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Are the new Shimano Dura-Ace and Ultegra groupsets a disappointment? Listen to the debate on episode 6 of the Podcast

12-speed, semi-wireless... what's not to love? The team discuss whether Shimano has gone far enough with its latest big launch, plus we talk cramp prevention with Precision Hydration and our cycling pet peeves...

As you might have already heard, this week Shimano has finally revealed its brand new 12-speed Dura-Ace and Ultegra groupsets to the world. While there's been plenty of positive reaction, we couldn't help but notice that a number of you were perhaps expecting something more radical... and it turns out some members of the team share that feeling. 


As our own Liam Cahill explains after trying out new Dura-Ace on the official product launch, the shifting appears to be flawless and if it's reliable quality you want, Shimano has delivered; however John Stevenson wasn't quite so impressed.

> 34 bikes equipped with new Shimano Dura-Ace and Ultegra groupsets

"My reason for being disappointed is that Shimano is that was a wildly innovative company for about three decades from the late 70s through to the early 2000s. There's nothing innovative here - 12 speed, Campagnolo and SRAM beat them to that. Semi-wireless, FSA beat them to that," John says. 

2022 Shimano Ultegra 8100 details copyright Irmo Keizer - 7.jpeg

"There are lots and lots of little tweaks that I'm sure make it wonderful, don't get me wrong... but I just would have liked to have seen them do something a little bit more eye-opening than to stick another sprocket in the middle of the cassette." 

So do we love it, or have we been left feeling underwhelmed? Liam and John are joined by Mat Brett and Jack Sexty to discuss. 

precision hydration products 2 - via facebook

Can a tailored hydration plan help you to avoid cramp on long rides? Is taking a ‘sweat test’ to work out exactly how much salt and fluid you need only worth it for the pros, or a useful investment for us Average Joes too?

In part 2, Jack talks to Andy Blow from Precision Hydration about how nailing your hydration strategy could be the key to riding your bike for longer, while avoiding leg cramps that can turn a pleasant ride into a painful nightmare. You can check out the Precision Hydration website and do a free online test here to work out your own hydration needs. 

SKS Airboy XL Best mini pump for gravel bikes

Finally... why does John hate mini pumps? Our resident grumpy Yorkshireman explains why petit pumps perturb him, while Jack and Liam also chip in with some other cycling products that they don’t particularly get on with. What's your cycling pet peeve? 

> 7 of the best mini pumps

The Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Amazon Music, and if you have an Alexa you can just tell it to play the Podcast - it's also embedded further up the page, so you can just press play.

What do you think of the Podcast so far, and what would you like us to discuss in future episodes? Comment below and/or drop us a line at podcast [at] 

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McVittees | 2 years ago

Question: how does the new Dura Ace/Ultegra faster rear shifting differ from the configurable faster rear shifting possible in the current Di2? 

Observation: the criticisms of SRAM's AXS shifting speed came as a surprise to me. I don't think I've read such a comment in any reviews of AXS before (happy to be proven wrong). Why is this only being mentioned now? 


TheBillder replied to McVittees | 2 years ago

Doesn't the chain need to move around the sprocket a certain number of degrees to make the shift? So however fast the derailleur moves, isn't the shift time dominated by this?

JL77 replied to TheBillder | 2 years ago
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Shifting is the result of a lot of things. A.o.

  • shape of the teeth
  • sizes of the sprockets between which is shifted
  • ramps on the sprockets
  • shape of the chain links
  • position of the derailleur (pulleys)
  • movement of the derailleur
  • ...


Recoveryride replied to McVittees | 2 years ago

I can't comment on the new Shimano groupsets as I haven't ridden them. I have, however, recently owned Di2 (i.e. the latest incarnation until a few days ago), and currently own Force AXS.

Di2 is marginally quicker to shift, especially at the FD. However, that difference is so slight it has no meaningful impact. It's like comparing 2 sports cars on 0-60 times: 4.0 seconds is faster than 4.1 seconds, but it is pretty much wholly irrelevant in the real world.

Recoveryride | 2 years ago

I'm not really suprised that the new offerings seem more subtle refinements than anything revolutionary; that's the way Shimano has gone for some time now. It's why their stuff is the absolute byword for 'it just works'. I've said for a while that SRAM are more innovative, and Campy wins on feel (and possibly brakes), but if you want reliability, ease of use and no annoying quirks, go with Shimano. 

I think most people agree with that view, so what this new release does do is remove a fair chunk of the reason to look elsewhere. It will be the gold standard performance groupset, I'd suggest.

And I say this as a current Force AXS user.

However, I won't be rushing out to drop >£2k on a new Di2 groupset, and I personally think killing off mechanical Ultegra would be a mistake, not least as after a couple of years riding electronic I've come to the conclusion that mechanical Ultegra/Chorus is everything you need for almost all riding, with the real advantage of electric being for the internal routing and the combined blip and base bar shifters on TT bikes. 

JL77 replied to Recoveryride | 2 years ago
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Hear, hear.

Innovation does not necessarily mean value. There IS value in refinement (up to a certain tangible point), though. Else, Bentley & Rolls-Royce would be out of business.

And there is merit in gradual steps towards big goals, too. Rome wasn't built in one day.

Maybe the real issue is innovation/revolution addiction, rather than the above.

jmoleary | 2 years ago
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I don't think they could afford to wait any longer to  come out with 12 speed because they were at a competitive disadvantage without it. And improvements like faster shifting are better.   So maybe they have a new, cool innovation in the works or maybe they don't but this is still a welcome release.  Not every release can be exciting.

Personally the thing I've always loved about Shimano was how rock solid their release usually are.  I like that they tend to take a little bit longer on stuff because they really work out the kinks and release refined groupsets.  

Secret_squirrel | 2 years ago

Now the dust is settling I'm underwhelmed.  For upgraders (who I acknowledge arent Shimano's core market) there's a huge outlay for just another sprocket in the middle of the cassette. 

It all seems a little conservative.  Whoop-de-do!

I'm holding out hope that next years announcements will be more interesting, but right now if I was in the market for 12+ speed then I'd be looking at Campy or Sram.

I hold out hope that some other announcement is due in Q1 2022.  Either an incremental refresh of Ulegra Mechanical, a direction for GRX DI2 - which looks a bit lonely now - or 105 DI2/12 speed. 

Realistically though I think a GRX refresh is at least a year away based on Shimano's usual 3 year product lifecycle.

I would expect Sram to be focusing on production volumes of Rival and Force AXS and to give Shimano a shoe'ing in that mid market space where Ultegra Mechanical has just died a percieved death.  The fact is I can go both wider range or equally as dense with AXS compared to 12 Speed DI2 and if I want quirky or 1x I've got Ekar to play with.

JL77 replied to Secret_squirrel | 2 years ago

Upgrading is increasingly difficult. Brands will say that new technologies and tigher tolerances etc. limit backwards compatibility. But (together with the decline of standards; even though BSA 68 is back) brands are more and more trying to shield their eco-system and forcing to buy all gear from them and as an entire package (here: groupset). How else can you year after year make more money needed to soothe the share holders?

Miller replied to Secret_squirrel | 2 years ago
Secret_squirrel wrote:

I hold out hope that some other announcement is due in Q1 2022.  Either an incremental refresh of Ulegra Mechanical, a direction for GRX DI2 - which looks a bit lonely now - or 105 DI2/12 speed. 

I read in another forum that Ultegra mechanical does NOT continue into 12 speed. 12sp Ultegra will be Di2 only.


PRSboy | 2 years ago

I wonder whether Shimano suffered from over-anticipation... all those patents, teaser press releases etc.  At the end of the day, its a set of bicycle gears and there is a limit to what they could actually do to innovate in a step-change, when SRAM etap etc is 12s and wireless.

Features like reliable and rapid shifting under all conditions will be what counts out on the road rather than fandangled geegaws.

JL77 | 2 years ago

With further refining shifing performance, even under load, AND going wireless on the shifter side, Shimano has laid the foundation for further innovation:

- more aero setups and rider positions

- wireless braking (Shimano patent pending!) (and ABS for other bike segments)

- something like a Classified hub to replace the front mech (even though not so practical in racing when you need to be able to easily swap a wheel; having too much hardware attached and linking/pairing components can only make that more difficult)

- AUTO-SHIFTING (!!!), based on data from the power and cadence meters, heart rate monitor, gyro's, personal preferences and so on.

Nick T | 2 years ago

John Stevenson appears to be spot on  They didn't even bother designing a new rotor, just bunged on the MTB one

Surreyrider replied to Nick T | 2 years ago

Except John Stevenson gives no clue as to what he actually expected Shimano to produce (25-speed with telepathic gear changes?) and he totally ignores the economic realities of a pandemic - Shimano: road pros use MTB rotors as they dissipate heat better and are lighter, let's use those rather than spend loads of cash we don't have right now on a new design. 

Journalists everywhere (not just Road CC) moan that there were "no surprises" but conveniently overlook the big surprise - Ultegra went 12-speed semi-wireless at the same time as Dura Ace (probably because they're sore that they didn't get the leak story).

The other major surprise they all missed was the end of mechanical Ultegra and Dura Ace - that says plenty about Shimano's direction of travel. They may regret ditching mechanical Ultegra, though - it's the groupset that combines performance, weight and value for money for a lot of people (me included right now!).

A lot of people seem to be talking about the new groupsets from an upgrade point of view too. I don't think Shimano are - their focus is on new bikes as there's a much bigger market for them. And from a 'new bike' perspective there seems to be a lot to like about the new kit.


JL77 replied to Nick T | 2 years ago

Having something new for the sake of something new, is just fashion.

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