Sunday, November 22, 2020 – News
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This is without a doubt the most anticipated news of 2021. The Shimano Dura-Ace group was expected by many in 2020, but Shimano’s timeline (or pandemic) is clearly projected to change in 2021.
Good thing, in 2021, Shimano will celebrate its 100th anniversary, exactly on March 23, 2021. Should we expect the presentation of this new group on that date? Nothing is less certain. The engines of professional drivers will need to be carefully monitored from the first races of the season.
On the other hand, by studying the many patents the brand has published in recent years (not less than 35 in 2020 alone), we can assume that the brand’s future spear will be in 12 speeds and partially wireless.
2021, a key date for Shimano
So, Shimano will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2021. In 1921, the brand produced its first free wheel.
Then came the first 3-speed hub in 1957 and the launch of the first Dura Ace group in 1973. Shimano has already set up a website for this centenary where you can discover the brand’s major innovations during this centenary: https://www.shimano.com/en / 100th /
Obviously this centenary is an important date for Shimano and the release of the new Dura-Ace band would be perfect this year 2021 … or even March 23, 2021. Of course, I contacted Shimano about it, but obviously, the brand is more than discreet , no information is leaked.
The first shipments are scheduled for May.
What about the future of Dura-Ace?
The main patents concerning the capabilities of this Dura-Ace 2021 group can be found here:
Already on the reference side, logic would like this future group to be the R9200, with a few variations as is the case on the current R9100:
12 speeds, necessarily
Shimano seems to be opting for a combination of wireless handles (powered by a button cell) and a battery-powered gearbox.
The lever patent contains several versions that seem to have the same dimensions and specifications, but it is clear that Shimano seems to want to continue to offer brake pads on its next-generation Dura-Ace.
The position of the battery with the buttons does not yet seem final according to the sketches, whether it is at the level of one of the levers, or in a pressure cooker. A battery with a button is more than enough for a handle as there is only one electronic wave being sent, and at this point no motor is involved. Therefore, a battery with CR2032 buttons can easily have an autonomy of almost two years.
Note that Shimano mentions a piezoelectric system which could equip these levers and would serve, thanks to the movement of the levers, to charge the battery. Enough that you no longer have to worry about any maintenance at this level! That would undoubtedly be a great step forward.
Maybe the ergonomics of the handles will be slightly modified, inspired by the GRX models of perfect grip!
Wireless gearboxes … or not
If the patents also list wireless gearboxes with a battery located in each gearbox …. I don’t think Shimano will immediately create a group whose gearboxes are not connected to a single battery. Why? For autonomy. Currently, Shimano laptops manage to exceed 5,000 km of autonomy. The batteries, especially if they are compact, cannot reach 1000 km, especially for the front derailleur.
In my opinion (which is just my opinion), Shimano will switch to a wireless system the day we can have very small batteries, but still offering quite a lot of autonomy. This will pass:
- or through innovation in battery autonomy
- either autonomous charging systems based on a piezoelectric system
In the latter case, we could even come up with a system that charges the batteries enough that we never have to worry about possible charging.. In any case, I firmly believe in such a solution for the near future (after 5 years).
We’ll probably stay on the wired connection between the transmission and the main battery. An acceptable solution, because if SRAM’s wireless network boasts of ease of installation due to the complete absence of wires, it only applies to bike fitters or enthusiasts who assemble their own bikes … and we don’t disassemble each of its entire transmission every day.
Anyway, in the sketches below, the words SW1 and SW2 refer to the buttons (switch) used to pair with the levers, which proves that the connection between the levers and the gearbox would be established without any wire.
Aluminum, always … and two trays
Shimano has always lagged behind aluminum crankshafts (although a very limited range of Dura-Ace carbon has emerged) and the new series should be no exception.
Aluminum now allows for very light crankshafts that are at least as rigid as the carbon versions.
Since individual chain chains appear to represent more than a niche market, the new Dura-Ace should not be offered with this option. Maybe the Ultegra R8100 in 2022 will benefit from the 1x version, but again, it will all depend on the market demand for this type of product … and honestly, I don’t believe too much.
Aesthetically, I hope that Shimano will be more innovative than the design of the R9100 series. For me, the R9000 series was without a doubt the most desirable with its two-tone aluminum and black color scheme. The black version of the R9100 is too close to the Ultegra series to my taste, too shy!
What to wish for?
But what do you really want? Shimano, for sure, will not only offer the 12th sprocket on its future Dura Ace, which will be a “follower” of Campagnol and Shimano.
No, Shimano should go much further. Of course, a semi-wireless system is being considered more than likely, and perhaps a system for charging batteries in levers, using a piezoelectric system.
On the other hand, it is essential that Shimano improves the disc brake system, which often creates parasitic sounds, in any case more than in the competition. The brand could easily offer disc brakes that no longer create problems at this level.
Finally, the brand could take advantage of this generation to offer new Syncro-Shift options for gear changes optimized in a semi-automatic manner.
One thing is for sure, all fans of Dura-Ace vintage equipment in 2021 are waiting for this equipment lovers. The new Dura-Ace group is still an event on the cycling planet and Shimano has rarely disappointed.