Monday , November 30 2020

Rumors about the future of Shimano Dura Ace R9200: 12 speeds and wireless?

By Guillaume ROBERT
Sunday 22 November 2020 – News

– This article was read 11,486 times. Comments: 15.

It is undoubtedly the most anticipated novelty of 2021. The Shimano Dura-Ace groupset was expected by many in 2020, but Shimano’s schedule (or pandemic) is apparently about to change in 2021.

It’s good that in 2021 Shimano will be celebrating its centenary, on March 23, 2021 to be exact. Should we expect the presentation of this new group on this day? Nothing is less certain. Professional riders’ bikes must be carefully monitored from the first races of the season.

On the other hand, by examining the many patents published by the brand in recent years (no less than 35 in 2020 alone), we can assume that the brand’s future arrowhead will be 12 speeds and partly wireless.

2021, a key date for Shimano

So yes, Shimano will be celebrating its centenary in 2021. In 1921, the brand produced its first freewheel.

Then in 1957 the first 3-speed hub appeared, and in 1973 the first Dura Ace group was launched. Shimano has already made available a website celebrating the century where you can discover the main innovations of the brand in this century. :

Obviously this 100th anniversary is therefore an important date for Shimano and the release of the new Dura-Ace group would be perfect this year 2021 … or even March 23, 2021. Of course I have contacted Shimano on this but necessarily, the brand is more than discreet, there are no information leaks.

The first deliveries are scheduled for May.

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What du Futur Dura-Ace?

The main patents on 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 with the current R9100:

  • R9200: 12 speeds
  • R9220: 12 speeds, with disc brakes
  • R9250: Di2 12 speed
  • R9270: Di2 12-speed, with disc brakes

Must be 12 speeds

Because yes, after the first echoes it seemed Shimano kept the skid brake versions as well as the mechanical versions, unlike SRAM, which now only offers eTap AXS versions.

No wonder this grouping would feature a 12-gear cassette, much like its Campagnolo and SRAM counterparts. 12 speeds that already exist with the Japanese brand in MTB groups, which should require a Micro Spline freewheel body to allow the use of a 10 tooth pinion gear and may be up to 48 teeth. This leaves room.

Shimano already filed a patent in 1996 for 14 pinion cassettes… therefore why not change directly to 13 speed !

Hopefully this change to 12 speeds will not impose new wheel alignment, which would also mean no backward compatibility with the old wheels.

There is nothing to say that Shimano will pursue the systematic use of a 10-tooth sprocketespecially when we know the watt losses generated by such a pinion. They seem to be heading more towards 11-tooth starter cassettes but tightening the pinions to have fewer gaps, still offering 11-25 to 11-30 cassettes or even offering new 11-32.

In this way, Shimano will avoid the hassle that occurred when shifting to 11 gears, making all the wheels of the older generation completely obsolete.

One thing is for sure, this photo effect was created April Fool’s Day in 2014 and the unveiling of the Shimano 12-speed cassette will become a reality in 2021. You can count on the photo below, there are indeed 12 gears!

Plateau pairs should remain traditional, with 34-50, 36-52, 39-53, 42-54, or 42-55. We may also think that versions 48-32 or 46-32 appear.

Lever without wires?

Shimano seems to be betting on a mix of wireless levers (powered by a button cell) and battery-tied shifting gears.

The lever patent covers several versions, all of which appear to have the same dimensions and specifications, but it is clear that Shimano seems to want to continue offering tread brakes in its new generation of Dura-Ace.

Based on the sketches, the position of the button cell battery does not seem final yet, either at the level of one of the levers or in the pressure cooker. A button cell battery is more than enough for a lever as there is only one electronic wave to send, no motor working here. This allows the CR2032 button battery to easily have almost two years of autonomy.

Note that Shimano mentions Fr. piezoelectric system which could equip these levers and, thanks to the movement of the levers, would be used to recharge the battery. Enough not to have to deal with this level of maintenance anymore! It would undoubtedly be a great step forward.

Perhaps the ergonomics of the levers will be slightly modified, taking inspiration from the GRX models with excellent grip!

Wireless gears … or not

If the patents still specify wireless gears with a battery housed in each gear … I think Shimano won’t create a group right away where the gears are not attached to one battery. Why ? For autonomy. Currently, Shimano gears 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 the wireless system the day we can have very small batteries but still offer quite a lot of autonomy. It will pass:

  • or through battery autonomy innovations
  • or via autonomous charging systems based on a piezoelectric system

In the latter case, we could even come up with a system that recharges the batteries sufficiently so that we never have to worry about a possible recharge.. In any case, I strongly believe in such a solution for the near future (in 5 years).

We’ll probably stay on the wired connection between the gears and the main battery. An acceptable solution, because if SRAM’s wireless is praised for its ease of installation due to the complete absence of cables, then only bike installers or enthusiasts who assemble their own bikes … and we don’t dismantle their entire gearbox every day.

At least in the sketches below The words SW1 and SW2 refer to the buttons (Switch) used for pairing with the leverswhich proves that the connection between the levers and the gears would be wire-free.

  • Shimanop-DA-12-2021-02.webp
  • Shimanop-DA-12-2021-03.webp

Aluminum, always … and two trays

Shimano has always stuck to aluminum cranks (although a very limited series of carbon Dura-Ace has appeared) and the new series should be no exception.

Aluminum now makes it possible to obtain very light cranksets that are at least as stiff as the carbon versions.

As Single Shield appears to be more than just 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 on the other hand, it will all depend on the market demand for this type of product … and to be honest, I don’t believe it too much.

Aesthetically, I hope the changes to Shimano will be more innovative than the design of the R9100 series. For me, the R9000 series was undoubtedly the most desirable thanks to the two-tone aluminum and black color. The black version of the R9100 is too close to the Ultegra series for my taste, too shy!

What to wish for?

But what do you really want? Shimano is sure to offer more than just the 12th sprocket in its future Dura Ace, content to be the “successor” to Campagnolo and Shimano.

No, Shimano should go much further. More than likely, of course, to think of a wireless semiconductor and perhaps a system for charging the batteries in the levers using a piezoelectric system.

On the other hand, it’s important for Shimano to upgrade the disc brake system, which often generates parasitic noises, at least more than the competition. The brand should easily be able to offer disc brakes that are no longer a problem at this level.

Finally, the brand could take advantage of the offer of this generation new Syncro-Shift options for semiautomatic optimized gear shifting.

One thing is for sure, all equipment lovers are waiting for this Dura-Ace vintage 2021 group. The new Dura-Ace groupset is still an event on the cycling planet, and Shimano has seldom failed.

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