Dura-Ace 9000: Mechanical, Evolved

Brakes Feature Articles Parts
Dura-Ace 9000 Loses Weight, Features Improved Ergonomics, More Distinctive Shift Feel, Improved Braking

Dura-Ace 9000 gets lighter, more ergonomic and brings the feel of Dura-Ace Di2 to the mechanical realm.

Dura-Ace Di2 represents the pinnacle of Shimano’s road component group technology. That’s why the ten World Tour-level teams who ride Shimano overwhelmingly use Dura-Ace Di2. But for those who abhor batteries or don’t way to lay out the cash for Di2, the Dura-Ace 9000 groupset offers many of the ergonomic, braking and shifting performance-enhancements designed into Di2 in a cable-actuated, mechanical format. In a future piece, we’ll take a look at how Dura-Ace 9000 performs on the road.

For now, to find out what’s new, improved and evolved in the DA 9000 groupset, we unboxed and built up a complete DA 9000 group set. Then we spoke at length with Dave Lawrence, Shimano’s road product manager and Dura-Ace guru. Here’s what we found out.

More Affordable, Lighter

The previous iteration of Dura-Ace mechanical (minus wheels and pedals) cost slightly less than $2,700. The new DA 9000 costs $2494.92 (again, minus wheels and pedals), the consequence of a more favorable exchange rate, according to Lawrence. While 35 grams heavier than a complete Di2 groupset with an internal battery due to the weight of cables and housing, DA 9000 weighs 77 grams less than its DA 7900 predecessor.

The brifters have been redesigned to optimize ergonomics and improve braking, shifting and comfort from the hoods.

Improved Ergonomics

When Shimano engineers designed the brifters for DA Di2, they had the luxury of focusing primarily on ergonomics since they didn’t have to worry about how to house the intricacies of a mechanical shifting system inside. The learnings from designing the Di2 brifters have been applied to the new, refined DA 9000 brifters which somehow DO fit everything needed to operate a mechanical system into a brifter that evolves the ergonomic shape of the Di2 brifter.

The shape has been designed to perform well from the drops, but also with much consideration towards the hoods, where many riders, and even racers, seem to be spending more time on modern bike designs. “We tried to really make sure the braking and shifting feels as good from the hoods as it does from the drops,” says Lawrence.

Coated Cables, New Brake/Derailleur Designs

To achieve that design goal and further refine shifting and braking performance over the previous DA 7900 mechanical group, Shimano designed new polymer-coated cables for the DA 9000 groupset and made changes to the brake and derailleur designs. The polymer-coated cables decrease friction for smoother braking and shifting action. But they’re so slippery that they should only be used with DA 9000 because clamping mechanisms on other groupsets haven’t been designed for them.

Continue reading for more on the Dura-Ace 9000 and full photo gallery.

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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