response" (emphasis ours). No fancy sine curves here. You get steady, consistent stopping power throughout your lever pull. And thanks to the fact that they've redesigned the brake arches -- they have a chunky industrial look to them, which is a bit deceiving since they weigh 30g less than the Dura-Ace BR-7800 calipers that preceded them -- you get more powerful braking altogether.Kudos to Shimano, too, for refusing to eliminate important set-up and adjustment features. Its low-profile cable stop makes set-up a near-brainless affair, and the spring tension adjuster and adjustable toe allow easy customization of the calipers for your bike and your preferences. The Shimano Dura-Ace BR-7900 brake calipers come with new pads that double wet-condition stopping power, and increase dry stopping power by 20%. Acco
These brakes are boss. If you can afford them, buy them, they are worth it. I went from having mid-level Tektro calipers with 105 levers to D/A calipers and D/A levers. They are the best f***ing brakes out there. If you're thinking of buying something marginally lighter for a similar price, smack yourself, these brakes will change your perception of braking performance.
Strengths: Look well made. Stealth appearance grows on you. Looks better in real life than in the images on the web. Still gotta use it.
Weaknesses: BEWARE of losing the small plastic (teflon?)sleeves that are loose inside the barrel adjuster. There is no mention of these in the Shimano literature 'Technical Service Instructions SI-8FNOA-001', nor in 'Technical Service Instructions SI-8FNOA-002'. The brake set will work without these, but may not be as smooth; or continual rubbing of the inner cable, might 'eat'/ abrade the inner surface of the barrel. If reinstalling a 'popped out sleeve', note it has a slight collar that keeps it in place. The sleeve should be replaced with the collar up.
The 'slick low-profile barrel adjusters' could have had the adjuster a bit more aerodynamic - maybe just a plain circular (ahem titanium) knurled adjuster would be better. These are going to be on bikes in Tour time trials and so on. The present adjuster would be better off on a mountain bike.
As for the 'not compatible with' older brifters, I dunno. The reason cited for this is ' the brakes will be too strong'. Go figure.
Not really a review. Hoping to save some folks who buy the Dura Ace BR 7900 calipers some grief. If you've bought these and are fitting them to a bike yourself, BEWARE of losing the small plastic (teflon?)sleeves that are loose inside the barrel adjuster.
Similar Products Used: Campagnolo Super Record; Dia Compe Royal Gran Compe RGC II; Suntour Superbe; Weinmann Short Reach; Aero Gran Compe.
Bike Setup: Falcon Tange Cro-Mo 23 inch frame ca 1979(yeah). Mostly with DA 7400 retro-fitted components (downtube shifters); Campagnolo Super Record Road pedals with toe clips and Binda straps; Cinelli bar and stem; Mavic MA 40 clinchers 36 hole bound to Campagnolo Super Record small flange hubs with 3 cross DT db spokes (training rims); Mavic CX 18 32 hole tubular rims bound to Dura Ace 7400 bubs with DT db spokes. Continental Competition tubs.