Shimano’s Dura Ace DNA | Does Top End Cycling Tech Really Trickle Down?

Shimano’s Dura Ace DNA | Does Top End Cycling Tech Really Trickle Down?


– Over the years, we’ve
often mentioned or touched on the subject of trickle-down
technology in bike tech. Now, Shimano said to me, would
I like to do a video on this? And I jumped at the chance because I’ve always used their components throughout my racing, and also my general cycling career too. So, I had good search
around inside of my workshop and attic, and I found
some real life examples that I can explain to
you what it’s all about. The STI lever. Yeah, that’s right, STI stands for Shimano Total Integration. Named so because of
the integration of both gearing and braking
within one lever itself. Now, the Dura-Ace model
was actually released way back in 1990 as an eight speed setup. Now sadly, I never actually got to own a pair of those shifters myself. Instead, I’ve managed to find an old relic of a bike of mine. This, the Shimano 600 Ultegra lever. It was virtually identical in appearance. This was released in 1992. The only major difference
to most people out there was this front plate here. That was just slightly different because it said 600 Ultegra, not Dura-Ace. Of course, there were
some other differences with materials and also the finish. Then in 1993 came the 105 SC groupset, and these were slightly
different in appearance, I guess you could say, because the STI levers on that bike, they didn’t have these
rather cool faceplates which I liked back in the day. Instead, they had an Allen
key in there instead, which made them easily identifiable. Now you may well be wondering, where on earth is the left hand shifter? Well believe it or not, I never used one. Instead, I just had a standard
aero brake lever on there. The difference in feel,
yeah it was noticeable but I kind of learnt
to live with it really. But one of the reasons I did it was weight because they were pretty heavy
back in day, these shifters. And also, when I was racing in the junior and under 16 categories, you didn’t tend to change the front chain ring that much, because generally, the
racing was eyeballs out from start to finish and
they weren’t that long, so you just, well, accepted it, and if you wanted to change gear, you go down to the down tube there, but I remember these oh-so fondly. It changed everything when
it came to bike racing. Now it took an amazing seven years for Shimano to release
a new Dura-Ace groupset. So in 1997, I remember
this one oh-so fondly. Right, I was working as a
Saturday boy in a local bike shop, and I remember seeing the 7700 groupset for the very first time. And guess what, I’ve got one here. Oh yes. A bit battered, a bit worn, and this one was even on the bike of a
pretty famous bike rider too. Now, the lever’s a really
different approach. Instead of that round faceplate on them, they went angular, they
went, sort of, modern, cutting edge, if you like. But also, it went from
8 speed to 9 speed too, and this really transformed
the shifting, in my opinion, because it made it ever so more positive, the clicks were just, there was something really,
really impressive about it. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but just harking back
to it I was so chuffed to actually get hold of a
bike with this on myself. Something else that
they actually introduced around that time too, was
the octalink bottom bracket, so that came with the 7700 groupset. Now, octalink, obviously, there’s got to be an eight
involved in their somewhere, because of octa, so we’ve
got eight little spines here on the actual enlargened
bottom bracket spindle here built inside of the cartridge unit. They matched up with this
inside of this chain set. So, it simply slotted on, and this saw the end of the
square taper bottom bracket, if you like, when it came
to the Dura-Ace range. Then, a year later, the
6500 Ultegra range came out with all the shared technologies, and then one year after that
in 99 came the 105 5 groupset, and then lastly Tiagra
followed suit in 2001 with the 4400 groupset. Now, I’ve got a few of these bits on various bikes, you’re going
to be shown them on screen, and I’m just glad I never
threw anything away. I tend not to ever throw anything away because I think, that’ll
come in useful one day, and well, today it has, despite
what my other half says, she always tells me to clear
out that shed, no, no, no. You lot love this. Right, we’re going to
carry on the journey then, because I absolutely love
a trip down memory lane. 2004, Shimano released the
7800 Dura-Ace groupset, an instant hit, and funnily enough, here’s one I’ve got down here. I don’t know what happened to the brakes, I’ve got some old 7700 ones on here, but the levers, right, we went 10 speed, we went sleek, we went a little
bit more rounded, I guess, than that previous 7700 groupset, but this one was an instant
hit with bikeriders, but why exactly? Well, this chainset. Oh yeah. This one, it tended to
just really catch the eye because there was nothing
like it out there. The chain rings were all filled
in, they looked oh-so cool, and they were then fitted onto
a new bottom bracket stand. That’s right, a new
one, the HollowTech Two. There was never a
HollowTech One, bizarrely, but the HollowTech Two was
done for a very good reason. So, the HollowTech Two
bottom bracket then, what was so different about
that from the octalink? Well, firstly, the actual
bearings of the bottom bracket were outboard from the frame,
so they screwed onto the cups rather than inside of
them, if that makes sense. Now, a couple of reasons
why they did this, firstly, it allowed a
better weight distribution, and also, a more stable
platform for the axle, or torque shaft, if you
like, of the chainset. Now, speaking about that
axle of the bottom bracket, well, it was gone, from
the actual bottom bracket. Instead, it was integrated
into the right hand crank, and then the left hand
crank attached onto it on the other side. This made things way lighter,
and way cooler I reckon too. There’s nothing else like it
on the market at the time. Of course, that HollowTech
Two bottom bracket system, it wasn’t all about looks, I remember the pros really liking it, and the reason being the integrated axle, which was enlarged to 24 millimeters, allowed great power transfer. Now, all of this technology,
that was trickled down to the 6600 groupset in 2005,
and then the 105 one in 2006, and Ultegra got the full ten speed, and also HollowTech Two treatment in 2011. 2008, that was a big year. Why though? Well, the Dura-Ace 7900
groupset was released. So, what went? Those external gear cables. Instead, they got rooted
underneath the handlebar tape, it instantly cleaned up
the sleek smooth appearance of the front end of the bike. 2009, Ultegra got the
treatment, 2010, 105, and then, 2015, Tiagra
got the internal ones, but it was still a 10 speed groupset. In 2009, came this, the 7970 groupset. What was that though? Well, it wasn’t a complete
groupset, per say. Instead, it was the
shifters and the mechs, and also some of the cables too, because we had electronic
gearing introduced. It’s quite shocking, really, to believe it’s only been out 10 years. Yeah. And then two years, of course, in 2011, came the Ultegra range with the 6770, and as to this day, it’s not passed down beneath the Ultegra tiering of groupset. 2012, that was a good year! The London Olympics, I remember
that one very, very well. But of course, Shimano, they
introduced 11 speed componentry to the 9000 series groupset,
so the Dura-Ace versions. So, of course we have
mechanical as well as Di2. 2013, Ultegra, that got 11 speed, 2014, Ultegra got 11 speed Di2, and also, 105, that went 11 speed. Of course, just in the mechanical version. We then find ourselves at the
modern day Dura-Ace groupsets, the 9100 versions, if you like. Now these ones, they
had again, a redesign, and also incorporated disc brakes into the actual range for the first time. Before, they were kind
of stand alone product that were bought in when
needed, if that makes sense. Now, something that was
very, very different was the rear derailleur, the
Shadow RD System came in. Now this actually, believe it or not, was borrowed, taken from our
mountain bike loving friends because they were actually
using this way back in 2007. So, nine years later, we got
it, what does it mean though? Well, instead of having the big bolt which bolted it on to your rear drop out, instead it was a more slimmer down affair, and it meant that the
actual rear derailleur could go inwards by over 10 millimeters. Slightly more aero, but
also there’s a link in there that you can remove and
then directly attach it onto a special derailleur
hanger, meaning slightly improved and crispier gear shifts, if you like. I like that. So, Ultegra, that got all
of this tech trickled down into its 8000 series groupsets in 2017, 105, a year later in 2018, that got it in its 7000 serious groupsets. Now, little nugget of information here, because I’m sure some of you are thinking, what about the other groupsets? Well, in 2017, the Claris groupset, which is kind of an entry level one, that got internal cables and got the HollowTech
Two bottom bracket also, meaning that, yeah, trickle down technology
really does happen. Plus, if all of this trickle down tech hasn’t tickled your fancy,
what about this then? In the past couple of
years, I guess you could say that Shimano has
cross-pollinated, if you like, because they’ve bought over
even more mountain bike tech to us drop bar lovers. So, first up, we have the RX800
series of rear derailleurs. And then came the GRX groupsets, they incorporated things
such as a single chain ring, if you like, and also Shadow
RD plus, but what is that? So, the Shadow RD plus
then is a development of the previous model of the Shadow RD in that it actually helps to provide a stabilization platform for your chain when riding over rough terrain. So, with the flick of a
lever, or a little switch, you can actually almost lock
the rear derailleur cage in place, meaning that
the chain is less likely to bounce around and
dislodge when riding over that rough off road that
some of us love to ride on. Now, Ollie, actually did
some GCN Tech Does Science all about this last year, so if you really want to see all
about it, head on over there, not, of course, until
the end of this video. But then, if all this tech does
eventually get trickled down why would you go out and get
a high end groupset instantly? After all, some of you could well remember when Si and Ollie were blindfolded and they tried to tell the difference between 105 and Dura-Ace, it wasn’t necessarily
that straightforward. Well, there’s a couple of things, firstly, the quality of
the materials being used, and then that plays into the next part which is the weight of the components, essentially that is what
makes up the big differences, in my opinion, with these groupsets. And I reckon that tech is passed down across all different industries out there because you do tend to see it happening. I guess from the consumer’s point of view, you really have to
weigh up this, patience, and also the desire, so if
you’ll be patient enough for it to pass on down,
and also, the desire to have that top-end,
really lightweight groupset. Ultimately, we’re all going
to get out grubby little hands on it though at the end of the day. There we are, I hope
you’ve actually enjoyed this trip down memory lane, and also the way I’ve tried to
explain the trickle down tech and how it does happen, because it’s a question we
get asked over and over. If you’ve liked this video, remember to give it a big old thumbs up, share it with your mates too, and don’t forget to check out the GCN shop at shop.globalcyclingnetwork.com, and also remember to
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here, and just down here? Now, I’m going to decide
which of these old beauties to take out for a spin, let me know in the comments which one.