Shimano Dura-Ace 9100 and 9150 – Everything to know

by Dave Rome

June 30, 2016

Three years. That’s the approximate shelf life of a major-brand product in the bicycle industry. Whether it’s a carbon frame or an entire groupset, it has proven to be a consistent number. And that number has been overdue for the market leader, with Shimano finally unveiling its much-rumored Dura-Ace 9100 mechanical and Dura-Ace Di2 9150 groupsets.

While those expecting wireless 12-speed shifting are likely to be left wanting more, the new top-tier road groupsets showcase Shimano’s continued efforts towards greater efficiency and easier operation. Component integration, aerodynamics and ergonomics were also terms thrown around at the official product launch.

Much of the new groupset carries familiar features, but key standouts include Shimano’s first power meter, overhauled aerodynamic wheels, the first ever Dura-Ace hydraulic disc brakes, ANT+/Bluetooth connectivity, and a little automated shifting for Di2 users. All of that, plus a rather fancy black-to-silver fade aesthetic.

With it all being released at once, there’s plenty to tell. And remember, what starts at Shimano’s top-tier almost always trickles down shortly after.

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Dura-Ace power meter. A first for Shimano

by Dave Rome

Long discussed, and prompting nervousness from other power meter brands, Shimano has finally entered the data-driven market. Closely based on technology from its previously acquired business, the new dual-leg power meter packs a number of industry-first features into its new Dura-Ace crankset host. Shimano quickly stated that reliability and accuracy were two key design factors in the new power meter.

The Dura-Ace FC-R9100-P power meter places strain gauges at three key points: one on each hollow aluminum crankarm and a third inside the 24mm steel spindle. Doing things a little differently, the left and right gauges are connected via a wire that runs through the crank spindle. This allows the use of a single battery and less chance of transmission issues.

While Shimano’s own literature doesn’t mention it, we’re told the spindle-based strain gauge provides the impressive vector data that the machine has become known for. We originally witnessed the BikeFitting-specific power meter a few years ago, where it was shown that the pressure spots through the pedal could be detected. In turn, providing useful information regarding the effect of cleat position and even innersole type. Whether the data is useful or not to have on a bike or even detectable at all by current head units is perhaps too early to tell.

Upon recently getting our hands on a working prototype (for five minutes…), we received word that the new power meter offers 2% accuracy. While this may seem equal to many other options out there already, we’re told that Shimano is achieving 2% accuracy at 200 and 1,200 watts, and everything in between.

Previously the company had been coy as to where exactly the battery is housed, however, we now know the Lithium-Ion battery sits within the steel axle and should provide over 300 hours of use between charges. Additionally, we can confirm that the hollow crank arms are indeed being used for at least the routing of wires.

Charging the battery will be achieved externally by connecting a sealed magnetic plug to the driveside ‘brain’. It’s a similar technology to that of modern smart watches and should help in making the system truly waterproof.

Shimano has made no comment in regards to a Shimano head unit, but the Dura-Ace power meter will offer both ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity. While Shimano has not confirmed it, the Bluetooth is more likely to be used for firmware updates and systems checking than live connectivity.

It’s worth noting that the integrated nature of this power meter means it’s an out-of-the-box item only. You won’t be able to fit the technology to existing 9000 or even new 9100 cranksets.

Changing chainring sizes is said to be a non-issue for the new power meter, and it’ll use the same rings as the standard 9100 crank. Shimano has claimed the power meter adds 70 grams over a standard 621 gram 9100 crankset (170mm, 52/39T, no bottom bracket). Pricing is still to be confirmed, with availability scheduled for approximately April 2017.

(Updated 07/11/2016 with photos and further information following a closer look at a working prototype.)