Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A BSNYC Exclusive: A First Look at the New Dura Ace!

Here in the Atlantic Northeast, it’s nearly Spring. Bike shops are beginning to swell with barely-ridden bicycles in for overpriced annual tune-ups. Fixed-gear riders are daring to remove their bandanas and expose their bare faces to the wind. And the air will soon be filled with love and pollen.

Another sure sign of Spring is when the cycling press starts spotting electronic road groups in the peloton. I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say that this is always tremendously exciting. Certainly we’ve all been spending the winter pondering such questions as: Is this stuff any closer to hitting the market?; Which expendable domestique will be guinea-pigging it this time?; and, Which part of the bike did they move the unsightly, bloated battery pack to this year?

Of course, the biggest question of all is: When will Shimano unveil a new Dura Ace group? It’s been like four years since the current version of Dura Ace came out, and a lot has happened since then. SRAM have come out with Red, and Campagnolo have come out with...Red. What’s more, Shimano have already overhauled XTR, which has an “X” built into the rear derailleur and everything! Finally, it’s well-known in the industry that a Daniel Day Lewis Oscar win generally presages a new Shimano innovation. In 1990 Daniel Day Lewis won for “My Left Foot,” and that same year Shimano released S.T.I. This year, DDL won for that milkshake movie, so you can bet they’re about to announce something big.

But will it be electronic? Well, so far it looks like the answer is no. In what is undoubtedly the biggest journalistic coup of my career, I’ve gotten my hands on what may be the very first image of the next Dura Ace group:



(Image courtesy of Jimmy from Brooklyn.)

Obviously, the most striking thing here is that Shimano seem to be staying with an aluminum crank. Without a press release we can only make inferences, but it’s possible that Shimano intend for the carbon FC-7800C to remain an aftermarket item. Interestingly, though, the crank does appear to have an integrated shoe, which leads me to believe that they’re extending their “total integration” concept to the shoe/pedal/crank interface.

The next thing you’re likely to notice is the improved ergonomics of the shifters. A source in the industry tells me that the new system will come in a full range of sizes so that each rider can customize his controls for perfect fit. The new system will likely be marketed as “Mammo-drive,” though we’ll have to wait for a press release to find out exactly why. (Early testers apparently already refer to the shifters as “breafters,” according to the source of the photo.) Word is that Shimano also intend to release a woman-specific shifter, though I was unable to obtain any images.

The third big change is in the rear derailleur. SRAM have long touted their 1:1 actuation ratio as superior to Shimano’s, so it would appear that the Japanese giant has gone back to the proverbial drawing board here. Again, without a press release we can only speculate, but a rear road derailleur should be quick yet compact, and certainly nothing is quicker and more compact than a chipmunk. Furthermore, while the rear derailleur is clearly not electronic, it is not cable-actuated either, and a closer look shows that Shimano may be moving towards some kind of hydraulic system:

The big question in my mind is whether Shimano will offer replacement organs for the derailleur should it require overhauling, or whether it will need to be replaced with an entirely new unit in the event of a failure.

In any event, this image will surely have the cycling world buzzing. This is a surprisingly organic turn for a company heretofore known for its mechanical precision. In many ways this image raises more questions than it answers, but one thing is for sure: roadies all over the world will doubtless be clamoring to get their hands on a pair of those shifters.

67 comments:

Mike said...

WOW.

Anonymous said...

second

Giles said...

points

Jen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

really

madeitmyself said...

top ten!

Anonymous said...

Man, the dogs are really going to be chasing me now.

Anonymous said...

no way, top ten?

Anonymous said...

IF THERE'S ENOUGH COMMENTS TODAY i'M IN THE POINTS TOO!

Anonymous said...

Meh.

Anonymous said...

new meaning to "shaving" off grams.

erik k said...

everyone knows that the band aid makers don't produce bandages for African Americans, my big question is will shimano follow suit & make Dura-Ace available with multi colored "breafters" so that they, eh carpet can match the drapes?

erik k said...

oh & one more thing does the new sole integrated crank set also include some kind of integrated kick stand, or does purchase include a personal trainer who will follow you around and hold you up at stop lights?

Bobbo said...

Replacing reliable cable activiated shifting with bloated electronic shifting tied to battery life that will cost more...best reason to ride single speed

agentdetroit said...

bsnyc + prolly = exploitation of readers for personal gain.

Anonymous said...

Elliot said "I told you guys yesterday it's all about the Aero Nipples!"

Commiecanuk said...

Sole integrated crankset -genius. Shimano's goal is to have the entire bike integrated so that if one bolt breaks, the bike has to be replaced.

Lastly, I can't believe Shimano is going with Chipmunk derailleurs, the French tried this in the 90s with the "Chipmunk Electronique" groupset. It was damned near impossible to get that 9v battery up the chipmunk's ass.

Lastly, Campagnolo has been testing ferret front deraileurs for years at Paris-Roubaix, but they were getting eaten by roadside spectators after a light sautee in garlic butter (which pretty much sums up French cooking).
Of course, the end goal is to have Campy versus Shimano unrestricted chipmunk fights to-the-death at velodromes.

Lastly, Rumor has it Johan Bruyneel has already tested this groupset with Astana, but the chipmunks already tested positive for HGH.

And lastly, Mike Ball has also tested this groupset, but Cipo's chipmunks have been mysteriously disappearing overnight.

Jeremiah Wright said...

holey smokes O'Bama

quaffimodo said...

Cipomunks. Thanks for the hideous image that will remain in my consciousness for days.

cycles55447 said...

I hope Shimano didn't field test that rear derailleur on animals.

KanyonKris said...

Bravo Snob! Pointing out that the emperor has no clothes by going to the illogical extreme. But I maintain that audiophiles and golf have more absurd hype, but cycling is closing the gap!

commiecanuk: hilarious!

Anonymous said...

i'm dreaming about how great that groupo will look on my bamboo bike.

ZiP said...

is it possible to get any chipmunk components for my singlespeed?

db said...

Looks like my business model of cornering the chipmunk-organ black market is going to be profitable after all.

ka_jun said...

Everyone knows you can't mount that Shimano chimpunk on a bamboo frame. You need the SRAM micropanda.

Oh, and be sure to support your local bamboo shop!

gttim said...

Well of course Shimano and Campy want to release electronic shifter systems. I mean the Mavic Mektronic group was so successful!

FunkyLaneO said...

"Lastly, Rumor has it Johan Bruyneel has already tested this groupset with Astana, but the chipmunks already tested positive for HGH."

I believe chipmunks use CGH (Chipmunk Growth Hormone)

Homer Simpson said...

Boobie Shifters!

mmmmmm... Booooobies

Sycophantic Backstabber said...

Back to the drawing board I say. Breast milk is way too fattening, that chipmunk is going to get bloated in no time.

Maybe they'll come out with a bulimic model next upgrade.

mm said...

Hey, "There Will Be Blood" was a great movie and Daniel Day Lewis was also great.

ssobiek83 said...

replacement organs.

God I love you

Lennard Zinn said...

Dude, you would be crazy to install an SRAM micropanda on a bamboo frame! I would recommend the standard Dura Ace Chipmunk but with its tail removed to save a few grams.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to get my hands on a pair of those shifters and please, people, remember, small furry rodents are not only our friends but they can add so much to our lives.
signed: Richard "gears" Gere

nibbles said...

Richard..why don't you call any more?

central dogma said...

I'm oh so glad you're back, Snob

Fritz said...

I choked on my lunch with the "cipomunks" comment.

And oh boy the audacity of this post. I'm surprised nobody has posted a JPEG of the WSD design yet.

Anonymous said...

Nibbles, I thought our relationship was over when you went "Italian". You seemed so 'wrapped up' in your work in the end.

signed: Ritchie 'G'.

bikesgonewild said...

...der shnob...btw, nice classy touch to use a 'Felt' w/ those shifters...

Anonymous said...

Chipmunk derailers? That's absurd. Why not just get a few more and use them for propulsion?

Anonymous said...

hey lennrd zynnrd,

The chimpmunks need their tails for balance so they don't end up mashed in the drive-train. Though for the summer months they can be shaved to reduce drag.

mr.complaint said...

Is Felt making frames for Hampster now too? I mean Hampsten.

I looks like another donut hole in my bike rack. Right next to the Ordinary hole and the 3-speed hole.

Unregistered Coward said...

Lame. Should have just called in sick.

Anonymous said...

They have to use chipmunks the chinise kids that make them would eat any larger animals and that would hurt profits.

Anonymous said...

Chipmunk tastes good - similar to bald eagle

Anonymous said...

hmmm snob,

"vacation" in formosa perhaps?

Bluenoser said...

Snob,

Just how many teeth does the chipmunk have and I hope that the shifters come complete with nipple wrench for easy installation.

-B

Anonymous said...

PETA is pissed; word is they're gonna say nasty things about you, Snobby

bikesgonewild said...

...ya, snob...pam anderson is gonna show up at yer door & then yer gonna see some shifters...

sd said...

"Bravo Snob! Pointing out that the emperor has no clothes by going to the illogical extreme. But I maintain that audiophiles and golf have more absurd hype, but cycling is closing the gap!"

I'm lost... Is this ironic, or sincere...

jimmythefly said...

Pfft. The French constructeurs have been making special chipmunk braze-ons since at least the 60's, not to mention the numerous hamster-hub generators. Besides, the simplicity and elegance of downtube friction udders will never go out of style, and there aren't all those compatibility issues you get with breafters.

Johnny Sprocket said...

Tits on a bike... I'm sold!

Anonymous said...

bikesgonewild @ 11:29 PM -

Nicely integrated comment!

Anonymous said...

I have no doubt that Shimano will have the electronic shifting out in the the net year or two- why not? they've allready installed needless electronics in their fishing reels. Just another example of their endless quest to solve problems that never existed...

Anonymous said...

I was really hoping Shimano would come out with heat and vacuum moldable brake levers made out of the same stuff as the R300 shoes. Bummer!

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They have to use chipmunks the chinise kids that make them would eat any larger animals and that would hurt profits.

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