Dura-Ace 9000: Mechanical, Evolved

Brakes Feature Articles Parts

An entirely new front derailleur design strives to bring the feel of Di2 front shifting to mechanical Dura-Ace.

Font Derailleur

The completely new DA 9000 front derailleur has been designed to mimic the feel and trim options found in the Di2 front derailleur. “We added a trim stop position when you go from the big ring to the small ring. It pauses for a second at the first stop position and then you can release the lever to take that trim away if you need to. The idea is to keep you from dropping the chain just as the Di2 shifter does,” says Lawrence.

In appearance, the front shifter has a distinctive, long vertical arm that necessitates a new setup procedure. It involves a tool that’s included with the groupset to help you determine the best position to run the cable through the clamping bolt. It looks intimidating, but proved an intuitive process.

The rear derailleur has been redesigned to pull more cable per shift, a design Shimano has used on mountain bike groupsets. “It helps make the system more stable,” says Lawrence, meaning shifting will be more forgiving of variations in cable tension that might occur over time and will be less likely to negatively impact shifting performance.

Altered pivot point placement and polymer-coated cables increase braking sensitivity and power.

The new brake design changes the location of the dual pivots to provide greater braking power and smoother modulation. As is the case with the shifters, the polymer coated cable for the brakes necessitates a new clamp design relative to older groups to hold the slippery cables.

The Dura-Ace mechanical brifters now have the ergonomics of Dura-Ace Di2 brifters.

More Pronounced Clicks

Based on feedback that the DA 7900 mechanical group’s shifting felt too light, Shimano designed shifting on the 9000 to have more clearly defined, positive clicks and tactile feedback to indicate a successfully executed shift. When you shift with 9000, then, lever feel starts with greater resistance so you know you’ve made the shift, then becomes lighter later in the blade stroke. Lawrence says this design also better suits the way our hands work–you naturally have greater hand leverage and strength in the beginning phase of the stroke and less later in the lever movement.

Coupled with a hollow outer chainring, the 4-arm crank design increases stiffness while losing weight and enables use of a broad range of chainring sizes without having to swap to a compact crankset.

New Spider and Chainrings

The 77 grams Dura-Ace 9000 loses versus the last generation of Dura-Ace comes from the new four-arm spider, hollow outer chainring and redesigned bottom bracket. The four-arm spider serves as 9000’s most noticeable visual differentiator. This new design allows for use of both ‘standard’ and ‘compact’ chainrings without having to change crank arms to accommodate different bolt circle diameters. That makes it simple and easy to set up one crankset for every type of road riding, from extreme climbing to time trialing, without having to change cranksets or bikes. Available chainring combinations include 50-34T/52-36T/52-38T/53-39T/54-42T/55-42T.

11-speed opens up new possibilities for both tighter and broader gearing.

Shifting Possibilites

The eleven speed cassette opens up new possibilities for tight shifting over broad gear ranges and also allows for novel combinations like an 11-28 cassette that is basically what was formerly an 11-25 with a 28. Available configurations include 11-23T/11-25T/11-28T/12-25T/12-28T. “I’m sure the 11-28 will become the most popular cassette,” says Lawrence, who chooses it for his personal road rigs. “It allows me to race the same cassette in a flat crit that I would use for a hilly road race without having to switch gearing.”

Shimano pumps out a full range of wheels to accommodate every road riding style.

Wheels: Innovations & Options

The Dura-Ace wheel line encompasses a broad range of hoops to accommodate every training or racing need. Model names correspond to rim depth–C24=24 mm rim depth. Available options include the tubeless-ready C24-TL, the standard aluminum/carbon clincher C24-CL, the C35-CL aluminum/carbon clincher, the aluminum/carbon C50-CL, and four all-carbon tubulars: the C24-TU, C35-TU, C50-TU and the new C75-TU.

On the Road

Below find a complete price breakdown for DA 9000 and a weight comparison of DA 9000 versus DA 7900. Watch for a complete road-tested review of the group in coming months.

Complete Price Breakdown – DA9000
  • Shifters — $629
  • Front derailleur — $129
  • Rear derailleur (short cage) — $249
  • Crankset — $679
  • Bottom Bracket — $49
  • Brakes — $399
  • Cassette (11-28) — $299
  • Chain — $59
  • Wheels — (see spreadsheet)
  • Pedals — $399
  • Complete Group — $2494.92 (not including wheels and pedals)
Weight Comparison Dura-Ace 7900 vs Dura-Ace 9000

Dura-Ace 7900

  • Rear Derailleur: 166 grams
  • Front Derailleur: 67
  • Shift Levers: 379
  • Brakes: 293
  • Crankset/Bottom Bracket: 735 (170mm cranks, 53-39 chainring)
  • Cassette: 163 (11-23)
  • Chain: 252 (114 links)
  • Total: 2055 grams

Dura-Ace 9000 (with net gain or loss)

  • Rear Derailleur: 158 (-8)
  • Front Derailleur: 66 (-1)
  • Shift Levers: 365 (-14)
  • Brakes: 297 (+4)
  • Crankset/Bottom Bracket: 683 (-52 from the new 4-arm spider design)
  • Cassette: 166 (+3–from adding 11th speed)
  • Chain: 243 (-9)
  • Total: 1978 grams (-77)
Other Weights

9000 Cassettes

  • 11-23 = 165 grams
  • 11-25 = 175
  • 12-25 = 189
  • 11-28 = 193
  • 12-28 = 205

9000 hubs

  • Front Hub = 120
  • Rear Hub = 247

Photos courtesy of Shimano.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

About the author: Andrew Vontz

Andrew Vontz is a writer, trainer, cycling coach and adventurer based in San Francisco. He writes about people, places and things at the limits of human experience. His work has appeared in Rolling StonePlayboyOutsideBicyclingMen’s Health, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, the UFC magazine and many other publications. Find him @vontz on twitter and instagram. Find more of his stories at www.andrewvontz.com.

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  • Conscience of a Conservative says:

    Very nice product I’m sure, but the lower price is most likely a defensive move against SRAM than the result of a Yen Dollar exchange rate.

  • turbomatic says:

    baby jesus cries when you say “brifter.”

  • PMF says:

    Brifter is not a word. Or a bicycle component.

  • Bubba says:

    So, what wheelsets does this DA 11 speed cassette fit on…many? I’d love to get the DA 9000 but my fear is that my current wheelset can’t handle the new cassette. If that is the case then I’m paying not only for the new DA but for an entirely new wheelset as well.

    • Clay says:

      I bought new 11 speed freehub bodies for my DTSwiss 240 hubs. That essentially “saved” two sets of wheels that I had. They were extremely easy to change also. There is a youtube video showing exactly how.
      PS – the front shifting is somewhat amazing. Can’t believe it’s taken years to figure out a longer lever (on the front derailleur) makes for an easier shift!

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