After months of rumours, spy shots and speculation, it’s finally here: the brand spanking new-for-2009 top-end road groupset from Shimano. We at road.cc are the first to get it in on test. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you Dura-Ace 7900.
For the first time since it was launched in 1973, there will be two distinct new Shimano Dura-Ace groupsets next year: the electronic version, called DI2 – Digital Integrated Intelligence; and the mechanical version, the 7900 series, which is the one we’ve been lucky enough to get first dibs on.
Although there’s always some tinkering going on, this is Shimano’s first major overhaul of their flagship brand since the 7800 group was introduced in 2003.
Sometimes a ‘new’ groupset is little more than an old groupset in a new colour scheme. Shimano have certainly changed the look of things, not least in going for a two tone finish, but the changes go way beyond cosmetic. The boffins have added a dash of carbon to the mix; components have been reshape and profiles altered to improve performance; and, most significantly, the levers now pull more cable which should make things less likely to be affected by contamination.
On the plus side, this all means that the overall weight drops by over 135g. On the down side, 7900 shifters and mechs aren’t compatible with earlier versions, so if you’re posh enough to have existing Dura-Ace kit, you can’t upgrade gradually as the various parts wear out.
So, how does it all perform out on the road? We got the miles in to find out…
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.